After a week of everyone in our household being ill, a few days away over the half term break is just what we all needed. We went to stay with my husband’s aunt and uncle on a farm in south Wales. There was no phone signal as we drove through the village and I wondered how we would cope over the next few days with no contact with the outside world.
We arrived at lunch time and Frances was busy making lunch. Not sandwiches or a salad, but a full on pie dinner followed by ice cream. We soon realised that food dominates heavily and over the course of the following days we were constantly being fed from cooked breakfasts in the morning, huge 3 course dinners for lunch, freshly baked cakes mid- afternoon then later on supper of pizza or cheese and biscuits. Cooking is more than just a way of being the perfect hostess, food is fuel and the work on farm is physical. At 73, Ken is still getting up at 6am and going straight out to do work on the farm. I can’t see him ever retiring, farming is simply a way of life.
After our first heavy lunch, we set out to walk off our food. The kids were delighted that Meg, the 3 legged dog would be joining us. We walked through fields of cows and sheep down to the river. The beautiful views seemed to stretch on and on, Frances told us that they own almost 200 acres and it was breath-taking to look out over the valleys and fields and think about how little this place had changed over the last few hundred years.
My husband got quite nostalgic as he remembered long summer days playing with his cousins out in the woods and fields all days, only ever coming back to the farm to be fed. We did a huge circular walk which little legs Eva coped well with, and ended up by a lovely looking old house where my mother-in-law was born and grew up. It felt weird looking at this house to think that this is where the family all hailed from. The kids couldn’t quite believe that this was where Grandma lived when she was a little girl.
The next day the kids got a ride on the tractor and quad bike with Uncle Ken which they absolutely loved. Ken was going to the cattle market in the nearby village and we decided that we’d go with him. It was fascinating to watch the auctioneers sell the livestock even if we had no idea what was being said. I noticed there was hardly any women at the market and it brought it home to me that there is a really strong culture in the farming world in which men still dominate. Other than technology, not much has changed over the years. It seems to me to be a very lonely and insular way of life, you eat, sleep and work all in the same place and may not see much of other people. But one other hand, as I saw at the cattle market, there is a huge sense of community. The farmers all know and look out for each other and they have known each other for years; there was plenty of stories going around about the fun and antics they got up to whilst growing up.
Stepping Back in Time
We only stayed on the farm for 2 nights but it really felt like a proper break. No texts or constant checking of the mobile phone felt like we were stepping back in time. It meant we only had to concentrate on the conversation, views and farm way of life and I loved it.