As Autumn’s chill creeps quiet, clammy fingers through the misty valley,
the remaining swallows are clearly growing restless. Yesterday evening we watched as they wheeled & soared beneath the slate-grey clouds, furiously sweeping the skies for insects to fuel their bodies in preparation for the long journey to sunnier climes. Increasing numbers congregate on the telephone wires, looking like rows of tiny nuns heading for matins; soon no doubt, the skies above the valley will be empty & a strange silence will descend over the farm, the cheery chirruping calls quiescent for another winter’s chill. But our swallows are still feeding a brood of chicks in the nest, their feeble calls echoing around the cathedral of the cavernous barn roof. Whether they’ll be ready to fly in time, is a worrying question.
Today was nevertheless a day of departure, here on the Ffarm: the beautiful stainless steel, triple-jacketed 500 litre cheese vat was sold, along with our HTST pasteuriser. The successful local producer of the delicious Sanclêr Yogurt Cheese is expanding his business with a local Tesco contract & needs to move to his own premises rather than remaining at Food Centre Wales. Whilst I was extremely loathe to sell either the vat or the pasteuriser we decided that the money can at least be invested in our core business – gelato – & during the winter season I’ll continue to handcraft my traditional Carn Ingli Chèvre in small artisanal batches using the 30-litre vat I use for experimentation.
After waving a regretful farewell to the vat as it trundled away up the farm’s drive I returned to the now near-desperate task of searching for a female companion for the extremely lonely Dave, who is clearly pining & is off his food, occasionally calling miserably for his darling, departed Roberta who was cruelly snatched by a fox last week.
I stumbled across a ‘Wanted’ advert – someone desperately seeking a Brecon Buff gander as a mate for their flock of four females. I wasted no time in dialling the telephone number provided. No, they didn’t want to sell any of their females; & no, they didn’t yet have a gander. Decision time.
Dave just couldn’t remain this way, any longer; & at least he’d have a happy, companionable home if he left us for premises with other geese – & especially of the opposite sex. It just remained for us to gently bundle him into the big wicker goose basket in which he & Roberta had arrived that happy day, over two years ago; & navigate the bumpy lanes on the outskirts of Cei Newydd to deliver him into the waiting wings of his new harem.
We arrived just as evening was falling. His new carers – Rod & Moira Attrill – who in addition to managing their smallholding have a busy life managing their holiday cottage business as well as running a flourishing specialist poultry & herb-growing business, whilst studying & writing conservation articles which observe the wonderful flora & especially fauna of the local Cardiganshire coastline.
They met us at the door of their beautiful little stone cottage, the air filled with the sounds of myriad poultry: ducks, hens, geese, guinea fowl, golden pheasants. He’d certainly be well cared for by these kind & knowledgeable people. The four attractive Brecon Buff ladies were grazing contentedly in a verdant paddock at the side of the tranquil cottage. We carefully lifted the basket from the back of the truck & slowly opened the lid. His new owners exclaimed with delight when they saw the handsome consort for their little flock.
Dave didn’t even wait to be lifted out of his creaky accommodation. Standing up, he flapped his wings & in a somewhat ungainly lollop, flopped over the edge of the basket & onto the grass where he swiftly recovered his dignity upon being faced with four lovely ladies. He marched straight over to them & after a briefly hissed greeting joined his harem & settled to graze as if he’d been there with them, all his life. It was a wonderful moment & we were utterly delighted that he was clearly happy again & so readily accepted by the rest of the flock.
Later that evening, an email bulletin arrived from the farm at Cei Newydd. It read simply,
” After an evening of peaceful grazing, Dave & his harem went into their house together for the night.”
So Dave has migrated to pastures new & a wonderful, loving new home; & we can rest easy that we’ve made the right decision by giving him wings….