9 January 1998

If Id known, Id have run

COMMUNICATION. Or rather the lack of it – thats the problem. Had he said, all those years ago, "Fancy wearing grubby overalls and chasing cows through the mud on a cold, dark night? Oh yes, Im also impatient and unlikely to go on holiday," I would have fled from that Young Farmers Club dance like a bat out of hell.

Of course, we know lifes not like that. It creeps up on you – just like farming.

Being young and naive, I went with the flow – and with his aspirations. He worked hard and provided us all with a roof and food, which is as much as the cows have. They dont expect much in the way of conversation and their little outings are usually one-way.

Bale-stacking, cleaning the cowshed, paperwork, gardening, decorating – been there, done that, and the novelty wears off after 30 years.

Between the chores you have to make time for the children – he was usually too busy. Children are delightful company and many men miss so much by not listening patiently to what they have to say. Thankfully, the younger generation of fathers seems more in tune with their offspring.

So, I took them on outings and the occasional holiday – all worthwhile experiences. Even the day trip to Wales when everyone was sick on the coach!

"What do I want a holiday for?" hell say. "Ive been to market/farm sale. But theres nothing to stop you going."

Fine – as long as it doesnt upset the farm routine too much.

Retirement. Now thats a subject on which most farmers seem most uncommunicative.

"Where shall we go?" I ask.

"Dont know really."

"What would you like to do?"

No reply.

Will a miracle occur when he reaches 65 and will he kick off his mucky wellies ready to hop on a coach or plane bound for foreign parts?

My ideal retirement would include a small cottage with enough room for a visitor or two, seeing new places and people, learning more about writing and generally enjoying life.

Tonight I will be taking time off from the cows to visit a local library and listen to a well-known lady novelist.

Sometimes actions speak louder than words.

Yvonne Bunn