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Holy Cow!

Okay, people. It’s about time we revisited the subject of animals. First, I will ease us into the sensitive topic with another poem of choice. This is one that has come to mind a number of times since being here. The weather here has gotten MUCH colder, but to my great delight, it’s still possible to go on strolls around the gardens and take in the stars and a lovely white-bright full moon or a low-hanging shimmery three quarter moon.

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Okay, so one glaring hole in this blog is never posting about milking the jersey cows here at Ballymaloe. I didn’t pull on any udders by hand, but did lift up the cows’ tails and attach metal milking equipment to the udders. In fact, “milking” the cows ended up being a lot about cleaning in addition to milking.

Eileen (gregarious Cork-raised gardener, milker lady) explained to me that the cow I was milking had given birth to a bull calf. When I asked where the calf was, she said that we had eaten it for lunch the week before!?! So, there I was lifting up the tail of a cow whose calf I ate – very strange, somewhat disturbing experience. Will have to think more on this.

Speaking of cows, Darina recently did a beef demo. She also used some fresh horseradish (grown in the Ballymaloe gardens!) to make a fiery, delicious sauce.


Here’s my huge plate of food from lunch the day after. That bun-like specimen on the bottom left is a Yorkshire pudding, and there are various greens, tomatoes, etc. There’s also bit of bean stew. As you can see, we’ve moved heavily into root vegetables, with huge slices of meat and a generous helping of the horseradish sauce. Probably one of our best lunches yet.


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