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Monday, May 02, 2005

9:24 AM - You can take the daughter out of the farm but you can't take the farm out of the daughter.

I am in work for a rest today. We had a WWE attack on Friday so doing anything constructive on Saturday was a write-off. To make up for it we went for a 5 hour walk on the KVR and it was so nice to do nothing other than putting one foot in front of the other. Lots of pretty flowers and the cliff swallows were out catching flies at the little tunnel.

When we got home we had a solid cherry floor in the living room which was nice. Perfect for skidding on in sock-feet.

On Sunday I spent all day cleaning the trailer – a large portion of it with my hands submerged in bleach washing parts of the stove. I can’t wait to see the back of that thing. We also moved it out of the middle of the back lawn and out to the side of the house. It’s also armed with mousetraps. It’s really nice to have a view over the whole garden without a big white box sitting in the middle.

Finally we stops at 4pm for a break and, says I, “It’s feeling a bit muggy, like it’s gonna rain”. Hubby looks at me like I’m trying to be all farmer-like again till I turns and looks over my shoulder and sees that it’s raining over in the next valley quite spectacularly. “Hmph”, says I. “It’s raining over there”. Never made it to us though. Well, a couple of spots but really that IS it.

Talking of farmers, my Uncle Wilf passed away a couple of weeks ago. He was my dad’s uncle really but I always used to see him driving around the country lanes in his Vauxhall Nova and he’d wave and call out to me as I passed on my bike. He was always at Grandads, borrowing something, lending something or just getting help with putting this tool or that tool onto his tractor. He had a way better tractor than us and as he grew older and had hip failures and surgeries, his big red tractor became like a wheelchair for him. He’d arrive on it, sit in it while he talked then leave on it. He had a loud booming voice so if you were in the house you’d always know who it was that just arrived. On Friday I received my mum’s letter complete with the service sheet from his funeral at the same old place – Dunham Crem. There was a beautiful old picture on the front cover of Wilf in his flat cap standing proudly by his shiny truck, complete with his name in fancy letters. It looked remarkably like the old photographs of the pioneers you see around here. I also received this poem:

I thought about this hard and long
The tuneful notes, the little song
A little ditty you would sing
The rhyme around the yard would ring

Wellies for wet, boots for dry
Jobs for today, a little sigh
200 caulis and 160 bub!
All before it rains with a bit of luck

Tractors out and trailers hitched
Boxes all loaded without a glitch
Down in the field ‘till baggin’ time
Butties all ready and the flasks all primed

Chopping, packing, carting out
All mucking in, no lazing about
Waggon loaded and off we go
To market to put our stall on show

Down on the ”crib” all set out
Best on show without a doubt
There, big and white and huge you see…
It’s Wilf, the cauliflower king of Timperley.

(Now I know there’s some terminology in there that some of my less regionalized friends might not understand and most of my Cheshire friends won’t either. Bub = rhubarb; baggin’ time = breaktime; butties = sandwiches… and for passing North Americans wagon = truck).

By all accounts, the funeral was a classic affair. When a farmer passes away in Cheshire, there’s a turn out something akin to the Dali Lama passing away in Lhasa. Dunham Crem ain’t that big so it was standing room only at the back, spilling out into the foyer. If a projection TV were appropriate they should get one. There’s the suppliers, the buyers, the fellow growers, the friends and of course the family – brothers, sisters, in-laws, sons and daughters, grand children, cousins, second cousins. They now come from all walks of life – travel agents, flight attendants, production workers, florists, surveyors and if I’d been in the country, engineers. So on Friday afternoon I had a little cry. Partly because there’s a character and a huge pile of stories all gone and partly (one always feels sorry for oneself on these occasions) because it’s such a shame that so many of us have had to go off in different directions to make a crust of a living because growing food for the nation doesn’t make a man money anymore. It feeds his heart but not his pocket. I’m glad my parents had the ambition for me to go off and get an education in another field and make the money I scrape together here but I think I’ll spend a little more time in my garden from now on.


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