The doors are slowly starting to open - and it will be good to see some cars in the car parks again. I realised as all the families began to arrive and unpack for their stays in the yurts, it was the sound of children that I had been missing, lots of excited squeals and laughter. It brings a focus to what we do again, to make memories and give people a chance to learn about our life in the dales and on a farm.
Barn doors creaking open again
The animals have benefited from the tidying up - branches have been trimmed, so there is extra greenery for the goats, pigs, llamas and rabbit.
Leaves disappearing fast in the pig pen
Leaves disappearing fast in the goat pen
Stripped bare - before and after
I am looking forward to a tidy up myself with hair salons opening soon - despite plenty of “ends,” I haven’t quite felt desperate enough to book a flight to Sweden to have a hair cut. With social distancing, nobody can see the split ends or hopefully discover how much garlic we seem to be eating with the new lockdown menus.
The most surprising item to arrive over the last four months has been a chargeable water bottle - apparently it cleans itself, although this seems a rather extreme measure to avoid the washing up – and another charger to lose.
A water bottle with a difference
It was reassuring to notice we hadn’t gone totally digital with specifying the route for a path through this wood, no satellite coordinates needed here.
Satellite not required
The sunlight in the woods is always so pretty with the different greens and shadows. I wonder if I noticed them so much pre-lockdown?
Sunlight in the woods
I lost my nerve over travelling to the vet with the killer spaniel on one seat and the pet rabbit, Flopsey, on the other. I have invested too much in Flopsey with his annual hair trim, vaccination and nail clipping, so it was separate trips. Flopsey can now see, and we know one end from the other. After every rabbit visit, I vow to brush him regularly and it’s the same with the hygienist at the dentist - I promise to “floss” - but not even a lockdown has helped with either promise.
Flopsey can see
It’s a bigger job trimming the Highlands’ feet - our wonderful foot trimmer, Mandy, whistles over with a trailer and a specially designed chase that controls the cows while their feet are checked over, fly repellent is poured on and any matted pieces of hair cut loose. Little Locky, the Highland calf, is still feeling put out since Lionheart the bull appeared on the scene, she isn’t the number one attraction anymore.
Lion heart arrives
Locky left out
Lionheart looking good after a year at Swinithwaite
I have been working out when the next sale is for our young stock to sell at Leyburn auction mart, and I was struck by the wonderful historic names of the sales. The sale in July is called the “Midsummer store cattle sale”; the May sale is the “May Moor Fair sale”; and the sale in October is called the “Middleman Moor Fair”. The names are from many years ago when the cattle were left to graze on the common ground or the moors, and were all gathered together at specific times of the year. We will be hoping for a good trade in the Midsummer Sale.
The family of four young swallows have taken ages to take the plunge in their first flight, possibly with the low door to dive through. It looks like the parents are going for round two, which is stoic.
I have warned my own family that we are about to be eating courgettes and spinach at every meal. My first attempts at vegetable growing have come good after a few wet days.
Vegetables at last
And the wonderful Minster Rose, my favourite, has flourished yet again with no pruning or care. It was a present from York Minster after a plea went out for Oak trees to repair the roof after the fire in 1984, my Father-in-Law must have sent an oak butt. It’s a wonderful thought that there is a bit of Swinithwaite holding up York Minster.
At last, Guy, who is running Fairhurst’s at Berry’s, has been able to open the doors to the café as well as the Farm Shop. The place has had a complete overhaul and looks lovely and airy, I can’t wait for my lovely boys to treat me to lunch, brunch or even one of the takeaway meals!?
The boys' dishwasher training hasn’t been a great success, I’m sure there was a pressing zoom call - but we have found an explanation for a dramatic water leak.
Sudden water leak
Fountains of water were spotted one morning, spurting from a hose on the ground. Adrian nonchalantly mentioned that he’d spent the evening before culling some rabbits in the vicinity – possibly mistaking a hose for a rabbit, say no more.