Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Would You Marry a Farmer? A Book Review

Where golf and farming collide

You’re probably wondering why I’m writing a review of a book about farming. I could find a few tenuous links (cow pats on fairways, farming land turned into golf courses, hitting sheep with errant golf balls) but it’s for two reasons: first is the author, Lorna Sixsmith, who raised the funds to publish this book herself; second is the many summers I spent as a child on my godmother’s farm in the rolling Wicklow hills. I have fond memories of the milking, the tractor rides and the hay-stacked barn… but of the bull, not so much.

 I have met Lorna on a couple of occasions and admire her motivation (see below).

And besides, it has given me an idea for a new book: Would You Marry a Golfer?

 Lorna is from good Irish farming stock and lives with her husband on a dairy farm in Carlow, once owned and worked by her parents. The book is an entertaining and humorous look at day-to-day life on the farm and the role the non-farming* spouse leads. It gives multi-tasking new meaning.

* It quickly becomes apparent that there is no such thing as a non-farming spouse.

But the book’s raison d’ĂȘtre is to outline the life that a potential spouse will have to accommodate – or should that be endure – if she (or he) decides to marry a farmer. It is a commitment few non-farming types can imagine.

There are four things that stand out:
1.     Mother-in-Law: a mighty force who typically causes mayhem when things are not done ‘the right way’… aka ‘my way’.
2.     Holidays: Dream on. I did notice that golf doesn’t appear to be high on a farmer’s ‘get-away-from-it-all’ list.
3.     Muck: It’s there, it’s everywhere, get used to it.
4.     Multi-tasking: So, you need me to make dinner, bake a cake for the contractors, pick up the kids from school, help with the milking, visit the wholesalers, change a tyre, wash the clothes, fix the plumbing and stick myself in a hedge to stop the cows escaping? By 5pm? No bother.

An Easy, Light-Hearted Read

The book provides lots of lists of things for prospective spouses to consider ahead of pursuing a farmer. At the start, it also dwells on a bygone age** and the types of newspaper/magazine advertisements from farmers looking for a wife… preferably decent looking, a ‘good strong girl’, and with plenty of money to bring to the table. Subtlety is not a word embraced by the famers of old. 

It's not all light-hearted. Farming is such a major part of our country's economy that certain things have to be taken seriously. There are discussions about staying married (farming is not an easy life, especially when the farm comes first), pre-nups (my godmother would have conniptions), inheritance and succession. If you haven't watched The Field, maybe now is the time to do so.

** And maybe not that bygone!

Where golf and farming collide... again.
I did find one essential piece of information – and that was the requirement that before clothes go in the washing machine they are checked and emptied of coins, calf nuts and the like. Replace these with tees, pencils and ball markers and you’re talking to golfers everywhere, only with less muck involved... although my wife might be inclined to disagree... and let's not talk about smelly golf shoes. 

And for those people who look at farming and only see Euro signs and European subsidies, this book shows the reality of what a farm demands. There are upsides to living and breathing in the country, but the farm owns you and not the other way around.


I’ll also add that Lorna includes a 12-month calendar of what takes place on the farm and her roles throughout the year… nowhere does it mention writing, funding and publishing a book, managing her blogs, being active on Twitter and Facebook, co-running The Irish Blog Awards, and running a side business that helps people to understand and use Social Media ( I have no idea where she gets the time. Next she’ll be taking up golf.

Look her up, buy the book at and enjoy.


  1. Thanks a million for the lovely review Kevin, it did make me laugh. Looking forward to your book 'Would You Marry A Golfer?' :)
    And I have to admit I don't think I know any farmers who play golf, the occasional retired one if their body hasn't given up by then :)

  2. The book is a great read, light funny and interesting stories. It tells us about the jargon, code and joyful way that farming is.