The themes for this year were definitely wedding, woofs, WWOOFers, water – or the lack of it and woollies!
The wedding was that of our nephew, who had several ceremonies which involved Karen attending most of them, and thereby being off the farm for days or even weeks at a time. The first session was in Kolkata in February. The experience of a Hindu wedding and the overwhelming life force of India were extraordinary. One of the highlights of her stay was a visit to a food market where the fish were still swimming, the chickens were in small cages awaiting selection, and the colours and shapes of the fruit and vegetables were exotic. It made our Farmers’ Markets seem rather tame.
However, life goes on, and on the first day of Karen’s absence from the farm, Jess gave birth to nine puppies! On the day before she returned, almost two weeks later, Poppy produced six of her own! These were planned pregnancies, with the same handsome father for both litters. Fifteen growing puppies in the kitchen was a lively and invigorating experience. We found homes for the thirteen that we couldn’t keep and retained one female from each litter. They are coming on beautifully, and keen to work. Their natures are very different one from the other, and hopefully they will take over from their mums in due course.
The WWOOF volunteers to the farm were numerous this year. Normally we have one or two at the most at any one time. This works well with the available bedspace, and workload. This year arrangements were made as usual, but what with cancellations and unexpected returns and re-arrangements, we had a complete full house for several months. The teamwork was wonderful, a genuine league of nations each contributing something of their own culture or experiences. Thus Martinique, Austria, Germany, France, Belgium, Canada, Hungary and England, all left a positive mark on life at Middle Campscott.
While the house was bursting at the seams, and several families were camping in the front paddock, the weather was at its most glorious - sunny and dry. So dry in fact, that our wells nearly ran dry, and each day we had to save water so that there would be sufficient for the needs of the milking parlour or the dairy. The nineteen people tramping through the house and around the farm had even to ration tea-making: a previously unheard of hardship at Middle Campscott.
Now, at the end of the year, with the ponds full once more, and water rushing down the track after frequent heavy rains, it seems unbelievable that we ever had a shortage.
The heat of the summer made some interesting cheeses….. but it also meant that the ewes dried up earlier than usual. We have increased the number of goats on the farm, so perhaps next year we will have more goats’ milk cheeses. There are good flavours of both right now! Less milk has meant less work, but has allowed Lawrence the chance to try out his new surfboard...
The sheep have generally been doing well, and our lamb and mutton have been superb. We have also had some of the sheepskins cured organically which gives them a golden/pinkish cast - a real treat in the comfy armchair or next to the bed (if you have a well ordered household).
Our woolly goods are going well, our spinners are now in Launceton, and more accessible for us. Karen is designing and making the cushion covers and throws from our fabric, and our wonderful handknitters are filling orders for jumpers.
….and suddenly it is the end of a very full fast-moving year. Our very best wishes to you all for a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2007!
Karen and Lawrence.
P.S. Both Lawrence and Karen have been putting photographs of their various activities on a photoshare site where images of all the above (and more) can be seen. Lawrence is http://www.flickr.com/photos/northdevonfarmer and Karen is http://www.flickr.com/photos/middlecampscott .