We’ve been popping the corks again at Milton Farm. This time it was to celebrate the Golden Wedding anniversary of my parents-in-law, Andrew and Dorothy. Just for a weekend, B&B and farm issues were put aside to enjoy a family party – well that was the plan.
With 70 guests, many Scots, and a bridesmaid Maureen who made a last-minute decision to come from New Zealand, it was a good reason to spruce the house up a bit.
As is usual in this family, we pulled together to arrange the day, with Tom’s sister Fiona leading the organising. As head of product development at Marks & Spencer food, she is able to put a dream into reality with steadfast precision – that is perhaps until she had to contend with her enthusiastic nephews and nieces, along with our pets.
“Auntie Fi” had arranged for the children to make golden cup cakes, which would be placed on a circular tower stand and take pride of place in the marquee. The grandchildren gathered in the kitchen and before long, flour, butter and icing sugar filled the table.
At the same time as this culinary creativity was going on, the vet arrived to attend to a casualty cow and required a bag of salt. You’ve guessed it – this was then inadvertently mistaken for sugar and added to the mix, producing interesting grimaces on the faces of the eager young tasters.
Cake-making finished, it was all hands on deck for table setting and decorating the marquee to push for the final effect.
Then a young Angus heifer decided to give us our first caesarean birth for five years. Fortunately our experienced vet, Dilwyn, from the local practice completed the job in double quick time.
On returning to party preparations, Tom’s heart stopped when he discovered the door to the cold room was open and our Milton Farm rolled ribs of beef had disappeared. With three dogs in the house and Monty our Pointer a likely suspect, he feared the worst. Luckily I informed him that the meat had been taken for seasoning – he began breathing again.
The morning of the party began rather earlier than expected at 5.30am. We were woken by the crash of our bottle bin being blown over by a northerly gale bearing snow. Despite this, by midday the sun was shining, farm chores were done and the house was ready for the party to begin.
Great speeches, great company and great food made for a wonderful day and as the wine flowed and stories were told, it occurred to me that at least the farm let us have time to ourselves – although obviously not quite.
It was Pete at the door and another heifer with calving difficulties. Tom did a record-breaking change from shirt and tie to overalls, assisted in calving and got back again into his suit to return for coffee and one of those little cakes.
We never quite manage to get away from farm life – but there again it was farm life that provided us with this wonderful day.