Sunday 30 August 2020

Thank You Farmers

Shockingly it has been about four months since I last updated this blog. One could use Coronavirus as the excuse as it seems to be the excuse for everything else going on in our lives but that would not be completely honest. Since our house move life has had it's usual busy-ness here on the farm with the normal routine required by dairy cows. The milk tanker has continued to come throughout lockdown, we have continued to do the seasonal work of lambing our small flock of sheep, silage-making and generally carried on feeding the nation as was acknowledged by this sign appearing at the top of main road near the farm. For those of you who do not read Welsh it says 'Thank You Farmers' and is much appreciated by we Ffermwyr. The main difference to our lives has been the absence of holiday-makers in the cottage though they returned from the middle of July. With the exception of social distancing and the extra cleaning protocols required between each group of guests life has pretty much returned to a near normal. Coronavirus has affected everyone and even though the farming community has carried on much as usual (and we did have exemptions for travelling more than 5 miles (in Wales)) the lockdown has changed the way we live in small and subtle ways. Friends are now allowed to call but we find that we, and others, prefer to meet outside and fortunately the weather has on the whole enabled us to drink coffee and chat in gardens. We no longer go to our local market town for a leisurely shopping trip calling in various shops but we stop at the green-grocer and the whole-food shop only, with just one person allowed in the shops at a time (they are very small)and then head for home. No longer is there the inclination to tarry and converse. The one person at a time rule does not encourage one to linger when there are people waiting outside the shop. It is now the very tail-end of August and we have a glorious day of sunshine, blue skies and fluffy clouds scudding overhead but there is strong hint of autumn in the air. After some very dramatic weather in tha last few weeks,thunder and lightening, terrific winds and lashing rain causing flooding and general misery we can only rejoice when days like today come along. The menfolk are making the most of it and getting in another cut of silage. We have been rearing some pigs over the summer who have been benefitting from the Farmer making use of the wind-fall apples (thanks to the violent winds of recent weeks) by being given the pomace to eat. Pomace is the sludge left after the apples are pressed for juice. The juice is delicious and while some is frozen to see us through the winter, much of it is made into cider. Why waste the windfalls when both we and the pig-wigs can enjoy them. There will of course be more juicing taking place in few weeks when the apples remaining on the trees are picked and processed.
For the agricultural community one of the sad fatalities of the pandemic has been the local agricultural show. The Farmer is on the committee for our local show and their last meeting was cancelled back in February with the decision to cancel the show taken a few weeks later. This story will be repeated all over the country and it will leave a big hole in the farming community social calendar. The shows are struggling to survive anyway and one can only hope that having missed the 2020 show season due to external forces, the committees and their supporters will work with renewed vigour to make sure 2021 can be a year of great agricultural shows...pandemics permitting, of course.