Sunday, 27 February 2011

A constant in someone else's life...farms, veggie patches, chickens and Hugh Fernley Whittingstall...

We’ve been watching The People’s Supermarket and finally my husband admitted that he would not be doing the veggie patch this year.
This is a huge pronouncement. I am not surprised as he works harder than ever now. But I was interested in why he felt he could no longer do it. “I’m tired,” he said. I looked at him. “Ferry isn’t here. It’s just not the same without him.”
I miss Ferry too.
Ferry came to us aged 13 and started off giving us a hand in the garden and the veggie patch and over the years he became, well a son for want of a better description. Crikey! I was often accused of being his mother. At first I was bewildered. I mean at 35 how could I possibly be his mother? Then it dawned on me it was perfectly feasible I am 21 years his senior. In fact his mother was only 20 when she had his elder brother and 23 when she had him, so it was more than feasible. Couple his dark good looks and my Welsh ancestry and it was more than likely. And although I was not his mother there was a strong maternal streak in my view of him over the years.
God how I miss him.
I am thrilled that he is enjoying his life and doing something he loves but I miss him. I miss him eating me out of house and home. I miss his goofy grin. I miss discussing chickens with him; their merits and problems. I miss his enthusiasm for the garden, conservation and wildlife in general and what we do here at the Farm.
I have no idea what he thinks of us, does he miss us at all? Probably not, and I realise that it will be the same when my sons leave here and go off on their own adventures.
But back to Ferry. I think we were a kind of refuge, a place where he was no one’s son, no one’s problem but we looked after him all the same. We took him through his GCSE’s, his A levels and his Degree course. We listened to his changing ambitions, his everything so to speak. We saw him through his first love and what seems like countless girls friends since. We were the people he could talk to when he could not talk to his parents. We were mates but older mates whom he could bounce ideas off and not be patronised. We listened and tried so very hard not to force the issue, not to say "Well I think this or that," and oh how I’ve had to bite my tongue a thousand times over and remind myself I am NOT his mother.
Suffice to say I love Ferry and I miss him and I wish with all my heart that he was here. That we could freeze time for one more summer so that we could have him here with us always.
And as I type this the keyboard blurs and tears trickle down my face. I try to breathe, as I know so well that time cannot stay still. Oh God! How I miss him.
Memories crowd my mind. I remember getting cross with him for not working hard enough and stomping outside to work along with him to increase his productivity. I feel he must of dreaded me working alongside for I was far harder than Dear Charlie ever was. I remember one hot sunny day talking of first dates and boy and girl stuff, Christ I laughed as we pulled up weeds. Ferry hated weeding, Christ! I hate weeding but it is something we do every year. God thinking about it, I remember the times I would get so cross with both Ferry and Charlie for not weeding. In fact it was laughable the things they did not to weed. Deciding it would be a good idea to paint the barn ( it took them 12 weeks), deciding it would be great if they moved all the logs (this took 2 weeks), deciding that they could trim the hedge manually!
I remember this wonderful boy getting paralytic the evening before The Boy’s christening and our friends’ having to run him home to pour him out of the car and leave him in his mother’s doorstep. How she could possibly have left him in our care I don’t know!
The times we cooked in the kitchen! God only knows what concoctions we dreamt up with him chutneys and jams, and our now famous Road Kill Pie and god only knows what else!Eating and  Drinking and encouraging him to do the same – Good God! What were we thinking? This beautiful boy, this wonderful young man! Christ only knows what our influence on him has been. Pray it wasn't all bad...
I’d like to think we have inspired a love of food, well maybe that should be a mutual love of Hugh Fernley Wittingstall. Grief! Come on folks our lives, as well as Ferry’s, revolves round the Word According To Hugh.
I love Ferry's passion about the countryside, the fact that I went from teaching to being taught.
Oh and I worry about him even though it is not my place to worry. My touch of the reins has to be light, oh so light. For I have no ties of blood that bind. He has to want to contact us, he has to want to see us and all we can do is be there forever waiting, forever not showing how much we feel in case we frighten him. Oh how lucky we were that he came wanting to fish at Rookyard all those years ago…
And the veggie patch, well I cannot possibly give it up for what if Ferry were to call round? He’d be so bewildered and sad if we did not have one. For we are the Farm, we are a constant in his life and if we were to fail just because he wasn’t there well it would not be right would it? It would be a betrayal of everything that the Farm is, a constant in someone else’s life…

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The business of chickens

There I have gone and done it bought myself an egg incubator so I can rear my own chicks. And in that one sentence I have created more angst and pain for my family than in any other single thing I have ever done.
For from now on the chickens are a serious business. Gone is the haphazard way of looking after them now it’s down to science and technology and with it my input has to increase. I am not sure I have done the right thing at all. Going from hobby to business is a big step especially when the hobby wasn’t exactly a full on kind of thing.
My way of looking after the Rookyard Flock has been live and let live to a large degree. I don’t fuss my hens in fact I don’t really look after them at all. I give them shelter and a bit of grain and access to water when it freezes otherwise the hens look after themselves.
I do get a bit panicky in the spring when the chicks start to hatch and I am always on the hunt for them from March through to October rescuing abandoned chicks and raising them sort of under a convenient broody or else finding their own mother and capturing her and putting her in a makeshift pen so as I can at least keep some chicks alive for the following season.
I climb up barns, scurry under perilouis log piles and other bits of farmyard detritus in my quest to rescue these peeping monsters and by and large it works. But I have never gone out to raise my own and bring them on so to speak. Up until now there has always been a broody.
But we have found that chickens are expensive beasts and now that a hen at point of lay can reach the dizzying heights of £20 – 25 per bird for a purebred I have decided the chooks need to start earning their keep and I need to start selling these chickens and their eggs. So life has to get a bit more organised in order for me to do this and I have to look at the type of hens that people want to buy. I have a very funny feeling it is not the hens I have so I will have to buy in hens and eggs to fulfil my customers’ wants, needs and desires.
Everything will have to look more professional and all the hens will have to pass muster. I have images of row upon serried row of identical hens standing to attention with a large fussy cockerel crowing out orders in front of them and it fills me with a kind of dread. 
I've never been that organised!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Bringing up Boys - talking of the proverbial…

Which would you rather, three and a half hours in a car with your offspring on a journey back home or an hour and a half clearing dog doodles from the back garden? Thought as much I prefer the Dog Doodle duty too.
Much of my life revolves round shit either clearing it, wading through it or landing in it. I do dog shit, chicken shit, rat shit and the small boy shit though luckily now the boys are older it is only on rare occasions such as just now when Bog Boy was going a little red in the face from calling me while I studiously tried to ignore him. Tonight he won and I wiped his bum.
Me: I really think you should be able to do this on you own now Bog Boy
Him: Yes Mummy. I will try in future.
Me: Well I should hope so. I mean it isn’t going to look good when you are older is it?
Him: No Mum
Me: I mean what on earth will happen when you are a teenager?
Him: I’m going to wipe my bottom all by myself because you will be gone and dead….

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Well that’s it I am going home to Mother!

Well that’s it I am going home to Mother!
With a slam of the door and a flick of my hair I get in the car and am off. The only problem I have with this scenario which I know is played out across the nation, nay the world is, I actually haven’t had an argument with my husband and so there is no need for me to go home to Mother.
But I am sick and tired of being ill so that is my excuse, a poor one I know but an excuse anyway. Unfortunately I do not think this excuse will warrant much affection for my aforementioned mother. In fact I think she’ll look upon the whole interlude with dread, like any mother who has got used to the freedom of NOT being a mother and all that that entails.
But Mother Dear it is now far too late for any excuses yours, mine or the dog’s, for I am on my way and will see you later.
Oh the joy you must be feeling knowing your erstwhile eldest is on her way. The excitement that you will be in charge again, having to administer to every need and whim, mopping the fevered brow while entertaining two grandsons and trying hard to keep them quiet so that your eldest can rest.
Having to organise food to tempt jaded palettes, wash up and dry up and make the beds. Having to settle arguments, dole out comfort and all the time being on your best behaviour.
Not for you the time to lounge about in bed or to wander your home clad in just your nightie till elevenses should you so wish. No you will have been invaded and the emotional locusts will leave you only when you are parched dry…such joy having the family to stay.
But Mommy Dearest it won’t be for long, as I am sure you will encourage us to fly the nest again by turning the heating down, producing only the most revolting food which you know we do not like, ensuring that there is little else for us to do and making sure Grandpa hogs the TV. Not for nothing have you been through all this before….

Monday, 21 February 2011

We interrupt this blog with a message from our sponsor...(cough cough)

Bleuugrrghh she said waking up and peering from beneath the Duvet. She snuffled some more in a phlegm like way and coughed some more.
Bluerrgh! whad day iz dit?
Time to get up and up and out and at ‘em.
Yup my thoughts exactly Bleurghh rather stay where I was but time and tide wait for no man nor do deadlines and being paid so up and at ‘em I am.
2 hours later…
Well THAT was a stooped idea! And back to bed with me! Oh I do hope this will get better sometime this century!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

True Friendship

Bearing in mind I am dying here, dav blocked dose dan cunnut breath, dav ear ache dan feel sick bestedest friend sent me this. It really cheered me up especialy number 7. Felt I needed to share...

Are  you tired of those sissy 'friendship' poems that always sound good, but  never actually come close to reality?
Well,  here is a  series of promises that actually speak of true friendship.
1.  When you are sad ~  I will help you get drunk and plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you sad.
2.  When you are blue ~ I   will try to dislodge whatever is choking  you.
3   When you smile ~ I  will know you are thinking of something that I would  probably want to be involved in..
4.  When you are  scared ~ I  will rag on you about it every chance I get until you're NOT.
5. When you are worried  ~  I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining.
6.   When you are confused ~ I will try to use only little words.
7.  When   you are sick ~  Stay the hell away from me until you are well again. I don't  want  whatever you have..
8.   When you fall ~ I will  laugh at your clumsy ass, but I'll help you up.
Friendship is like peeing in your pants, everyone can see it, but only you can feel the true warmth.

Go on you know you want to...


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