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A Pile of Piglets

A Pile of Piglets

Two and a half weeks ago (to be precise), Mrs B. went into labour on a cold and breezy April afternoon.  In all the years we’ve been breeding our pigs, this is only the second time that Mrs B. has birthed out during the daylight hours.  We were grateful for this miraculous eventuality, but it didn’t detract from the fact that it was a very, very cold evening for sitting inside an unheated barn.

Despite our familiarity with the pig birthing process, it really never ceases to amaze and delight.  Baby piglets really are extraordinarily cute little creatures and when 13 of them arrived hale and hearty, we couldn’t have been happier.  Their teeny noses and plump little bottoms are one of the most pleasing things the human eye can behold.

Unfortunately, the weather was not in the mood to celebrate our basket of new arrivals and proceeded to lash us with winds, rain, snow and ice storms for the next two weeks.  This necessitated keeping Mrs B. and the piglets tightly tucked away in the farrowing barn, for fear of wandering piglets getting caught in the cold and freezing.  Mrs B. showed no signs of wanting to frolic in the ice rain, instead enjoying her post birth extra rations and the warmth and cosiness of her babymoon barn.

This weekend, however, brought with it the warmth and sunshine we had been dreaming of, through the long cold winter months.  Thoughts of ice storms and snow banks were banished as the sun beat down, renewing our spirits and relieving our harrowed senses.  The pig, with her babies, was released from her natal confinement and allowed to bask in the warmth of the sun, creating a mattress of warming delight out of the straw she lay on.  The piglets had their first taste of outdoor life, snuffling and snuggling in a big pile that almost seems to move as one.

Allow me to illustrate.


If I could further press my point…

You’re welcome.

While the piglets had fun in the sun, their parents took the opportunity to soak up some rays too.  But, of course, their Mama always had a watchful eye on her little ones.


This may be the last batch of piglets under our care for a while, as our friends are taking custody of our breeding pair this year in order to give us a well earned winter off.  Though I’m very much looking forward to the prospect of a family vacation and some down time, I can’t say I’ll be happy to see them go.  The pigs, and their offspring, are a continual source of joy and pleasure to us.  We are lucky indeed to share our lives with such wonderful creatures.

Mama has a brand new lens.

Mama has a brand new lens.


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So if your newly arrived Papa said to you, “I have your Christmas present here, do you want it now or do you want to wait for Christmas?” you would, of course, as a reasonable adult fully in control of their faculties say…”Immediately now please!”

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And you would be right because then you would get to spend the day messing about with your brand new 35mm lens which is sooooooooooooo fantastically fabulous and wonderful.

And you would be right.


Winter Walking

Winter Walking

This morning it was just too beautiful, too sunny, too fresh to stay inside.  And frankly I have a new camera so I needed to go and take some pictures.  Needed to I tell you!  Luckily the gods of winter provided a perfect day outside for us to go burn off our morning energy. Ok the kids have morning energy I just wanted to get some fresh air.  And to take pictures.  Lots and lots of pictures.

DSC_0026 DSC_0027 DSC_0029 DSC_0034After 6 months with a slowly deteriorating camera (I haven’t been able to use my zoom or wide angle lenses since the summer) I’d forgotten the sheer joy of the shutter click.  The thrill of showing others what I see today, knowing they’ll see it just as I do.  It really is bliss.

DSC_0037 DSC_0042 DSC_0041 DSC_0040 DSC_0038After weeks of snow, freezing cold, ice rain and bitter, bitter winds a still day at -11c felt positively balmy.  Boys and dog ran free, navigating the 1 inch crust of ice hiding pockets of calf deep snow at random moments along our tractor path.

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As the boys explored the fun to be had with cracking the ice crust in a variety of inventive ways, I walked alone for a few minutes, noticing the strange shapes and swirls the drifting snow has made as the wind has swirled and twisted it up.  The path Stephen made is totally covered down in bottom field, the arctic snow clouds we’ve been watching from the house this week have drifted the snow right over it.  Even the dog gave me a ‘no thanks’ look before turning back.

DSC_0055 DSC_0080 DSC_0078 DSC_0074 DSC_0073After a visit with the cows the boys stayed out for a while to play a game of ‘Slide the car down the hill in a wooden bowl’, taking full advantage of the slippery surface coating everything right now.  Like beaten pewter the snow and ice gleam, reflecting the sun and inviting us to play out just a little longer.



At the Edge of the World

At the Edge of the World

One of the things I have missed, right down to my very bones, has been living by the sea.  There is nothing, nothing, like the feeling of walking along the shore line; the freshness of the air, the openness of the sky, pure bliss.

edge-8125 edge-8127 edge-8133 edge-8135 edge-8139We’d originally only intended to pop to the beach for half and hour or so, but the burning blue sky and the fresh wind beckoned us on.

edge-8150 edge-8155 edge-8163We leaned into the wind, walking up the hillside to the rocky path on the headland above.  Jutting out into the water it felt like exploring our own little island, a miniature England of rugged grasses and endless sky.

edge-8168 edge-8169 edge-8170 edge-8171Time slipped away from us as we moved onwards towards the thinning tip of this mini peninsula.  On either side the land fell away to the rushing waves below, blowing away any thoughts beyond the beauty of our surroundings and the precarious trek to the outermost point.

We held on tightly to smaller people’s hands, walking slowly over rocks polished by the elements and the feet of those making the same journey.  But the sea had a magnetic pull, drawing us all as far as we could go.  Then we stood and regarded the beauty of the light shimmering on the incoming tide.

edge-8177 edge-8179 edge-8183 edge-8187Half an hour turned into two and half, a short walk turning into something of an adventure.  By the time we arrived back at the car we were all feeling a little shaky in the leg department, luckily dinner came wrapped in a salt and vinegar parcel so we were all fed and watered in no time.

I think I found a little bit of myself, up on the cliffs today.  On the way home I was filled with energy and joy, astonished at the beauty of what we had witnessed, grateful for the chance to simple walk and see and feel it all.  As I write this the house has settled into silence, boys (old and young) are fast asleep, weary bodies resting gratefully on comfy beds.

But my tiredness can’t quite compete with the glittering reflections that lit up my eyes and heart.  I can still feel the wind on my skin, making off with extraneous thoughts and leaving only what matters behind.  The joy of the moment, the bliss of nature at her spring time best and of course the view, the most amazing view, from that little place out at the edge of the world.

Friday Morning

Friday Morning

Would you like to take a walk with me?  There’s some chores to do but we won’t notice that, it’s such a beautiful day.

After checking on the animals (feeding, watering, cuddling) it’s time for a little walk around, taking in the view.  Everything is bathed in red gold light, the air is fresh but not cold.  The perfect day for a wander before breakfast.

The bees are being wrapped up for the cold season, despite the warm days we are still having.  We know the cold weather is coming so we bask in every mild day we get.  It is the golden season and we are loving it.  Now our walk is done we can head in for a cup of tea before the busy day begins; looking out of the windows at the evolving day, knowing there is nowhere better to be.

Hay Time

Hay Time

Over the last couple of weeks our neighbour has been cutting, tedding and baling our hay.  This weekend the bottom field was baled and the rest of the fields were cut.  It was beautiful.


The sun began to go down, tinting everything with a soft glow, the world couldn’t have looked more harmonious.  Walking our land, clear of high growth for the first time since we bought it (for the first time in many years actually), we began again to have a feeling of space around us.  The horizon seemed further away making the details more pronounced.


The next evening we took the boys for a good long walk across our land, we visited places we haven’t seen in a year.  The boys ran themselves ragged and we all enjoyed the excitement of the new hay and the resulting openness.  We let the longer shadows cool us as we drank up this new vision.


As the children and dogs chased each other in and out of woods, over long rows of grass and the kinder climbed on a bale Stephen tipped for them, we soaked up the feeling of well being washing over us.  We have a real crop, one that has value to us and our neighbours, that can sustain animals through winter or be sold to help build our farm up.

The sun dipped lower as we headed home, we talked of all the possibilities and forthcoming harvest.  We talked of a future full of goodness.

Sharing Beauty

Sharing Beauty

Although this is something that happens frequently, I am still surprised by the way that life will organise itself to fully celebrate the sabbaths.  This weekend the brilliant weather led us to glory in the rise of the sun king, Bel shone down on us and we turned our faces to him in gratitude for the Earth’s abundance.  Today we shared our land with lovely friends, walking the trail that Stephen had mowed and enjoying the freedom our children had to run and share their joy with one another.

I think it is the secret fear of many of us that our children will never be loved by others as much as they deserve, as much as we love them.  So to see my children being held in high regard by others, adults and children, warms my heart.  To meet another child who embraces life with the same gusto, passion, openness of heart and spirit is uplifting to me.  To listen to them planning their future, the horses, the dogs, the children helps me to know that there are others now and will be in the future, who love my boys.  Who can see the light that shines in them as I do.

So if there is a wish that sings eternally in my heart, both on the solstice and for always, it is that they will be truly loved throughout their lives.  As I love them.