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I haven’t dropped off the edge. I’m not shirking or dodging or avoiding. I’m not even suffering from virtual overload or writer’s block (in fact I’ve been itching to write). What I have been doing these last few weeks is getting ready; preparing.

This Wednesday I’m having my knee operated on – anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction – and I’ll be out of action…for some time…so they say. In my life there’s never, ever going to be a good time to be ‘legless’.

Over the last few weeks I’ve revelled, enjoyed, embraced, slogged, worn-out and appreciated the extraordinary aptitude and freedom (normally taken entirely for granted) my two legginess gives me. From the domesticity of making marmalade…

for the marmalade addict in our household...70 jars! (and I must be co-dependant)

…to the exhaustion of hedge laying;

Finished! the massive double hedge between Square Field and Out Across

in the summer we'll clean out the ditch and cast up the bank

from mucking out the cow palace…

cows in temporary accommodation during mucking out of the Cow Palace in preparation for calving

Cow Palace...clean, ready and waiting for the cows return

…and crutching the ewes prior to lambing to walking the dogs;

alert and ready

'Can you see a movement over there...?'

…driving the car (NO driving for SIX weeks!), handling the bobcat and the tractor…bringing in wood…gardening…doing housework…the cooking…going to work…! Even finding the first dump of frog spawn…

First frog spawn found 4th february

First frog spawn found 4th february

…and seeing pussy willow bursting its buds at the top of our lane..

Pussy willow peeping out...

I expect you’ll be hearing a lot from me in the coming weeks of my enforced incarceration!

I am hopelessly behind. I know I have a legitimate excuse but the things-that-must-be-done mound doesn’t get smaller – it just keeps growing!

The leaver is pulled, my head spins wildly like a fruit machine, then slows to a juddering stop. And the jackpot? Three Cherries? Three Lemons? Three Oranges?  No, and no spewing waterfall of bounty either.  My fruits are Mucking Out Cow Palace, Lambing Preparations,  Straw Delivery,  Soil Association Inspection or yet another TB Test.   (We are contiguous with infected herds, they say, and must now be tested every six months – but we have been contiguous, no, cirtiguous for ages, and this test will be right in the middle of calving…)

mucking out the cow palace

mucking out the cow palace

After landing three Straw Delivery fruits on Thursday, on Friday  I pulled the jackpot of Cow Palace Mucking Out .  So it was all hands on deck to get the job done and dusted by the afternoon, so cows could be returned to a sparkly clean and carpeted palace in time for imminent calving.

These are savvy cows. Instead of the usual thunderous explosion out of the cow palace, a decorous bunch of gigantic pregnant galleons swayed rhythmically down the lane. Memories of deep frozen wastes still fresh in their minds, they were not too sure if they wanted to spend another day banished to hostile lands without food or water. They need not have worried: temporary accommodation was available in Silage barn with all basic mod cons laid on.

Meanwhile back at the ranch all was a hive of activity and in record time we’d mucked out, hosed down, scraped and swept up, re-hung gates, bedded down and fed up.

making the muck heap

making the muck heap

On their return, no longer worried about possible banishment, they took time to take in and consider the state of the surrounding countryside, adjust their rather uncomfy corsets, pull  nonchalantly at hedgerow ferns or straying binds of ivy and discuss the merits of employing full-time staff 24/7 365 days a year.

After a cursory look at their gleaming accommodation and dragging a haughty hoof along the feed barrier to check for clinging grunge they got down to the all important task of eating, belching, breaking wind and dunging…just to give it back that lived-in appeal!

building sand castles?

building sand castles?

The next day my lucky strike was Lambing Shed preparations…

Locks Park Farm

Thanks for visiting my blog. All entries are presented in chronological order.

I have a small organic farm on the Culm grasslands near Hatherleigh in Devon, with sheep and beef cattle. I've been farming in the county for more than 30 years. I've set up this blog to share views on farming and the countryside - please do give your thoughts.

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The Campaign to Protect Rural England has helped set up this blog. We want farming to thrive in England, and believe that it is essential that people understand farming and farmers better in order for that to happen. Paula's views expressed here are her own and we won't necessarily share all of them, but we're happy to have helped give her a voice.

Find our more about CPRE and our views on food and farming at our website, www.cpre.org.uk