It was near the month of May and the sun finally made its presence felt, providing us some much-needed heat; the winter had been long and unusually harsh. Peter was no longer in his house, and he waited as the doctors decided what was next for him; I reckon Peter was in his sixties based on looks. He was an eccentric man who spent most of his time in his land minding the sheep. He did not socialize much beyond what was needed to get things done at the farm. He had a queer habit where he went from shop to shop in order to save just a few cents, and he drove a small, tired car. At times Dermot spoke with him over the phone and he seldomly invited Peter for dinner. In one such occasion, we watched Cinema Paradiso in Italian, he had good things to say about the movie. I had met him only a couple of times before he had a stroke which meant an end to life as he knew it. Dermot asked me if I wanted to visit his property, a quaint farmhouse with a lot of charm. We ended up going there a few days after Peter’s departure to the hospital.

Peter’s house was a few miles off Dermot’s on a winding public road, which meant the real distance between the properties was rather short. Peter’s house was closer to the beach, and when we arrived the public road pointed toward Tara hill. From then on, we went on foot. On our left was the entrance to the farmhouse, the gate was white and no taller than two yards. A long, unpaved road which was perpendicular to the public lane led us closer to his house. After 20 yards or so, we passed another white gate and to the right was his house. Grey was its color, a homogeneous finish that resembled lime mortar. In the backyard was an abandoned garden which, despite the years of neglect, preserved the beauty endowed to it by human hands: Peter’s mother was an avid gardener. The grass was overgrown in the backyard, and we had to walk hunched and sideways to avoid the invasive briars’ thorns. Facing the front of the house was a square enclosure that Peter used for his sheep, old stone sheds where Peter kept hay and silage surrounded the square.

The square was some 400 square yards, it inspired good feelings in me; it was a good place to be. The backyard was the only place that seemed abandoned, as the sheep took care of the gardening elsewhere. No sheep was to be seen in the square, so we kept on walking. We exited the square through its north-eastern vertex and in front of us was the tallest shed I’ve seen: it was long, narrow, and without walls. In it was a tractor that more than doubled my age and didn’t seem like it was getting much use, but it looked functional; there were also a few bales of straw. Near that shed is where we stumbled upon the first few sheep, a flock of newborns that were quite timid and did not let us approach them. It was the first time I was this close to a lamb; the nimble newborns went from one paddock to the next through small openings along the hedges.
Peter did not keep in touch with his family, and soon after the incident all the sheep were sold as they could not go on without their carer. I don’t know what the fate of farmstead was, my gut feeling told me that things were going to change for the worse. It’s not easy to find, and I believe it will soon be impossible, to find people who live life as Peter did.

4 Comments

  1. Federico, you’re a budding Seanachaí !

    Well done, beautifully told tales.

    Looking forward to more…….Mary

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