Am I allowed to say Happy New Year? I won't curse it, or anything? Only the last one wasn’t so great so we must surely get an improvement this time round? Of course, as always with this column, I am in a time delay and still stuck in the bastard that was Twenty-twenty! In fact, so much so that my belated rantings for last month didn’t actually make the December deadline... not quite sure why.
Anyway, here we all are, in a year of optimism, and out of Europe. In fact, when this article gets to publication Wendy and I may still be in that state of 'Deal/No deal', sitting at the docks in mobile-home limbo. Unless a governmental miracle has occurred, we will only be bringing half a dozen gallons of wine instead the usual tanker full and our dogs will be under even more scrutiny, if they are allowed in at all. Our plan is to stay in Scotland for five or six weeks, so I can get a few things done on the house and shout to our friends through the letterbox, before heading back to France for spring. Highly likely the pubs will still be closed on both sides of the channel as the world waits in reclusive anticipation until we can all get the needle and bolster the coffers of the already swollen pharmaceutical colossus. I have no idea whether the vaccs will include us during the time we are there, or whether we will have to stand embarrassed at the back of the non-European queue for a jab here in France. That is, of course, if we are actually allowed back in. If not, then maybe M. Macron could lamb our ewes for us, please? Every lamb counts now you can't buy any from UK and pass it off as your own. Ooh how I would love to air my political views on how farmers will fare under Brexit but, to be honest, I haven’t got a Scooby of what will happen, good or bad. And nor have they.
Anyway, to fill the void of getting out for a blether with a few folks over the last month, I have taken to talking to the world online through means of a podcast. Entitled Toplines and Tales, I recently set up a platform where I can chat over the internet to some interesting people, edit it, and then load it up for the world to listen to. Well, not all the world, obviously, they don’t all want to hear us boring old farts babbling on about cows, sheep and parties at agricultural shows, but I was rather surprised how many do. Judging by the amount of downloads we are getting, I seem to have struck a chord with our livestock community, both young and old, and in these times of social starvation I am quite pleased to be of service. This, of course, has been an added distraction to the novel I started writing last month but I suppose I will get around to finishing that one day.
Meanwhile, back at the Euro-steading we have had a couple of extremely dry months studded with some frosty nights and everything looks as it should for the time of year. For some reason, for the first time in its 14 year life, the lemon tree has started to bear fruit, much to the delight of our gin cupboard. I am sorry to say things aren’t great on the cat front, where one of the elder ones has been hanging on to life for quite a while, and I doubt he will see Christmas, whereas another has gone missing for longer than is usually accountable. We also have an intruder, rattling around the eaves at night like some sort of poltergeist. After much research we believe this is in the form of a Pine Marten, a weaselly like creature who has adopted our place for his nocturnal goings-on. We are not a hundred percent certain he is the European species, which are actually native to UK, and has therefore been politely asked to leave or, as some others suggest, his distant cousin, a Stone Marten. I wish he was stoned, at least he would sleep more, bloody noisy creature!
Finally I am glad to announce that Emma, the Ryeland gimmer that we purchased at Worcester in August and one of Britain's best travelled sheep, has eventually made the journey from South West Wales to central Scotland, where she is settling in for lambing. However, like most of us, she missed the shears this year and arrived with so much lock-down hair that she has had to undergo a rather embarrassing short back and sides before she goes out to meet her new pals!