Ah. Despite my intention to have an early night,
I ended up staggering up to bed at around 0330 am, having been working on downloading my first photos onto the pages of this Blog. Admittedly I’m not a techno-junkie; to me a Blackberry is something I pick from our hedgerows; an I-Pod is what I do to my peas & beans & an ‘Apple Mac’ is a query to our ram (MacDougal) as to what he might like in his breakfast muesli! Subsequently it took me a bit of time & effort; so I hope, dear reader, you think it was worth it. Basically I’ve put a ‘header’ photo on each page, to give people a flavour of the Ffarm. My memory card with all our photos of the sheep, & of the first lambs & kids born earlier this year, refuses to be read for some reason; I’m gutted as it contained some very special memories & I did not get a chance to download any photos before it failed. I still have all those wonderful memories but sadly I can’t share them with you. So the ‘Sheep’ page has a picture of our Middle Yard one snowy morning back in February instead (well, it’s white & fluffy so there is a sort-of connection). For another great photo of the Ffarm in the snow, visit Bowi’s photoblog (see ‘Photos of Ffarm Fach’ in Blogroll) – it’s a really atmospheric picture.
Tony had arrived home at around 0130 am after completing his standby; he was understandably exhausted after driving for so many hours, & headed straight for bed. My own dreams were restless, full of swinging gates & turning windmills (anyone who can give me an explanation – I’d love to know what it means). But I could not indulge in sleep for long: an early start was required as we were catching up with our friends Allan & Sue & their charming eight-year-old son, Barney (a Tin Tin fan – such a pleasure to see a child enjoying a book rather than a Gameboy). Tony did the morning milking whilst I set to work tidying & cleaning the house after taking Nanuk for a frustrating walk (started well but she was not in receptive mood today). After the milking Tony mowed the lawn (fifth time this year so he’s got off lightly so far!) & I finished my ‘whirling dervish’ impression in the house.
However, as the sky was full of heavy cloud our hopes of having a barbeque seemed about to be rained upon; so we opted to buy the family lunch at a lovely old pub in the pictureque valley of Abercych, instead. The food is home-cooked & plentiful; & the home-brewed ‘Old Emrys’ ale never fails to put a flushed smile on Tony’s face. Set next to an old stone bridge over the river, on a fine day the ‘Nag’s Head’ is a lovely spot to sit outside whilst within the mellow ochre walls a cosy atmosphere is created with the scrubbed pine tables, flagstone floors, & huge fireplace – a real treat on a winter’s evening. We were happily reunited with our friends & to my delight I was given a beautiful bunch of rich, radiant yellow sunflowers. Over a hearty lunch we caught up on each others’ latest news & entertained Barney with the Giant Rat of Abercych (seen to be believed!) before heading back to the Ffarm to show everyone round after thoroughly disinfecting footwear & vehicles. As the local farm park is open for business, we felt we could hardly disappoint Barney, who had been very much looking forward to feeding the kids. So they met the menagerie; & Barney got to bottlefeed Adlais, a pretty little silver-chocolate kid with a white star on her forehead, whilst I held the rack for the other greedy goat kids. Allan & Sue were fascinated to see the sheep as during their initial visit to the Ffarm our first-ever lamb, Beeorchid, unexpectedly made her entrance to the world – two weeks’ premature – in freezing February rain. They were amazed that she’s now grown even bigger than her Mum already!
At this point the sun finally came out – but unfortunately it was by now too late to light the charcoal on the barbeque. For a bit of fun, we did a ‘blind’ taste test with Sue – who has a pathological dislike of goats’ milk – to see whether she could tell which of the ice creams she sampled was made with the dreaded stuff. She picked out the ‘Hay Tea’ ice cream owing to it’ creaminess as I’d mentioned that full fat goats’ milk has a delicious, mildly creamy taste – but thankfully not because she could detect ‘goat’. Both she & Allan particularly enjoyed the Black Mountain Bilberry flavour (made with wild hedgerow bilberries & Black Mountain liqueur – a heady combination!) & were surprised to learn that both the ice creams were in fact made with goats’ milk. I explained that it’s all down to careful handling & quick chilling of the milk; but I don’t believe Sue would be readily convinced to try any other goat products as her dislike is so ingrained. However I sympathise entirely as both Tony & I have had the gaggingly unpleasant experience of drinking coffee (not ours!!) made with strongly-tainted goats’ milk; had I sampled that prior to our decision to ‘go goat’, I suspect I would’ve discounted the idea on taste grounds – so we may never have lived this dream all because of a vile cup of coffee. I suspect Sue has had a very bad experience at some time in her past (she particularly hates goats’ cheese) so it was very brave of her to try the ice cream & I’m glad she enjoyed it. Interestingly she mentioned that when they visited in February, she’d been convinced she could taste ‘goatiness’ in the milk of the tea we served – but on that occasion we’d given her standard, supermarket cows’ milk as no kids had yet been born; ergo, no milk! The fear of the nasty taste must now run so deep that she thinks it is there, even when nobody else can detect anything making this a fascinating case of psychosomatic conditioning but sadly one which denies her enjoyment from a wider range of foods.
After we’d bid our friends a regretful farewell after their all-too-short visit, we indulged in a brief break in the sunshine of the garden before Tony mowed the orchard & I commenced the usual round of evening chores & milking. Tony was so tired that he went to bed before supper was cooked; I snuggled up not long afterwards, following a fascinating programme on the Buddha’s life & teachings (I do hope the Yoga-phobic Vicar was watching & eating a big dollop of humble pie!).
And, of course, I put those lovely sunflowers in the beautiful blue glass vase which the goats had magically managed to unearth from the site of the Old Mill this Winter, & put them on the fireplace; they look exquisite. It occurred to me that whoever crafted the old vase, would never have imagined it being used for such exotic flowers; yet it created a marvellous marriage of past & present. To me this is very symbolic: I hope our traditional, artisanal techniques coupled with the benefits of modern technology will help us harmonize a perfect picture in taste. Maybe even Sue – who has provided today’s inspiration – can be persuaded….!