Golf writer & photographer. Author of ‘Hooked’, the most comprehensive guide to Ireland's golf courses, and ‘Driving the Green’. Published by Collins Press. Editor for Destination Golf Ireland, feature writer for Irish Golfer Magazine freelancer for Irish Examiner. Golf is in the blood. http://www.kevinmarkhamphotography.com
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
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’être 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:
a mighty force who typically causes mayhem when things are not done ‘the right
way’… aka ‘my way’.
Dream on. I did notice that golf doesn’t appear to be high on a farmer’s
It’s there, it’s everywhere, get used to it.
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 (http://weteachsocial.com/). I have no idea
where she gets the time. Next she’ll be taking up golf.