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The slippery slide to Christmas panic well and truly kicked in today…
I was okay. I thought I’d got a handle on it.  Work has been rather demanding, but it’s under control – just. We’d decided that we weren’t going overboard on presents this year; stockings would be a joint venture – couples sharing – apart from children who we could all spoil; we’d decided the main thing was to enjoy ourselves and the family being together (actually we do say this every year!).

But today the rug was whisked from under my feet. There were icy cold fingers running down my back and persistent butterflies churning in my stomach. It’s strange as I’m not an early organised buying-presents-far-in-advance sort of person; I enjoy the excitement and anticipation of the build-up. We don’t put the tree up until a few days before Christmas and our decorations come from the wood; armfuls of holly, ivy, pine and fir to decorate mantelpieces, bookcases, fireplaces and beams, with Will weaving glossy darkly-green wreaths for the doors.

Last weekend the Christmas goose, purchased from a friend, was despatched and a finger-numbing, but happy-chatty companionable afternoon was spent plucking in a sneezing, tickling snow of white down.  The puddings? They were made, stirred and wished into by the family back along on stir-up Sunday; the cake’s maturing in its tin and I’ve jars of mincemeat on the larder shelves. So what gives? Why do I feel so unready, flakey and shakey?

I think it begun with the moths – a couple of weeks ago I went to put on a warm jumper and its sleeves were peppered, well no actually, they were shredded by clothes moth larvae. Since then all, each and every precious thing appears to have succumbed to moth damage.  Cupboards, drawers and shelves are having to be cleared and the contents stored in the deepfreeze – not a pre-Christmas job by choice.

Then the washing machine decided to have a wobble – and on a farm in winter, with our mud, the washing machine is elevated to god-like status, I assure you. I prayed. I also kicked and banged. In the end I offered well-managed and sorted sacrifices (clothes and pockets devoid of hidden nails, straw, binder twine, lumps of soggy tissue and mouldy barley); this appears to have appeased the mechanical washing god for the moment.

But it was this morning that hammered the panic home. The scraper (the implement I use daily to scrape out the cow palace) gave a tortured teeth-on-edge tearing screech and hung limply from the arms of the bobcat – broken and twisted. Kaput.

Following hot on the heels of scraper, Robert’s car’s crankshaft pulley was making ominous noises – “you get out of there – that’s not safe” scolded Chris at the garage “how you got home last night’s a bloody miracle!” Car out of action for the foreseeable future.

So what with the moth infestation and freezer full of clothes, not food for feeding the thousands; Amazon deliveries consisting of moth repellents, cedar balls and pheromones, not gorgeous trinkets and presents to die for; my broken can’t-live-without mechanical aids and a defunct car – I feel a little overwhelmed.

beautiful brilliant red holly berries

beautiful brilliant red holly berries

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