It's been a lovely week of birthday treats and half term at the schools down south, in Finland. We are such a small country that in order to avoid complete chaos at the ski slopes, the north has a different week off from school in February. It is very organised and probably totally unnecessary as everyone heads for the Alps.... No, not really...
So we have had lots of visitors and I have had too many lovely presents. And as you could guess, our little gang does not ski. The hens skate on the ice and our four M’s enjoy rambling on snowy footpaths, but that's about it.
One of my many wonderful presents was the book "Pigs in clover" by Simon Dawson. I highly recommend it, although I might be the last person on earth to have read it. It's a warm, funny book about struggling with it, fighting against it and finally loosing the battle to it and then falling in love with a life full of animals. As a vegetarian, I do feel there was just a teeny tiny bit too much meat eating as well but I guess that was the point of the story, being a smallholding and all. I told our animals about the book, told them stories about all the mud and the pigs and how some had to go to heaven. Apparently it's good for some but we do it differently, I was informed. Here at out place the theme is more "Retirement home for lovely animals" than self-sufficiency.
My dear husband will now get to read the book and I know he will love it. It has all the mumblings of a man missing fast cars while driving a tractor. There is a sequel to the book that we will definitely buy. All those animals and they still made a go of it and even felt like sharing their new found knowledge with the world. And you have to like a man who takes a one-eyed collie dog because no one else wanted it!
Next time, in Stoneback book circle, we will talk about a long overdue book, a present we got last summer from a dear friend. It's called "Milly-Molly-Mandy", you can spot the attraction, can't you. The first stories were written in 1928 and the author Joyce Lankester Brisley wrote four books about this little girl. Brilliant stories, but more about her next time.
It has not only been cakes and coffees around here. The sheep spent warm, sunny hours outside, munching on hay and willow while the hens dug up the manure heap, once again. I felt like Cinderella on a less glamorous day and cleaned the stable from ceiling to floor. Everything out, new beddings for the animals and not a speck of dust anywhere, when I was done. Well, apart from all the stuff stuck on me, I turned into a walking, coughing dust ball... It looks perfect now, for a while... I think dust is bad for all animals and hens tend to move it about with all their flapping and flying. Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My certainly appreciated my efforts. The hens were too busy making everything look the same again to comment on my work.
Mr. Chip enjoyed the sunny days too, walking with dear husband and feeling the warm sun on the old bones. (Mr. Chip, not husband....). Our dog has found a fifth gear and is zooming around the place, barking at invisible things, asking to be taken for longish walks and eating well. It's a pleasure to watch his button eyes sparkle again but he still stops by our feet and trips us up. As he does not hear very well, he sits in doorways so he knows we're around. That's tricky too but he's a sweet dog, so we grumble and stumble on happily, for his sake.
Being birthday week, I have been thinking of the concept of getting older. As a friend of ours commented, "I'm catching up to his age!". Does that mean that up to a certain age (50!), we get older and after that, others do? If so, I have a few more years of catching up to do and then I'm done. I hope it still means lovely presents... Just joking... What I do hope is, that we get to celebrate Mr. Chip turning 14 years old in August and I wish that spring will be a continuing party at the stable. All the hens will get tiny birthday presents and later on its four happy sheep. Being EU regulations and all, I have documents of their time of birth and even know at what time they plopped out. My dear husband has to wait until autumn for his catching up.... I guess there are proper documents on him too. I have been told that he was a beautiful looking baby....
A fox terrier’s lifespan is about 15 years they say. I hope we break the bank with many more birthdays to come with Mr. Chip. Sheep can live up to 12 years and that would be lovely! Many more outings to go to for our gang, if we are lucky. Hens are tricky, they take a day at a time and hope for the best. They can live long lives if all goes well.
To celebrate our little book circle I will leave you with something I learned today. The sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog," uses every letter of the English alphabet. Not bad work for a fox and a dog...
A blog about a small holding in Southern Finland. Each original story is accompanied by a stunning watercolour illustration or resplendent photographs.