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WOMAN ON THE VERGE: Silage season: how’s she cutting?

June 14th, 2022 3:30 PM

By Emma Connolly

Silage cutting, Love Island and baby sloths ... just another week in Woman on the Verge!

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I’ve huge respect for our agricultural contractors working all hours of the day and night to get the silage cut right now... and the people making the sandwiches to feed them too!

• I THINK the earth moved in bed for me the other night. My bones might have rattled a bit too. Steady on…it was all thanks to another tractor and trailer full of freshly-cut grass hurtling by the house in the wee hours. Maybe it was the confusion at being woken up, but I came over all sentimental for the crews who are out in all hours of the day and night doing such crucial work. In a world where lots of jobs seem, well a bit gimmicky, these guys (and the odd gal) are very important in the greater scheme of things. Funny, but getting stuck behind rental car drivers who, not only stick to the speed limits but feel the need to go 10km/h slower, makes me feel irrationally angry, but I have all the time in the world for silage traffic. Must be the farmer’s daughter in me.

• I remember growing up, how my siblings and I were fascinated by the contractors (respectfully referred to by us as ‘The Silage Men’). We found them a wildly exotic and eclectic bunch, this mini-army who would descend on the farm, do their highly-skilled work, and then just as fast, move off to the next property, leaving a grateful family behind in their wake.

• Of course in between there was the task of feeding ‘The Silage Men’ which was taken almost as seriously as the silage cutting itself. Even if they weren’t ready for grub until 3am, there was no question of not serving something up (mainly as it was feared it would put you way down the pecking order when it came to the second cut). It’s written into the Ts & Cs of all rural marriage contracts. It mightn’t be stated as such but it’s basically: ‘Do you promise to honour and obey, love and protect…oh, and also feed silage men all the days of your life?’ The only answer is ‘I do.’

• You knew not the day, nor the hour when the crews could land, but as soon as word filtered in from the yard that the cutting was to commence it was a case of every man, woman and child to their stations, and a dash to the co-op to get the mountains of sliced pans and cold meat, or the makings of a decent cold plate. Eggs were boiled, ham was boiled … if machines broke down, blood was boiling, the air often turned blue at silage time but it was all part of the authentic experience.

• I remember, too, it was totally legitimate to take a day off school to help with covering the pit. No questions asked. Health and safety was also a bit more lax in the 80s and it was the ultimate thrill to be allowed hop into the cab of the loader as it went over and back, flattening down the mound of freshly-cut grass at gravity-defying angles (definitely not for the fainthearted). Even now, some guys I know book days off work to ‘go at grass,’ they derive such absolute pleasure from it. I can see it in my young nephew, too, who is beside himself when it’s their turn for silage. It’s a joy. God bless the work is all I can say.

• Right, so a puppy update for those who might be interested: he has my heart broken. I wouldn’t call myself a great gardener by any means, but jeepers, the place looks like a war zone. There are bits of chewed balls and sticks everywhere, overturned pots, big clumps of grass … debris all over the place. Just as well I’m still off Instagram! The place is a tip! The other day I thought we had turned a corner when he didn’t try to jump up on me and knock me over with his exuberance. Progress, I thought. But then he started making a weird choking noise. I wouldn’t be great in these situations, and was starting to panic (or wonder if there were any silage men in the vicinity) when he spewed up a clump of grass. And then tried to knock me over. I’d like to think he’s learned his lesson but I doubt it. And he won’t go on the leash for love nor money. Do I need to call in the professionals? For either of us? I’m randomly obsessing over the first sloth just born at Fota Wildlife Park. Too cute for words. Who knew sloths spend most of their lives suspended from trees, and only descend once a week to go to the toilet? Sounds like my ideal pet.

• I really felt my age the other day. My teen godson is heading off to a disco next week  and I was doing the ‘annoying aunty’ thing and asking him a load of questions. One was if there’d be minerals available at it. A simple enough question I thought. But he had not a clue what I was on about. ‘Minerals,’ I repeated. ‘I’ll stand you a mineral…will there be any?’ Nothing. Is this the start of my irrelevance? Already?

• The school holidays are getting nearer. Instead of just lying in a dark corner and weeping I’ve started to get a bit more proactive and am mainly googling ‘how to do the HDip,’ ‘how hard is the HDip?’and ‘can anyone do the HDip.’ I’m debating whether or not to commit to Love Island which started this week, but I think I should try to protect my few remaining brain cells. In case I take on the HDip.

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