A Look Back on the Holidays

There has been so much going on over the holidays! Best of all though, was having my family around so that we could spend some time together. Now, we are returning to the ‘New Year’ routine but we really had so much fun over the past couple of weeks!


We have been careful about seeing family due to the various restriction that we have all been living with. My mother was able to come down to us to spend the festive season with us, but being afraid of overstaying her welcome, she left us on Tuesday. It was so lovely to have her bustling about and spending time with our son… usually her visits from Dublin are a relatively frequent occurrence, but we’ve all been seeing so much less of each other this year!


At the beginning of the week, on Monday, I got to collect my first two beehives. They were my Christmas gift from my husband… what a wonderful addition to our property! I travelled by car to the workshop of a wonderful fellow called Colin, who retired from tillage farming to go into beekeeping. He is clearly passionate about his bees and has lots of experience. We enjoyed an hour chatting and he certainly had lots of stories to tell. We were introduced to his Husky ‘Togo’ and his cat ‘Tibbles’ in his workshop: every surface was laden with timber and woodworking tools and there was a large stack of hive parts in one corner.


We loaded the hives into the back of the jeep, disassembling them so that they would fit, waved goodbye and… nothing. My vehicle wouldn’t start. I felt pretty stupid: in my excitement I had obviously jumped out of it and left the lights on when we arrived, so the battery was flat. Of course, we weren’t held up long because Colin had a mobile starter and had us going in no time. I am so looking forward to getting bees in the spring.


I put in a busy sheep day with my husband later on in the week. Having scanned the girls, we split them up, by litter size. All of the first time mums are together so that we can keep an eye on them. The older girls with litters of three and four are together and being treated as one group. Last year, we treated our litters of four separately but they didn’t do well and through no fault of our own we lost too many lambs from that group, whereas and of the mums that had scanned as triplet but were actually in lamb with four did fine! We split them so that we can feed them properly.


Luke has been enjoying his bounty of Christmas gifts and is noisily stomping about the house playing with his Nerf guns. Those stupid darts are everywhere! I’m finding them littered in corners, under chairs, behind shelves and under cushions. Hopefully this phase will not last!


Our dining table is also taken over by an Airfix model which he has been making with his Uncle. I’m loving watching them enjoy time together. It is unusual for us to be able to spend so much time with my brother, but due to Covid, he is under quarantine. Luke has also been making animations with his Stikbots. Overall the place looks like a bomb has hit it – and there are our four large dogs lying all over the place - but everyone is happy and chilled out so that is what really matters.


I was also gifted a ‘new-to-me’ Mac laptop and camera from my brother. We have got it set up and are currently downloading the software I need to learn to use. I have so much to learn that I’m feeling like maybe I have bitten off more than I can chew. My brain feels like it needs to be oiled. Am I up for the challenge? I can learn to use the software and settings on the camera, but can I learn to take better pictures and edit them to make them awesome? Sitting next to my photographer-brother, hanging on his every word and trying to take notes, my lack of knowledge is daunting!


Overall, it was a quiet week and we didn’t really venture far from home. We played board games, ate lots of snacks and generally gorged on good food. We did splash out and have a lazy night when we got a takeaway. The downtime also meant watching lots of movies, browsing through cookbooks and exploring inspiration for what projects to tackle next.


In the kitchen, cooking was relaxed and lazy. Bread and soup, some salads with fresh rocket from the polytunnel, colcannon: everything prepared at leisure and with help from family members. The fire was lit almost constantly as we wait for our boiler to be checked out – it seems to be sick as when it is turned on it billows black smoke.


And so today, Sunday, we tackle our preparations for the week as Stephen returns to work. We cleaned out around the feeders in two of the sheds and everyone got bedded. I have my instruction for the week ahead. I have been given a tremendous break over Christmas, but now it’s time to get back at it.


I want to start looking at seed catalogues this week. Though it is early, I anticipate that there will be a shortage of seeds this year, so looking at what I already have and what I need is a good idea to get tackled early on. I will also need to order willow whips for a ‘living fence’ we have planned and maybe look into getting some fruit trees for the farm.


Luke is still off school: he was to get back on Wednesday, but they have extended the holidays to give the schools a little more time after the break. This will also give them a bit more time to assess the affect that Christmas has had in terms of Covid numbers. Covid cases are on the rise, disastrously so. Yesterday there were well over three thousand confirmed cases, and we aren’t even seeing the surge caused by Christmas travel on 24th and 25th December yet. I think it’s about to get a hell of a lot worse.


Aside from that, next week I’ll be farming, hunkering down and staying home. We have lots of food so I won’t need to go out for any major shopping except for bread and milk that we can get locally.


It will be interesting to see how this year plays out, in light of the year we have just had!

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