Best Laid Plans

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We kind of hoped to go to our old church to day to say goodbye - it was going to be hard, but it was our beloved fellow deacon in the morning and the London City Mission, who we support, in the evening.
However, at 10 o'clock my older daughter came through the door with her hands over her face and blood pouring everywhere, having been kicked by a horse.
My initial reaction was sheer terror, but having established that her eyes and teeth were OK, the old routine soon sprang into action, and she was cleaned up, arnicad and had a cold compress on the bruising within seconds. The wound was still bleeding freely though and it was gaping as it was on her cheekbone.
Assuring her that I would have left her to it if she had been a rugby playing boy who might one day be proud of the scar, I put her in the car and drove her to the MIU half an hour away to have it looked at, glued and taped, to minimise any future scarring.
Our wonderful, wonderful National Health Service came up trumps once again, we were seen in minutes, a friendly, competent nurse checked her thoroughly, smiled and joked, and did such a fantastic job on her face, I know it will all be gone in a year or so.
All this happens because we pay for our health service through our taxes. No one asks you who you are or what you can afford. They just smile, and get on with the job. God bless the NHS.

How might it be

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Every day, I drive past a site, about a mile or so from here, which has been a derelict, ex-military, acre or so, for years.
Now, they have planning permission to build houses, and there is talk that this will include affordable housing for local people. Probably the word 'young' will fall in there, and leave us out, but you can hope.
Before we moved here, I wanted to hang on for this development, build our farm on our rented field, and just keep our heads down where we were.Neil wanted to come here, because here is nicer. I wanted to stay there, because ...here is nicer, and charms us away from building our little dream on our field.
But I am becoming obsessed. I watch the site. I toil over our credit rating (which cannot be mended for at least two years, I fear) I make lists and budgets ... how might it be?
Can we possibly, ever, live in a tiny house in a road, surrounded on all sides by other people? This house is large and airy, surrounded by its own garden, private and blissful, and full of light .
If we were able to get such a house, how would it feel?
The opposite of everything we want and dream about?
But it would be close, really close, maybe half a mile? from our field. And it would be ours.
What a strange obsession it is becoming. How might it be to live in two worlds at once?!

Strange days

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Arch has been poorly - walking up and down the lane with him, my heart breaking because the diagnosis is : best if he goes home to Wales, now - it's been odd. He's been at his most beautiful. I love my horse, so I'd better let him go.

Finally, a gap in lambing allowed us to go out for a meal as a family, something we haven't done for months, and it was pure bliss.

Sitting in a warm, firelit village pub, with time to talk, and time to dream - I have one daughter who wants to go to the Royal Ag College at Ciren to do Equine Business Studies, and one who wants to do Veterinary Science, preferably at Bristol or Cambridge. So no holds barred. To sit talking and dreaming, to hear H talking about her job (she's holiday relief at a very smart local livery yard) and keeping things sweet with her 'owners' (her pony is on loan) and Boo calculating just how many exams she's going to have to pass ...

I hope it all comes true for them. Looks like I'd better work harder.

In praise of simple things

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for churches, small and comforting, yet large enough to hide a small, three lady family within warm wings, and minister thereto with words of inspiration from the Acts
for chickens, tactically moved to grass invaded driveways, whereon their brittle beaks remove unwanted greenery and rediscover stones
for ponies, basking in unfamilar sunlight, and shedding swathes of warm grey hair like winter underwear discarded on the bathroom floor
and goats whom sunlight coaxes into giving yet more gloriously warm, sustaining milk.
for girls who grow so strong, and smart, and funny, and yet who long to just fulfill their calling on this earth, and pray that some of it will be outdoors, but dutifuly compare waist and hip, and wonder if their bearing will support a woman
for piles of sewing waiting for their muse
for lambs in dapple sunlight, on the field's edge
for salad grown with care and served with love
and sunlight's drying, nurturing, revitalising breath
for smooth eggs, brown and blue and cream and numerous in spring's long days,

for all these simple things, thanks be to God,
for all these hints at pure simplicity we yet shall know.

Praise Him.

Blessed! A day all together

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We didn't wake up until seven! Glory what a treat - a two and a half hour lie in for Neil, an hour and a half for the rest of us. Chores were accomplished slowly and we still had time to visit a local church for Easter service - it was the same one we visited some weeks back. It's a good church - but for us, it is a crossroads, and this is the road *more* travelled. It remains to be seen whether we shall have the courage or calling to travel the greener path, or whether this well trodden one, easier going for our children's unsure feet, will prove to be the right way. Only time and prayer will tell.
It's been a slow day of day dreaming and watching The Waltons! We are all so tired at this point in lambing, that all ideas of feisty outdoor feasts or rambling amid the downs are out of the question. A quiet roast lunch and time together to chill and chatter are just what the doctor ordered.
Trouble is, the spring tasks are piling up, and I need to spend hours in the garden at just the time the girls are off school, and want to spend hours with the horses.
I have also taken over milking the goats once again, and need to make cheese, more yoghurt, and a good bit more soap with the surplus - though I am freezing some for sale as dog milk - and what's more I have a lot of sewing awaiting my attention.
I love spring. I love all the demands it makes upon us. It's tiring, but soon will come the days when it is sheer joy to go to bed when it is still light, with the curtains and windows open next to the bloom of lilac, sleep the sleep of the exhausted and awake with the sky already light again, and ready to begin all over.
I love the re-evaluation. Traditionally, I make post-resurrection resolutions, rather than new year ones, because this is my new year, with a cry of 'Hallelujah! He is Risen!' and the early dawn of a spring day, I feel ready to begin again, ready for re birth and transformation.

This year I really want to be where I am - for years I have suffered from changefulness, the inability to follow any one path. I am stricken by a kind of multiple personality, wasting my days deciding the tone, the shade, the influence under which I will ... plant the peas. Shall they be Amish, plain peas, or Victory peas, shall they be happy, settled English garden peas a la Miss Read? Are they peas for my family or peas for the market, peas for canning at leisure, or freezing in a hurry? Peas of a solid village kind or of a dreamy commune kind, shall they go into a box scheme, a social enterprise, a world changing, diggers and dreamers kind of pea shall they be? Or should they be Little House on the Prairie peas, to be gathered in aprons and dried for the winter ...

... the while, you understand, I have not planted any peas. I have only theorised about the planting of peas. And the next day, I shall begin upon lettuces ... shall they be heritage varieties, planted companionably with their own slug deterrents, in recycled raised beds ... or standard lettuces, regimented allotment style in a 1940s march toward the serried ranks of leeks ?

So for this year, one transformation.

No transformations.

Good Friday

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A long and hard but satisfying day - an early start to do horses and then, having the girls off school to help out, we decided to transition to my doing the milking again, which I have not done for some time.
Despite the mud and the driving rain, with H's help I managed to negotiate the gates and pens, and milked the three girls, I was so pleased and happy to be back with them, it really is a joy to milk them and be around them, I have missed them so much.
The days go so quickly - H and I desperately wanted to get enough done so that we could do some sewing, but chore followed chore - we had forgotten to stock up on chicken feed before the holiday weekend so had to go and buy alternative supplies. I needed to make bread and hotcross buns, Boo made tiffin for daddy's lunchbox. Dinner had to be cooked - traditional Good Friday fish - chore time rolled around again.
We did not get to our sewing, which saddened me greatly as H really really wants me to sew up a dress for her which I cut out a while ago.
It has been a lovely day though, the three of us worked side by side happily and got so much done. They are a blessing my lovely girls.
Neil not back til nearly nine, having left at 5 am - this is a punishing time for him, but an important part of our annual income.
We stopped for a devotional time, and read the crucifixion account in Matthew, we meditated on the centurion who guarded the cross - he thought he was just overseeing the putting to death of a terrorist, only when the sky turned dark and the veil was rent did he realise - we talked about how loaded was that phrase ( which for many of us was marked out in childhood by John Wayne, in The Greatest Story EverTold) 'He truly was the Son of God'.
What did that realisation mean to him? It hardly bears thinking about.
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