THE LOWDOWN – Goataholic blues
You love doing it. There are gazoombas a-plenty. But twice a day, every day of life? In sickness, health, rain, storm or hurricane? And you have to do it standing up?
Cicely Parker called dairying “blood money”. She was one of our better farmers.
And we’re not joking about storm or hurricane. The Andrews’ farm is not far from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano which erupted in April spreading ash over Europe and shutting down air traffic. Twice a day, wearing dust masks and braving floods, they had to go back and milk those cows.
Lately we have become slaves to the goats. Seldom do we get into the house before midnight or 1 a.m. Seldom do I get a little sax, go anywhere, do anything.
So I tell the wife let’s pull out. We’ve done this twice before, once with cows, once with goats. Sold out completely.
“Don’t pull out yet,” she pleads, “not while I’m enjoying it.” That’s the trouble with dairying. You’re hooked. You love it, love the animals.
I’ve tried to show her what we’re missing. We could go for drives up by Three Houses where she was raised. We could go to the Drive-In. Watch TV at a daughter. Borrow Shelley’s yacht from Bizzy and go cruising the Mediterranean.
Bad mistake there, mentioning Bizzy. For, contrary to popular myth, we farmers can run circles around our business contemporaries. Bizzy and I were together at St Augustine. He used to invite Jeff Garvey and me over for an occasional steak on the roof of Canada Hall. Later, he entrepreneured, I farmed.
Today I live on a luxurious estate, 14 acres of lawn, clear Atlantic view to Gambia, West Africa, feasting on local “Cow” steaks, the best. Bizzy is cooped up in Mill Heights, just downwind of Arthur’s Seat, catching the occasional whiff from Warren’s Bottom. His view blocked by huge “pitons”. And, worst of all, according to Better Health Magazine, surviving on sardines and Eclipse biscuits. My brother!
However, unlike me, Bizzy gets to party; so maybe there are compensations.
Last Sunday night was an exception. A daughter took me to De Digicel Big Show tent. Plastic Bag, John King, Serenader, Pompey, TC, Grynner, MC Mac Fingall in fine form, sweet band. Got to meet a very pretty girl, but can’t remember her name – Michelle? Maybe. Enjoyed myself immensely.
The big names were kicking. Bag, Serenader and TC made my night. But we couldn’t hear the lyrics to too many songs, the perennial sound problem. That apart, great show. Until . . . .Mac pointed me out. Heaped praise on my writings. And then, just as Michelle’s (?) eyes were probably glowing with admiration, he told the audience I was best known for smut. Mind you, it’s true. But cuddear . . . .
Anyhow, here is a ditty based on a story Mac told: Mac Fingall had a girlfriend, way down in Bush Hall; visited every Friday night, couldn’t score at all. Her mother would lay out smocking, keeping them in full view; singing as she sewed away, while Mac both vex and blue. Hear her . . . .
Blessèd assurance, my daughter is fine, Mac cannot touch her, or get out of line. While I am smocking, my vigil I’ll keep; let Mac go and romance, Bayfield’s muddah sheep.
So Mac came up with a new plan, to win the old girl’s trust; “if she sees that we are smocking, she won’t worry ’bout us. Bring some dresses, sit on my lap, and here is what we’ll do; while your mother’s smocking away, we goin’ be smocking too”. An’ he singing:
Weeping may endure tonight, but joy will soon be mine; ah goin’ smock and smock like a paling cock, an’ go home feeling fine.
So said and so done, the chossel smocking on Macky’s lap; the old lady was so content, she nearly took a nap. But when Mac couldn’t get it do, the girl exploded with a snort: “Mac Fingall, yuh only wasting my time, your smocking needle’s too short”. An’ she singing:
All things bright and beautiful, all creatures are great or small; some men are blessed and some are not, but Mac ain’t got none at all.
Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.