I had a face on me recently when a friend rang and asked about bringing a few lambs to a community event in the local GAA field.
The family fun day included various games and attractions, including children’s races and exhibition matches, penalty shootouts, a dog show, golfing targets, and too many others to recall.
The friend thought ‘Guess the Weight of the Lambs’ would fit in well as another game. Ask people for a euro, and let them guess the weights and name the lambs, he said. Simple.
I tried a few excuses.
The rain had turned their wool a little brown
The lambs were not used to people and might go cracked, breaking out of the pen and knocking over tables full of cakes and buns. The rain had turned their wool a little brown and they’d look terrible among the rest of the shiny attractions. One of the bunch had got maggots and it might spread.
The truth was that I didn’t want the hassle of bringing them.
I met several neighbours and friends I had not seen in months, or years in some cases
Thankfully, my friend was not taking no for an answer and I relented. I was very glad I did.
The sun shone and the children and adults thought the lambs were a great novelty. I met several neighbours and friends I had not seen in months, or years in some cases.
The burgers (€2) from the stall were lukewarm, but tasted better for it. The coffee from a flask (€2) and buns with icing (€1) were perfect.
By the time I was loading up the lambs for home, I had already promised to bring them back again next year.
For the record, the two lambs presented for examination were 42kg and 45kg.
It was a proper community day out
Two people guessed right. Others were within 1-2kg. And then there were a few jokers, suggesting anything from six pounds to 20 stone. The names ranged from Captain America and Batman to parents’ names and traditional sheep names.
The two who got the weights correct got the naming rights, and so the lambs were christened Wooly and Fluffy Bottom.
It was a proper community day out.
The field was full of smiling faces and everyone saying we were blessed with the weather, the bit of heat is lovely, and it’s great to see people out enjoying themselves again.
As well as the lambs, there was a tractor whose cab was full of balloons and you had to guess how many were in it. Someone else brought two round bales of straw and these acted as climbing obstacles for the children. The farmer’s field beside the pitch was made available for parking.
We take part in tractor runs, offer heifer calves for charity auctions, allow silage bales to be painted and turned into all sorts of statues and effigies
Farm representatives constantly tell the media and TDs that farmers are at the heart of rural communities. Sometimes we are, sometimes we’re not. We take part in tractor runs, offer heifer calves for charity auctions, allow silage bales to be painted and turned into all sorts of statues and effigies.
Then there is the next level up, where dairy farmer Mike Magan collected the milk of one cow for one day from farmers all over the country for famine relief in Yemen.
Whatever other mud is slung at farmers, one thing that can rarely be questioned is our sense of responsibility and engagement in our local communities.
Getting off our backsides to bring a few lambs to a family fun day is the least any of us can do.