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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!

We are behind. Due to bluetongue vaccination we decided to leave mucking out the cow palace until after giving the cattle their second dose. Bringing in and sorting out different groups of cattle is a mucky business so it seemed only sensible to wait.

no, unfortunately, it’s not trained to muck-out by itself…I jumped out to take the photo.

Today the forecast was for rain, which is perfect weather for mucking out. The mess made by the bobcat remains moist, doesn’t stick like chewing gum to the concrete and can be scraped off without use excessive amounts of expensive mains water.

To prepare the yard we first have to remove all gates and posts – about fourteen large gates and seven small. These are stacked outside and are pressure washed and disinfected once the yard is finished – the rain helps to soften and loosen the hard encrusted dung on them too.

I have mucking out with the bobcat down to a fine art and once I’ve cleared a good start area I motor through in a couple of hours. The tedious part is pressure washing and scraping – neither Olly nor I have found a quick, efficient method – it’s just a rather dreary slog.

Olly pressure washing

The farm is filled with the deep, rich sweet smell of wholesome organic farmyard manure, nothing like the acrid stench which often pervades the countryside. Ours is truly worth its weight in gold!

rich brown gold!

Locks Park Farm

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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

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