Posting from an isolated farmhouse in the middle of the black mountains on the Welsh border. Why am I here? Farm-sitting for my friend’s daughter. Perhaps a somewhat rash offer which at the time in the midst of a house full of people seemed like a good idea. I am a city girl but inside there is a country lass just waiting for the opportunity to come out. And now I am here I am loving it.
The tranquillity however takes a bit of getting used to as I found out on my first night. Not everyone can boast 2 diazepam and still have a sleepless night. I am not proud of this and I put it down to a misspent youth. It is indeed bloody quiet here so quiet that I can hear myself breathing. Maybe it also had something to do with not having worked out how to lock the doors with visions of a wild axe man arriving in the night. And if indeed this should occur how long would it take for someone to find me. I could be lying here dead for days. Always did have a vivid imagination.
Of course, no-one came in the night and at 7am I duly got out of bed to feed the 3 dogs, the 3 cats, the bantams, the chickens and the rabbits. Jeremy Clarkson, you have nothing on me I could take you on any day. That said have you ever tried to herd unwilling chickens into their coup at bed time – no mean feat.
“Look guys,” I said. “This is for your own good. If I don’t put you in a safe place the foxes or the rats as big as rabbits will eat you.” Surprisingly they didn’t seem to understand. I tried tempting them with chicken feed – I mean would you be tempted by a few lousy grains. I made chicken noises – why I am not sure but I was getting desperate and eventually I resorted to manhandling and air lifted them into their hut. Clearly, I had been doing it all wrong. Had I waited until it was dark, they would have put themselves to bed. But I only found this out later.
Contrary to popular opinion chickens are not stupid in fact quite the opposite they are quite smart and their intelligence according to chicken experts are comparable to that of a dog. Apparently they can count, show some level of self-awareness, and even manipulate one another by Machiavellian means. If this is really true they must have had a good laugh seeing me chasing them around their coup for over an hour.
Exhausted but triumphant I returned to the farmhouse to be greeted by the dogs, who gave me a look as if to say “FFS city girl don’t you know how to put a few birds to bed and where’s our food anyway.” Ah ha they are not getting one over on me, Sarah’s instructions clearly stated dogs don’t get fed at night! It did feel a bit mean though so I snuck them a few treats. After all, they need to guard me at night from intruders.
You know how we women all eventually turn into our mothers well I was reminded of this when Sarah attempted to explain the animal routine. She was in a hurry in get off to her Scottish holiday and it was very early in the morning. In her haste she didn’t quite grasp that I was a Londoner used to navigating cars rather than animals. My mother used to complain that I did everything in a hurry and I can still hear her saying, “why does everything have to be quick quick quick. Slow down and tell me again what you want me to do,” she said when we left her to look after the 3 children so we could escape for a weekend. Which is exactly what I said to Sarah as she threw the animal routine at me before getting in the car and roaring off leaving me reeling from the experience and hoping that the rabbits didn’t get the cat food and the chickens the dog food and that there were no calamities or fatalities while she was away.
I am happy to report I am doing swimmingly well – in fact I think I am a bit of a pro! I don’t want to get above myself but actually I could probably have managed the horses as well. Maybe a tad over confident. I have as yet to deal with my biggest fear – the spiders!!! “Of course, there will be spiders,” said my son reassuringly it’s a farm.” I think I have mentioned before that ‘dealing with spiders’ was written into my marriage contract. Now on my own I have to step up and be a big girl. But I am prepared. I have the vacuum with a long hose poised by my bed should I encounter any of these eight-legged creatures.
Animals apart I have an exceedingly wonderful luxury here – a wood fire hot tub. And even this city girl can light and keep a wood fire burning. Admittedly I did approach it with a somewhat defeatist attitude but the thought of falling into a lovely hot tub spurred me on and 2 hours later there I was amongst the woods luxuriating in a wonderful soothing tub.
Think I am now ready for anything – even the spiders!