I never thought I would enjoy a book about Irish cattle and sheep farming. But I certainly enjoyed “The Farmer’s Son, Calving Season on a Family Farm,” by John Connell, a journalist/author.
The memoir is about Connell’s return to his home country of Ireland where he worked on his family’s cattle and sheep farm. He also planned to write there—his book is a compilation of his experiences. The Irish are known to be gifted, elegant writers, and Connell is no exception. His writing is fluid, clear and eloquent.
Connell weaves back and forth in time, from his present situation to ancient myths, legends and the history of cows. We learn how cows are bred and farmed. He speaks of knowing the animals and being kind to them as they are sent to market and the empathy he feels when he has to kill one.
Readers also learn of Connell’s life prior to returning to Ireland. He speaks clearly and honestly of his “past,” as he refers to his bout of depression. Throughout the book he speaks of his “roots” and his connections to the land—the land and people intertwined, with nothing separating them.
Connell includes details about his family’s dynamics, his neighbors and how their lives are connected. He laments that too many of us are removed from nature in too many ways. Connell’s gratefulness is ever present, and he talks openly about forgiveness for transgressions large and small.
“The Farmer’s Son” resonated with me. My father was from a farming family in North Dakota and my mother’s family was from Ireland. It is a relatively short book. I found it comforting, gentle and just a good read. I hope you like it too.