When I grow up, I might want to be a farmer.
Farmers have cows, dogs, automatic feeding stations, TRACTORS (ooooooooh what fun!) and stacks of wood to be reclaimed by roaming artists. They also have the most gorgeous views AND they are allowed to tromp through the mud.
A dear and precious Irish friend (let's call her Bridget, shall we? At least, that will be her name in the movie that is sure to be following this adventure) whisked me away first thing in the morning to experience a bit of farm life. How could she have known it is one of my very own dreams?
Raising cattle (for beef and for dairy) in Ireland is very different than in the U.S. The farm grass is harvested, pickled for silage and fed to the cows over winter. They are pasture grass fed, rotating fields, during the warm months. The manure is gathered for fertilizing, and the cycle starts over again. Dairy cows rest during the winter instead of receiving hormones to boost milk production. There is a rhythm to the process. Some things are automated, but mainly it is a family operation, carried out year-round.
Imagine for a moment being so connected to your food source - to have invested your own labor, love and energy into a process intimately connected with land and beasts. There is such beauty and joy in this. And a deep reverence for the circle of life.
I asked Bridget how much one of these calves weighed...take the Red Friesian (a highly desirable breed) on the right in the photos. Bridget is not a fan of the technical details, so answered me (tongue in cheek) with "4 pounds" The head farmer in charge cleared that up later (more like hundreds of pounds) but we had a great chuckle and "4 pounds" is now my answer for everything, including how many acres of land are on this incredible farm and how many layers of wool socks are needed for a farm hike.
There was coffee at the end, along with biscuits (cookies) and treats, including a Penguin candy which is my new favorite (move over, wine gums! I love these Penguins, too!) and the warm joy of a turf fire in the heating stove. We simply must visit a bog together this trip, dear reader!
Top it all off with a lift on a tractor, a hike up the paddock road and the opportunity to twirl in a field, and there you have the ingredients for a halcyon day. Sigh. Ireland - it's what dreams are made of.