My goodness, how time flies….
already halfway through May! It’s been typically busy: punctuated with crafting gelato, Farmers’ Markets, & deliveries etc; not to mention the usual farm work. The girls have largely settled down to the routine in the milking parlour although there’s inevitable frissance when one of the newly-kidded mums joins in & has to re-learn the procedures.
The hedgerows are a riot of colour; a feast for the senses which leaves me punch-drunk after the long, dark days of winter. It’s just wonderful to see the delicate greens, golds & ochres of the new leaves unfurling on myriad branches in the wood when the early morning sun touches the tops of the trees in the valley. The air is heavy with the hyacinth scent of the swathe of bluebells which sweeps in heady haze of sapphire, down to the laughing river; foxgloves & campion punctuate in pink; marsh buttercups nod their heavy golden heads in the warm breeze. There’s a literal feast, too; in the mustardy greens zesty wild sorrel & leggy stems of Jack-by-the-Hedge; the goats & I forage together on the wonderful days when at last, they can frolic in the Spring sunshine, kicking up their heels in glee to be out at last.
On unseasonably hot days we carefully protect their udders, massaging them after milking with a mixture of insect repellant & Factor 30 sun-tan lotion; followed at evening milking with a liberal application of cooling After-Sun cream. My purchases at the local chemist were remarked upon; as inevitably I have to bulk-buy (30 pairs of udders take a lot of lotion – & then there’s the sensitive noses of ponies & goats to tend). I was asked where in the world I was going, to need such a vast supply…?
“Oh, it’s not for me – it’s for my goats” I replied without much thought.
“Well, where on earth are THEY going..?!” spluttered the assistant, aghast. I explained the situation amidst much laughter from the people queuing behind me.
“You’ll be delighted to know that you’ve spent so much, you’ve received a voucher for some free makeup”, grinned the cashier.
“Great – the girls love a bit of lipstick!” I laughed. And with that quip, bounced out of the shop & into the sunshine. But ironically once they’ve been in the sun for a couple of days, the girls do get a bit of a tan….& ere long look as though they actually are wearing eyeliner & lipstick! it’s amazing how the sunshine can make us all feel – literally – like going out….
Alas, the weather for the Royal Welsh Smallholder & Garden Festival, wasn’t quite as kind. We hadn’t taken a stall owing to the fact that we hadn’t anticipated Tony being at home (which as things eventually transpired, he ironically was). And in fact the cost of a stall was suprisingly reasonable; around £50 for two days compared with around £600 for the Royal Welsh Show. So – alas – we really did miss out. Although I didn’t have a chance to attend on the first day I gather the weather was quite kind; however the second day was disastrous; with the showground constantly pounded by heavy rain. One of my colleagues from Food Centre Wales had been lucky enough to get a ‘pitch’ away from the main Food Hall & on the first day had enjoyed a fairly brisk trade; however the second day was an absolute wash-out with the rain hammering down. So; swings & roundabouts, I suppose.
I caught up with our dear friends from the NewLandOwner team, who reminded me just how far we’ve come since we originally attended their ‘Introduction to Smallholding’ course, back in 2005 when all this – in fact even owning a smallholding – was just a fanciful & seemingly unachieveable dream. Sometimes things do seem to move frustratingly slowly; however when I recall all the things we’ve done, we really have come a remarkably long way….