Swish-thump; swish-thump; swish-thump…
grunt-thud. Grunt-thud. Grunt-thud.
Sounds emanating from our haybarn, this morning…..
…but why? Local farmers are only just into the tentative realms of silage production, let alone lurching forward in time to the month for moving hay bales from the fields. And goats aren’t generally fed silage; in fact it can cause listeriosis & kill them. The answer is to the conundrum is, that our neighbours found they’d used less hay over the winter than they’d anticipated; & now had around 150 surplus bales they thought we may be able to use. And whilst our barn might still appear well stocked, if we’re unlucky enough to have a spell of poor summer weather (as we did last year) we could be in danger of running out of valuable roughage feed which keeps the goats’ rumens ticking over nicely. Add to that two laminitic Shetland ponies, thirty-odd hungry kids & that fodder is soon whittled away…..
Thus we jumped at the chance of this extra sustenance; & we breathed a huge sigh of relief, as the first trailer trundled steadily down the hill with its’ aureate bounty. Our neighbour’s son had come to stay for the week so we were all taking advantage of this extra set of muscles to complete the task. I assisted on the stack for the first load; then as Tony disappeared to help load up a second trailer I stayed behind to start the time-honoured tradition of preparing the workforce a well-earned, slap-up spread: today, a ‘brunch’ of our own golden-yolked hens’ eggs, plump pork sausages from our pigs, fried earthy potatoes stored from the garden & Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s delicious student staple, ‘Mean Beans’, which are baked beans spiced up with fried onion, a teaspoonful of English mustard, a tablespoon of tangy Worcestershire sauce & a generous splurge of extra ketchup. So after further exertions in the barn everyone retired to the house for a well-earned cuppa followed by the hearty fry-up served with lashings of hot buttered toast.
After everyone had eaten their fill washed down with more mugs of tea, we bid them farewell & I did the washing up whilst Tony cleaned the milking parlour; then Ieuan returned to the farm with bowser in tow as he needed water for his ewes, unusually thirsty from a combination of unseasonably hot weather, heavy fleeces & greedy, growing lambs at foot. There isn’t any water supply to his fields just above the road from us; so periodically Ieuan pops down to the Ffarm – formerly his home, & the place where he was born – for a top-up. His visits are always welcome & invariably we learn fascinating snippets about the history of this wonderful place from his memories of life here.
Unfortunately whilst being filled today however, the rusty old bowser sprung a substantial leak; hopefully it can be fixed & refilled on the morrow. Meanwhile we had to hurry off to Swansea as Tony had an appointment for his annual aircrew medical. I sat in the car & enjoyed a good book whilst he was being prodded & poked; then we opted to revitalise our gelato memories from doing the University course in Italy, & sample Swansea’s finest frozen delights (Swansea being probably the most prolific purveyor of ice cream in Wales).
We first went for an Italian meal, on the Gower; this was followed by six shared scoops of different flavours of ice cream. But to say we were dismayed would be an understatement: although the presentation of the napoli pans was reasonable the flavours were extremely bland & the texture gritty & riddled with coarse ice crystals. For what we paid it was disappointing in the extreme.
On the way home Tony took me on a brief tour of Swansea; & as we happened to be passing a branch of a different chain of ice cream parlours we opted to stop & view the other’s rival competition. It was perplexing in the extreme – here, there was no rainbow display of multi-flavoured napolis; in fact the staff didn’t even know, what a napoli was! We discovered to our amazement there was actually only one flavour available – vanilla – & that had to be smothered with fruit puree which subsequently defined the difference in available flavours. Bizarre. I can only describe it as the fast food of the ice cream world; & not actually for the discerning customer desiring a little bite of luxury.
Have we become gelato snobs? Ummm, probably – but when you’ve had the privilege to taste arguably the best & freshest in the world, I suppose it’s hard not to be……