So, when I first met my boyfriend, Alistair, we were both studying at University College Cork, in Ireland, of course. Every now and then, I would go home with him on the weekends for a nice relaxing couple of days at his family’s dairy farm, just outside of Fermoy. Fast forward two years and we are back there again, but this time it’s longer than just a Saturday and Sunday. With rent costs increasing in Dublin and Cork, we were left with the farm as the best option to recover our funds after our holiday in Spain and France. One month later and we’re still here.
The house at the farm is the same house that Alistair’s dad was raised in. Just this summer they re-fitted the original door. This lock would give a locksmith a major migraine if we were ever to lose that key; the contraption is big enough to look like the door had some sort of safe attached to it. It has a key that is bigger than my hand. I like to imagine it as a weapon if I were to ever walk home after a late night; the weight alone would cause a concussion. Nevermind the mace, I’ve got the key to the farm!
Just a short walk down the road is the Bungalow, a small three-bedroom house that Alistair and his brothers have taken over since college, where I am currently residing. A small grazing field separates the Bungalow from the Farm. One night, when the cows were in that field, they must have had intense apple cravings because they demolished the fence and spent the night by the apple tree. You know you’re in the country when you can hear heifers constantly relieving themselves from your own bedroom window!
Besides a lot of mud pies to dodge outside your front door, another fun thing to wake up to is a swarm of tiny flies, or Midgies, as the Irish call them. Anytime a window is left open over night and a light is left on, which accidentally happens all the time in the bathroom, we are bombarded by a Midgie Family Reunion when going for a morning shower.
Flies aren’t the only creatures to make a dairy farm their home. This farm has one hundred cats. Well, maybe not that many, but it sure seems like that many to someone who is terribly allergic to cats, like myself. I once had a test done to see just how many things I was allergic to and it was a traumatic day at the doctors for poor six-year-old Ifer. Dust mites, mold, cats, even grass along with a long list of other allergies that lead me to live a Claritin life, until Claritin wasn’t enough to stabilize my sinuses while at the farm. A quick trip to the lovely family practitioner, very hassle-free might I add, and I was on the road to recovery with a brilliant nasal spray.
So after I had used a billion Kleenexes and my nose was in rehab from a sneezing addiction, I decided it was time to get out and socialize and what better than the local farmer’s market. Alistair’s mother bakes. Not only does she bake, but being American, she bakes chocolate chip cookies as if she was a descendant of the Nestle Tollhouse establishment, quite the rarity considering that the only way to get chocolate chips over here is to smuggle them on transatlantic flights.
Beside her table of baked goods is the Fudge Lady, Rachel. Along with delicious and fattening slices of fudge, Rachel decorates her table with pastel dots that resemble a Twister mat, but in Easter colors. Then, there is the Cheese Lady; she manages to find cheese to match everyone’s taste, from extremely strong to extremely smelly. Beside her is a lady who earned a prize for her smoked salmon, but it can get a little pricey! Oh, and Tom’s Bakery blows all the competition away with his breads and pretzels and pastries. Thomas always goes home empty handed. There is also an array of non-edible goods, from home-grown flowers to handmade greeting cards, and even a booth with a selection of scented oils.
The Nano Nagle Centre in Killavullen hosts this farmer’s market every other Saturday morning. Usually all the locals stop by for a coffee and a quick peek at the booths, but mostly to socialize with one another. Even the nuns of St. Mary’s parish make an occasional appearance before Saturday evening mass.
Overall, life at the farm has been quite interesting. Although it doesn’t have California’s sunshine or the nightly soundtrack of police and ambulance sirens, there is something else about the subtle rain and farmers markets that offer a much more tranquil and intimate experience.
Not to say I don’t miss the sound of the ocean, but at least I can say that I’ve woken up to the sound of a cow mooing. For anyone who’s heard the real thing, you know that it’s very different from those toddler toys we all used to play with, a sound that would make you jump out of bed quicker than the loudest alarm clock.
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