After last night, I had to write this blog.... Harvest was going so well, until mother nature stepped in, all this recent rain has slowed things right down and left me with a non-existent, grumpy husband!!
It's a bit of a morbid turn of phrase, but rest assured, being known as a "Harvest Widow" does not mean that your husband or other half has died. It is an endearing pet name for those who are left at home whilst the farmer is busy out in the field during harvest time! During this season, it is noticeable that you are spending numerous evenings alone, attending parties and events on your lonesome and feeling like a single parent. so, hands up if you find this a problem or it causes friction in your house? I mean, of course it would surely and I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said it didn't affect me and my family. However, it happens, it's life and I do admire how hard Mr M works this time of year, so I have been looking at the pro's of the "Harvest Widow Effect" , here goes:
This time of year is rewarding, but never easy. It tests everything you have, your families, your relationship and your sanity, it pushes you to your limits, but every year you get through it and look back and say "we love harvest" - that is, until next year!!
Everything about farming thrives off team work and harvest is no exception, however, those times that you are lonely and you hate being in a quiet house for the 4th week running, it seems very far removed from team work, so do something for you and have that all important self discovery time. Before you know it your other half will step through the door, leave a trail of wheat, chaff and dust then dump his dirty overalls in the kitchen!! Bang, there goes your 'you time'.... take advantage of being a 'Harvest Widow' it's only a short period of time really, you'll look back and think how lucky you are.... Bring on drilling!!!
Happy harvest and stay safe. x
Social media is terrible for showing off people's lives in a ridiculously unrealistic way, well that's the conclusion I have come to...
As a member of lots of groups I see houses that are spotless (with kids living there), Toddlers wearing white with not a speck of dirty on them and food that makes me salivate. However, there is one group that is based around cooking on your Aga and the love for your Aga, brilliant, I do love my Aga. I ogle at the amazing dishes made from scratch with veggies out of the garden and I am inspired by how tidy they all keep their kitchens and how sparkling their Aga's are. So when I look though these food posts and think what a good job farmers are doing by growing this fresh produce, I also find myself grimacing at them with a guilty conscience.
I hear lots of people harping on about how they are 'harvesting' their garden crops and getting them freezer ready for the winter months ahead, either by making lots of meals, jams or chutneys, that's right guilt.... You see, as a 'farmers wife' everyone assumes you are the oracle of farm fresh food and you'll always have the answer on how to cook and prepare vegetables and how to cook a piece a meat to perfection. That conscience is creeping back.
This is where I own up about the 'ideal farm family' lifestyle, behind every door there are secrets and ours is no exception, here is my farmer's wife fail... Summer is looming, most of you will appreciated this is by far the busiest, craziest but most satisfying time of the year on the farm and this leads us to eating all the food we get criticized for. I wouldn't say we eat horrendously, it's not takeaways every night, but when you think of the land we live on and what we produce, the food that gets out on the table (or lap sometimes) is far from the farm fresh idealistic cuisine that society portrays (sorry, what social media portrays).
So with fresh yumminess all around us and growing on our land, what we actually consume may surprise you. We don't have a set dinner time any time of the year yet alone summer and the food I cook needs to be kind of transportable if Mr M is still harvesting at midnight. The kids routine is also out of sync, and everything seems rushed. So what's on the summer menu?
Fish fingers, yes I had to start with these as they are ultimate, "shit my kids need feeding quick" food, and during the summer this happens a lot, with mash or in a sandwich these little beauties never fail. Pizza (no veggies, sorry)! Chicken, if I cook a whole chicken that can last us 2 days, using the leftovers in a curry or fajitas. I'm not ruling out takeaways as fish and chips are a winner sat in the field watching daddy combine (I'm sure fish and chip shops have a surge in sales during harvest!) Sausages, with anything. Sandwiches, never discount a sandwich for an evening meal. I accept none of this is terrible, but is far from the wholesome veggie laden 3 hours to cook stew or Sunday roast with ALL the trimmings that people think farmers eat every evening!
Now, I don't think I am alone here, This has to be a wide spread secret of many UK farming families (please tell me it is?) We all improvise and serve up our own version of 'fast food' relying on little time to prepare, cook and dish up and the invention of, dare I say, processed foods!!
The working hours of any farmer escalates in summers starting before 5.30am and sometimes not coming in until the early hours. Throw in two toddlers, one at pre-school and the other needing entertaining you can imagine that by 4pm most evenings dinner has been an afterthought.
The irony is that the good farmers that produce such fresh food us very rarely find the time to enjoy it at its freshest.
As a farmer's wife I strive to get my domestic goddess self together and dish up plates of food to be proud of, I would love whip up a taste sensation in 20 minutes flat with the amazing produce from my pantry, reality is, I very seldom know what is actually in my pantry and I spend the 20 minutes searching the internet for quick, simple, nutritious recipes. So, to my dear friends in the Aga group, please do keep up the good work and post away with all your spectacular creations for me to drawl over, please accept my failure as a journey not the destination, and I am getting there, slowly!
Whatever you're eating tonight...
Who doesn't love receiving beautiful flowers? Let alone being given a wonderful 'Lonely Bouquet'.
This is a phenomenon that has swept the world for the past few years, the idea is simple, to spread cheer and love to strangers or people that deserve it.
Across the world normal people (not just florists) have been gathering flowers from their garden, petrol stations or local shops and leaving them in public places for people to find, take home and enjoy. There is a cute note with the floral surprise letting the lucky stranger know that they have found a 'Lonely Bouquet'.
This idea has completely pulled at my heart strings, I cant get enough of fresh flowers in my home, I can only guess that I am not on my own here, so, I am going to do my own 'Lonely Bouquet' soon. Happiness can come from simplest of concepts.
How did I come across my 'Lonely Bouquet'? I didn't exactly find it, but a good friend of mine (Flowers by Anna Brian) who grows her own flowers to sell always shows appreciation with her colourful sentiments, I did her a favour and she gave me these beautiful flowers to adopt.
Look out on Friday 5th May 2017, NAFAS (National Association of Flowers Arrangement Societies) are doing another 'Lonely Bouquet' campaign, NAFAS members will once again leave posies of friendship the length and breadth of the country.
Come on folks, get picking and get giving... Our world deserves some random acts of kindness and love. Comment below if you're going to give it a go.
Find out more about this wonderful craze on The Lonely Bouquet Facebook page
For the first time, in a long time my husband and I went away for the night 'kid free'. We took the 2 hour trip to York and stayed at a lovely spa on the outskirts. Our experience was lovely, and the reason I write this short blog is simple.
In the evening we opted to indulge in some of the spectacular cocktails on offer in the Titanic Spa's 1911 Bar. The menu was so tempting I sampled most of them!! What stood out for me was the passion behind all of the cocktail creators, 2 guys and 1 lady all with smiles and a cheeky bit of competitiveness put together some beautiful works of art that looked too good to drink.
The place had a buzzing atmosphere, we sat at the bar so we could ogle over the cocktails being made (some made to order, not on the menu!) and chat to the staff. Which is what we did.
The one bar tender we started to chat to just loved the art of cocktail making, he didn't need to tell us that, we could just tell. So I asked him if he was trained or was he self taught? To my horror, before he even started to tell the story of how he learnt his trade, he said;
"well, you see, unfortunately I'm dyslexic"
I quickly jumped in and asked him why he thought being dyslexic was 'unfortunate'?
At the establishment where he trained to making such masterpieces they had to learn all 50 odd cocktails and all the ingredients off by heart. He did that easily, because he is fortunate to be dyslexic and his memory is superb. However, this had to be proven by a written exam, in which you had to gain 93% or more to even step foot behind the bar. He couldn't do it, he simply couldn't write them down, he wasn't given the option of an oral exam... I was horrified. Needless to say, he soon left.
Luckily for The Titanic Spa - 1911 Bar, they didn't have such narrow minded acceptance policy, and they now have an exceptional cocktail creator and master of rum!!!
Why did this strike such a nerve with me? Well, my late Dad was massively dyslexic and so is my Brother, In our family dyslexia was never a 'diagnosis' it was, and always will be something at sets these people apart from others, more of an 'identification'. People need to realise it is not a disease or an imperfection that we strive to find a cure for, there is no cure and never will be. It is purely a characteristic that gives some people more opportunity and drive than what they may have had otherwise.
An adult or child with dyslexia shouldn't be labelled or made to feel they are lesser of a person than anyone else on this planet, there are many pitfalls that people push them into by uneducated comments. These need to be abolished. It's a lot more simple than people think, find a way the dyslexic likes to and is able to learn and go with it. If they are practical, make learning practical, if they are musical, learn through the medium of music, if they excel in maths or have a flair for art use it... These people who are labelled as stupid are our next engineers, artists, designers, inventors and entrepreneurs, just ask these successful dyslexics:
So, if you or your child have the dyslexia characteristic, please don't hang your head and say "unfortunately I'm / they're dyslexic". On the contrary, hold your head up high and boast about your / their skills and talents and say:
"I / they outshine at this because I am fortunate enough to have dyslexia"
If you are dyslexic, please comment and let us all know how you use this fortunate trait to our advantage.
During a quick pit-stop with the children in a local coffee shop, I spotted they were giving away used or out of date coffee grounds. Curious, (and a fan or quirky ideas) I had to ask what it was all about.
Who'd of thought, they are used to enhance garden compost? I was drawn in, I picked up a bag and trotted of proud as punch, not only was it free, my garden will look amazing!!!
I did as intended and added the washed coffee grounds to my compost and I have to say my flowers have bloomed fantastically. Since doing this I have read conflicting articles on the use of coffee grounds on your garden, so I am only talking as I find.
So why are they so good for the garden? when used in compost the coffee grounds are classed as green waste and break down as any other compostable matter would. The recommended ratio for coffee grounds is 10% of the compost as they can be deemed acidic. Even after the coffee its self has been filtered away, the grounds still contain proteins, acids and carbohydrates which will provide nutrients to the microorganisms that turn your waste into gardening gold, compost. After researching further, adding the grounds to the compost heap will increase microbial activity, which raises the temperature. The benefit of this is that it helps kill many pathogenic bacteria and fungi as well as the seeds of weeds that sneak into the heap from your garden waste.
There are many more great ways coffee grounds con used in the garden, for instance, worms love it, they are attracted to it and carry it deep into the earth. Brilliant, feeding the worms and feeding your soil.
I've not tried this, but it is documented that you can attempt to change the colour of your hydrangea's . You may be aware that more alkaline soil produces pretty pink hydrangea flowers, while acidic soil tend to throw blue flowers. If your plants have pink flowers, feed them some washed coffee grounds and wait to see if they show any signs of changing colour.
I have to admit, this brought the geek out in me, I love eliminating waste, so this was bang up my street (or my garden path!) Try it, I can't promise it'll work for you, but it's defiantly worth a go.
Having studied at an Agricultural College (now a University) I can concur with all of the stereotypical following, If you would like to add anymore, please do comment below.... Let's all have a good laugh for old times sake!!
Here are a few, I could go on and on but your computer might crash!!!
1. Every man you know has one of the following names somewhere on their birth certificate: George, William, Henry, James, John.
2. Wellington's are a standard choice of footwear. For lectures, pubs, nightclubs, anywhere.
3. It’s perfectly acceptable to carry a shotgun around campus, or even to have one stored in your student house. (In a gun cabinet of course!)
4. You have one nightclub, maybe two, and still only go to them once in a blue moon.
5. All collars are worn up.
6. You have a pair of 'Bar Boots'.
7. You have turned up to a lecture wearing fancy dress and nobody has batted an eyelid.
8. Initiations involve maggots, sheep spray and gold fish.
9. You struggle to understand concepts such as “veganism”.
10. You can pluck and prepare a game bird.
11. Drinking seems to be a core module for all subjects.
12. Fieldwork involves visiting a farm.
13. Everyone has a car.
14. Trainers are strictly for sports only.
15. The weekends see an exodus as students leave to shoot/ hunt/ take their washing home to Mummy.
16. There is an unofficial uniform of tweed, nowadays it seems to be the Schoffel gilet.
17. It’s possible to pass your degree without ever visiting the library.
18. The rivalry between other Ag Colleges old boys (and girls) will stay with you forever
19. There are balls all the time. If you are a girl you take out an extra student loan just to buy dresses.
20. Despite having to study crop production, have everyone know your business and have to drive several miles for civilisation, you wouldn’t study anywhere else.
21. You're still friends now, no matter how long ago you left College.
*This is a generalisation and in my opinion, not in any way factual.
This time in 2 weeks we won't be leaving the farm, let alone the country!
Lambing 2017 will be well under way, its a time of year that can stir up lots emotions and feelings, but we wouldn't change that for the world, bringing new life on to the farm is something to cherish and be proud of.
However, before this mayhem, we like to escape to Abersoch for a couple of days to recharge. Many of you will concur that holidays do not feature in the farming calendar anywhere, If they do, they are for a quick weekend or an agricultural show!
Luckily for me, this weekend was god damn awful weather, so, my husband agrees to go away with a grin, the wetter it is the happier he is, how dare I think of removing him from the farm when the sun is shining!
It's funny, since all the events of the past year, things have evolved. Family time has become more important and even more cherished. We often have the conversation, why put all this time and effort into the farm if you don't have a loving family to share it with? This is why we believe we need to, every so often, take the kids away from the farm and re connect with them. Its all too easy to get consumed by 'jobs' and say 'hold on kids I'm busy' in day to day life. Our little breaks to Abersoch give us this precious time and strengthen our bond, which you'd be hard pushed to crack. All our attention is on us as a couple and our kids, you see, the stronger our relationship is as a family, the stronger the farm is as a business.
So when we are being blown along the deserted beach, getting drenched by the pouring rain, eating THE best scotch eggs with a pint in The Vaynol and spending too long looking at the rusty old Muir Hill's in the harbour, we are doing it with a smile, living in the moment and of courses getting excited for the forth coming lambs.
Don't get me wrong, the farm is our biggest priority, but, our little family will ALWAYS come first.
"Thank God it's the weekend" Said no stay at home Mummy or Farmer ever, I've demolished two loads of washing, tidied the kitchen, lit the fire all before 9.00am, so now I'm sitting down to a cold cup of tea, whilst both children nap and reflecting on what my actual 'job' is;
"Are you still a lady of leisure?" a question that I hear more than "why mummy?", this is someone trying to ask me if I went back to work after maternity leave or am I just 'lunching with friends' most days. Which to many mummy's today seems to be a very topical subject. A woman who doesn't earn a wage can be perceived as having little worth to some, however, to others a mummy's place is at home raising the family and keeping a home. As far as I'm concerned neither is right or wrong, your situation and the path you choose is the determining factor.
My answer to this all too frequent question is a big fat "yes", but thinking about it, my spontaneous answer is not completely correct. To start with, any farmer's wife will tell you that she 'goes out to work' nearly every day, whether it's to get the sheep in, receive a delivery, move the tractor, weed the garden, help muck out the cows, or go hunting for the child you've lost knee deep in the mud, usually dressed in their best clothes. All of the above is work trust me.
In addition, I do have 2 little 'jobs'. Since leaving my 12 year employment at a local marquee and events company, I have started 2 'from home' businesses!!! So I am one of those smug people who say they 'work from home around the children' (in reality I actually work when the children are in bed and the dishes are done!), this in itself is a term that presents two different types of mummy's, the one's that do actually work from home and the other mummy's who just stay at home being a referee to the children and hiding from mess that is quickly being created around her. Admittedly, I slip into both of these categories!
So to keep my answer to the original question concise and not go into all to my daily duties and responsibilities, I simply respond with "yes", which then finds me needing to back myself up, saying "I used to have a job" and "I graduated from Britain's leading Agricultural University" (Harper Adams), just on the off chance they quickly judge me as a mere uneducated, unambitious farmer's wife. Honestly, the thought of having my 9-5 job now seems like heaven, I didn't have to work nearly as hard as I do now...
Chatting to my friends, who are also farmer's wives, they agree and share stories of their husbands coming in to find them slaving over dinner, doing laundry, calming a crying baby, and talking to someone farm related on the phone all pretty much at the same time. His boots dripping mud on the freshly mopped floor, the farmer will say, “What have you done today love? Are you busy?”
The farmers' wife is tuned in to lie at moments like that and say, “Not much dear, what do you need?” The answer is irrelevant anyway. He has a job ready for her, and he is unlikely to listen to her answer.
The promise of; "it'll only take a minute" is tinged with the reality that she knows better. So, as everything is dropped and the children are either togged up to join the workforce or tucked up in bed we venture out to do the very important job he has lined up, be it, going to collect spares, moving cows, lambing or (due to her small hands) holding a hidden nut on a rusty piece of machinery for a finger aching long time. The farmers' wife knows all too well it'll be late before they get back into the house and then the darling farmer will spout out "What's for dinner?"
(NB, before someone decides I've left my children alone whilst doing these 'jobs', I wouldn't, you see, as farmer's most of us live like the Walton's!)
In today's quick to label and judge world, the term you choose to define a farmer's wife and mummy doesn't really matter. The truth is that the only ones who completely grasp and appreciate the extent of her 'job' are those who have been in her very well worn and ridiculously muddy shoes.
Keep up your amazing work ladies, our country depends on you. x
This morning it dawned on me that we lost our dear Dad to the "big C" little over 4 months ago. As I sit here overcome with emotion whilst writing this, it seems the past 4 months have been no less sad than before.
Before this life changing event, I would have felt so guilty about seeing any positive side to my families devastating situation. But recently I figured that is ok to have opposing feelings at the same time. You would have to be superhuman not to let such a negative emotion weigh you down, but do you know what? We can be angry and happy, sad and relieved, frustrated and grateful, realising this helped me cope with my grief immediately after my father’s death.
Even in his last few weeks, we spent everyday as a whole family, my brave Mum, my 2 older brother and I. We sat with Dad laughing, joking, playing games, reading him sailing articles, eating takeaways with a side of tears and generally being ourselves, I was so grateful for the present even with Dad slowly slipping away.
Looking back I'd be selfish to let myself become suffocated by what had happened. My brothers and I had Dad's best years, he was a fabulous father, Nothing was too much trouble (even the recorder concerts and trumpet lessons) and no party was too late to fetch us and our friends. He taught us right from wrong, how to interact with others and skills that have got us successfully to where we all are today. Now, you tell me how I can honestly be sad after having someone like that in my life? He was simply amazing, don't get me wrong I would love more than anything for him to see his grandchildren grow up into beautiful people, but that is just a greedy thought.
After that dreaded phone call on that Thursday night I found that my children brought me back into the moment. It's not easy to deal with my own grief while also dealing with the day-to-day dramas of looking after 2 toddlers, there were times being alone would have been a great option. But if children are good at anything, they are good at living in the moment and making it count, so when I find myself in dreamland letting my sad thoughts take over, I just focus on the cutest little smile or giggle aimed at me.
I'm not saying that this is how everyone can deal with grief, as its a very personal thing and can be very private, however, it has had a great impact on my life without my Dad. I'm not pushing away the challenging moments, I'm letting myself be accepting to both joy and pain at the same time. purely negative emotions and feelings can be so consuming, I simply look for a little glimmer in every situation.
Being a farmer's wife is fun, don't get me wrong, but there are some things that we can all relate to when we have this 'label'. Farmers are an unique breed and it depends which "funny farm" they grew up on, to how much of the force is in them.
For a bit of fun i asked a few of my FWAG's (Farmer's wives & girlfriends) to tell me how they know they are married to farmer.... Please note these are not edited, they mad me laugh and pretty much all of them happen here!
Feel free to comment below and add your twist, all for one, and one for all!
Hmmm- when his idea of a family day out is going to TFM to buy a new chainsaw (kids might get to look longingly at the Britains toys there if they're lucky!) via checking the cows on the way and having a nice walk on the way back (checking out every fence line/ crop of neighbouring farm obvs!) oh and finding spanners/ pen knives/ grain in the bottom of the washer on a regular basis!)
1. Car journeys are usually quite slow and often have some near misses due to husband looking over others peoples hedges to assess what they are doing; 2. He knows way too many people so we spend lots of time talking to 'thingamejig' from 'you know where' when we do have any trips out; 3. Any gardening carried out at home is only ever completed with machinery.
Your new home always comes fully furnished, complete with carpets, sofas curtains & crockery previously owned by the in-laws/ deceased grandmother.....wow betide you suggests removing it as you quite like to do a bit of decorating yourself!! X
Milk tickets on the table, ear tags on the table, trail of straw up the stairs, go to the cinema and he falls asleep in the first 10mins
Oil seed rape everywhere- the vacuum cleaner is in heaven.
Dust clouds on the carpet where he dumps his clothes on the floor.
Do not have white towels....
Taking the children 'grain swimming'
Riding great grandmother' mobility scooter around the empty sheds
Wellies always in the car, you never know when u will be called to do something, the ability to stand in about 20 different places when moving stock, the constant wonder of how anything is still standing when u find nuts and bolts in the boilersuit on a weekly basis..taking the kids for a picnic in the silage field whilst feeding 9 men a hot dinner out of the car boot...
You get a weather forecast in bed every morning summarised from three different weather apps before you've barely opened your eyes and the car always has a whiff of silage about it even when you've not been near any x
There's a muddy boot trail through the boot room, utility and across the kitchen floor within moments of the floor being cleaned. You have to listen to endless drivelling discussions about tack, what the best make is, whose bought what, what's broken down.... you are sent on a mission to pick up said replacement parts with little detail or direction! You normally have an in-law of some description living within a few hundred metres!.....
When you get married all your old YFC friends greet you with a guard of honour made up of pitchforks, every none farming guests suddenly turns into a mad photographer, as this is not normal in the 'city'!
If any of you wonderful farmers are reading this, these are not criticisms, they are loving observations.
I do think we should give the lads some credit (and you can find the sick bag if you want) - I know I am married to a farmer when he does make the effort to get home on time and tidy himself up as my heart skips a bit at what I see under all that grease and shit and I know I am the luckiest lady on the planet! On the flip side knowing how a farmer loves his cows I should be quite safe!!