The Farmer and I took a day off and had picnic at a lovely little cove on the north Pembrokeshire coast. The tide was out hence the green apron of weed covered stones that are treacherously slippery whether the tide be in or out. It is however a quiet spot and the day we went quite deserted. We sat and watched the gulls and a lone oystercatcher bathing in the little freshwater stream that runs across the edge of the beach. A perfect antidote to the hectic rush at the farm.
After the hectic pace of getting yet more silage in we are now in whirl of people and having to be sociable...not that we don't enjoy people, but they seem to come in a never-ending stream barely giving us time to catch our breath.
Last Saturday we had the usual cottage changeover and then had to get to a wedding at lunch time which made for a breathless morning. The wedding was down in the village at the farm of some dear friends upon whom the weather gods were smiling. It was a glorious warm sunny day of blue skies having been preceded by a very wet and miserable day and the day after was also vile. However, the wedding took place in the pretty flower-filled garden of the farmhouse with a string quartet playing and everyone smiling and happy. The food for the reception had been supplied almost in its entirety from the farm...beautiful succulent home-grown fillet of beef, with carrots, cabbage & new potatoes dug from the garden the day before followed by summer pudding made with blackcurrants and raspberries picked from the garden. Perfect! A very happy day.
We have had more family visiting which is always lovely and as we have been busy with farming they have gone off to do their own thing and come back here for supper which is always a good arrangement.
Yesterday the Farmer had to attend the funeral of one of the postmen who delivered to the farm many years ago and always came in for a cup of tea (another country custom that has disappeared, the posties don't have time nowadays & are probably not allowed to linger & gossip). The Farmer & his brother went to the funeral as they had fond memories of the postman who used to come after work to help their father with hay-making and used to give the two boys lifts to end of the lane in the post van, to meet the school bus...another thing that would not be allowed now.
As the Farmer was away most of the day the Sons got on with weaning the lambs. The sheep were all brought in, the ewes separated and then taken to land we have across the valley while the lambs were put in fields nearer home. It is noisy but necessary job.
With the wonderful weather at the end of June things have been so very busy especially with the Met Office forecasting heavy rains so the Sons were out working in silage fields for almost 10 different farms in the locality at the end of last week. One day they left here at 8.30am and did not return until 5.30 the following morning having been cutting grass, baling and wrapping all that time to beat the weather front. Summer is the time of very hard work in preparation for the coming winter.
The fine weather also made the bees think about swarming. The Farmer's hives have been very busy with the two strong colonies working well but we have had two swarms in a week. The first one decided to take up residence in Elder Son's cottage roof which gave them access to the roof space. It was impossible to get them out en masse so they had to smoked out which took a long time. The second swarm was almost text book in its pattern of behaviour...there was an empty collector hive just a few yards from the main hives and the swarm moved into it without any messing about. The Farmer was delighted. They have settled into the new hive now and are working busily in the gardens which are full of pollen-rich trees and flowers at the moment.
We had some cousins come to stay last week, camping on the lawn. They spent their days at the beach with a small inflatable boat with an outboard motor or our Canadian canoe exploring the coast line and fishing. One evening we all went to join them for a picnic on Cwmtydu beach. The Farmer and S. went fishing with hand-lines and caught 9 mackerel & pollack which we then cooked over a fire on the beach. The small grand-children had a lovely time paddling in the shallows, getting drenched, messing about with buckets and spades and watching the menfolk playing ducks and drakes competing to see who could get the most bounces from flat stones skimmed across the water, and generally doing what little children should on a beach.
The Farmer & I have just managed to grab 3 days away from the farm and spent our time, when not lying prone on sofas getting through a backlog of books, experiencing the delights of Pembrokeshire in June. The wild flowers were wonderful with the hedgerows full or overflowing with foxgloves, red campion, honeysuckle and the glorious cream slabs of elderflowers. We stayed near Solva and had lovely walks through dense lush woods filled withe the songs of thrushes, blackbirds,and wood pigeons, down to the sea. One evening we sat above the cliffs and watched the gulls floating on the thermals created by the cliffs, they soared in the silver light of the evening sun reflecting on the calm sea. A small yacht lay anchored in a sheltered cove looking just like something out of a romantic chapter of a Daphne du Maurier novel.
On the farm things are on stop today as it is raining and so silage work cannot continue. The Sons & the Farmer use days like this to catch-up on maintenance of equipment and paperwork. The working out of bills & invoices for the farms where they have been working in the fine weather takes a lot of time checking hours and acres.
The holiday cottage is pretty full though it has been a very slow season and there are still a couple of weeks in July vacant. It seems that it is a general trend throughout the country for holidays lettings to be slower than in previous years. No-one can quite pinpoint the reasons for this... some thoughts are that is so very cheap to go abroad,people are taking more short breaks and booking much more last minute. Another aspect is that there are so many more holiday lets available in an area such as this but without the increase in tourist numbers to fill them all. I think too many pepole move to an area with the intention of setting up a holiday cottage or b&b without researching how much provision is already available and not realising that the market is very well supplied for the numbers of visitors. Having been running our cottage for well over 20 years we have seen changes in the flow of visitors to this area but the numbers have not increased enough to keep pace with the amount of accommodation available.
This is my large garden in former days when it was still under control...this year thanks to the broken leg it is no longer quite so tidy, so I have treated myself by employing a gardener & he's wonderful. The luxuriant rampaging brambles have disappeared, bare earth is now visible though it will soon be hidden by some new plantings and shrubs are able to breathe again. I'm thrilled. The beginning of April was just about the worst time to injure myself as the gardens were full of the joys of spring and everything was growing like mad and needed to be kept in check, especially bramble, docks creeping buttercup and the dreaded couch grass. I still can't get out there to work so a gardener was the only answer. As well as dealing with the big stuff F. is also prepared to do fiddly weeding and also discuss changes and planting ideas which I'm pleased about as the garden neeeds to be taken onto its next stage of development for which I need as much advice as I can get. Do we go all out for giant rhododendrons in dark corners or other less dramatic shrubs that just fill a space and do we take out a couple of trees that are struggling? Also digging up enormous clumps of irises and splitting them and planting the smaller clumps in new places creating a more varied palette of colour in the established beds. When the Farmer has time we shall go our local excellent nurseries and have bit of a spree. I particularly want to get more Japanese anemones which are so lovely for late summer and lots more irises and roses but also smaller low growing plants such as anemone blanda to plant at the foot of the box hedging. Also fuschias which do well here and then some more hydrangeas, the thugs of the garden but well worth their bullying tendencies. I have some interesting hellebores waiting to go in and some lavenders, so all in all it is quite exciting.
The Sons are still busy with silage-making around the neighbourhood and as we got ours done last week the pressure is off a little. When they are not driving silage kit around they are spreading slurry on the newly mown fields to encourage good growth for the second cut.
The summer weather has arrived and our holiday makers are enjoying sitting out of an evening after spending the day entertaining their small grand-son at various attractions in the area. The favourite seems to be the Gwili Steam Railway near Carmarthen(), real steam trains puffing their way through a lovely wooded valley alongside a small river, all very attractive. The Gwili Railway is run by a team of railway enthusaiasts and is one of the very good attractions in the area.
A glorious sunny morning and this is when I think the holiday cottage is so lovely with the rose Maigold gleaming with its butter-yellow flowers so beautifully scented at the front door and with the sun streaming into the kitchen/sitting room and lighting up the warm rose-pink walls with a cheerful glow...so relaxing and with the birds singing in their summer joyfulness it's just perfect. There are still a few dates available for the summer so book now and come to enjoy a peaceful break in the lovely Welsh countryside.
In the farmhouse we have a different light but just as cheering as it pours into the kitchen and lights up my pots of scarlet geraniums on the window sills which with the smell of fresh coffee and toast is a great start to the day.
Nine weeks on from breaking my leg and things are improving all the time...I no longer use the crutches but still walk very slowly & carefully and with a considerable degree of pain but apparently that is quite normal so I was told by the excellent physiotherapist I saw a couple of days ago. So, I still can't take the dogs for their walks or go very far at all but potter gently around the house. Standing ironing bed-linen proved a bit of a challenge as standing for any length time is very uncomfortable and painful. However, it is all getting better as the days pass.
On the farm the Farmer & the Sons are very busy as with the advent of the lovely weather so comes the silge harvest and with the long hours and keeping a constant eye on the weather. The boys are out contracting much of the time but should be doing our own silage any day now. This is always such a busy time of year (but then when isn't?!) and with the very long days running into the late nights everyone gets tired though because they enjoy it all so much they do stay cheerful apart from when machines break down which hopefully won't happen, or if it does it is something simple that can be fixed quickly. This year we have anew front-mounted mower which together with the back -mounted one makes the job even quicker. To think that when the Famer & I were first married silage took about four days now it is all done in one!
My visit to our local hospital for my appointment at the fracture clinic this morning has resulted in the cast being removed from my leg (hurrah!) and I don't have to go back. It is wonderful not having the weight of the cast to carry around though I still have to use crutches for the next couple of weeks. I can put weight on the injured leg without pain though the foot is still rather swollen and bruised and I do need the crutches so I'm still not able to do much that is useful, except washing-up! I prop myself up by the sink, though standing for longer than about 5 minutes is quite uncomfortable, still things are improving. Considering it five weeks to the day tomorrow since I broke the leg I reckon I'm doing rather well!
The apple blossom is in in full glory in the orchards and looking just gorgeous. With the beech tress just bursting into thier vibrant spring greenness the farm is looking marvellous. Our guests in the holiday cottage are enjoying their trips around west Wales seeing at its loveliest and when they are not out and about they are enjoying the tranquility of the countryside listening to the chorus of birdsong from the blackbirds & thrushes and seeing the woods and fields transform themselves in preparation for the summer.
Yesterday saw the end of an era when we waved farewell to our old Morris 1000 Traveller which we have had for 30 years. For many of those years it was our only car and it did sterling service until a time came when we needed to tow cattle trailers so poor old Moggie was relegated to a shed and left to a quiet retirement. However, a time had come when it was taking up valuable space and someone offered to buy it at a very reasonable price so it just seemed sensible that it should be re-homed and diddled up and used again. I hope its new owners have as much fun with it as we did.
I am still on crutches, hobbling around and still unable to do anything useful. Its been 5 weeks now so the end is in sight, I hope. I am missing my daily walks around the farm as this is a most wonderful time of year with visible changes everyday as the bluebells come into flower and the trees burst into leaf. The birds are chorusing madly though I have not heard a cuckoo this year. Last year they were very vocal across the valley. The swallows are swooping in and out of the buildings around the yard and every now and then they come chattering into the house as the door stand open most of the day. They flit in panic around the house and then find their way out through an open window. If need be when they get themselves against a closed window and are frantically flapping against it, someone captures them gently in cupped hands and takes them outside to be released with a swift upward throw and off they go to continue their aerobatic hunts for insects.
A beautiful 35 minute film following the River Teifi from the air with a sound track of Welsh folk music, poetry & narrative made by the Teifi Valley Tourism Association. To order a copy go to www.teifivalleyholidays.co.uk
Full-time farmers-wife, cook, laundress, gardener, meeter-&-greeter, mobile gate, answerphone service & bibliophile.
Have lived for over 25 years on a 140 acre organic dairy farm in the Welsh hills, with fiddle-playing farmer husband and two sons.
We host farm walks for schools and any other interested parties and have farm open days and are passionate about educating people on where their food comes from and the importance of the countryside.
We also have a sweet holiday cottage with roses round the door available throughout the year for the perfect country retreat.
Contact for further details;
Telephone; 01559 370341
Sleeps 4 Wood-burning stove Logs, electricity, bedlinen & towels included in price Free WiFi Natural spring water Beautiful views Only 30 minutes from beaches One well behaved dog welcome (£15 per week) Short Breaks available- 2 nights £170, 3 nights £190
A delightful gypsy wagon on an organic farm in West Wales.
Cabin with kitchen, shower-room & wood-burning stove.
Camping with a difference. http://www.oldoakgypsywagon.co.uk/
As Seen on TV
Penyrallt has been used as a film location on a number occasions for feature films & television productions. 1993Tan ar y Comin / A Christmas ReunionStarring James Coburn & Edward Woodward Directed by David Hemmings & Carol Byrne-Jones. Saban / Y Wennol (Wales) 1996-1999Yr Palmant Aur A Welsh language period drama. Opus TV / S4C (Wales)
1999A Two Way JourneySolo Spot Produciones. (Spain) 2007Y Ty Cymraeg A Welsh language programme about Welsh architecture presented by Dr Greg Stevenson. S4C Cwpwrdd DilladA Welsh language programme about Welsh fashion design. The designs of Adam Marc James were photographed at Penyrallt. S4C
2011Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience; Series 2 - FarmerStand-up comedian Rhod Gilbert trys his hand at farming. BBC One Wales/Presentable TV BBC Two. 2012 Mud MenSeries 3Episode; Blackwall Johnnie Vaughan& Steve Brooker