Saturday, 21 February 2015

Brownie The Heifer Who Thought She Was A Dog. . (Some Tales About Some Of The Livestock Characters Who Have Lived On Our Smallholding. Part Two.)

I thought I was a tough country type smallholder until "Brownie" came along.   She was a brown ("never") and white heifer that I bought when she was a 2 week old 'dropped' calf.  I bought her with a bovine comrade called "Fawnie".

All our farm animals usually end up with names along with their ear tag numbers.  It's much easier to understand when some one runs into the house and says:

"Blackie has just fecked off down the boreen."

It's OK to say Feck in Ireland.

I have also heard mothers calling their children the T word.  I don't mean twit either!

The late and great author Pete McCarthy (read McCarthy's Bar) said that the Irish taught the world to swear.  I think he had a point.

Any road.  Brownie was more like a dog than an heifer.  She used to walk up to you in the field and rub her head into your belly.  Until you stroked her back.  She would stand there all day if you let her.  Brownie was a bovine pal and I she was well liked by quite a few of the farmers who visited the farm.

I wanted her to become a cow and rear her own calves.  Brownie grew bigger and bigger (very large and fat) but she never went to dairy.  She never mounted other cattle or showed visible signs of coming onto heat.  I explained my concerns about Brownie to my uncle and to a few other farmers.  They said that Brownie must be a Free Martin.  No she didn't give strange bovine handshakes or even milk shakes!  Their explanation was clear as mud to me.

One day I showed her to a cattle dealer.  He looked at her 'lady garden' and he thought it wasn't quite the right shape.


Then he explained that Brownie was a free martin.  Apparently if twin calves are born and one of them is a bull calf.  The female will take on physical male characteristics, internally.  So outwardly Brownie looked like a cow.  But she was barren!

Poor old Brownie grew bigger and bigger and fatter and fatter.   A local butcher said she would pop if we didn't (to use his words):

 "Get her sorted."

So one day after much heart searching and an empty wallet.  We decided to sell her to the butcher.

Brownie killed well and I got paid six hundred and forty Euros for her.  Then I went out and bought 2 more calves.  That's farming for you!


  1. Aww bless, as you say that's farming for you, you are running a business but it must be hard not to get attached to your animals. I laughed out loud at ' Blackie has just fecked off down the boreen'. I loved Pete McCarthy very funny man. I think Father Ted introduced us to the word 'feck' in our house :)

  2. Hi Twiggy.

    Yes it's very difficult not to fall in love with some of your livestock pals. We have a very old terrier (often featured on the blog) who is part of the family. It will be like a bereavement when she goes. I always get the grave digger, undertaker and vicar job.

    Pete McCarthy was a genius and very gifted writer. He was born in Warrington and his mum came from Drimoleague, here in West Cork.

    There's loads of stuff on the old "Tinternet and Tweb" about the word "Feck". There is a village called Kilgarvan in Kerry. Every year a road side farmer paints on his big round silage bales:

    "Feck off crows!"

    The kids love it!

    Thanks Twiggy!

  3. Poor Brownie! But at least she got a lot of fuss made of her when she was in life.

    1. I am sure you have met some adorable creatures on your smallholding in France, Vera? Brownie had a good life and it was lesson for me not to be over sentimental for a creature grown for meat! Thanks.

  4. A bull stirk without the castration?

    1. Ever the pragmatist Mr Cumbrian. Never thought of it like that.

  5. other than dogs, no other animal gets a name. If we ever got chickens they also wouldnt have names. I think we wont get any chickens, for the amount of eggs we eat the fuss isnt worth it for us.

    4 lambs so far. I think they are going to sell the dairy herd. its all very sad at the moment. the government and the supermarkets need to support all farmers big and small more. Else we are all going to be eating and drinking dairy products from France or Hungary.

  6. Hi Sol. We also try not to give them names. But already one heifer is called Wellingtons and another one is called scratchy. It just makes life easier if everybody knows which animal you are talking about.

    It's very very difficult to make any kind of a living. People sometimes ask us to rent out the land but we won't. I think keep a few and try to diversify to bring in other income. We compete against a global market. Thanks!


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