Newborn is named after VIP as family mark visit
THE farm was so clean that China's Vice-President Xi Jinping didn't even have to wear wellies when he took a stroll across the fields or ventured into cow sheds.
Dairy farmer James Lynch and his wife Maura had been preparing all week for his visit to their 87 hectares in Cappagh, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare.
Yesterday, Mr Lynch had the 120 pedigree Friesian cows milked at the earlier time of 5am, but of all the cattle on his farm, it was a calf born overnight which attracted the most attention.
"Things went off very well. We had a great time, absolutely," Mr Lynch said.
"He came in his shoes. I was in my wellies myself. We had the place washed and cleaned,"
"He got here about 8.40am. He went down the farmyard and looked at the winter housing facility for the cows and then looked at cows near calving.
"He was very interested in the milking machine and the technology used and the time it takes to milk the cows," Mr Lynch said.
"And then he went into the new-born calf in the shed," he added.
Having just arrived into the world, the poor calf didn't know where to look, with Mr Xi and Agricultural Minister Simon Coveney inspecting it while Chinese business leaders and Communist government officials crowded around.
"We got the sucky calf for him last night. By God, he was very much taken by the calf. He put his hands around her and kneeled down," Mr Lynch said.
The farmer said he would never be able to sell the calf, which is already a celebrity in Clare.
"Definitely not, we will never sell her. We are going to have to keep her with the herd. We will have to call her Ms Xi from now on. We had Mr Xi and now we have Ms Xi with us. It's the least we can do is to name her after himself," he said.
Already, there are big expectations on the future productivity of the calf.
"Oh, by God, well I'll tell you whatever about anything else, I expect we will have a market place for her milk anyhow out of it. That's the important thing," Mr Lynch said. "He was very interested in the traceability that is involved with ear tags -- how long the traceability (along the food chain) stayed with the animal.
"He was very much into lactation and the number of days cows are milking and the production of the cows."
On the pastures, Mr Xi led the way -- without wellies.
"He was very interested in the quality and protein of the grass. He knew his stuff. He has a background in agriculture and understands it."
Back inside the Lynch home at 9.30am, warm scones, buns, cakes and Irish coffees were waiting.
"He really enjoyed his Irish coffee. He drank it all. There was a good shot of whiskey in it, but he was going back west and there was a fair nip in the air so he needed it for that trip," Mr Lynch said.
James (5), Olive (3) and Ronan Lynch (8 months) received unexpected presents of three stuffed toy panda bears from Mr Xi.
"He brought gifts for the kids which we didn't expect at all. They are something for life for them -- they will be really momentous.
"He was very interested in the children. He wanted to know what ages they were and how they liked their farm."
All week in Sixmilebridge, the talk has been that '11' (after the Roman numbers XI) was coming.
"James gave him a Sixmilebridge GAA jersey. We got a great family photo with him. He held James, he gave Olive a kiss going away. They were thrilled. He was very friendly, absolutely fierce nice -- a very family-orientated man," Mr Lynch added.