Monday, June 23, 2008

Everyone is Somebody's Child

Stopping at the Famine Cottages on Slea Head Drive hadn't been planned. But we could see the sign for them when we arrived at Dunbeg Fort and my dad thought they sounded pretty interesting. We were seeing all sorts of Stone Age artifacts, might as well see some history of a more recent variety.

We pulled into the car park for the cottages. Only one other car was there and I could see the people lumbering down the steep hill from the cottages. I could also see a sign on the little port-a-cabin where you bought tickets. It read:

Adults 3 euro
Children 2 euro
Free Bag of Food to Feed Animals included

I was thrilled by this. Visiting petting farms and hand-feeding farm animals is something of a hobby for me. A rare and bizarrely thrilling activity that I usually limit to special occasions, like my birthday.

My dad paid for our admission and then we stood there expectantly, waiting for the bag of food. When no bag was produced, I asked for one and was told "That's for children." I used my best Polite Voice to point out that the sign just said 'Free Bag of Food,' it didn't say anything about limiting it to children. The woman was insistent and her tone implied that I was either retarded or greedy to be demanding to feed the animals.

My mother put on her best Persuasive Smile and said "She is a child. She's my child!" The woman said "She's an awfully big child" in a way that might have had me bursting into tears had I not lost all that weight years ago. At this point, there wasn't much left to say. As my dad said later, it's not like there were 500 kids clamouring to get into the place. It wouldn't have killed her to pass over a small bag of animal feed.

I brushed off the incident, reminding myself in my head that mean also doubles for stingy around here. And she certainly was a bit mean about it. As we climbed up the steep incline to the cottages, we passed a field with a donkey and another with a goat. But it was after we'd been into the first cottage that I really regretted not having the animal food.

The field up behind the cluster of cottages held a miniature horse and its even more miniature foal. The foal was nearly an exact and tiny replica of the mare. I climbed up to the fence and sat on the ground so as not to intimidate them. The foal came running over, stumbling on its impossibly long and skinny legs. The mother moved at more like a dawdling pace. When the foal came up to the fence, I pulled up a fistful of long green grass and offered it. The foal's velvety muzzle tickled my hand and I gave it a little scratch along the line of its mane.

The mare watched this interaction carefully, ready to shepherd her baby away if I proved to be dangerous. Everybody is somebody's child, after all.

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At 23 June 2008 at 18:20, Blogger Kaycie said...

That's terrible. If I'd been there, you'd have gotten the bag of food. Of course, you might have been embarrassed to ever show your face there again!

That foal sounds adorable. I'm glad you made do with grass.

At 23 June 2008 at 20:35, Blogger laurie said...

wow. that woman is more that stubborn. she's the B word, i'm afraid.

that foal sounds so sweet, though. and to it, grass is as good as a feast.

what a nice post.

At 23 June 2008 at 22:19, Blogger Babaloo said...

What a meanie! Can't believe it. It's not like they'd have been overfeeding the animals on such a quiet day. But I guess you'll find all sorts of people, everywhere.
That foal sounds so cute. There is a miniature horse and foal (almost grown up now) at Inishcarra lake where we sometimes take Honey for a walk.

At 24 June 2008 at 01:41, Blogger nancypearlwannabe said...

That woman sounds like a total jerk, But I'm glad you had a nice time.

At 24 June 2008 at 06:43, Anonymous Primal Sneeze said...

Of course they couldn't give you food. They were famine cottages after all.

ps. Don't suppose clocking some young lad across the lugs and robbing his bag of feed was an option?

At 25 June 2008 at 01:45, Blogger Career Guy said...

I was sure you'd mention the goat incident at Van Saun Park.

At 25 June 2008 at 20:01, Blogger -Ann said...

Kaycie - I've no doubt if the food bags have been visible, my mother would have just grabbed one. :)

Laurie - Thanks. The foal was sweet. I'm hoping to get a picture of him from my dad.

Babaloo - Few creatures are cuter than babies of miniatures.

NancyPWB-We had a great time, the big meanie didn't harsh our mellow at all.

PS - Good point, I guess the sign was just a cruel trick to get us in the famine state of mind. But here's the thing - there were no kids there. Not a one and no sign that any would be arriving anytime soon. (I'm not above robbing animal feed from a child.)

Dad - I did....last year. Where've you been? :)


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