So come on then, hands up –
who enjoyed a lovely, long, luxurious lie-in this Sunday morning, with breakfast in bed, lots of chocolate eggs, & a leisurely morning perusing the papers?
Well, you lucky thing – we certainly didn’t.
For a start, Tony had to be up early (& as you can imagine for us, ‘early’ really is, urrrgh…..) as he was on standby at Heathrow from 0900-1700; although unfortunately by the time he was almost there & had ‘checked in’ with his operations (ops) desk, he discovered his standby times had been changed so he was now required to work from 1pm to 8pm; therefore could have enjoyed a few extra hours in bed, after all. And he was subsequently called into work; having to fly to Aberdeen & back to help out another crew who were stranded in Manchester.
I’d got up at the same time however (Ridiculously Early O’clock) so that whilst he ironed his uniform & had a bath I could check the travel situation for him, as heavy snow had been forecast overnight & we were concerned he might not make it to Heathrow, at all. However fortunately all the roads were clear; & being an Easter Sunday, they proved blissfully quiet, as well.
Meanwhile having been left on my own I had to tackle the full round of chores since resuming milking & kid-feeding, single-handedly for first time – & the ‘honeymoon’ was definitely over so far as the girls were concerned as they barged, bashed, & bumped me from all directions; & overall were generally behaving badly (who says it’s only men that do?!).
So what is a typical daily routine? For those of you who’ve been mystified at the occasional gaps in my posts, perhaps I should explain to give you a clearer picture….
0515: alarm shrills – ignore it for ten minutes, then drag myself out of bed. Wash, dress, put the kettle on & feed the cats.
0535: Yawn my way down to the farmyard. En route, feed hay to Stud Male goat group, then fetch their water & hard feed.
0550: Feed the sheep (as inevitably they’re making loads of noise); check & count the flock, preferably without falling back to sleep.
0600: Feed the goats in the main shed; refresh hay, bedding & water; check the kids.
0615: Milking (time varies depending on number of goats milked/isolation & treatment of mastitis cases etc etc).
0700: First rinse-through of milking machine. Warm milk; prep bottles; feed & check kids; wash & sterilise bottles.
0800: Top up goats’ water buckets; sweep down & clean parlour, corridors, haystore, feed shed & stableyard; deep clean of milking machine (cold rinse; hot sterile clean; cold rinse; set to dry).
0840: Feed ewes in lambing shed; refresh hay, bedding & water; check lambs.
0850: Feed & water hens, refresh bedding. Feed & water ducks, clean out pen & top up splash pool; top up bedding. Let the geese out, provide fresh water & feed, top up bedding.
0930: Take dog for brisk walk (check horses & ponies en route); feed dog & clean out her kennel complex.
1000: Product development.
1200: Check all livestock, top up water & hay as necessary. Warm milk; prep milk bottles; feed & check kids; wash & sterilise bottles. Lunch ‘on the go’.
1330: Paperwork/product development/market research/work on farmyard/writing (combination or all of the above depending on workload/circumstances/weather).
1700: (as for 0545 – 0840; & add for good measure walking the dog & then putting all the poultry to bed at about 6.30pm – & popping into the house to prep the supper as a thin excuse to ‘The Archers’ over a cuppa!).
2030: Return to house, finish cooking supper or dip into the Magic Cauldron if available; relax for half an hour after washing up; paperwork.
2200: Warm milk; prep milk bottles; feed & check kids; wash & sterilise bottles. Last check of all livestock before switching out lights.
2315: Write Blog; stagger up to bed, yawning profusely around midnight.
Obviously, the programme is not completely rigid; although times for milking, & feeding kids & livestock, do have to be adhered to as closely as possible – they are comfortable with a familiar routine & it’s best for their health. And of course the days are peppered with other chores (farm & household); business meetings; lambings; kiddings; livestock first aid/routine treatments; veterinary emergency; DIY & so on, & so forth.
And it does get easier to an extent as the kids are weaned, requiring less feeds (month one – four per day; month two – three per day; month three – two per day; month four – one bottle per day). Although this year, because we’ve had to phase the kiddings owing to lack of space, it’s proving to be a nightmare: as the sheep have decided to drop the majority of their lambs in the brief lull between Phase One & Phase Two, which means the tortured inevitability of more long, sleepless nights. And because of the three phases of milking it means we’ll have three sets of kids requiring different levels of care – plus three sets of Milkforce mums at different stages of training – oh what fun.
Add to that the pressures of product development, market research/obtaining product orders, going through the approvals processes with Dairy Hygiene & Environmental Health & organising the ongoing building work, supervising brand design & then selecting & ordering packaging, equipping & fitting out the premises, setting up supply & delivery chains, plus organising & indeed undertaking PR work with press & media – it’s a fairly busy time.
But despite the fact that today being a Sunday, also brings wih it the inevitable ‘extras’ of housekeeping chores such as cleaning out all the poultry houses, doing the washing & cleaning the house, I did give myself a little ‘me’ time to briefly relax in a lovely hot bath, & then – oh joy – the seductive snap of silky-smooth, brittle-thin milk chocolate as I peeled back the shiny foil from the Easter Egg kindly given to us by a neighbour, as a ‘thank you’ for lending them a cat basket…….then that melt-in-the-mouth bliss of the first taste; the chocolate from which Easter Eggs is made, somehow seems more pure, more perfect, than that of everyday confectionary. I’ve no idea why; but it’s for this reason that I always especially look forward to Easter; & why I really regretted our mutual decision this year – on health & finance grounds – not to exchange eggs; never again, I can tell you.
After all, you have to spoil yourself a little, every now & again; life without a little pleasure isn’t really living!