DIARY FROM A FAMILY FARM IN ULSTER
I am getting a badge printed with the words "The buck stops here!" to wear on my Streamvale Open Farm jumper. I would like another which says "Dont blame me, its not my fault" but I dont think anyone will heed that one.
I have just come in from apologising profusely to a woman who rushed home from work to pick up her raspberries freshly picked on the farm to find there werent any – I had no idea she had even ordered them and even though I offered to go and pick them myself there and then she was not a happy customer. I suspect everyone who is self-employed and working with the public learns to ride over and learn from complaints but there is no doubt they can be hard to listen to.
Im sorry to say we have been getting quite a few about the lack of strawberries this year. The great masterplan of planting out the cold store plants in May was not as successful as we had hoped.
The plants themselves have established very well, but sadly so did the weeds which has meant Johnston has spent the past six weeks crawling along the ground with six or seven teenage boys, while I have grovelled to disappointed customers and narrowly managed not to tell them that this years crop is a lot more frustrating for us that it is for them!!
Addie, my father-in-law and I have got somewhat obsessed with the Morrow family tree. I originally became interested when our oldest girl Jenny was born and Addie dug out a lot of old notes which had never quite been put together. Between us we sorted it all out and 15 years later we are still at it. The farming history is currently occupying us – the extended family has been working this land for over 260 years and the farms have been bought and sold, inherited and passed on between generations throughout those years.
As a woman with three daughters I am particularly taken with the farms which have passed down through the female line. The tradition in this part of the world is for the land to be passed on to the son who remains at home (most of the rest emigrated) and so there must be an interesting story behind these women. Another feature which is very evident on our tree comes from a Scottish Presbyterian tradition of the mother passing on her family name to one of the children as a middle name – there was even one woman who gave four of her offspring the name Morrow. So there is a serious amount of people with a connection to the original family – indeed there are 10 Mrs Morrows who live off the road between here and Gilnahirk – which is only 1.5 miles away. As you can imagine the postman isnt delighted if someone leaves off the house number and we have had some interesting mix-ups collecting the holiday snaps a the local chemist!
We have just been to a lovely wedding in Cheshire and our daughter Amy was the bridesmaid and Johnston was the best man. I revelled in the title, "Mother of the Bridesmaid", which made me feel significantwith absolutely no responsibilities – perfect.
It was quite a sobering experience for Johnston who confessed to me later that he was completely taken aback at how grown up and beautiful his 13-year-old daughter has become. She had followed the letter of bridal etiquette and hadnt breathed a word of what she was wearing or how she would look. The transformation was a total surprise to her dad when he saw her walking up the aisle so poised and confident. I think it has maybe helped him forgive her for the diamond stud she has just put in the top of her ear.