Tuesday, October 21

Fewer Teas More Songs Me Ol' Mate (Heaveho)

If O'Donnell Farm was quiet living at the top of the drive, sunrises and sets, poetry to little foals, and solitude, then Drummin Farm is rambling life in a little green nook, days half rain half sun, rainbows therefore, words, sea shanties and colorful words. Our words sound something like this

L --Who fancies a cupo?
K --Cupo tay!

Len is seventy, but you wouldn't guess a day over sixty. He loves all things seaman: ship, knots, boats. At fourteen he left school and home, went sailing around the world. He makes hundreds of different knots watching tv with us in the evenings. We watch three types of shows: shows about how to make stuff, history shows primarily about wars and weapons, and mystery series. And Mash sometimes. In the grocery store he charms a little girl--Hallo, blue eyes!--and gets shouts of ''Santa Claus!'' He does look remarkably like Santa. He's also British and speaks a lovely little Cockney, so picture that. He whistles and sings from a wide collection of hilarious and scandalizingly dirty shanties and can't abide things like this: vegetarianism, hippies, hunters of animals, religion in general and Jehovah's Witnesses specifically, faint-heartedness, his ex-wife.

J --Cupo? [something in Icelandic] Why, certainly.
K --I'll put the ke''le on!
L --Wait, first. Jon hand me those grips and hammer.
K --Hamma!

Jon is another Wwoofer here, from California. It's so nice to have a buddy. Though we are quite different, he is someone with a relatively familiar background, similar lexicon, identical American hiking shoes. Before this, he was wwoofing in Poland, and Iceland before that. He loves boats, and Len builds boats, so together they make wood into boats here in this little Iglish bowl of sunlight.

It is. It's refreshing to be around people who are having a good time and sharing it around. Len's favorite thing to say is that life's just a big joke and if you're not enjoying it then the joke's on you. He's lovely. Though I miss to some extent my own quietness, I feel sort of lifted up here. There is hardly time to think, with all the silly songs and hammering to be hammered and sung.

L --Jon, let little tiddler--
J --Haha, tiddlah!
L --- get past you so she can hold this--oh not like that, you grotty old sod, turn her around. Okay, good, now bugger off to the kitchen willya love and put that soup on simmer.

Len's partner is Pat. They've been together for twenty years, but they aren't married. She is British too. She is also seventy, and beautiful. I haven't said much about her because she only just came back from the hospital a couple of days ago. She had major back surgery and was still in there when I arrived. Len does all the cooking and cleaning, on top of building boats and making the sweetest little toys for local kids (really). He beats hell out of Pat for staying in bed all day, for drinking instant coffee, for not knowing how to ''boil water to heat her arse,'' and you can tell how much he bloody well loves her. He's like a fussy and colorful mother, worrying over our dinners and lunches, that we'll have enough to eat, that we'll like the way it tastes. He makes excellent food. He gives hugs and tells us his stories and teaches us how to tie a million different knots, what they're for and why. They have had over four hundred wwoofers in the past sixteen years, and I do believe he thinks of all of them (except the bloody obnoxious ones) as his kids. And I bet they all felt at home here too. Good old Lenahd. I told him in passing one day that I wanted to see the Atlantic Ocean before leaving Ireland, and today he drove me around the countryside showing me castles, old ruins, different kinds of boats docked in a little port town. We had a picnic of bread, onion cheese spread, orange fanta by the ocean.

K --Simma!
J --Simma! [cracks up]

It is totally ridiculous, to hear us talk. We use any words we know for anything we want to say. We say it in broken or flawless Spanish, Latin, German, French, Icelandic, Russian, Irish, words we make up. We tell each other all the interested word origins we know about. We compare our words. We say our words like some gibberish that carries nearly no meaning. That's how we say them usually. Though sometimes Jon says things he knows, about palletization, and I find anagrams. Len gives us cockney rhyming slang. And we repeat everything over again in any accent we vaguely know--Scottish, Dubliner, old southern, carrot-cruncher. We are saying all the time and the things are color-changing skipping creatures that make us laugh if we pay them any attention. And usually we don't.

L --Oh bugga this bloody stupid thing. This stuff should be sticking like shite to a blanket...

Finished Mural!

Monday, October 13

Brought To You By Horses

Part I. Horses in fog, pieces of horses, pieces of horses in fog

II. Similarity between horses and dinosaurs.

Sunday, October 12

Putting the Buns in the Oven

Yesterday we inseminated a pig. Mike called a guy who happens to have a lot of boar semen. A little wihle later he was going down to the gas station in Borrisoleigh to pick up the goods: a white styrofoam box (keep refrigerated) of what looks like little IV bags and some long, surprisingly long, plastic tubes. And not long after that I was busy patting Magella's head while she was busy eating some weeds and getting pregnant. It wasn't as romantic as Magella would've liked, but I think she and I shared a little moment there when she looked at me and let out what sounded like a contented snort. Too bad I won't stick around to take care of the little ones. I'm just a good-for-nothin pigletmama.

Look at the little nose under the door. That's Pippy. She likes to get in everyone's business.

Tuesday, October 7

A hug and a slice of toast

After such a nourishing breakfast, there was trouble in the barnyard. It was a day of separation. The baby goat with one horn was left alone in the pasture. Her mother was tied up on the other side of the barn, near the donkey. Little goat is being weaned, we get more milk for our seven or eight daily cups of tea. The donkey, on the other hand, apparently always feels separated. When he brays it sounds like uncontrollable sobbing, like he will actually die from heartbreak. Maybe he will. He probably wouldn't be the first.

But the most traumatic events of the day belong to the pigs. There are two sows, one pink one, one black one, each with a litter of piglets, curious mud-snouted flop-eared things. Pink lady has three little guys (bonhams) that haven't been sold yet, and the other has six. These young chaps were supposed to be weaned two weeks ago, so it was high time for what happened today. It took a lot of coaxing with barley and odd scraps of food, and several mad dashes at little hooves that squealed when you grabbed them, but at the end of the day each of the ladies was locked up, alone. The sounds made by a mother pig whose last piglets have disappeared are something like an axe murderer grunting just on the other side of the bedroom door.

Mike said I was being too sentimental about it, and this is probably true. For my first time out, though, I think I did okay. How could I help feeling just a bit stressed out when there was a donkey ripping his heart out over here, while the purest white and most unicornesque baby goat bleated pitifully for her mama over there, and an angry sow nearby was trying to hoof herself over the fence to gore me with her pigletless snout, and two gaggles of scared bonhams were bravely and loudly trying to battle pink against black in a dark room in the barn? I could not.

What did I do to calm myself down?

Fed my little horse her foal pellets from the plastic mixing bowl, went inside and made myself an amazingly delicious quesadilla.

Friday, October 3

Different Places With Different Winds

I and money disappeared in Dublin. What to write about Dublin? I don't know. I was mostly looking for old things in old places and getting small slaps on the wrists for it, which has done me good. New friends made, but also a renewing of solitude.

I couch-surfed with Brian Cavanagh in Santry, outside the center. His friend Nils was visiting from Germany. We took the DART out to Howthe where the sea is, where the hills and cliffs are. Nils said the delicate white streaks on the water were made by small winds. We decided not to walk all the way around. We decided it was better to look at only one or two things.

We drank Orange County wine from paper cups, eating cashews, Brian throwing rocks down into the deep, narrow cove. I looked at the colors. Nils talked about, I don't remember, jumping from cliffs maybe.

I guess I was never in Dublin except alone. Out in Santry, and in Marino with Barbara my second host, I knew more or less how to measure myself and things. But every time I was in Dublin proper, it was on my own. I guess that's why I don't know how to write about it. Dublin only existed in my mind, I only existed in Dublin's mind, something like that. I walked for very long times. I stood outside the gate at Trinity College, spent some hours in a bookstore, found a bagel place, they toasted my bagel for about two seconds. Took things way too seriously. Got rained on. Looked for Jews on Rosh Hashanah. Found none. Wondered what I'd write on my blog when it came time.

I loved Dublin the day I left. I succeeded at the laundromat, had a really nice tea and talk with Barbara, made it into town in one piece. Sun was shining. It's so nice to be sad to leave a place. Too often, I've been only too happy to go. I am trying not to do that anymore.

* * *

Right now I'm in a little town in County Tipperary called Templemore. The accent here is lovely. They pronounce ''barley'' like ''barely,'' as in ''always remember: oats for the goats, barely for the pigs.'' Solitude was actually quiet and gentle, even cinematic, on the train ride down. The land, the being moved along through it, listening to headphones, late afternoon light. Things golden, myself present and grateful. And when we pulled into Templemore Station there actually was, there on the horizon, the most vivid, most perfectly formed rainbow I'd ever seen. Not kidding.

Mike the farmer is lovely too. It's just him and Diane, his partner, at the farm. And the animals. Turns out turkeys are quite cool little guys. Ducks do not quack they way I think they should. And pigs are very cute and look just like Babe the pig, which makes sense.

I don't know what to make of it here yet. The countryside is so beautiful I can't stop taking pictures of it and they're never good enough. Things are quiet. I am trying to focus on each task and do the work for the work's sake only and be still and have gratitude. It is taking some adjusting. It is only day three, I miss friends, people my age, cafes. But the air is fresh and the animals lively enough company. I am painting a mural on the wall of the barn, pulling weeds when I need to warm up a bit. The best part, of course, is feeding the horses. They aren't broken so I can't ride them, but it's nice to be around them. I look at them and feel familiarity.

Sorry this post is all over the place. Internet cafes are stressful! Not sure when I'll be back for internet. Next week probably.