21 May 1999

IVE just been re-reading the farm dog special article (Aug 7 1998) about Huntaway X Border Collie dogs, I hadnt heard of the breed before but now weve got our own cross pup, Molly. Shes lovely, and shes Tims, not to be molly-coddled or pampered in the house, she is to be a working dog. She has the sweetest nature, can run as fast as our collies already and is – so far – quick to learn. The rest of the pack have accepted her grudgingly. Beths dog, Meg, a gentle though useless thing, adopted her immediately. Tim is getting her used to the tractor and himself, time will tell what he makes of her.

Dad Green and Sheila are here, busy as ever. Beth is having her bedroom repainted in citrus green (how could she criticise my pink lounge?), Sheila is on feeding duty, feeding anything and everything on two legs or four, calves and dogs if Im working (so lovely not to have to get up quite so early), contractors and anyone else in the vicinity if I have a lunch-time lesson.

We have three lambs on a bottle at the moment under her care. Two of them got out of their pen in the calf house yesterday and ran out into the field. Sheila is not as quick on her feet as she once was and couldnt catch them. While she came to get me from the house the aforementioned useless Meg had them cornered by the wash house and lay down keeping them there until we were back and able to recuperate them. Meg has now gone up in everyones estimation.

On his return from the "Muck Show" in Hull last week, Tim had a busy time with umpteen phone calls to return, fine weather at last prompting much tractor work on previously rain sodden fields and a surprise visit from one of our contractors. He called in on spec to test the ground – literally – and found he was able to get some maize sown by May 1. Tim was delighted.

Since then it has been all systems go with more maize going in this week and the muck going out from the midden. This last job was well overdue because of the rain in April coming after turn out. Tim was leaving the gates open to let the cows back in at night so he and Jacques were still having to bed-up in the day when they had hoped to have the building emptied. So far it has been a frustrating spring.

A little encouragement to brighten up the day is whats needed and with posters going up all around advertising bull fairs in a local chateau, and the planting season upon us, I think Ill haul the family out on a visit to Beuvron-en-Auge this weekend. Quite the prettiest village around, it is having its annual flower fair. Theres nothing like browsing through a myriad of colourful plants in pretty surrounds to lighten the spirits, and with no major work on the house this year to contend with, we can go to town on the window boxes. There are colourful times ahead.

Floral welcome cheers

HELLEBORE, heather, canary bird and narcissus were just some of the flowers in the arrangement awaiting my arrival at the Hereford South spring lunch. The lady responsible for the arrangement, Joanne Probert, has much in common with the variety of narcissus Cheerfulness, and picked all the blooms from her own garden.

On this day I discovered one way to silence a FWC meeting – show the members a radio microphone and they dry up! Jane Williams from BBC Hereford and Worcestershire radio came along to interview contact leader Hazel Phillips and her two sisters suddenly stopped talking.

Hazel is a traditional hard-working farmers wife who still cooks breakfast and midday meal for her menfolk and also does the bookwork. Part of their farm is used for growing hops. Its a wonderful sight to see them all strung up neatly and they brought back memories of friends going hop training in my area.

After a welcome cuppa in Hazels kitchen, I drove north through the fields of rich red earth, edged with bluebells, and enjoyed the blossom on the fruit trees. Hereford North club was having an antiques evening and what fun we had trying to identify items and guess their age and value. Geoffrey Crofts had us spellbound with his selection of antiques and their uses, it was good to know that the money raised this evening was divided equally between Hereford Eye Hospital and the Rotary appeal for eye camps in India.

As usual contact leader Eleanor Wellings had everything well organised and members from the local black and white-housed villages take it in turns to host meetings and arrange outings. They have a very interesting programme planned for future months.

Farm Womens Club

CARMARTHEN

Thur, May 27, 11am. Meet at the Italian Church, Henllan to see POW paintings followed by lunch in Cenarth and then to Coracle Centre at 2pm. Cost £2. Contact Margaret Morris (01267-241453).

ESSEX AND SUFFOLK

Tue, Jun 8, 10.15am. Meet for coffee at Thornham Walks Field Centre before 11am walk, followed by pub lunch. Guided tour of Thornham Parva Church in the afternoon. Cost £7 including lunch. Contact Pat Kench (01728-628242) or Mary Nesling (01728-628263) by Jun 1.

NORTH COTSWOLD

Wed, Jun 9, 11 am. At Home with Pauline and John Wood, Hafotty Stud, Hook Norton. Heated swimming pool open. Fish and chip van will serve lunch. Bring and buy sale, cake stall in aid of our charities. Line dancing demonstration. Contact Pauline (01608-737733).

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE

Tue, Jun 8. Meet at Caenby Corner for coffee at Hemswell Antiques followed by meeting for lunch with Lincs-Brigg FWC at 12.45pm. Coach leaves Lowdham 10am, Syerston 10.15am. Deposit £5 and names to Olive Sharman (01636-813302) by May 28.

SHROPSHIRE

Mon, May 24, 5.30pm. Meet at St Julian Friers car park for tour of Shrewsbury. Contact Anne Kynaston (01691-830345).

STAFFORDSHIRE

Tue, Jun 15. Coach leaves Lichfield 8.30am, Boars Head, Sudbury 9am for outing to Castle Howard, North Yorkshire. Meal on return journey. Deposit £6. Names to Joan Norbury (01889-504321) or Audrey Jackson (01543-472409).