We are an exam household as our teenage daughter battles through her GCSEs.
By the time you read this, exam time will be over and we will be in a state of blissful peace and tranquillity, aside from the looming spectre of results day in August.
She has coped remarkably well, but there have been moments of despair and panic (and rage, when the dog ate her exam reward doughnut).
In these situations, the parent’s role is to be calm and reassuring and to try and help re-focus on the task in hand. During this period, I was asked ‘which jobs don’t require qualifications?’ My original reply would have been Prime Minister, but that doesn’t seem a very stable career choice at the moment, so I suppose I will have to change my answer to ‘farmer’.
With the exams nearly done, now it’s my turn to feel overwhelmed. Our quarterly vet visit last week has been followed by mill cleaning this week, and then the RSPCA audit is next week. I, somehow, have to get all my work done before I take our daughter to Edinburgh for a few days – and then we head off again for a week in Cornwall in July, just before harvest begins.
Taking time off is such hard work! I was about to sit down and have a stress-reducing cup of tea while I planned my campaign when I remembered that: a) I had a column to write for Pig World and I am all out of witty or interesting thoughts, and, b) the chair I’m about to sit on may not be safe as it seems to have been rather badly chewed by the stress puppy.
Actually, Cameron and I did have a day off recently – we went to the Bath and West show for the first time for about 10 years. We set off after a few hours’ work in the morning – the sun shone, we ate ice cream and alpaca burgers and watched shearing and dog racing – all the things that make these shows so special.
We also enjoyed walking the sheep and cattle lines (the last time we tried to do this we had small children in tow, who screamed in terror at the scary sheep – really embarrassing).
The commitment of those farmers who do make time to bring their animals to the show is impressive – many with young children (no screams) handling the animals. For obvious biosecurity reasons, we avoided the pigs.
And speaking of biosecurity, that reminds me. A week or two ago, a fresh-faced agricultural consultant turned up in the middle of the yard looking for business – oh dear!
Why hadn’t anyone taught him about biosecurity, or at least to read the signs on the gate?!?
Mind you, if he comes to the house he’ll meet the ‘dog with psychological issues’ and the ‘stress puppy’ – I don’t think we’ll see him again!
Muriel and Cameron Naughton rent 800 acres from the Crown Estate in Wiltshire. They have 500 outdoor sows on a three-week batch production system. Weaners are liquid-fed to bacon weight in straw yards, when they’re sold through Thames Valley Cambac, of which Cameron is currently a director