The Silage (My Mortal Enemy: Part II)

Exhibit 1: The Silage

(Click here for Part I of My Mortal Enemy)

Nothing is of more importance to the dairy farmer than ‘the silage’. Cutting the silage is a sacred act, as ritualistic in its way as the Pentecost Mass. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that if one’s mortal enemy is readying himself for the silage, you had better beat him to the punch.

Such thoughts bring to mind the glorious summer of 1973, when after two straight weeks of spying through the gap in the hedge, you caught McInerney on the 7th June positioning old tractor tyres and ‘moving plastic’ – certain signs of preparation for imminent cutting of the silage.

What a fateful and glorious year! Your suspicions confirmed that that oul hoor is ready to cut, you rushed to Clancy, the contractor, and begged him to come to you immediately.

What consequence that your own neglected meadow was not ready, that the grass lacked sweetness, nor that the cows went hungry that winter: no matter. You had cut silage before McInerney, in spite of his allegedly better land. A black mark against him as a farmer, a humiliation. A blind man could see how it wounded him, the public indignity, the fact that others knew.

Good enough for the bastard! you said then, spittle gathering in the corners of your cracked and bitten lips.

Besides, you reasoned then, couldn’t you always feed the cattle nuts for the winter, or sell them off, or slaughter them? You lost a fortune, of course, and the whole family went hungry that bleak winter, but a small price to pay, when you gained so much more: wounding McInerney’s overbearing pride, scoring a significant victory… sure where in the name of God would long-term planning fit into all that? Tactics win the battle, once the fray is entered, not grand strategies. Tactics. Short-term, instinctive, nimble, reactionary. Probing the weaknesses.

Up next in the series on My Mortal Enemy is Part III: Cultivation


Read previous post:
My Mortal Enemy

Excerpt from the upcoming book Aspects of Irish Culture: In rural Ireland, it is considered the height of poor taste to kill