I wonder how many people have been reflecting on the year which is almost over?
It is strange to think that the New Year has already happened in Australia and New Zealand but we are still in the dying throes of 2010.
It has been a mixed year on the farm; this year we grew oats as a crop instead of barley. The maltsters have rejected our barley (and most other Scottish barley) for two years prior to this one. They said it was because the grain was too damp but they were inporting cheaper barley from Denmark. Millions of tons of Scottish barley ended up as feed for cattle and none went to the Scottish whisky market. Shame on the maltsters for almost ruining many a small farm.
This year, the oats were rejected too. Too wet.
The cattle and sheep are eating them (and I will admit to keeping a sack for ourselves as they are damn good oats!).
The ongoing fight with the landowner continues. One day we will have a farmhouse which is habitable and no longer dangerous. We will have clean running water and proper utilities.
We will not be bullied into leaving, regardless of the pressure to do so.
We have improved ditches, mended drains, planted trees and protected vulnerable areas. The reward has been a visible increase in wildlife and over the farm, red kites whirl indolently, a snowy owl hunts, there are various raptors, a woodpecker plus we once saw a pine martin. (Only once).
There are otters by the burn, salmon in the bigger river and lots of toads in the marshy places.
We have been lucky with the harvest and the sheds are stuffed with sweet hay plus good dry straw for bedding.
The cattle continue to thrive and the latest addition - a sturdy light brown calf, munch contentedly in the big shed.
The ewes are in early pregnancy and we hope the flock will increase next Spring. I sat in with them today when they were all eating and just enjoyed their smell and warmth and couthiness.
The little orchard has established well and hopefully the young apple trees will survive this harsh winter.
We are all a bit battered by the winter, the politics of farming and the feudal attitude of some and we know there is a bit to go still but we will continue our work and turn with the wheels of the year. Old cogs, us.
The Farmer and I will have a glass of Sloe gin by the fire, this evening. We will kiss at the 'bells' and I will try not to cry when I think about those we have loved and lost.
We will travel into the New Year together, the Farmer and I and our bairns. New steps down an old, familiar road.