29 December 1995

2 Farmlife

unknown car pulling into the yard will usually come flying in through the back door, also visible from the yard, yelling "Customerrr!" giving the game away.

However, today Im spared the embarrassment of mysteriously appearing from under the sink, and I can safely resume the washing up after hearing the splash of tyres through farm track puddles.

I can now see why George wasnt on alarm duty. Hes too busy checking to see if the turkeys have died overnight. This involves poking a bamboo cane through the mesh and giving any unwary bird foolishly sunning itself and trying to catch 40 winks, a sharp tap and noting its reactions.

Ten oclock heralds the arrival of the workers for their mid-morning sustenance. To try and preserve a semblance of cleanliness in the kitchen we operate a Thomas Hardy system here. You remember the harvest supper scene from Far from the Madding Crowd, where Bathsheba Everdene serves the food from inside the farmhouse window and the men sit in a long line outside the window to eat it? She was obviously worried about mud on her kitchen floor as well.

Full coffee cups are passed out with a plate of biscuits and empty ones returned along with the daily report on the doings of the farm. "Were out of pig food, I thought I told you to order some up last week, and can you phone the tyre man, the 7610s got a flat."

In Country Living-style photographs of farmhouse kitchens, the windowsill always shows an artistically arranged display of appropriate country-type ornaments. You know what I mean, several pieces of blue and white china, a basket arrangement of dried flowers, an antique glass jelly mould and a beautifully framed copy of The Farmers Prayer, all amazingly devoid of chips, cobwebs and dust.

In reality I suspect that they are more likely to resemble mine, which has displayed on it, all up one end out of the way of the coffee cups: Four mud-encrusted "archaeological finds" from the childrens last foray into the newly ploughed fields with the metal detector, a china jug thats now too chipped to do service at the table and so has become the receptacle for all booty found in trouser pockets on washing day, a candle stump and box of matches on a saucer tucked behind the curtain ready for emergencies, and a chronologically-arranged array of school letters, to ensure that I will remember who has to be where, when and with what.

Writing this has brought to light how filthy my windows are, so theres just time for a quick coffee then out with the Windolene!

Ellen Box

The full list of runners up is: Gill Horn, Meonstoke, Hants; Mrs J Lewis, Rawcliffe Bridge, N Humberside; Bonnie Hollick, Stronsay, Orkney; Judith Morrow, Streamvale, Belfast; Penny Chick, Carisbrooke, Isle of Wight; Anne Farmer, Moorlinch, Somerset; Sue Dalton, Dodleston, Cheshire; Avril Furse, Ashwater, Devon; Jean Horne, Warcop, Cumbria; Rachel M Watkins, Holsworthy, Devon; Mrs V Kidner, Manaton, Devon; Mrs P Puddephatt, Standish, Glos; Marion De Ville, Doveridge, Derbys; Muriel Moore, Newton Tracey, Devon; Angela Sargent, Etwall, Derbys; Margaret Quartly, Warmington, Oxon; Jen Willmore, Claxton, Yorks; Gill McLellan, Godalming, Surrey, and Polly-Anne Lloyd, Ashford, Kent.