360 days in 36 squares 

To celebrate a year since I came back to Instagram and having made it all the way round the calendar without deleting it I put together a series of photographs. The first 3×3 square is sadness and sorrow the second 3×3 is sweet the third is savoury and the final 3×3 was random snaps.

We farmed 360 days because we had 5 days holiday in Lincolnshire.

The details behind the photographs are as follows left to right top to bottom.

1 We begin with the knacker wagon, the collection of dead stock from the farm. There are always a few visits in the year, some years more than others. We had a few bags of lambs collected at lambing time, born dead, born alive but died, difficult long births or born in the night and got cold. I get the poorly ones to revive and some of those live, some die, it’s sad but even more sad than that is that you get used to it. We had a dairy cow drop dead this year and we had to have a heifer shot, we lost a couple of tups and ewes. 2 calves were born dead so we have had a few visits from the knackerman. The man we’ve had for years left this year to go and do a different driving job and the new fellar is very nice but not the same country character as the last one.

2 The sun set on Michael’s hunting days. We could no longer manage to take Keith’s dad out because he couldn’t walk, stand or move by then and it was too painful for him to sit for too long. End of a 60 + year era for him of following The North Lonsdale Foxhounds

3 Charlie the last born pup out of 8 of Lark’s puppies, died soon after birth. Little did we know then that another 6 would die too leaving only one surviving pup.

4 Egg custards I made 16 mini ones and ate 8 of those myself. The eggs are our own and the milk is straight from the tank on the farm. Bloody good they were too.

5 Christmas shortbread, one of my favourite things to make and eat is shortbread in a tray or a shaped biscuit it’s all lovely. Full butter always.

6 Mince pies. The pastry is so short it’s a bugger to get out of the trays but when you do you feel like you’ve really cracked it and achieved something special. They don’t last long I make a couple of dozen over the Christmas period.

7 Bridget a little blue faced Leicester lamb born with deformed limbs, I thought they might straighten out but a week later there were still no signs of improvement so I had to take her to be put down.

8 Michael on the loader tractor baling June 2014. This is the photograph I posted on the day he died April 20th this year, after a nine month brave battle with Motor Neurone Disease he died peacefully in his own home.

9 Swaledale gimmer lamb brought back to #arklidsclu ( special care lamb unit aka my back porch) for care but unfortunately she didn’t live.

10 Cookies the one recipe I don’t share. It took me an age to perfect. I plan to sell the recipe to anyone who wants it and give the proceeds to charity.

11 Chocolate cup cakes with fresh cream and jam, indulgent and very very naughty but nice. I get a craving for double cream now and again and we get it when I do.

12 The Caesarian Coffee Cake with vanilla butter cream filling. Just as I had finished off the coffee icing on top of the cake the vet arrived because a cow was struggling to calve. Keith had checked inside it and found the calf to be dead. The vet checked and also thought the calf was dead but when he did the Caesarian and pulled out the calf it came out alive. We welcomed a huge black bull calf and I named him Lucky.

13 Patch. Those people who followed Patch’s illness and subsequent death will know just how devastating it was, she had been Michael’s dog and I took over her care in August 2016. She died the following year 11th August

14 The Art Barn or Hart Barn as it’s sometimes called collapsed inexplicably and we are now having to store the baling machine in the barn it’s a bloody nuisance taking up space. The landlord is in the process of finding out what went wrong.

15 Flowers from our garden for Michael’s grave on Father’s Day. This rose had the most magnificent perfume and was so subtly coloured. We all went and sat in the churchyard that evening, it was dreadfully sad but a beautiful sunny summer evening too which made it more meaningful to think back to memories we had.

16 Tea loaves are on offer always here because everyday keith has a slice with his lunch. They contain very little sugar if any, and no fat.

17 Fairy cakes plain and simple they are one of son’s favourites.

18 My first ever Christmas cake, I made two, one for us and one for my mother in law. It was successful and I used a fusion of recipes to include my nanna’s recipe, my mother in law’s and Delia Smith.

19 Meat and potato pie filling I love the prep as much as the cooking and  I absolutely love eating my own meat and potato pie. It’s one of my top comfort foods.

20 Roast lamb leg from the meal I made to mark my eldest son and first born child leaving school.

21 Big Bastard Yorkshire was a huge Yorkshire we had with beef stew and roast potatoes. I swear a lot just saying.

22 The Cake Barrow my job to fill it and fetch it to the shippon everyday before we milk. I love the job until the cake runs low and then it’s a scrat to fill it up from the bottom of the hopper. But when the new cake arrives it’s always warm and makes up for the previous day’s struggle.

23 Starlet no need to say much else her name is synonymous with the shippon. She gets into mischief everyday.

24 Minxie my pet lamb, now sheared and 16 months old she will be tupped in October for lambing next March.

25 Meat and potato pie it’s already been said.

26 Beef in Guinness stew I love you. I love Guinness I can down a pint in one in fact it’s the most delicious way to drink the first so it hits the spot straight away quenching the thirst.

27 13 eggs a baker’s dozen it was pancake day and they all went in the mix. I never measure my batter it’s all done by looking and guessing. I make a lot of batter so it’s very easy.

28 Ben he used to be the only boy amongst our bitches, having fathered 7 sets of pups since we got him. But we now also have Badger his son coming on.

29 The defender Michael’s beast we wouldn’t have had a Landrover if it wasn’t for Michael it was his he always had them and I have known him have a few colours over the years. Now he’s gone he lives on whenever I drive it.

30 Tea and toast. I get up at 5:30 am and go out for 5:40 am to feed the calves. Keith comes out at 6:20am at the moment but it will be earlier when the cows come in. He brings me a cup of tea outside every morning and as the winter comes nearer he’ll bring a slice of toast too.

31 Chips, always, always homemade we never have oven chips because I can’t stand to eat them. I have yet to eat an oven chip or a fried frozen chip that tastes any good. I don’t know what happens to the potato in that process but it removes the taste and ruins the texture. Enough said.

32 Cottage pie I think could be some people’s chosen last dying dish. I often put red wine in mine to liven it up or a spoonful of caramelised onion. I always begin with frying my onions, then add mince and finally  grated carrots. I use OXO in all my slow cooked beef dishes including pies.

33 Roast beef as a roast or to cut. We eat a lot of sandwich meat here especially because my eldest son has now left school there’s 3 for lunch everyday. I roast a piece of beef like my Nanna used to do. I buy a piece with a layer of fat on the because it helps keep it moist then I put a layer of mustard down that side and coat it in flour. I place the beef on top of foil and put water in the bottom to create more juices and prevent it from drying out. I then roast it for around 3-4 hours depending on the size of the cut basting every hour.

34 Arklid Angel my son’s registered Dairy Shorthorn calf, daughter of Starlet. She is becoming quite a character and will be one on the 3rd of October. She had a major set back when she went completely blind and we had to begin treating her for it, we didn’t hold out much hope of her sight returning when a month later she was still blind. But eventually she did begin to see again we aren’t sure how because Luke stopped treating her and she came right on her own, I do think it was a miracle.

35 Milk cows out to pasture. Last year the milk cows were out until November this year we are hoping they are in before we see October. It’s been so wet so the fields are very boggy and dirty. The cows lie down in the muck and in turn they get very messed up udders. It takes so much more effort to clean them pre milking and it’s essential to keep the bacteria scan test results low so we aren’t penalised on our milk price. All that work and a reduction in pay is not good for moral.

36 An Autumn walk. I love this time of year every farmer’s wife is different what one does isn’t necessarily the same as another. The type of farming will depend on what you do and don’t do. With having dairy cows we have to be here everyday, morning and evening to milk them without fail, whatever we are doing revolves around milking time. I don’t know much about arable but I imagine the arable farmers wife will spend a lot of time alone during busy seasons and the farmer will work ridiculously long lonely hours. But I expect there are times when they can take a well deserved break and have a decent holiday. Here it’s different. The busiest time of course is lambing time but workload never eases off all year round 365 days a year, there isn’t a quiet period. Always the cows and always the sheep and the ground maintenance. This time of year is selling lambs for breeding and meat on top of the continuous job of tending the flocks. Also fertilising the ground with till and buying new tups. The ewes are swept of old to make way for the new. The first ewes will be tupped at the end of October and the cycle begins again.

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