I have only gone and fallen in love….

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Meet my new love Otis, a very handsome and poorly boy.

I have come to a friend’s farm to care for her organic beef herd and her happy hens. Ages ago I promised her that I would come and flow care on her farm if she managed to organise a holiday for her family and her Mum. Success, as she organised it all and I headed away from my new home feeling rather fragile.

I have learned not to question life’s flow and I know there are many positives to come from the next week, but today there is something special to share.

We had a few hours together before they all headed off (which ‘us girls’ relished) and as we walked around and I absorbed it all, the conversation went something like this…..

Lovely friend: ‘Jane, I am really sorry to do this to you, but our bull Otis went lame yesterday. The vet’s been and his hoof is not infected, but he needs peace and a safe place to heal. So we have put him in the barn with a steer for company’.

Me: ‘Ohh, poor Otis…well, this is a first on the care front. I am guessing that we are talking hands-on care here?’

I was pale underneath my tanned face…..

Lovely friend: ‘Whatever you feel comfortable with, but he is feeling very sorry for himself.’

Me: ‘Poor boy, let’s go and see him.’

Otis and Zaphod, short for Zaphod Beeblebrox. When the herd reached number 42 a ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy theme developed and yes, there is an Arthur Dent. Anyway I digress, ‘the boys’, are happy in their barn together and as we walked up they watched us. Otis stood stock still as we went into the barn. My lovely friend explained that the water butt was ‘auto-filling’ from the mains and the manger was accessible from the outside, so I did not have to go in. I chose to go in though, as this magnificent boy is in pain. We moved calmly and my lovely friend went up to him, as I stood back, and stroked his head and talked to him. As she stepped back I took my time and went up to say ‘Hello’. I stroked his head and flank and talked to him. We topped up his hay and watched him walk. He is really limping and the pain is evident in his eyes. Poor boy. Zaphod is never far from his side.

We left ‘the boys’ and went to see how the main herd were doing in another field. They have all been moved to ensure Otis has peace and Zaphod does not pine too much. Then we came back so I could be introduced to all the quirks of the farmhouse and be greeted by the friendliest hens I have ever met. I am going to love tending to them and staying in this loving home. My lovely friend’s family are so at ease with each other and their love has soaked into the walls of their home, so it radiates back and you feel like you are ‘home’.

This evening I walked across to see how ‘the boys’ are doing. I talked to them and stocked up their manger with fresh hay to take them through the night. A little treat was called for and I put a scoop of nuts in the manger trough. Otis came right up and as he ate I stroked his head and talked to him. I was flowing healing into this beautiful boy as we stood there and each time he raised his head, I moved my hand to where a few nuts had got lost amoung the hay. He knew and dropped his head to eat them. Zaphod watched this bonding and very sensibly went to the other side of the manger to get his fair share.

I stroked, talked, healed and fell in love.

Standing there I knew, without a shadow of doubt, that I need to find farm work where I can care for animals every day.

I have found my true love.

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Magic moments from atop my favourite hill in Gloucestershire….

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Dilly and Amy on a walk in the forest.

It is these dog’s special bond that brought me to Dilly’s five bar gate at the top of the hill back at Easter time. Love flowed and a friendship developed with Dilly’s Mum and Dad, Eddie and Elaine, and they have flowed care ever since. I have been tucked up in their magic home for the last few days.

Magic moments….

Dilly feels she has two main roles in her happy life; one is playing with tennis balls and the other is ‘herding’ the chickens. She can be found resting under trees throughout the day keeping watch over her flock. Every now and then her ministrations get a little too enthusiastic and the hens bat her back with their wings…then peace descends once more. I will hear a ball dropping at my feet as one of the abiding memories of being here. Each evening we all feel the effects of multiple ball throwing and one by one the balls get tucked away and Dilly settles down for an evening cuddle. You cannot say the word ‘balls’ within her hearing after this has happened and Eddie made us all laugh when he came in the other evening enquiring ‘Have the sphericals gone to bed yet?’. Dilly was fast asleep last night when I was heard to comment that I had spent the week sitting on balls.

Hepsibar is a poorly hen right now and giving her some tonic and vitamins is important. I usually find her in the silver birch tree memorial garden and we have a chat whilst she takes her ‘get well soon’ treats. This morning she pottered into the kitchen to say thank you.

I collected some things from my car the morning after I had arrived and felt him, before I saw him. It was Rocky, the lovely big boy of a horse, that I cared for at Easter. He was lunching in a neighbour’s field with Lizzie his buddy. I looked up to see him quietly watching me over the gate. I walked over and put my nose to his and wrapped my arms around his neck. We stood for ages breathing together.

Eddie is so talented as a musician and we are blessed to have him play the piano to ‘us girls’ as we go about our evening tasks. I was delighted to hear the Star Trek and Thunderbirds theme tunes. Another abiding memory will be Eddie bounding into the front room doorway late one night saying ‘I have just composed a new piece, do you want to come and listen?’ ‘You do don’t you? Yes, you do?’ He was bouncing from one foot to the other and Elaine, Dilly and I went down to his studio and were privileged to hear his latest piece for the flute. Beautiful.

Showering and looking out of the window onto the little lane and forest the other morning, I was surprised to see the postman in his van drive slowly past . Though not as surprised as he was….he’s young, he’ll recover!

I knelt down yesterday at the edge of the forest and chatted to a two year old toddler about all the leaves he had picked up and the shapes they made. His Mum took him home to help him make a picture with them all.

Friends I made at Easter have been hugged, new friends have been made as we have walked the dogs in the forest, special animals have been cuddled, fresh eggs have been collected and the house has been warmed with the smell of baking, the full moon has been watched, blue skies have been celebrated, sunshine has been welcomed and fresh air has been breathed. Magic moments have been tucked away in a heart that overflows.

A start to the day too good not to share….

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When ‘down on the farm’ it is a stunningly good idea not to oversleep! I opened my eyes this morning and looked across at Houdini, who sleeps curled up against my back, and uttered the words ‘It does not feel like dawn…’ It wasn’t.

Within five minutes I had pulled on clothes and was outside to be greeted by horses lined up at the paddock gate. I correctly interpreted their look to be ‘And what time do you call this??’ and within another five minutes I had their chaff mix done and down in front of them and simultaneously let the hens out. This can be achieved at speed trust me. I put the corn down for the hens and rooster and headed straight back inside.

No time to light the range, but the whistling kettle can be put on the electric stove in the utility room. I discovered this very necessary act early on in my stay. I would also like to point out that the range and I have become friends, she now stays alight and I even managed to cook on her a few days back. It was edible too.

Anyway, much needed coffee in hand I headed back outside. I did not put my mug down as I grabbed the rake for mucking out and it got caught on the log store curtain. I thoroughly enjoyed the remaining inch of coffee in my mug and sighing deeply, I pressed on with my morning routine.

I made up time somehow and got the solar electric fence turned on, cleared the top paddock and stable of manure (goodness they produce a lot), cleaned out the hen house, mucked out the stable, re-filled the horse water barrels and the hen’s water containers, swept the yard and breathed out. I stopped and looked out at the valley, and with Houdini at my feet, watched the morning start to unfurl down there.

The gentle large male horse came down from the top paddock to say ‘Hello’ and for anyone who is not familiar with horses, when they flow love they lean on you. I took five minutes out and rested against the fence as he leaned on me. I rested my head against his and wrapped my arm underneath his neck. We stood like that and listened to the woodpeckers and birds in the forest and breathed together. He’s a special boy and I am carrying those peaceful few moments into my day. I wonder if my clients on the phone line this morning will feel the peace? I suspect they might.

Get down off the gas stove Jane, you’re too old to ride the range…mind you, it would help enormously if I could keep the blessed thing alight!

Forest views

I have landed in my next assignment and fallen under a spell.

This beautiful old deep stone walled home is way up a very high hill, looking down onto the valley below and across to the next hill. As I wound my way up here yesterday along a single track, a rare feeling came over me. I just knew that I was entering a different world and there were creative and loving souls living in the cottages dotted amoungst the trees. These hills are surrounded by an ancient forest and look out onto a wide river that is tidal.

I have come here for a week to care for a family’s brood whilst they take a well earned break abroad. We all got to spend some time together before they left at lunchtime today and loving bonds were formed very quickly. I am caring for a retired horse, a Shetland pony, hens, a timid rooster and a characterful fox terrier.

The forest is full of bluebells just coming out and to walk there with a dog that bounds joyously whilst I throw her sticks, is a very happy thing to do.

This little dog has many friends up here and on the way back from our walks she stops to greet her buddies at different gates. I have met the neighbours across these gates and invitations have been extended to stop for tea, cake and a natter whenever I feel the need. This hill is full of writers, musicians, artists, happy animals and love.

This morning I found myself grooming and mucking out my charges at 7am. The air is so clear and fresh up here, and there are trees left from an old orchard dotted across the fields and paddocks. It is an idyllic setting and I cannot think of a better way of starting the day. Mind you, two hours later I was more than ready for the cooked breakfast I was offered.

So far, I have managed to get to grips with some trails through the forest and finding my way back, the mucking out/grooming/feeding routine for my four legged friends, the hens needs and a few challenges.

The old kitchen range and I have yet to find a balance. I am sure there is a knack and so far I don’t have it, as she keeps going out. Thank goodness for the solar panels as this ensures me a much needed deep bath later in the luxury double ended hip bath…oh Yes! However, the challenge of making a hot drink still remains as I have a whistling kettle that does not recognise mains power.

Another interesting moment, was when my little furry companion took off as I gave the hens their lunchtime pellets. Mmmmmm, I suspected she may be making her way to the motorway to follow her family. We were in the paddock for goodness sake and it was supposed to be ‘escape’ proof. It wasn’t….I have nicknamed her ‘Houdini’ and I found her an hour later playing with her buddy, a Springer Spaniel, next door. This was just as I had started to ring round the neighbours, her family having left me a long list of phone numbers and contacts, so I take it that ‘Houdini’ has done this before.

I’m off outside now to water, feed, bed down, tidy and settle everyone before darkness falls. I am in my element, with a grin on my face a mile wide.

Hold the dreams in your heart, hang on in there when the going gets to be like treacle underfoot and above all else remember the ‘B’ factor…….

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more commonplace than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Peristence and Determination alone are omnipotent………..Calvin Coolidge

Hang in there when the going gets rough and remember that the smallest thing can lift your spirits as it is not about what happens to us, but how we react to it.

If your dreams ‘speak’ to you then hold onto them and keep going forward trying to find ways to breath life into them, whatever life may throw at you.

I am currently trying to bring several dreams to life at once as the opportunities are there and I feel they need grabbing before they pass me by. So, in no order of importance, I am becoming adept at hen herding, refereeing between hounds and hens, applying generous amounts of Germolene, landscape gardening, building a new business with a sharp learning curve, learning to love again and receive love in return, building a new family unit (writing the manual for that one as we go along), trying for some creative and peaceful time amidst all this activity (killing myself laughing now) and recognising that all of the above are as a direct result of my own choices.

I feel a ditty may help here……

When things go pear-shaped and the going gets tough,
When you look in the mirror and think ‘Oh gawd I look rough’!

When life unfolds with events that weren’t in the original plan
When balance is required but instead you bear a strong resemblance to Desperate Dan….

When your ‘Absolutely Must Do Today’ list doesn’t fit with reality or time
When you look at what’s ahead of you and can’t quite face the climb…..

Keep following your dreams, hold them in your heart and build them bit by bit,
And in the face of life’s treacle; pants over tights, flick that cape and say ‘Bollocks’ to it.

(Sorry Mum, I hope I am a living testimony to your courage and strength of spirit, but the language is entirely my own, although you could blame Dad as it is his favourite word!!!! Love you both x)