You'll remember me when the west wind moves, upon the fields of barley. You'll forget the sun in his jealous sky, as we walk in fields of gold. Or so the song, "Fields of Gold", goes. Our barley field didn't quite reach the golden stage as we cut and bailed it for winter feed silage last weekend, but for me it was a small dream come true. Now, you may consider my dreams somewhat limited if they only extend to growing and harvesting a field of arable crop. True, fields in the Borders and East Lothian are bursting with ripening barley, wheat and oats just now. However the journey from being an office worker with a daily commute through arable countryside 20 years ago to producing a crop, is a small sense of achievement. That said, the office worker life was definitely less work for more money!
On the subject of money, it has been a great relief at last to find that costs no longer exceed income. We were hard hit by government Covid-19 policy. It meant me returning to the tools and working long hours away from home. But our holiday cottage is at least officially allowed to open and is back up to full occupancy again. It nice to see it in use and welcome interested and enthusiastic guests. A recent set were a Chinese mother and daughter. The daughter, Sophia, is schooled at Gordonstoun and when this reaction to coronavirus started they couldn't get back to China. Since then they had been moving between self catering accommodation. They arrived with us in July and stayed a few weeks. The kids loved it. Although there was a bit of an age difference they all played so well, making rope swings, a den, playing on the straw bales, climbing trees. For Sophia, it was a refreshing change from online Latin and History of Art tuition. Here they can be seen quickly polishing off a pack of marshmallows when we camped out for a couple of nights. This was about as Staycation as you can get; 300m from the house. Piglets also continue to be a firm favourite with visitors.
I said there was a Sting in the Tale. Putting aside the play on words, we have recently had some bad news. Our new Romney tup (ram) took ill and appears to be blind. We immediately called the vet and she thinks there's a swelling in the brain putting pressure on the optic nerves. Poor thing. And he's been looking such a handsome beast too. She's at a loss to know what is causing it and what exactly is afflicting him. He now appears to be recovering and is at least eating and drinking.
However the concern is whether he can see again as he won't be much use if he can't give our ewes the 'eye' for his annual month of action. A neighbouring farmer only said to me last week, "farming just seems to be about sex and the weather". I can see where he's coming from.
"Many years have passed since those summer days, Among the fields of barley, See the children run as the sun goes down, Among the fields of gold" As I sign off, it is raining outside and the plans for the day will be that bit wetter, muddier and slower. The fields of hay are cut and baled and it feels like summer has passed with the kids back at school. Autumn is well on it's way. For now all I can hope is that both the tup and weather improve.
Until next time.