Farm Ireland

Sunday 18 February 2018

Opinion: Who says romance isn't alive and well down on the farm?

There is a view that farmers are generally not romantic
Ann Fitzgerald

Ann Fitzgerald

Few people of any age need reminding that today is St Valentine's Day. It's supposed to be the most romantic day of the year.

Now, I enjoy a bit of romance as much as anyone. It's exciting and flattering and lovely. But a relationship that's built on romance - which does happen - will flounder as soon as they encounter the inevitable choppy water.

There are many other, more important, aspects to love - like friendship, respect, honesty, loyalty, trust, sense of fun, support and communication.

Perhaps it's the cynic in me, but could the reason why there aren't any days celebrating these values be because they're not as easy to convert into hard cash?

There is a view that farmers are generally not romantic. But is it more that they are primarily practical? At the heart of romance is the suspension of reality, and farmers are not willing to dance to someone else's tune.

At this time of year, most livestock farmers are mad busy and it's far from romance their thoughts are.

They are not just going to walk away from a calving cow or lambing ewe to head off for a fancy dinner. Obviously, this is partly because these animals are their business but they also love their stock.

If something did go wrong, they would feel bad because they would feel they had let their animals down, rather than because of whatever financial loss had been incurred.

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Anyway, romance doesn't have to mean a bunch of roses, box of chocolates or candlelit dinner - though it can mean those things, too. But not necessarily on February 14, when demand for such luxuries makes them expensive and the accompanying quality of the experience is often lesser than it would be any other day of the year.

When you think about it, a romantic gesture when it's not obligatory means far more.

As my husband, Robin, often says, "Love is like religion. It's not what church, if any, you go to on a Sunday; it's what you do for the rest of the week that matters."

Every summer, he will surprise me with the first raspberry/strawberry/plum from his garden. My heart always gives a little flutter.

Some people get worked up about the significance of the day and others about its commercialism.

I see it mostly as a bit of fun and think it's far better not to take the whole thing too seriously. Where problems do arise in a relationship is when there is never a break from routine. And spare a thought in all of this for the Valentine-less.

There is a great story by All Creatures Great and Small vet James Herriot about getting back into bed after a night call. Rather than flinch, his wife, Helen, would curl her warm body into his freezing one. It's a scenario many farming spouses encounter at this time of year.

I know of a farming wife who will, every once in a while, be the one who gives her husband a break and will get up to check a calving cow.

On the other side of this coin, when a friend of mine is going out on a frosty night, her farmer husband will nip out 10 minutes before she is leaving to start the car and turn on the heater so it's nice and cosy to sit into.

Though what about the farmer who - on the day after his wife announced she was going to be off work on Valentine's Day - came in and said they would be spending the entire 14th together, side by side?

Her initial delight evaporated when it transpired he'd gone off and booked the herd test. It's the one occasion of the year when all hands are needed on deck.

Who says romance isn't alive and well down on the farm?

Indo Farming