Days on the farm are full of steady and physical work. There are times when my body aches and my mind is scrambled. It is at these times I remember to tread lightly on the earth and resist stomping around in tired frustration.
The season has been fraught with fly strike so I check the sheep twice a day, ensuring they are standing on all four legs, or resting peacefully. A sheep will often distance itself if unwell, so I check for any stragglers. Getting caught in a thicket can be a problem although the hedges are in better shape now, falling down a bank, stuck in a ditch, landing on their back is a big hazard as sheep can only last a few hours in this position and it is impossible to them to get up.
Thankfully they usually seem contented although the weather has been wet for so many weeks. There are days when they look resigned and simply stand with their heads down and wait for the storm to pass. Often they will shelter in the overhanging branches of the laburnum trees or the many hawthorn bushes that have grown wild and as big as trees.
The hens hunker under the shelter of their little coop. It also provides a break from the wind that sometimes howls in from the north. They have outside perches and often they will huddle together for warmth. I notice they eat more in the days of wet weather, probably to preserve body heat. They can go back into the coop, however they prefer to remain outside until dusk falls.
Little Moses, the orphan ram lamb hates the rain. He was given the shed for shelter when his leg became paralysed, however now he has grown into a pet and he comes into the yard at night. Sometimes he sleeps under the light of the moon on a dry night, but if it is raining he goes in to a warm bed of straw and his bucket of nuts and beet. He will run across the yard to me when I go to tuck the hens in at night, he loves to be petted and he settles down again after his goodnight cuddle.
The evening ritual is always a blessing, even though the days usually end with heavy pouring rain and my body groans with the thought of walking. I stumble out into the fading light wrapped in a warm hoodie as the nights are cold now and often in waterproofs again. I trip over the stony track and mutter curses, battle with the gate latches that have stiffened with the rain, cursing again. Then I hear little Moses bleating a welcome and he comes running on his three good legs and a smile comes to my face. He snuffles and enjoys his fuss, then goes back to his shed, often standing with his head outside the door to watch me stagger through the other gate that leads to the hens. Priceless.
As I shut the little hatch of the hen coop, I softly speak to them so they know it is me and will be unafraid. They coo quietly and sometimes there is a little shuffling as they re-arrange their positions on the perches. I never open the door as this would disturb their quiet slumbering.
It is often at this point when I look to the sky and say thank you for the day, regardless of the pain, the turmoil, the chaos. There is always peace to be found.
I pray, tonight, that you will all find something to be thankful for, no matter how tough the day has been. My dear Friends, there is always the love and support of our amazing network.
Much love to you all.