It was not smell of a cooked breakfast that roused the household this morning. That was yesterday. We thought we were in for a relaxing slow start to the day, but oh no! That was not the way it was going to be. Longshanks had risen early and gone down to the farm to help with the milking. He returned from the job on a machine with a trailer. The realisation that it was actually on our land made me throw back the bed clothes and dress rather hastily.
Indeed, Longshanks had borrowed the quad and trailer from the farm next door so we could collect the wind fall from the woods. We are starting to gather our winter fuel already. And it was Longshanks’ call up the stairs “Come on, Dad! Let’s get this wood in before the rain comes,” that got everyone moving.
We were soon all out being tussled by the wind and employed in some wood gathering occupation apart from Rich Tea Boy who stayed in and listened to some Bible teaching.
Riding on the quad, with Longshanks driving, brought back the strange recollection of riding pillion on motor bikes on farms in Zimbabwe. One memory was of clinging onto a cousin and getting the shock of feeling like I almost flew away as we went over drainage channel on a dirt road. I’ve never been a very good pillion passenger. But riding behind my brother, enduring his inexperience at controlling a motor bike and making direct physical contact with a fence forever sealed my dislike of riding pillion.
Today, I felt slightly more reassured. I had a greater sense of confidence that my son knew what he was doing and was encouraged by the knowledge we had four wheels on the ground instead of two.
I know these memories of Zimbabwe have been fertilised by my reading One Hundred and Four Horses by Mandy Retzlaff – a worthwhile read for any horse lover. It has brought the current climate Zimbabwe faces, with its recent elections, so much clearer into view, and gives excellent perspective to any horse owners who think they have challenges on their hands with their animals. Reading it has given me fresh motivation in what I am trying to achieve with our little herd.
I was pulling ragwort, the wind was pulling my hair, Longshanks was pulling his sisters around the field in the trailer, collecting the ragwort piles I’d made and it occurred to me that on a very small scale we are living a life that reflects my impression of the farm freedom I saw some of my cousins grow up with. I always envied it. Today, I love our small scale, smallholding existence and never take it for granted. It is such a privilege to be free to bring the children up confident in the outdoors and blustering winds, learning to love and respect the land and animals we are responsible for.