Tension can easily build up between two farmers who are married to each other. Offering a gift on special occasions should go some way towards keeping the relationship on a steady course, but I’ve discovered that doesn’t always work if the timing is not right.
Mrs McQ and I will celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary at the end of May, but my silver wedding anniversary present to her was only delivered in April this year.
I thought it was worth taking a little time to think about getting her a present that is silver, which will always remind her of the one true love in her life – sheep. And while I know that galvanised iron doesn’t contain any silver, I think in a certain light it does have a silvery hue that can be very appealing.
Perhaps it was also unfortunate that her brand-new, fully galvanised Ritchie Combi Clamp arrived in the thick of lambing time, but it sat in our yard, wrapped in cling film, for two weeks.
I understood that we were very busy at that time, but as lambing eased off, it began to bother me that she hadn’t made any attempt to unwrap her present.
I finally had to say something. So, at the breakfast table one morning, I heaved a great sigh, laid down the Farmers Weekly, pushed my specs onto the top of my head and said: “Do you not like your present then?”
Now, if I had a chance to relive that moment again, I would probably have done it differently. However, the question broke the ice – and a very nice little Spode sugar bowl.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, the present was unwrapped that afternoon and I assembled the machine, which came complete with load bars and an electronic weight indicator. Like most men, I scanned my eye over every second page of the “How to get started” pamphlet, and was soon ready to go.
In order to make it special for her, I invited Mrs McQ to be the first to step onto the platform of her new toy and I asked her to press the button on the weight indicator. “But won’t that show my weight?” she asked. “No”, I confidently replied. “The weight indicator, according to the instructions, will set to zero when it is switched on. This will ensure it will display the weight of a sheep that steps onto the machine after that.”
You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife as she nervously pressed the “on” button but, thankfully, as I had predicted, the screen displayed a very satisfying zero. Another crisis had been averted.
But, when she stepped off the platform to go and get her favourite set of foot shears, a figure appeared on the screen which I’m not at liberty to share with you. “What’s that?” she asked. “That must be your weight,” I replied.
I could see that she was more than annoyed about this, as she started to list all the items she had in her pockets. So I tried to take the edge off the moment by saying: “It’s not so bad; at least it doesn’t display your age and your daily liveweight gain.”
That didn’t go down well either. There are some times you just can’t do right for doing wrong…