Both Nick and I grew up in the countryside, Nick in Cornwall and myself in Wales and so we both have a love of nature and wildlife. My family ran a smallholding for most of their working life and so I grew up surrounding by all sorts of animals, which I of course befriended and persuaded my dad to keep as pets...not the ideal for a working farm! My parents still live there to this day, although they are now retired and the fields are rented out for neighbouring sheep.
The Amazing View
We try to go home once a month, or as much as work will allow and its a great place for Lily run around the fields. The view from the yard is stunning and every day its completely different. The changing seasons, the light, the colours - everything to create a new and amazing view every day. This photo was taken last autumn, and it is looking up towards North Wales. On a good clear day you can spot Snowdon if you are lucky.
The smallholding in photos over the years
It was wonderful to grow up on a smallholding, from a very young age you could always find me outside either playing in streams, making dams and ponds for the ducks, building tree houses. Everything is run differently on farms these days with big machinery and everything very intensive. We were fortunate to experience the old ways as well as the new.
I remember helping out at haying time, lifting each small bale onto the trailer one by one, the best part was riding on the top of the bales down the lane on a warm summers evening. Couldn't be done these days because of health and safety!
These were a few of our ducks, just outside our old front door (the old farmhouse has since been renovated so looks very different now). We always had ducks waddling around and eventually dad had a huge pond built for them in one of the fields. It has wild ducks on it these days.
We had quite a few pigs at one time and I was always the one who fed the runt piglets on a daily basis. I helped them to grow strong and enjoyed every minute of it. I was also the one to bottle feed the lambs, although as a teenager when the animals needed their 6am feeds it wasn't so much fun : )
We always had geese too - they live a very long time and although sadly no longer with us now, they laid every year and huge eggs to boot. You knew if you were having a Goose omelet!
The sheep and the chickens were always my favorite and our neighbours use to call me Miss Doolittle when I was young, as I was able to befriend most animals on our farm. Even if neighbours grazed their cows on our fields, normally one of them would go back after the summer much tamer than it arrived! At one time we had a flock of over 100 sheep and I would know at least 30 of them by name and another 20 to 30 distinguishable by sight and they would recognize me by my voice and the colour of my coat. As soon as they saw me they would follow me around the field. I would keep a few treats in my pocket for them.
I also helped my parents rear the animals, I had my own responsibilities and did chores around the smallholding which gave me a great insight into animals and their behavior. You may think herding some sheep out of a field, through a gateway and into another field is easy, however if there's only you and perhaps one other person and no sheepdog, you have to be aware and watch the animals at all times to pre-empt what they are going to do next. There are things you pick up with experience, sometimes you can foresee what they are going to do a few seconds before they do it. A slight movement of their body, the direction of their head can all be clues as to their next move. With each animal its different too. Guiding chickens where you want them to go is different from herding sheep or pigs!
Here are a few photos from the 1990's, a photo of Buffy my sheep when she was young in the snow. I bottle fed her which is why she is so tame. Gerty the goat was our second goat which we adopted from a neighbour who was unable to look after her anymore. She was hugely naughty! Sadly she died in the late 1990's as she was fairly old when we got her. Jenny is our very much missed dog who died only a few years ago. We do miss her greatly.
Finally to finish, the cutest photo of two little baby guinea fowl chicks. If anyone here has ever kept guinea fowl they will understand how noisy they can be...but so cute as chicks I think you will agree! I hope you have enjoyed viewing our photos and have a better idea of our farm life!