Lambing is in full swing, it’s finally started warming up, and Easter is nearly here! Any future with chocolate in it must be a good one, right? The whole house is awake at dawn and up and out soon after, to do the early morning rounds of expectant sheep and then to check on the ‘maternity ward’, all the sheep and lambs being kept in the shed. Daily farm chores follow, and then everyone stops for a cup of tea. I say, ‘the whole house’, but of course it’s mainly himself who actually leaves the house at this time. Of the girls, one is a fair-weather farmer, much like me, but her twin mucks in in all weathers and it’s a struggle getting her to take her time getting dressed and eating breakfast. So, we take a little bit longer getting ready for the day, and I try to get some work in before heading out.
Lambing season is consuming, and whether you’re doing it or not, all routines adjust to
accommodate it. We’re up earlier, we have dinner later; everyone is asleep before ten. The inside of the vacuum is frequently cleaned of straw for the first two days and then the whole thing is abandoned, like the hope of keeping the floors clean. Not yet, but soon, there’ll be a dedicated space made near the sink for lambs’ milk and their bottles, tubes and colostrum – an extended nurse’s station for when things get a little off track. And everything will start to smell like the shed.
We still have tourists coming and going, up and down to the castle ruins on foot or by bike, and they often stop to chat – to comment on the lambs or our ‘free-range children’, or to ask about the history of the buildings: one had discovered a great-great-grandmother who had been born on the farm and was curious about where she may have lived. We help where we can and speculate when we can’t, and it’s always interesting to hear people’s stories, and to share our own of distant relatives, shared connections and passing down of traditions.
My dirty, sunburnt, laughing children, who look like they just climbed out of a haybale (because they probably did) are part of a tradition that keeps communities like ours going – communities that rely on a shared knowledge and love of place, and of a way of life. We are rooted in where we live and help other people to keep their own roots alive by preserving stories and traditions in living memory.
It’s easy to be inspired here, and when I set about making a soap dedicated to my girls, I started with what was around me: it had to be gentle, it had to be tough (like them), it had to smell like sunshine and busy days. Farmers Daughter Hand Soap is all of these things. The raspberry seeds make it scrubby, so it’s brilliant on dirty hands, and the shea butter makes it nourishing, so it doesn’t dry out delicate skin. It is scented with lime, mandarin, and lavender, so it’s zesty and bright. It reminds me of holidays, and outside days, and it reminds me of them.
If neither of them chooses to follow their dad into farming, I know in my heart it will not be a choice for the farm to follow them, because they will always be farmer’s daughters.