Monday, 1 September 2014
Family & Friends, Terrier Puppies, Wild Fruit Harvest
Apart from the holiday-makers who are an everchanging & unknown troupe we have had a rush of other guests. Family members and old friends who come to stay for a couple of days of conversation, eating & sightseeing & it is wonderful to see them but when their visits coincide with Grandson's 1st birthday and party, cottage changeover, the birth of a litter of 7 terrier puppies, cows calving & the usual dashing here, there & everywhere by the Farmer & Sons it is fairly exhausting!
Family visits are always good as we are a somewhat scattered tribe & so visits are usually several months apart so there is always lots of catching up to do and one day is always taken up with the Farmer organising a trip involving much walking & a picnic. This time we went up to Tregaron, a tiny market town in the hills & then onto the lovely ruins of Strata Florida abbey which are set in bowl of green sheep strewn hills and then a switchback drive to the source of the river Teifi, a vast & lonely empty place at the top of the previously mentioned hills where we had our picnic accompanied by the call of the buzzards over the heather clad moors. On then into the Ystwyth valley to Hafod for a good long walk through the extraodinary remnants of a great 18th century estate. The house of Hafod has long gone but its romantic woods with the river and cascades & gorges are now run by the Forestry Commission and offer visitors some seriously dramatic & beautiful walks.
Other house-guests have included friends from childhood days who have not visited the farm for well over 20 years so it was a real catch-up of news & nostalgia but also a trip to the beach one evening for a very chilly & buffeting swim followed by fish & chips at another beach watching the evening draw in over the water...an excellent evening as it turned out.
While all this social stuff was going on my little terrier produced a litter of 7 (!!!) puppies without any fuss or bother. she just got on with it one night all on her own & we came down in the morning to find her ensconced in her nest of hay in the dog shed very proud of her babies. They were tiny with a great variety of black & white marking...the Farmer says they look like good Frisians!...but have grown tremendously in 6 days. A litter of that size for a small farm terrier is I think quite unusual, but she is coping amazingly well with them.
One my daily walks with the dogs I go armed with a stout stick, secateurs, a basket for brambles & a cotton bag for hazelnuts. I must have put the best part of 40lbs of brambles in the freezer now & I have gathered nearly 3lbs of hazelnuts which are now in paper bags hanging from my kitchen ceiling ready for Christmas.This year is proving to be quite amazing for the quantities of wild fruits and nuts. The Farmer picked a large amount of bullace plums the other day as well as the Victorias in the orchard. The bullace are already turning into wine ina large bin sitting by the Rayburn in the kitchen bubbling away merrily. Sloes are showing their dull purple in the hedges and we must collect them before the birds strip the bushes. They are usually left until after the first frosts but one can cheat and pick them earlier and put them in the deep freeze. They need to be frosted before being put into gin or vodka...something to do with the release of sugars I think.