….but not necessarily in meterological terms, although we do have our moments:

Storms over the Frenni Mountains

The view from here: storms over the Frenni Mountains

Tony’s been trying to sort out his contract with his employer, (ironically) Storm Aviation; but there have been the inevitable & understandable, circumstantial & multi-national delays-beyond-their-control with paperwork, visas etc….so he’s been advised it will still be a little while before he starts flying again. 

Airbus A320 Series - the commercial aircraft Tony flies.

Airbus A320 Series - the commercial aircraft Tony flies.

 With the inevitable stress this puts on our already stretched finances as we struggle to start the business with lots of ‘outgoings’ but no ‘incomings’, it hasn’t been easy.  Sadly, every time I tentatively query Tony for the latest (if any) news, he often wrongly assumes I’m ‘having a go’ rather than what I AM doing – making a simple & legitimate inquiry (as this affects us both, after all) – nor does he appreciate that I wholly sympathise with him; realise that these are circumstances beyond our control; that I am in fact, doing my utmost to support him; & that – goodness knows – one of these days I may even have a ‘bright spark’ of an idea which might actually improve the situation for him.  But at present it seems the very atmosphere vibrates through the valley with fierce negativity; to the extent that it somehow feels the whole ffarm is holding a collective breath owing to this almost palpable tension.

Tony took his mind off things today, by attempting to mend the goats’ head yokes in the milking parlour; but ended up even more frustrated as it is proving no easy task.  The yokes have been problematic from the start; & we certainly cannot contemplate managing the goats single-handedly in groups of twelve until they’re fully fixed.  But in spite of today’s best efforts we are still not really any further forward, & more expensive materials had to be ordered to hopefully solve the problem once & for all.  Basically, some of the yokes are too loose so the greedier goats release themselves early. which causes havoc partway through milking; whilst other yokes are too stiff & won’t open when the gate is released, with any unfortunately constricted goats getting almost throttled as their chums stampede past to gobble to their ‘second breakfast’ (these are definitely Hobbit Goats).  

Stormclouds over nearby sea

Stormclouds over nearby sea

Understandably this only served to put Tony in an even grumpier mood; & as he already wasn’t feeling well – if anything, worse than yesterday – he wouldn’t help with the milking & I ended up struggling on alone with my only option being to deal with each goat individually – which took over three hours as opposed to the usual hour or so. 

Local, blustery beach - not a day to be beside the sea!

Local, blustery beach - not a day to be beside the sea!

Meanwhile our Greenland Dog Nanuk seemed to feed off the negative energy & was almost impossible, today: pulling on the lead; howling & hooting at absolutely everything (she never barks but instead has an almost ‘Charleyesque’ vocal repertoire); & refusing to obey even the most basic commands.  Even our Stud Male goat, Merson, was in churlish mood as I coaxed him back to his normal residence; clearly, he’s enjoying the company of the Milkforce at present but is allowed only restricted access to the ladies to negate the risk of caprine ‘milk taint’ which is often associated with running a male indiscriminately with the herd – & he resents my intrusion – evidently ‘Mrs Popular’ this week, then….!

Supper was a silent, strained affair….poor Tony, he’s been very much “under the weather” for days now, in spite of the unseasonably cheerful sunshine; & let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than feeling ‘peaky’ when the weather’s good (hence so may stormy photos this evening).  I can only hope his contract is presented soon, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief – hopefully it’ll prove the tonic he so badly needs & as a result he’ll light up the Ffarm with that wonderful smile, again.

But for the while, it’s….

Supper on a stormy night....

Stormy, stormy night....


About LittleFfarm Dairy

The LittleFfarm Dairy Team: Jo - Goat farmer & Gelatiere Artigianale, plus General Dogsbody; Tony - Airline Pilot & part-time Herd Manager, Product Taster, Accounts Secretary, Handyman etc!
This entry was posted in Animals, Diary, Family, Goats, Life, Locality, September 2008, Smallholding. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Stormy….

  1. Wow, how nice of you to be so open about your life, I appreciate it as it is hardly ever heard/seen. I do hope something comes through for you soon and understand completely the stress of it all. Not only did I quit my job this year to work on the farm (and not with a thought of making a profit or even get a business going, but to indulge in a project with the support of my husband’s wage!!) but also two months in to it, my husband got word ‘his services would no longer be needed’. We spent the summer quite stressed out to say the least, not knowing where the money would come from. Finally, he was offered a temporary part time job at the Provincial school (he’d been working for the local First Nations school until now). We are not out of the woods as it is only a temp job, but it is tying us over until the next thing comes along I guess. Fingers crossed eh.

    The whole move for us was so ironic in that he’s been offering the financial support for years but I couldn’t get there emotionally to accept it. Now, finally, I accept it and he no sooner loses his job!

    If only farming paid better!

  2. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    I do so agree –

    you could almost paint the exact same canvas, for us!

    In the UK there is this ridiculously archaic perception that because we ‘own land’ we must all be incredibly rich; but those lucky few are – well, few.

    In the meantime the rest of us struggle along….

    What’s ironic is that Tony too, had a great job; then the company he worked for was ‘bought out’ by another, much larger airline who assured their new staff that “nothing would change”.

    And it didn’t; apart from the fact that, from his previous schedule working long-haul abroad, 4 days on/4 days off – which gave him time on the farm as he was working a 5-hour drive away – he started to be rostered to fly 6 days on/one day off – shorthaul – which meant no time on the farm; & paying for B&B accommodation in London (v expensive) for most of the week. It was costing us between £6-10,000 per year; plus we never saw each other…it wasn’t worth it.

    And thank goodness I’m on the ffarm all the time; because for an entire seven-month stretch he wasn’t rostered to spend a single weekend at home; plus he’d spent the past two Christmases & one New Year, away; was away for two consecutive Easters & rostered for every single Bank Holiday bar one, since working for the takeover company.

    Most of his colleagues felt the same, & left. Several signed up with a company abroad & Tony was persuaded to join too; handed in his notice & signed a new contract, scheduled to work roughly one month on/one month off.

    However during the three months he had to work out his notice, unbeknown to him that contract was dropped – & he was advised that unless he was prepared to work full-time with only about 6 weeks off per year, he effectively wasn’t employed.

    The negotiations began & he was subsequently promised a new, more favourable contract; time dragged on & the company again changed their minds….

    The upshot is he’s now got a job instead working for an airline contract company, which effectively hires out pilots to short-staffed airlines. It promises to be interesting & varied work; however to do this he’s had to jump through a raftload of administrative hoops & we still don’t know exactly when his contract will start.

    So it’s been a worrying summer; added to which, the ‘takeover’ company have been turning some particularly vicious thumbscrews to insist he pays back an alleged £10,000 training bond they claim he owes them (which – if anything – was paid by his old company, not the takeover one. And we have discovered that those training places were gratis anyway!).

    They’ve threatened to take him & another colleague as a ‘test’ case to County Court (as there are others in the pipeline), & have bullied & intimidated them both. It’s disgusting – we know of so many employees of the original airline, who have also been dished out similarly shoddy treatment.

    Ironically Tony has always stated he’d be content to pay back any equivalent bond for the new terms & conditions under which he understood he was employed; but it would appear the takeover company ‘cherry-picked’ those Ts&Cs so they were better off all round….& the employees suffered. And any claim for the bond being ‘legitimate’ must be negated by the fact that he was assured that if anything his quality of life would only improve after the takeover – & yet it suffered immeasurably, to the point at which he was forced to leave?

    Anyway he’s certainly better off out of it but these things have inevitably stretched us with their stresses & strains; at the most challenging time for us as it is, starting a business with all the inevitable setbacks, delays & frustrations that entails. But I keep my chin up with the solace that we’ll be all the stronger for weathering this storm, & surviving these testing times….

    And good luck Kristeva, you deserve it out there more than anyone, battling the cougars in the wild woods! I do hope something more permanent comes up soon for your OH & that you can breathe easy again.

    But hey, wouldn’t life be boring, if it all ran smooth…?! 😉

  3. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Incidentally Kristeva, thank you for your sympathetic & supportive words regarding the openness of this post: I’d just like to say that I’m glad someone appreciates my honesty in “telling it like it is”, warts & all; as I once got a real battering by an individual in the ‘comments’ section of one post for shattering their illusion that smallholding isn’t always about matching frocks to floral print wellies, & skipping through summer meadows carrying a pretty wicker basket laden with abundant vegetables & eggs from elysian-growing gardens & self-sufficient hens.

    Of course, when the sun is shining & all is going well this is a truly wonderful way to live & I wouldn’t give it up for all the tea in China (& I do love a nice cuppa). Sadly however, some people just cannot stomach the thought of the reality that there’s all too often mud, & blood, & teeth-gritting toil through rain, hail, snow & blow; that in spite of your best efforts animals die; crops fail; arguments occur & stresses & strains – part of the warp & weft of every family life – can be magnified when the money’s short & you’ve got an astronomical mortgage, a business to keep afloat & many more mouths to feed than most people could imagine, as well as ‘just being nice’ to the OH.

    It’s much the same attitude as that encountered by a friend of mine recently, who sadly recounted the tale of inviting some friends over for a home-cooked & entirely ‘home-grown’ Sunday lunch – who then refused to eat it when they discovered that the delicious joint of roast pork with which they were presented *may* have been from one of the pigs they happened to see during a previous visit, & not from the local supermarket.

    In spite of their hosts’ assurances that at least they could personally guarantee both the provenance & the excellent welfare of their animals the guests flatly refused to sample even so much as a mouthful & insisted that they all went to the local pub for lunch instead. And guess what their visitors ordered from the menu? Roast pork. Needless to say she didn’t tell them that their farm also provided the pork for the local pub…!

  4. Jesus H Christ…that is REALLY disheartening to hear (about your friend’s experience). Did she really go with them to the pub? I think I would have tossed them out and no longer be calling them friends. Aren’t friends supposed to be supportive? And from meat eaters!!! Key-riste (the extended version of Christ), what are they thinking? Why aren’t they embarrassed at how rude they were? Not to mention, how good the food would have been that your friend offered, her love and labour personally gone into it…OMG, I have to stop there. I’m almost in tears thinking about how hurt and mortified she must have been. Ugh, ugh, ugh, people are … well, let’s just leave it at that.


  5. OK, you’ve got me started with that one! Do they think the pork at the pub grew on a tree or what?

    You know, there is a similar attitude in the news today (though very different circumstance, but equal in that you say, ‘what are they thinking!!??).

    A man was attacked by a black bear two days ago in 70 Mile house (several hours drive from here). He was with his two dogs, taking them for a walk. When interviewed, he said the bear came out of nowhere and brought him down by leaping on him. He took serious injuries to the face, head (most of his scalp was torn off), major puncture wounds to his sides, etc etc. Anyway, the dogs stepped in and distracted the bear enough so the man could get on his feet. He managed to find a club in the bush and beat the bear to death with it. He was bloody lucky. He was a big man and obviously experienced at pile driving (the metaphor he used when interviewed about cracking the bear’s skull by bringing the club down on its head). Anyway, he is presently being attacked by some ‘bear huggers’ who are criticizing him for killing the bear…What are they like? To be honest, I’m surprised I haven’t been criticized for my ‘Politicking with Predators’ entry. Glad I haven’t, but surprised. I was nervous about publishing that post.

    Anyway, tell your friend to toss those friends out on their… and find more aware and supportive friends. I’d love to come for Sunday lunch!


  6. Hey…thanks for putting me on the blogroll, nice birthday present!

  7. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Wish I could say that she told ’em to *ahem* find refreshment (aka, lunch!) elsewhere….however being traditionally UK “stiff-upper-lip” (must be all that starch-infused tea that we drink 😉 ) as hostess she politely apologised & bowed to their demand for a “more humane” lunch (yeah, really).

    But we Brits can be just a bit TOO polite sometimes, methinks….personally I’d’ve shared exactly your reaction: after all, at least we know our own piggies enjoyed the absolute happiest, healthiest lives possible – & certainly didn’t grow on desperately sadly, “where-does-our-food-come-from”, blinkered trees.

    At least we have the cold comfort that (when we have weaners here) our piggies have happy, comfortable lives. We share every step of the journey from piglet to pork joint & in particular, do not shy away from our respinsibility to them when we reach the abbatoir, personally offloading them & ensuring they are happily munching on tasty treats so they are unaware of their end; which I sincerely hope every potential – & indeed existing – porcine smallholder, appreciates & understands as their responsibility.

    I’m also sure that Stoney – much of whose entire livelihood revolves around the superb, top-quality Berkshire pigs he breeds & cares for: happy, healthy porcines who proudly boast the traditional-breed quality of their superbly delicious, mouthwatering pork – wholly agrees – as do we – with your sentiments.

    Personally I’d have turfed those ’em out, hungry…(unless they were vegetarians in which case they would’ve been suitably catered for – naturally….

    Meanwhile regarding the man attacked by the bear – I think what he was doing is called “self defence”, isn’t it?! Good grief, he’s lucky to be alive….& you were right to publish that post; don’t let it cause you angst if people criticize what they don’t understand, they should try living the way you do & they’d soon be demanding the security of a shotgun!

  8. Please tell your friend that next time she is invited to dine at any of the above said ‘friends’ places, she should ask them where the food (vis a vis-meat) came from. When they reply, ‘from the store/supermarket’, she should then respond by saying, ‘The supermarket, SUPERMARKET…OMG, that’s gross!’ Then push herself up from the table with a melodramatic flourish and finish with: ‘ I don’t support corporate agriculture and never eat anything that is mass produced’ and walk out.

    Please send this to her, with love, from HDR.

    I am so moved by her experience I’m going to write a post about this sort of irony/ignorance. May take a few days to get it all worked out in my head, but I’ll get there. It’ll be a toast to her, you and the rest of us who are living the good life!

    As for the man above, yes it is what you and I (and he) call self defense. Nonetheless, there are those who are saying, ‘he shouldn’t have kept hitting it once it was down but walked away at that point and let her live’, and worse…jay-sus.

  9. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Ref the ‘Bearly Alive’ man –

    well we all know, that there’s nothing worse than a bear with a sore head…..!!

    …yeah, knock the grizzly unconscious & leave it there, wounded – so it would either be angry or desperate when it came round, & being injured possibly unable to hunt properly….& so attack some other poor passerby who might not be so lucky & would probably be killed (I wouldn’t personally rate my chances too high if pitted against a wounded bear).

    And ref the ‘meal deal’ – funny, I’d not thought of putting the boot on the other foot, so to speak – I like your style!!

  10. I’ve started the ‘saga’ and issues based posts with respect to conscious eating today with my ‘Yellow Legs’ post. Where it leaves off is just the entre to the bigger issues. I hope you enjoy it (and recommend it to your friend who was the inspiration).

    Regards, K @ HDR.

  11. PS. I should say, when you start reading the ‘Yellow Legs’ post you might wonder where it is going…persevere, I do get there.

    Hope you enjoy it!

  12. katie says:

    You made me laugh outloud, Jo, with your reference to print dresses with matching wellies, self-sufficient hens et al. What really gets me are when people say starrily ‘ It must be lovely picking all your own vegetables!’ Well, yes it is – but don’t forget the sowing, hoeing,thinning,weeding and watering which comes before the overflowing baskets on pine tables as featured in ‘Country Living’ magazine. Don’t forget the entire potato crop wiped out by blight, the first two plantings of courgettes decimated by slugs….etcetc Especially don’t forget the huge feed bills and the (extreme) rage experienced when customers balk at paying a 10p rise for eggs when they are STILL much cheaper than the supermarket. I do try and say that everything isn’t as rosy as it looks….but I don’t think they’re listening.
    Full marks to you Jo for telling it how it is, worries, bickering, hard labour and all!

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