Sym­pa­thy please for smelly farm­ers

Irish Examiner - Farming - - NEWS -

I am a leper at the mo­ment. Os­tracised by the com­mu­nity. Shunned by my fam­ily. Cas­ti­gated in ev­ery way you could pos­si­bly imag­ine. To think I was once a much loved and cher­ished mem­ber of the par­ish and wider hin­ter­land.

And my crime? What did I do that was so out­ra­geous? Did I mur­der the post­man? Did I have a mad pas­sion­ate af­fair with the vicar’s wife?

No. Noth­ing of the kind. In­no­cent of all charges, I as­sure you.

My only crime it would seem, is in rear­ing a hand­ful of hun­gry calves.

My only crime is be­ing up to my armpits in milk re­placer and other kinds of un­men­tion­able stuff for the past few weeks.

My only crime, dear friend, is in not quite smelling of roses, from morn­ing till night.

As any fel­low with half a clue will tell you, those of us in­volved in the busi­ness of rear­ing calves can be­come se­ri­ously stinky.

T h i s , a l as , i s t r u e , a n d un­avoid­able, un­less you can dress your­self in pro­tec­tive gear, like the sci­en­tists did in Ch­er­nobyl.

Calf rear­ing is a smelly job, and the smell gets ev­ery­where.

More frus­trat­ing, no mat­ter how many types of soap you use, no mat­ter how many times you visit the wash basin dur­ing the day, I have found, down through the years, that noth­ing can rid you of the smell.

So, when you re­turn to the house af­ter your ad­ven­tures in the yard, you can never quite rid your­self of the yard. “Oh, papa dear,” my chil­dren will cry, when I en­ter the house af­ter a day or wrestling with the calves, “you do stink quite pro­fusely.”

“And what can I do about it?” I will re­ply, in sweat and frus­tra­tion.

For at such times, I can be worn out from bathing and gen­eral hos­ing down. Worse again, whereas you could once hap­pily walk into a bank, pub­lic house, or tea­room, with­out an eye­lid be­ing bat­ted, or a nose cocked if the smell em­a­nat­ing from you was any­thing less than de­light­ful, it’s a dif­fer­ent story th­ese days.

Oh yes, ’tis all about sniff­ing out the poor man smelling of calf busi­ness nowa­days.

As soon as you en­ter the premises, you get the im­pres­sion that most would pre­fer you left it again.

Noses start to twitch to the point of go­ing out of joint. Peo­ple have gone mighty s e n s i t i ve t o s m e l l s , a n d un­for­tu­nately not ev­ery farmer can go around smelling like Yves Saint-Lau­rent in the mid­dle of a busy spring.

Worst of all, and most tragic, is when this trou­ble hits the fam­ily home, or more per­ti­nently, your bed. All I’m say­ing is this, at the very time of the year when a fel­low could do with a kiss and a cud­dle, af­ter a hard day in the yard, ’ tis the di­rect op­po­site we might re­ceive. It can be the cold shoul­der on the cold night, for the man smelling of milk re­placer. I’m telling you, the months of Fe­bru­ary and March can be nights of great lone­some­ness and iso­la­tion for the farmer.

There is plenty of ac­tion in the yard, but damn all hap­pen­ing in the bed.

To put it bluntly, what I’m call­ing for to­day is a bit of com­pas­sion and un­der­stand­ing for the hard work­ing farmer who isn’t quite smelling his best at the mo­ment. It isn’t crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity we are in­volved in, ’tis only the rear­ing of a hand­ful of calves.

Just when a hard­work­ing farmer could do with some sym­pa­thy to help him through the busy spring, he gets the cold shoul­der be­cause he is smelling of milk re­placer and other un­men­tion­ables.

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