A day in the life of a farmer's wife

Illus. By Rob Davies

Weather - 3° Cold start - 19° midday - 15° milking time.

Woke to the sound of the milking machines pumping away - 6.20am. Oh no! Overslept again. Downstairs I come, joints creaking as usual. "Is it me or the stairs?" I ask myself. A quick dash to toilet and bathroom to see to the regular morning ablutions. Outside to let the pups loose. They're pleased to see me and show it by jumping all over me and giving me a wash. Who needs a bathroom when these two are around?

Swept and washed kitchen floors before himself comes in for breakfast, helps himself to his usual square meal nourishment with a handful of Shreddies on top. No more will he eat eggs and bacon since the salmonella outbreak several years ago. Not that I mind too much as it saves me another job. Now on to the washing! Open the door, push washing in, put powder and conditioner in the drawer, close the door and press the knob. Hoorah! Now we can all sit and watch this tele for an hour or so if we're quiet. Think the pups AND the cat. How did I find time for all the washing before this wonderful machine arrived nearly 6 years ago? Here comes the postlady for her morning cuppa and a smoke (not forgetting a wee). We put the world to right between us for another day.

When she's gone I start to prepare the veggies for dinner. "Can you spare 5 or 10 minutes?" shouts himself. "Do you mean 5 or 10 minutes or an hour?" I reply. "No, just a few minutes to move the Charolais cattle." On with the welly boots and sweater (wrong colour of course) and take hold of the stick offered me. First we move the dry cows to Blackpool's field. FINE! Then move dairy cows up roadway. GREAT! Then move Charolais cattle from Backfield into cubicles. All's going well.

"Now I need those two bullocks sorted from the heifers," says himself. "You open the door when I shout". "Open the door now!" comes the order. Out comes number one. After some shouting inside the order comes again. "Open the door!" Out comes number two. Things are going well and I've been outside barely an hour. "Now we'll just put these two bullocks on the quarry field with the others," said himself. "Just turn quietly on the drive to turn them in. They'll come out quietly on their own," says himself. "Oh, that's what you think, says number one bullock and jumps the opposite fence first, then over another into the dairy cows. Now what's to do? Put number two bullock along with him. Right, they're in the field safe (I think). "Now we'll get these heifers into silage pit field" says himself. "I'll stand on the drive, you shout at them!" (I'm thinking, if he did less shouting they'd be less jittery). They all stroll steadily into the field - just like any female - no bother whatsoever! "I can manage now," Says himself. "I'll just move the dairies over to the back field." Fine, I'm thinking. Now I can finish off the veggies for dinner. Thank goodness I cooked the chicken yesterday.

Now to peel and stew all the cooking apples for pies for the freezer. Might as well watch that hospital programme while I'm doing it. Two bucketsful finished and here comes his majesty's voice again. "We'll have to bring those heifers back to the bullocks. They're tearing around that field, goodness knows where they'll end up if they jump the wood fences." On with the welly boots again!! Everything goes smoothly and they're all back together again in the corner field. 'What a waste of time and energy' I'm thinking. Good thing I keep my thoughts to myself (most of the time anyway).

Back to the apples and get them finished with half an hour to spare. Rang the grandchildren in Brunei for a chat. Lovely to hear their voices and know they're settling into their new way of life and new school. It's hard to believe a whole month has passed since they left Wales. Dinner is just ready as himself comes in through the door. Washed up and cleaned up kitchen again while himself has his after dinner nap. Cleaned some of the outside windows. Sat outside for an hour preparing sewing. Don't want to waste this lovely sunshine so relax with my book for an hour (and fall asleep!).

I'm woken to the voice of himself shouting again. "Do you want a cuppa? We'll have to move those Charolais cattle again because I've not long slurried that field and they won't eat the grass." I have a quick cuppa, then don the old faithful welly boots again. "They'll all come steady together again this time," says himself. Out they all come steady as himself said. Out of the field, onto the roadway, through the gate onto the drive where four decide they'll try the high jump and over the barrier they go hell for leather down the drive. Away goes himself on the quad bike trying to overtake them - and succeeds!! Do they walk steadily back as hoped? No way! Two decide to jump the drive fence. Himself intends taking them to market on Monday. Will he get them there, I wonder?

Did couple of hours paperwork while himself was milking - the only time I get peace and quiet from him. Prepared tea and fed the pups and cat. Brought washing in and did the ironing. Had an hour machining after tea. Made up pastry ready to make apple pies tomorrow. Had bath and washed my hair. Made our nightly cup of Ovaltine and off to bed with my book. Nearly 11pm again - I keep hoping for an early night - or more hours in each day.

More on farmers and people in the farming industry, plus diaries of a farmer, a smallholder and a market gardener