Views on farming at Valentine’s from a city girl
Anne Bennett Brosnan was a city girl until she married a farmer from Ballyduff, Co Kerry. She remembers how surprisingly boisterous calves can be when bucket-fed, a shock when it’s your first time.

The first time I got a puck from a calf, I had just named her. For the purposes of anonymity, let’s call her Daisy. So, it was during the early blind-ish love days of our courtship. Like any smitten city girl, not in her right mind, I was trying to impress my eligibility as a farmer’s wife on my suitor. If there were points given out for enthusiasm, I was in. So, I stood there in my ‘duds’ (in the days when I thought a once worn pair of jeans was dirty), face to snout with a doe-eyed and innocuous enough looking polly named Daisy.

Then it started

The first puck serves as an anaesthetic for the next few. Ah no, that didn’t happen, this cute little polly, she couldn’t have just hit me.

Second puck at the bucket this time, confusion ensues. What does she want from me?

Puck. I’m covered in milk.

Puck. She’s gorging on my trousers.

Puck. Where’s your man gone? Is this normal?

Puck. Is that, is that saliva?

Puck. The milk is gone. Is that what she’s looking for? Does she think I’m her mommy?

Puck. I think I’m black and blue.

Puck. I’m out of here. What was I thinking? Is this what I’m signing up for?

Lesson learned

The calf house is not the place for anyone who doesn’t see that puck coming, nor is it the place for anyone not big or wise enough to feel the full force of a pucking polly. They can be strong. You might have been feeding these little calves for years but let me tell you, it hurts. When it came to feeding the calves en masse, I spent my time with the older calves, pleading and cajoling them. Ah wouldn’t you suck on that teat thing? No, that’s the gate, and that dear calf, is my instep you’re stomping on. Ah go on, hurry up, the others are drinking up the milk. Really, you’re not getting the hang of this. Has Daisy an older twin by any chance?

This carries on for a while until the farmer comes in and sorts the calves around the feeder like he’s fanning a pack of cards. One calf per teat. Making it look so easy. Indeed, love is blind.

The moral of this story my farming friends is two-fold. Firstly, be mindful of who you let feed your calves, it’s not for sport. Secondly, if you find yourself cheek to cheek this Valentine’s weekend with a city girl, wait a while before you hand her the bucket of beestings. You heard it here first.

Read more by Anne here