November has been reasonably peaceful here at North Bradbury farm. Not just because we are halfway through our second National Lockdown of the year. We are now closed for the Winter which means no guests, no staff and not many animals. The weather has been rather miserable and the days are really short at this time of year. Outside jobs have been kept to a minimum, but some things can’t be put off. The tractor-mounted circular saw makes its first appearance of the Autumn and the wood-pile that has built up during the Summer gets converted into logs that need storing inside, to dry out. This is usually a favourite job of mine, ideally carried out in dry Autumn sunshine, with sleeves rolled up and both dogs industriously ratting around the diminishing stack of timber. Not so this year. The leaves that have blown down into the yard and lane usually get blown into dry heaps and hoovered up for bedding and converting into compost. Easy and satisfying when they’re nice and dry. The hoover and blower won’t work on wet heavy stuff so it needs doing by hand with a rake and a shovel and barrow –  not much to enjoy there then. The ponies should have been trace-clipped to keep them clean and dry underneath during the Winter and keep them cooler during our milder Winters. They are now wet, muddy and claggy and virtually unclippable, following six weeks of endless wet weather. Not that they mind. Matey and Sampson are in limbo at the moment. Hunting stopped due to the shutdown but they still need exercising and feeding and clipping and shoeing. I can’t just switch them off for a month and expect to switch them on again. Their rations have been slashed accordingly but everything else still needs attention, even on my low-input system.

Anyway, let’s not dwell on too many negatives. We have no control over the weather and as I have always said I actually enjoy our climate. We are now getting cold, frosty nights and glorious sunny days and starting to catch up again. Now, Christmas is coming and it is going to be a strange one. Everyone seems to have their own interpretation of the rules and restrictions and there will inevitably be another rise in hospital admissions in mid-January. By then we should begin to see if the newly developed vaccines are in fact reducing the reinfection rate and if so businesses will then begin to recover, at last.

We have a bit of a problem with the Geese. Apart from their new routine of honking furiously outside our bedroom window just before dawn. They seem to have worked out where we sleep and are letting me know they’re ready for breakfast.  They have been advertised and sold but we need to keep one female to replace Griselda, who was taken by a fox back in April. Determining the gender of a Goose isn’t exactly straightforward, unless you are doing it regularly, and it’s virtually impossible until they are over six months old. Ours are just six months now and my examinations show them all to be female, so I am suspicious that my technique isn’t working properly. We don’t want to end up with three ganders and one goose, so we will have to be patient for a while. There’s obviously a bit of a deadline on this one……..Christmas is coming…..!!

Since my last Blog the American election has come and gone, I think. It doesn’t normally interest me greatly, but this one was fascinating. Both candidates appeared to me to be far from ideal. I thought the place was already a democratic republic but apparently it isn’t. I think the Democrats are socialists and the Republicans are conservatives and they seem to have just two main parties which is very democratic. I really don’t understand the electoral college system which means that candidates with less votes can win the election, which is undemocratic. Apparently, the person deemed to have won, albeit with fewer votes than the loser, doesn’t actually take over for a couple of months, which leaves the outgoing president free to wreak havoc if he sees fit. As for allegations of vote-rigging…….suddenly, elections in Zimbabwe seem a bit dull.

Christmas will soon be here. For many people it will be more reflective than festive. 2020 will then be consigned to the history books and 2021 will bring with it hope for a widespread improvement for nations and populations all around the globe. We all have to buckle down and get on with our various new routines for the time being. Before long the daffs and snowdrops will be bursting out with new colour and hopefully a bumper new year will be upon us, and old friends and new will be back on North Bradbury farm.

Cheers for now, Farmer Chris.