Last Call…

Was OK till I had to do the last call to the flock to come in… it was more sob than shout as they got up and ran towards me then they  thinned out as usual into their flock order and started to trek up to the shed – that is a sight that will be forever etched in my mind.

The Flock With A View

Some of the flock with some of the view.

I have been SO lucky…

   People lose stock and farms everyday due to debts, disease, of accident retirement after a life time – or even as caretaker following several life times togetherness with stock on a patch of ground – I am choosing to let go of the flock now recognising my buildings are sagging and the lack of fencing on neighbour’s ground that I use is causing trouble – not to mention me sagging without age friendly handling equipment – but I feel it – I want to know that they are cared for or meet a humane end so my responsibility isn’t over. Tagging them and checking them over in pouring rain has been a hard day for them and me – but they are tucked up in the barn with the last of the hay now.
They will go in two lots the main flock tomorrow and the rest next week, hopefully not leaving me with the rams for yet another trip.

Get up when you fall down…

Then I will have to get straight in and clean out the sheds and yarding and collect the fencers and electric fencing before it gets grown in and lost and as soon as the scaffold starts to come down on the house and we can make a start on picking up the millions of nails the roofers have dropped we can get around and top the fields – yes they will be empty but they won’t look like ‘the washing up has been left in the sink as it were in an otherwise empty house’.
From the horse POV – when the carpenter has finished with the house roof and the bits and bobs inside he can now deal with the barn repairs and the over hanging ashtree that taps the roof constantly in a breeze and hammers night and day in a gale. They may have a snugger winter this year because they won’t be vacating for two lambing sessions – or as usually happens constant lambing from Oct to March!
So though today I feel I could or should have done more to avoid this – I know that chewing over more ‘coulds’ and ‘shoulding’ on myself is pointless – I have always done the best I can and this at least gives me a chance to come up for air before paddling on.

Back To My Roots

A packet of ear tags arrived today. The tags that will go in the ears of my flock as they are disbanded later this week and I will no longer be farmer – not an accidental farmer me – only by design – smallholdered as a child in my parents garden, Ag college , self empolyed working on farms and relief milking, herdswoman and then tenant farmer – goats, pigs, sheep and more cows on 28 acres of West Dorset – for not the last not quite 30 years ago – own the place now and I have expanded to 50 acres using my absent /non farming neighbours’ lands but now I am giving up –  house is undergoing major open house surgery and I am in a mobile home – the old infrastructure of the farm is in dire need of repair and I have been chasing errant lambs too often these last few months – so I decided to call time for now or I will be lambing again in November and we will be in utter chaos everywhere… My garden is a building site where once was a large productive veg plot, my soft fruit is neck deep in weeds – but the orchard is wonderful – and I am writing surrounded by heavily laden trees – we have three barrels of cider left under dust from the builders and three jars of the extra strong apple wine under the stairs….All is not lost.


Cider making by the big back door

 It seems to me suddenly facing silent empty fields for real this week that I am starting again – not stopping at all – just returning to my roots and that something new will grow in it’s place.

New growth from old roots…

I had given up milking cows many years ago and never thought to go back to it but last year a young neighbour’s impending nuptials had me back in the pit doing my bit to ensure they could leave the farm and cows for a couple of days and I loved it – the chance to go back and reconnect with my 13 year old self who would cycle to the nearest farm and get their cows in just for the joy of it.
Similarly having had young ponies to back for some years I had got fed up with the road traffic situation and I had more or less stopped riding – then a chance conversation with a neigbour as we were topping my fields brought one of his slower young home bred point to pointers – Buddy – into my life and the joy of riding for miles returned to me.
So may be this is another chance to go back and see why I started this – it is crazy really we have had the full range of stock and produced all kinds of produce but I still adore it – the producing food and making things, being with the stock – breeding them, birthing them and seeing them safely out of the world too – the whole cycle of life – still gives me the frizz of excitement it always did
This place has been fabulous and though it looks a wreck now something will grow out of this – aged 50 and downsizing? Not so much – I have been writing more or less full time for a couple of years while still doing some off farm lambings and that writing is taking shape and I am learning to put web sites together and I am still riding –  now there will be me, the horses and the 13 geese 2 hens and the rest is pretty much a bomb site.  – my mum will return and I suppose carry on spinning and weaving as her health allows and husband will still be trucking – though there have been mutterings of his retirement…
Seeing our home dismantled was hard even though it was falling down – but it has long passed the point of no return on the way back up again and Mum has been safe in the holiday cottage in the village – it occurs to me as I write that she won’t have fleece to spin and weave her rugs with now – unless she gets it else where – which of course she can  and that our dogs may never be called stock safe again but I think I am being a drama queen and I digress…

The future then…

May be I will get that polly tunnel I always fancied when we are straight – it occurs to me that it might be a good time to blog about the place – I have always journalled the life here  for record and account and to keep me sane I had not thought to add it to my site as until this morning when those tags arrived I had thought the job over and done with as too old and past it but of course land isn’t like that – farming isn’t like that and neither is smallholding – we till and plant and reap and store and then we start again – how ever did I think this was over? 😉

Little Bit Of Heaven.

Amidst the craziness of living next to a building site – my once and future home – while now living and working in a mobile home – is the fact that the situation is pure Heaven – perched in my orchard next to the horses’ summer field and yesterday I took my desk out side and worked with the horses all day- me writing and them getting on with being horses.

The sky was intensely blue and the’ greens’ this side of the farm still intensely green – the bleached out tips of long grass on the old fort on the horizon cannot be seen from here, neither can the ripening wheat and the start of harvest. Here it is green and blue.

Husband prepared Ghost for the show this weekend – washing and polishing and all the usual pre show stuff – only advantage of showing trucks is no plaiting! Hoof oil is replaced by ‘Tyre Black’ – really:) But they still park in lines and sit next to them and then go for a trot up before the judge in the main ring. It is all huge fun and I kinda wish I was going – but I don’t like ‘visiting’ – go for whole weekend and join in is one thing but to ‘drop in’ feels naff…

They left and the stock, horses, dogs and I settled down to what I HOPE will be a peaceful weekend to write – and between you guys and I – I might get Buddy in tomorrow and ride. I will get the tack out for a check over today and if it doesn’t get too hot  give his mane and tail a brush and get him out on a rope to play- then see what tomorrow brings…

It is probably Buddy’s and mine anniversary weekend come to think of it, I must have had him a year exactly – having said I wouldn’t get another one – and he and I are the most unlikely pairing of the small writer and the tall racehorse who hack alone for miles – we get on very well – well we did till he had to have a tooth out and refitted and then I hit lambing and the house project kicked off in April – so I think we have had three rides since New Year…. But he is right there – here – now head and lips resting on the mobile home window giving me that  ‘Get up and let’s go somewhere!’ look or it could be ‘Where’s my hay?’

I hope Husband and lorry have a great time polishing at the show but I think on balance I have my prizes here and I very much hope this weekend I can chill out a bit and enjoy them.