Phew. I’m just taking five minutes to relax,
with the Blog & a glass of chilled Aqua Libra: much-needed, I can tell you. Nevada woke me at around 4.30am, after which I just dozed, mentally ticking off the tasks I needed to complete during the course of the day ahead. After getting up, feeding the cats, walking the dog & checking the ponies, I did some general Internet research regarding the business, before going out to undertake the usual round of morning chores: feeding & cleaning out the sheep, pigs & poultry & feeding, milking & turning out the goats before replenishing their bedding & hayracks, & cleaning down the milking parlour & all the machinery.
The growl of a tractor engine alerted me to the fact that Lloyd was already hard at work, having chosen today’s mild, sunny weather to cut all the Ffarm’s hedges – an annual task which has to be balanced between leaving as much wild food for as long as possible for the birds (& for me – I need time to pick my blackberries, sloes, damsons & elderberries, & gather a good stock of sweet little hazelnuts); but managing to get up & down the steep slopes with the tractor before the land becomes too wet & slippery. We tend to cut hedges in the autumn for that reason as winters are often so wet & mild the ground hasn’t dried sufficiently before the sap starts to rise again, in the Spring. Some parts of the hedgerow are left to recover from the previous year’s cutting; certain others are not cut at all to maintain the Ffarm’s organic ecosystem, ensuring the local birds have sufficient berry-rich bushes to help them survive the Winter. And now that the hedges have been given their annual trim, I’ll restock the bird tables & peanut feeders with renewed vigour.
Once I’d finished the chores I stopped for a bite of bread & cheese before doing a ‘deep clean’ of the goat shed; then it was time to scrub all the gates, lop the multitude of nettle patches which have sprung up (again) in recent weeks, paint a bit more of the stubborn stretch of breeze-block-constructed goat shed wall I’ve been working on (until the handle fell off the brush & I didn’t have a suitably robust replacement!); then rolled up my sleeves to do some more weeding of the veggie patch.
Whilst indulging in a brief snack of pasta shells tossed in deliciously pungent pesto made with coriander, I received a call from Colin Walters regarding the progress thus far of our application for grant-aided funding; & the news doesn’t look good. Basically, it would seem our first mistake has been to purchase any equipment as the grant-aid philosophy is, a business idea could not proceed without the proffered money. Unfortunately, we had no choice but to buy the equipment we have so far – we could not afford it new regardless of funding; & as items such as second-hand cheese vats come on the market so rarely we simply had to grasp the opportunity whilst it was there. The AIG grant have turned us down flat as they ‘don’t deal with anything to do with agriculture’. Meanwhile the Processing & Marketing Grant (PMG) will not cover buildings; & as ours appears too close to an agricultural specification (again) it would not be funded anyway. However, all is not lost: we may be able to get some funded assistance towards the ice cream equipment we yet require which would be a big help. Colin is clearly working very hard on our behalf, & we’re grateful to him.
Crestfallen, I gloomily potted up some planters & ‘tarted up’ my hanging baskets whilst listening to one of my favourite radio programmes (‘The Archers’) before finishing the evening chores (essentially, the morning chores all over again) & afterwards, I retired to the house for a wee bit of blogwriting before starting to clean the house (again) from top to bottom & finally falling, exhausted, into bed beside an equally exhausted Tony, home at around 4am from his few-thousand-mile-long round trip to Azerbaijan. All in a day’s work, eh?