I have noticed that, in my own little bubble, it is the kids who have been most open to adapting to whatever the COVID-19 pandemic has chucked our way. Traditions are not set fast in their minds. So once we adults can rationalise and reassure the younger generation that this new approach will work out fine, they are happy to trust that; as long as life stays easy breezy and fun! The biggest question in our house in early December was: “Will Santa still be able to come?” Thankfully COVID-19 presented no issues in this regard.

Homemade gifts

Doing Christmas shopping online is taxing on the mind, as well as the credit card, and quite time consuming. I certainly came away from most purchases feeling slightly stressed and majorly behind schedule. I like to be able to see, touch and feel what I am buying so online has been much more of a slog for me.

Hannah Bolger's daughter Nelly named each of their new hens.

I did my best to stay local and Irish though. With all the online stuff done, I have moved on to making the baked gifts that I force upon our long-suffering neighbours, friends and relations. Every year, I kid myself that they do really enjoy receiving something that is home-baked. And every year, even as I hand over the gift with a smile wider than the River Nile, I fret over whether I included all the ingredients, baked it long enough or for too long and wonder: “Will it even taste nice?” I think at times: “It’d be easier to buy something,” quickly followed by a reassuring “They’ll love it!” so fingers crossed, as I went with the latter!

Hannah Bolger. \ Claire Nash


However, all this online and homemade gift creating and purchasing did make a severe dent in my timekeeping. I turned into one of Santa’s reindeer, dashing between various chores, getting nothing done and everything done at the same time. Even now, with Christmas behind us, I am waiting for my husband, Michael, to read the riot act over mucky ponies making mucky fields. Everytime I battle the wind and rain in the dark, cussing over the lost minutes of daylight on that confounded electronic device I can hear his mantra of “put them in the shed”.

He has brought the rams into the sheep shed now, having fulfilled their stud duties and they are my responsibility for the rest of the winter. I’m not sure I’m the best person for the task, but as he says: “How hard can it be?”

Tidy farm

The farm is looking lovely – with the exception of the horses chewing up some fields. The hedges were cut for the first time in years by a contractor and look very tidy and the sheds are having a little roof touch up. The wind around here is wicked in the winter and can play havoc with any loose sheeting. The little flock of hens Michael got in spring, which I really could have done without, have proved their worth many times over. Their sleek feathers and quirky characters add to the farm’s charm and we also have had a steady amount of delicious eggs and some most unexpected entertainment.

Strangely, since the onslaught of COVID-19. I have felt the farm become more relaxed, less stringent, more family orientated and the girl’s little ponies seem to complete the circle nicely. A most surprising statement popped out of Michael’s mouth the other night: “There’s nothing as nice as a nice Connemara pony”.

I’m not what has got into him but surely that paves the way for a lovely little Connemara to join our modest herd in 2021. He mustn’t have noticed the muck yet!

Happy new year from Waterfall Farm.