Family Fortunes: It was the cow's fault Mammy's wedding ring got lost

As she picked herself up off the cow house floor she soon discovered her precious wedding ring was missing

‘Although we searched through the straw bedding, the ring was never found and our disillusioned Mother’s cow stripping days ended’ Photograph: istock

‘Although we searched through the straw bedding, the ring was never found and our disillusioned Mother’s cow stripping days ended’ Photograph: istock

 

I was born and reared with four siblings on a mixed farm in County Wicklow. We had cows, sheep, horses, a donkey, pigs, hens, turkeys, ducks and a goat.

We also grew our own vegetables and were seldom hungry, thanks to Mammy’s cooking skills.

Our father introduced a milking machine into the farm in the early 1950’s which was considered great progress at the time, albeit somewhat behind the robotic technology now being practiced on some farms.

However, ours, driven by an old diesel engine, greatly reduced the twice daily chore of milking the cows.

It also generated power which enabled us to have electricity independently of the ESB.

I raced home across the fields, and, within an hour was the proud owner of a half crown

When the milking machine finished each cow, there was usually a need to finish off the milking manually through “stripping”. This involved gently stroking the cow’s tits by hand to extract the last of the fresh warm milk.

Although Mammy rarely worked on the farm, aside from the garden, she loved stripping the cows and, on many evenings, she would head for the cow house, after the milking machine had finished its task.

Aided by a three legged stool, and a sparkling clean galvanise bucket she would then sit and set about stripping a few of the cows, an operation she loved and found most relaxing, bringing back memories of her childhood days.

All was fine until one September evening one of the cows got a bit excited, tried to step back and knocked over my Mother and her stool and her partially filled bucket of warm milk.

Mammy and Daddy on their wedding day in September 1932
Mammy and Daddy on their wedding day in September, 1932

As she picked herself up off the cow house floor she soon discovered her precious wedding ring was missing. Although we searched through the straw bedding, the ring was never found and our disillusioned Mother’s cow stripping days ended. She could not envisage taking on the task again.

Six months later I was helping out spreading cow dung in the freshly opened drills for our new crop of early potatoes (British Queens) in the Quarry Field. Using a two pronged fork I was stunned when my eyes were attracted to the sparkling little shiny golden ring embedded in the composting oaten straw.

Eureka! I raced home across the fields, and, within an hour was the proud owner of a half crown.

The following day Mammy returned to her favourite task, having left the wedding ring safely on the kitchen dresser. God rest her.

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