Country Life

I think this is as close to living ‘in the country’ as I will get in my immediate lifetime.  Here in Melton, or more accurately in Leicestershire County, we are surrounded by fields and hedgerows and all the animals that live within them.  It is a very pretty and calm site and makes for a great walk (or ramble, as they say).

Really, does life get any cuter than this?

Really, does life get any cuter than this?

As it is lambing season the baby lambs are in every other field.  We took a five mile family ramble last weekend and saw babies left and right.  One just wants to pick them up and cuddle them, but reality says this is pretty difficult, and if you really tried a mama ewe would probably intervene and that might be a nasty sight.

Another friendly horse along the public footpath.  I am actually getting used to scenes like this as part of our daily lives.

Another friendly horse along the public footpath. I am actually getting used to scenes like this as part of our daily lives. Zachary has become really comfortable with farm animals.

When you see a farm that means that a family is somewhere behind it.  Working in Waltham I learn a lot about the village, and it appears that at one time the farming community really made the place.  There are still farms in the village but not as many as there used to be.  Kind of like the village pubs, as at one point there were three pubs, and now there is only two and one is currently for sale.  But farming families are a part of my school, and I am lucky to have a couple of them in my classroom.  I learn a lot from their kids, who have the kind of at-home responsibilities Portland kids could only dream (or have a nightmare) of– living and working on a farm.

Last weekend my family was invited to tour one of the working farms in my classroom, in Waltham and called Manor Farm.  The pictures below have been cleared by the Mount family for publishing in this blog.

The Mount family run a multi-use farm, for lack of a better way to describe it.  From my perspective the chicken egg side of the farm seems to dominate their property as well as their workload, though it is really only part of their lives.

The eggs they raise are considered free range, as the chickens have both indoor and outdoor space to roam.  They have over 10,000 chickens.

The eggs they raise are considered free range, as the chickens have both indoor and outdoor space to roam. They have over 10,000 chickens.

With all those chickens come all these eggs.  They showed us how their conveyor belt system works, and the eggs never seem to stop coming!

With all those chickens come all these eggs. They showed us how their conveyor belt system works, and the eggs never seem to stop coming!

Three pallets in a cold room, and they average 12 a week.  They have a contract with the Morrison's grocery chain to buy and sell their eggs.

Three pallets in a cold room, and they average 12 a week. They have a contract with the Morrison’s grocery chain to buy and sell their eggs.

Touring their farm was not only great for me and Rebecca, but for our kids as well.  They have two daughters, and they both took my kids around to play on the trampoline and the swing set and to chase the family goose (which got a time out due to his temperament).  I asked Annika if she wanted to come out for a day and help on the farm and she gave me a resounding ‘NO.’  I think she enjoys the farm life from a bystander’s perspective.

Dawn and David Mount share a chat with Rebecca, probably about the cows.

Dawn and David Mount share a chat with Rebecca, probably about the cows.

Apparently this rather imposing bull is an old softy.  I still did not feel like getting past the fence that kept him in.  They have around 300 head of cattle (I think).  Many varieties.  Some are kept for breeding, and some are raised for dinners.

Apparently this rather imposing bull is an old softy. I still did not feel like getting past the fence that kept him in. They have around 300 head of cattle (I think). Many varieties. Some are kept for breeding, and some are raised for future dinners.

They also own a couple highland cattle, which roam the farm at will (though they do not seem to travel far).  These are a very old breed, and we heard about them when we were in Scotland.

They also own a couple highland cattle, which roam the farm at will (though they do not seem to travel far). These are a very old breed, and we heard about them when we were in Scotland. Imposing animals up close, though Dawn had no problem moving them around by hand.

Farming as a family allows them to all work from home and raise the family together.  It did not seem like an easy job in any way, especially to this suburban city boy.  Rebecca has a closer past to farms and farm animals, but I do not have any real close relationship to farm work.  I can appreciate it and find it fascinating, and could probably handle the manual labor, but whether or not I have the stamina to really do it for a living is probably best left unexplored.

Grouchy family goose.  He is better than a watch dog, but is caged due to his ill temperament toward, well, most everyone.

Grouchy family goose. He is better than a watch dog, but is caged due to his ill temperament toward, well, most everyone.

Not all on the farm is work, as David pointed out the family horses and ponies are there purely for pleasure and entertainment.  I have gotten closer to horses this past year than ever before in my life, as they are everywhere and generally friendly.  We entered their horse pasture and their horses all came right up to us all friendly and looking for attention.  The Shetland ponies are ride-able, and here Annika found out right away that this one likes to move once mounted!

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It was so wonderful to see my kids getting a chance to ride bareback a horse!  For me and my family this was just one of those moments that you need to cement into your heart due to its incredibly rare and special nature.

Zachary having his turn.

Zachary having a go on Frisky the pony.

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All around this was really a wonderful afternoon for everyone.  The adults retired to tea and some sourdough bread and kept the conversation going whilst the kids played outside.  I am truly grateful to be given the chance to live outside of my comfort zone, and have families such as the Mounts giving us a chance to step inside of their lives and see what rural England living looks like.  I probably write this making it more romantic than it was, but inside these are the kind of experiences that I dreamed my own kids would get a chance to live, if even for just an afternoon.

I am tired…

It has been a while since I last blogged, and part of the reason is due to me being so tired.  We stay more busy here than at home.  Since Ireland we have chosen to stay close to home for two weeks in a row.  Now in Portland I would relish a weekend just putting around my home, cleaning my garage, folding laundry, listening to loud music….but this is not our house and it does not have the things I enjoy tinkering with in it.  That is why we get out so much to see as much as we can.  And that is why I am tired.  Even with two weeks at home I still feel the need just to sleep for an extended piece of time, which really will not happen for a couple more months.

Football keeps Zachary busy.  He is number 9.

Football keeps Zachary busy. He is number 9. Number 6 is holding his jersey!

Leicestershire: center of England, center of our universe.

Leicestershire: center of England, center of our universe.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burrough_Hill

I have stopped running in the mornings, but we still get out for the family ramble.  Or if visiting someplace I know I will put some miles in, so we definitely are not complacent.  I have The Cure in concert on the tv trying to motivate me to communicate as I type.  Writing this blog is a great way for me to open up and share my thoughts but I am finding it hard to do on a more regular basis these days.  Maybe when we begin to head out on bigger adventures, such as York this weekend, I will have no excuses and will feel revitalized. Our kids are still enjoying everything and I can see them growing up before me.  They amaze me with their diligence and open mindedness.  Annika told me this weekend that she is enjoying living here but wants to go home “so that you, Dad, are not so frustrated about things.” It still can get frustrating dealing with issues that are beyond our control, but are within our lives, and so they have to get sorted. We go through the motions and continue to ‘roll with it’ no matter what hurdles are put forth.

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2 thoughts on “Country Life

  1. Hang in there Jeff! Get as much rest as you can as this is the experience of a lifetime! I think everyone is wishing they were there with you (specially in the pub!). We are loving your posts!

  2. I second Jim’s comment. I do appreciate being able to learn of your adventures, without the accompanying exhaustion.

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