Irish doctor with too many thoughts, too little time and a blog that's supposed to check in on reality.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Ironing Women Bloggers and Farmer Underrepresention in the Blogosphere

The women blogger/feminism debate is still going on. Sinead at Sigla has been keeping an eye on the proceedings and has all the links– it’s kinda hard to follow it all.
I’m not going to say much more on it at the moment than I already have in 4 posts – check out these posts (and here) anyway if you’re interested.
That being said, ironing appears to play a rather large role in some of the posts. In the interests of full disclosure, I really hate ironing. I can’t do it and never really iron my clothes – I’ve perfected the art of hand smoothing. My sister will iron anything that she believes is overly creased on me; but lots of blouses and the like slip through her crease radar and to be honest, ironing really doesn’t make that much difference. Maybe ironing ability is genetic – my mother hates ironing too. At home, we’ve had a housekeeper all my life and my mother insists that it’s the thing she does first, just in case she has to leave early or something – the ironing will be done.
Sinead’s original post that started this whole discussion about feminism focuses on the representation of a certain part of society (women) in the Irish blogworld – I think my post brought feminism in to it. Anyway, while I hadn’t noticed the presence/absence of women bloggers particularly and now I know loads more, but on reflection, there is one area of society that seems completely absent from the blogosphere = farmers.
While the Farmer’s Journal has a strong online presence (as do Macra), there is no mention of blog on their site and I can’t find a farming blog at irishblogs or planetoftheblogs.
Why am I interested in farming blogs?
Well, I’m a farmer’s daughter and it is only recently that I realised that none of my friends have a clue about farming. I told a few friends at coffee one morning that our first lamb of the season was born in the 1st week of November. This is really early for my father’s flock – normally the first is born on St Stephen’s Day with the rest coming mid January onwards. They are still looking at me a little funny – I was so excited about this surprising development that I started talking to them about the balance to be struck between having the lambs early to capitalise on the better prices and the hardships of the winter. I then started telling them the differences between lambing and human birth (yes, I should have stopped talking waaay before then)
My sister is in a similar situation but her friends think her farming background is hilarious and gave her a present of the new Macra charity calendar for cancer “Boys and their Toys” – it features nude farmers with hay bales, tractors and the like protecting their decency. We didn’t like the calendar for loads of reasons – among them being the whole nude farmer thing and also that the farmers featured were really young, skinny and reminiscent of heroin chic models.
The other thing about being a farmer’s daughter who’s interested in “the land” is that I’ve whole conversations latent in my head that will never be resurrected in Renards or the pubs on Dawson Street.
I can talk at length about cattle prices; meat factories – and which ones grade well; which fluke prevention is best and I know my Massey Fergusson from my Zetor and my John Deere. I’ve even driven a Massy Ferguson with a GPS system (owned by my uncle).  My father is probably most proud of me for being a “good judge of a beast”.  I even have a favourite breed of cattle and sheep.  I still go to the Mart at home where farmers come up to me and compliment me for being a “fine big strong girl” (while they mean well, being compared to a heifer is not a compliment). I can even talk about farming in the olden times - my father inherited 2 elderly workmen who worked with his father and they’ve only recently retired – I know loads about hay trashing and making cocks of hay from them. And also how bad everything from 1970 on is – especially slurry tanks and silage bales.
My youth is punctuated by pet lambs, most of whom died and I cried over their little swollen stomachs – those who survived abandoned my company once they grew out of their bottles and then joined their lamb friends. Once a week every March/April I would turn up to school an hour late because I would’ve spent the morning running around the fields with our inept but earnest sheepdog , loading up lambs for the factory. My summers for the most part were spent on the bog, or picking stones, or helping with the hay/silage making or painting gates. I’d say my father is the only farmer in the country who had his slatted sheds power hosed and re-painted every summer.
I’ve taken a day off every year for years to go to National Ploughing Championships where I love the tractors and the stock – especially the muscly brawny Belgian Blues and the cute Aberdeen Anguses. I’ve even won baking and jam competitions at both the county show and the Tullamore show – the ultimate in farmer’s daughter credentials.
While my father used to have to drag me kicking and screaming to help out around the farm I now look forward to helping out when I go home. I do everything from feeding the cattle in the slatted sheds, to fencing, to helping out with the testing, tagging, dehorning, castrating to lambing. And I really enjoy it.
Farming and rural life is worlds away from most other professions. There are no bosses, no promotions, no corporate ladders, no commutes, no fixed hours, and no colleagues but there are autumn mornings where your breath smokes up in front of your face and your wellies get heavier with each step as the muck piles up on them. And there are little lonely lambs in November who live in our walled orchard instead of the field as Daddy thinks he’ll get eaten by foxes out on his own and have no one to frolic with except his mother who is content to saunter around slowly on her own.
And there are nights interrupted by calving cows and weak lambs. But in all these things is a great satisfaction and simple pleasures.
And all I want is a farming blogger who’ll document all this and more!

My mention of James Blunt in my last post probably has dented any “cool musico” credibility that I have, so now I’ve no hesitation in sharing one of my favourite country singers, Kenny Chesney with you.
From his album Everywhere We Go -
She thinks my tractor's sexy
It really turns her on
She's always staring at me
While I'm chuggin along
She likes the way it's pullin' while we're tillin' up the land
She's even kind of crazy 'bout my farmer's tan
She's the only one who really understands what gets me
She thinks my tractor's sexy



Blogger Eagle said...

Like most Americans of Irish extraction, I have farming connections in Ireland. My mother was raised on a farm and her brother still owns the farm, although he recently sold the last of his dairy cows. He now only has cattle. None of his sons want to take on the farm.

I've spent a few weeks there in my lifetime. The one task I did that was a total shock to my urban upbringing was pulling a calf. A somewhat unpleasant business, it has to be said. The three of us - my uncle, my aunt and me - pulling with all our might on a large stick tied to a sturdy rope tied to the calves' legs. My uncle was sure the calf was a goner, but wanted to save the cow. In the end we got both - alive - but we were covered in shit(e) from head to toe.

I'll never forget as he turned to me with a big smile after he spit the shit out of his mouth and said, "It's messy, but it's worth it for 200 quid". I was about 48 hours removed from the Bronx and probably in shock, but I'm kind of proud that I got that task under my belt.

December 12, 2005 3:37 p.m.  
Blogger EWI said...

A farming blogger wouldn't have the time for this nonsense, woman!

December 13, 2005 9:37 p.m.  
Blogger P. said...

There is now a Farmers Journal blg of the Ploughing Championships.

September 21, 2006 9:46 p.m.  

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