I’ve been struggling with blogging recently; I think it’s a reflection of how I’ve been struggling to get focused generally. But it’s made me question why I blog, what it’s for and what I want the blog to be. As I’ve been thinking, I’ve realised that firstly, I’m overthinking it, and secondly this blog was started because of our move to Cumbria, and so it should be about us, and what makes us different to most people out there – as well as the inane ramblings about excursions with the kids of course.
So I thought I’d write something about one of the things that makes us different, not to many people around here admittedly, but probably to the majority of folks; what it’s like, living within a farm. Obviously we don’t live or work on a farm, but in the past the barn was part of the farm we now live next door to. Our little homestead is surrounded by a field, across the lane there are more fields, up and down the lane – you’ve guessed it – more fields.
So the most obvious part of living surrounded by fields, is that we’re also surrounded by cows and sheep. Before we moved here, I was scared of cows, to be honest, I’m still a bit scared of cows, but as time passes I’m getting a bit more used to them. Mainly because I have to, because they are very, very inquisitive. So whenever I hang out washing, some cow or other wanders down to have a look, if the kids are shrieking and screaming, a cow or two comes and has a look, if the chickens are being particularly entertaining (or just pecking too close to the fence), a cow comes and has a look. I now understand where the phrase “nosey cow” comes from. I was particularly amused one afternoon when gardening, when a couple of workmen came to do something on a telegraph pole in the adjoining field, it wasn’t long before the van and the telegraph pole were surrounded by cows, wondering what exactly was going on. So although I am scared of them, I am quite entertained by them, and when they do come over en masse to watch me, I may attempt a bit of a stroke, which usually ends up with me being covered in cow drool as they do have a bit of a tendency to enjoy a lick. I am particularly susceptible to the charms of the calves, as I reason they can’t really do as much damage, and so have been known to end up getting my fingers suckled by them, and regularly pet them. Something I’m not really sure our farmer friend approves of – as some of them now actually come over for a petting.
You’d think that sheep would be the more approachable of the two animals, but no, sheep are not keen on being petted and just prefer to stare from a distance. Sheep are also suicidal escapologists, they seem to spend their days trying to find new and interesting ways to die, or just stand about in the road a lot.
Of course, cows and sheep don’t just stand about, they also make quite a lot of noise. You can always tell when it’s feeding time for the cows, as the moos become much more determined as they stomp their way across the fields. Sheep generally just ‘baa’ and never get too excited, unless being moved down the lane, and then the ‘baa-ing’ takes on a slightly more frantic tone.
You also quickly get used to tractors passing at all times of day and night, as the farmers go off to do whatever it is that farmers do with their trusty tractors in the evening – there is nothing that makes you feel quite as lazy, as watching a farmer trundle up and down the lane all evening, whilst you sit with your feet up with a glass of wine. I have also learned to get the washing in when the muck spreading starts, unless we want to smell like poo. The smell of the country is also an obvious part of country living, but to be honest, you get used to it pretty quickly, and now, unless the muck spreading is particularly eye watering, I barely notice it.
Lots of fields of course, also means lots of hedgerows, which means lots of birdlife, so the air is always full of birdsong. We’ve moved from somewhere we would barely ever see sparrows, to now having hordes of them doing regular raids on the chicken coop. There are often groups of them sat on the gate, and certain bushes in the garden must accommodate loads of them, as they are always bursting with their song. And as well as the wildlife, of course the hedgerows provide excellent bounty for a bit of foraging, again in the past we’d have to walk out for miles to get brambles and sloes, whereas now we barely have to leave the house to get a better haul than we could ever have dreamed of in the past.
And finally, having farmer friends, means we get access to land that we wouldn’t otherwise have – and we don’t have to worry about a farmer with a shot gun appearing and yelling “Gerrorff my land”. We also get to help at clipping time, put up electric fences, try and figure out the multiple and complex different terms for sheep, and bottlefeed new lambs.
So what’s it like living within a farm? Actually, it’s pretty amazing.