After a busy day driving on motorways to see our Zoo Vet for a follow up visit with the Gecko I was tired and hot and full of traffic fumes. Bright sun all day made my eyes tired too and we had had an intense visit with the vet as she shared some of her personal journey with us.
Arriving home I needed emotional refreshment. Taking advantage of the good weather which was giving us a gorgeous summer late afternoon, I decided to visit the local ice cream dairy farm and take some home for the freezer. which makes its own ice cream: and has a pretty parlour to shop in and sit with a cuppa and a treat! It is quite a small operation although extremely popular and growing all the time. a family run business with three generations working together and living in stone houses round the farm yard with the cow yard along the fourth side of the farmyard One of the more charming artefacts is the sprung back-scratcher for the cows to rub on, which proves very popular My first stop was to get a chicken ‘fix’ with a fine trio of Light Sussex: I heard a familiar noise and rushed over to trace the sound of baby chicks: I miss having my own chicks so much and we found out this week that our goose eggs did not develop in the incubator so I have nothing small and fluffy to look after! I was not surprised because the temperature seemed to fluctuate wildly in the incubator. If we try again it will have to be a different one unless Debra goes broody. Then I wandered over to the calves of different ages and ‘gooed’, along with some University students who had come up for ice cream They do not stay in these stalls all night, only for a few hours a day and then are reunited with mum. A quick purchase in the shop and then off to the local hamlet: a hamlet is like a small village but the definition is that it does not have a church. In fact this one does not have a shop or a Post Office either, only a post box hollowed out inside a stone gatepost and the shop at the dairy farm. But the milk vans which still deliver milk in glass bottles also carry all sorts of things nowadays, like potatoes, cream, yoghourt, butter, orange juice etc. which is very helpful. Here animals are totally free-range:
Can you see the head of the rabbit or hare, on the right low down in the grass near the tree?
when it rains the goats each shelter underneath one of the horses, which stand still and let them shelter, according to the farmer!
Seeing the geese I opened the gate and went into the adjoining farm yard
to see if they had any goslings: of course I was met by a group of farm dogs who I pushed aside to get through the gate and who then accompanied me round to the back. There I found the farmer and his wife sitting outside in the sun having a cup of tea with their daughter: they asked me to sit down, and I introduced myself and explained my mission. They have several goose eggs under a broody hen and when they have ‘candled’ their eggs next week they will know whether they may be viable or not. Then they will give me a ring!
As we sat and chatted we were surrounded by hens and dogs, lovely! Their daughter is married to a Canadian who had never seen snow like we had up here the last two winters, which came as rather a surprise to me. Their farm has had nine generations of their family working it, but used to be an old inn before it became a farm, the George Inn. One end is lived in by the older parents and the barn on the other end has been converted for their daughter and family. How lovely to all live together, yet separately, and work and socialise together as they want. At least, if you all get on well together.
This is still the norm around here, all the farming families live as close together as possible and work together. Even the non-farming families tend to stay close, even when the youngsters go away for some years, they tend to return when they have their own children. This is a good place to live and Sheffield has the highest rate of stay-on students in Europe. The farming community in which I live is situated five miles from the centre of the fifth largest city in the UK: this historical combination of town and country is ages old and is what sculpts this area. Sheffield is called a large village, and that is a very apt term.
As we talked I was absent-mindedly stroking any dog who came within hand’s range: suddenly the farmer said that I was going to be all right with the dogs. He explained by saying that the dog I was stroking at that moment often bit people and would not let them through the gate, but since it has not bitten me and indeed was allowing me to stroke it, I had been accepted. I was speechless!!!!! He had an odd sense of humour but seemed very friendly and his wife and daughter were lovely. Eventually I had to tear myself away from the farming chat of beasts, poulty, dogs and even parrots: I mentioned that I had ice cream in the car which would be beginning to melt so off I went. The daughter came to the gate with me and continued to talk for a while. Lovely people.
(Oddly enough I met both daughter and mother two days later at the local shops: after all these years!)
So home I went with home-made lemon and ginger ice cream, and honeycomb ice cream, after a lovely interlude full of sunshine, friendly gossip and animal encounters, with the possibility of some goslings in a few weeks. I am sooooo lucky to live here:)