April fools on the farm

April fools on the farm

We’re running around like April fools now that spring has arrived on the farm. The men are loading lorries, dispatching the last of the corn which is still in the barns, and when the barns are empty they’ll have to be cleaned and readied for this year’s harvest. The lorries arrive at random times and often with little warning. Sometimes our early wake-up call is from a driver who needs ‘talking in’ from whatever situation his sat nav has landed him in:  “I followed the postcode, but it’s taken me to a pub/tree/housing estate…” Much like our internet connection and mobile signal, it seems satellite navigation can only be relied on in cities.

This year’s crop is still green in the fields and, as the earth warms up, needs tending with nutrients and never-ending pest control. The autumn drought in the east of England, followed by an onslaught of pigeons and deer, has hammered our oilseed rape this year. We’re nurturing it, and trying to remain optimistic. There are hopeful buds on the plants, and only time will tell if they come to abundant fruition.



Back at the farmhouse, it’s also the end of the tax year, so alongside tidying barns we’re tidying paperwork too. Filling in forms while the hedgerows bud, scabbling data together on rainy days when the land is too wet to run on and the lorries aren’t queuing up.


Thrown into the mix of April madness there’s Easter, and work on our barn conversion scheduled to start any minute. Preparations which require thinking ahead, another barn to be cleared, foundations to be excavated and a row of hideously overgrown Leylandii (planted to shield the stable from a westerly wind) which have to be taken down before we can get going.

And then there’s the biggest time consumer of them all: Barley the puppy, who’s got us all spinning like April fools.


Writing? No chance.

May blossom, cow parsley and a flowering horse-chestnut. Rustic romance in rural Essex

May blossom, cow parsley and a flowering horse-chestnut. Rustic romance in rural Essex

Lovely day for a walk. And the Farmer promised that the route he had planned would only take 40 minutes. I’m still running in the hip,  you see, and I was meant to be editing, but the sun was shining through the office window. No contest really…


May is my absolute favourite month of the year (or it is this month, next month it might be June). Lush is the only word:

May blossom living up to its name, and cow parsley crowding the verges.

An hour and forty minutes (and several good climbs) later, when the hip had “had a good workout” (the Farmer’s words, not mine) we stumbled across (I was only stumbling a little bit) this little beauty…


…right in the middle of nowhere. How’s that for rustic romance. I can always edit tomorrow, it will give me something to do until I’m able to walk again.

Spring romance is in the air…

Spring romance is in the air…

Spring is the time for romance, and I should be #amwriting. But the sun is shining and it’s April! The month when dreams, hope and resolution flourish anew. My optimistic imagination tells me that this month I am going to…

  • eat healthily
  • walk, run, ride, swim or cycle every day
  • write a book
  • buy a horse
  • spring clean the house
  • scrub the garden furniture
  • tidy up the garden
  • clip our geriatric dogs
  • buy new sandals

Amazing isn’t it, what a little bit of sun can do. Regrettably the sunshine creates the thoughts but rarely follows through. I haven’t eaten healthily, yet, because chaotic multi-tasking is not conducive to well-planned meals. The cupboards are empty save for crackers, a few forlorn vegetables and a bag of jelly babies (the latter has been my staple diet today). The car is in the garage, until we pick it up there will be no grocery shop and the farmer is too busy spring farming to run me to the garage.

Yes, I know I should walk, run, ride, swim or cycle to the garage…but hello?

My imagination would be better engaged inventing an edible meal from the strange oddment of delicacies which remain in the freezer. Pheasant? Mince? Cheese sauce? Not with crackers and jelly babies, no. That really will not do.

My study has been spring cleaned. Hurrah! Life de-cluttered. The cupboards from the utility room and farm office have been emptied and entirely fill the dining room and porch. Further spring cleaning is futile and I have lost motivation. I was going to scrub the patio table and chairs (which have grown a sinister green patina over winter) but we have the plumbers in re-modelling our downstairs loo. Between their activities and the farmer filling his spray tank there is insufficient water in the house to fill a glass, let alone several buckets.

The excavated loo bowl and basin sit prettily on the bench at the front of our house. Garden tidy on hold pending a trip to the dump. Trip to the dump impossible due to lack of vehicle.

April is also the end of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs tax year. Book keeping has replaced book writing. The accountant is coming tomorrow (hence the spring clean of the study getting bumped up the list). My first negative comment about “A Bed of Barley Straw” has dented my creative juices: The Gallivanting Granny, returned from Australia and flourishing anew, tells me “there are too many people in the kitchen scene! I couldn’t remember their names.” As GG often fails to recall my name, or those of my siblings, I am trying not to let this offhand comment affect me too much.

Engage the right hand side of your brain: A horse is not just for spring. As you very well know a horse takes time, commitment and energy come rain, shine, or tempest. They also use up lots and lots of money. Clip the animals who already need your attention (a thankless, tiresome job not relished by me or the dogs and best done outside on a very calm day).

Buy some sandals! Now, this one I can do. Whilst sitting at my computer so it almost counts as working. Sandal requirements; cute, trendy, gorgeous. Practical and comfortable. Suitable for dog walks over farmland and for wearing to all the summer parties I am bound to be attending this year. Deliciously irresistible but kind and gentle to feet and joints that have been abused for years. Damn.

My heroine found “a gorgeous pair of rose-gold stilettos, with a thin strap that buckled around the ankle.” The sandals cost more than the rest of her outfit put together, and she has a horse. Don’t you just love fiction.