I’m delighted to have Lorna Sixsmith as a guest in my Farmhouse Kitchen this week and, as we both married farmers, I think we’ll find plenty to talk about.
Lorna lives and farms in Ireland and she’s published three books about her farming life: Would you Marry a Farmer? How to be a Perfect Farm Wife and An Ideal Farm Husband (hmm, I really must get that last one for the other half.)
The kettle’s just boiled, so I’ll hand you over to Lorna, and she’ll tell you about the ‘hoppity dance’…
I think farmers and writers are quite similar really. People in both careers tend to like spending time alone, enjoying the peace and quiet, are resilient and often have a dog as their best friend. Therefore, being a farmer and a writer means that all of the above applies to me – doublefold!
Brian and I returned to dairy farming in Ireland in 2002 after spending 12 years in England, most of which was spent living and working in Salisbury: Brian as a scientist and I as a teacher. I’m not sure if it was the time spent away from farming that helps me to see the humour but it’s certainly the “if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry” moments that inspire stories for my books.
Just like how you, Sam, gain inspiration from your surroundings for your rustic romance books, I do the same but my books are nonfiction, with a tongue-in-cheek look at what life is like on the farm complete with tips on how to survive it. Wives will discover “how to wear an apron and wellies with flair” and men will find out how best to introduce a new girlfriend to the farm and how to ensure his mother will approve. They are best described, I suppose, as useful tips with plenty of tongue-in-cheek humour.
My first book was inspired by a session of sorting Friesian calves into two batches: males and females. I was standing in the gateway with the job of turning back any male calves and letting female calves through while Brian tried to send female calves my way. It was impossible for me to see between their legs to tell the sex so I was reliant on vague instructions like “The BLACK ONE – quick, the BLACK one”. Now, did that mean that I was to stop the black one or let it through? All three of the calves coming towards me were black and white. I couldn’t tell that the one he meant was slightly blacker on the other side, the side that my beloved could see. My limbs ended up doing an involuntary “hoppity dance”.My body didn’t know whether to stay in the gateway, run after the “wrong one” that had got through or try to skulk off.
That evening I wrote a blog post entitled “Advice to those considering marrying a farmer ” and within a relatively short time, it had 60,000 views which inspired the idea for a book. But would people read it? They were interested in my blog post but would they pay for a book? The only way to find out was to run a crowdfunding campaign asking people to pre-order. It was successful and within another three months Would You Marry A Farmer? was published. That was November 2013.
Two more books followed: In How to be a Perfect Farm Wife I give others the benefit of learning from my mistakes and also share tips on how to CHEAT and convince others you’re perfect. An Ideal Farm Husband shows him how to cope when he discovers his new wife isn’t telepathic, amongst many other things.
Farming is one of those occupations where things don’t always go to plan. Yes, we have the “if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry” moments more often than we care to admit. If I can help even one person to have a better day, it’s great news to me. One of the best compliments I’ve received was from a farmer saying my books were the best money he ever spent. His wife was city born and bred. Whenever he made any of the “mistakes” outlined in my book, she knew it was typical farmer behaviour. Rather than arguing, they both laughed!
And if you are actually thinking of marrying a farmer I suggest that you read these first!