Three generations of farming at Crettyard inspires Sixsmith’s new book

‘Till the Cows Come Home: Memories of a Rural Childhood’, the latest literary edition from dairy farmer, blogger and author, Lorna Sixsmith, will arrive on book shelves next May.

Set to be launched by Black and White Publishing, the new book is the fifth publication from Sixsmith, who farms in Crettyard, Co. Carlow.

The memoir recounts the stories of one farm across three generations – her father, Joe Sixsmith’s childhood of the 1940s; her childhood of the 1970s; and now her children’s experience on the farm.

The tales illustrate how life on the farm has changed over the years but also how many things still stay the same.

“My grandfather, George Sixsmith, inherited the farm from an uncle in 1946 and moved to Crettyard from Fenagh; but, the farm has been in Sixsmith ownership since 1904. Our current out farm has been owned by the Sixsmith’s since about 1860,” she said.

Sixsmith farms with her husband, Brian James, and they have two children, Will, 15, and Kate, 13.

They lived in the UK, where she taught near Salisbury and James worked as a scientist; before returning to take over the 215ac farm from her father in 2003.

James and Sixsmith, who has worked as a secondary school teacher; an interior designer and a social media trainer, bought a further 25ac in 2005, and 64ac in 2007. They milk 125 cows and finish all males as beef.

In the book, she highlights that what stands true across all three generations, is that cows always know how to escape  – even when you’ve planned a day off. She said it is also apparent that the collie is a farmer’s best friend; and that laughter is always the best medicine.

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Managing director at Black and White Publishing, Campbell Brown – who acquired world rights to the book – described it as a memoir “full of heart and humour”.

“Lorna writes about the joys and the hardship of life as a farmer; but always with a glint in her eye. It gives an insight into the challenging but rewarding life of farmers; it is a charming and uplifting story that we’re sure readers will love,” he said.

Sixsmith, a co-founder of the South East Women in Farming group, said she was delighted to be publishing a childhood memoir and telling the stories and adventures of three generations.

I’m proud to be a farmer; and to be following in the steps of my father and grandfather who ploughed the fields with their horses where we now graze our cows.

Writing the memoir meant she got to tease out details of memories with her dad, stories, she says, that often get lost with every passing generation if they are not recorded.

Sixsmith has written four other non-fiction books to date: ‘Would You Marry A Farmer?’ in  2013; ‘How to be a Perfect Farm Wife’ in 2015; ‘An Ideal Farm Husband’ in 2016; and ‘Collegiate School Celbridge: A Social History’ penned recently.