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A change of tune (Bridport Times, May 2020)

We write monthly for the magazine Bridport Times. To see this article as originally published, view the pages on Issue.

Written by Ellen Simon

On a recent brilliant sunny day, I was riding our pony Salix, at speed, up the committee fields to visit the cattle and sheep littered in the fields at the top of the farm; the phrase ‘in May, I sing all day’ came to mind. The road at the top of the hill and the sky above were quiet because we were already in ‘lockdown’. Maybe part of the reason these words came into my mind was that this silence matched the quiet days of my childhood. For me, the words are from a time when the world had less noise and the rhyme from which they derive is part of my primary-school lore:

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From Winter to Summer (Bridport Times, April 2020)

We write monthly for the magazine Bridport Times. To see this article as originally published, view the pages on Issue.

Written by Ellen Simon

April is the changeover from winter to summer. In the winter the animals depend on us for their food and comfort. Most of them, all the ones indoors, would be knee deep in muck if we didn’t clear it away for them and give them fresh bedding; they would be without food unless we gave it to them, and that depends on our having saved the grass from last summer. In summer, by contrast, the animals are all outdoors and don’t really need us. We see them daily but, if all is well, that is all we do: we look, we see that they are comfortable and that they seem happy and we leave them to themselves. April is the month by which the big change-around has happened. It is a relief to finally return to the summer pattern; we have by now become weary of feeding and bedding and it is a pleasure to see the animals enjoying the weather and the sweet spring grass. For the vegetables, there is an equivalent shift around now. Through the winter and well into spring we are dependant on last year’s plants and last year’s work and now we are setting out this year’s and just beginning to crop the earliest of them.

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Why did the caravan cross the road? (Bridport Times, March 2020)

We write monthly for the magazine Bridport Times. To see this article as originally published, view the pages on Issue.

Written by Ben Scriven

Visitors to West Bexington may have noticed a rather strange pair of caravans sitting in a field and wondered how they seem to mysteriously move around periodically. They represent my latest (bird brained?) idea: can we produce eggs without importing feed?

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Rain, rain, go away… (Bridport Times, February 2020)

We write monthly for the magazine Bridport Times. To see this article as originally published, view the pages on Issue.

Written by Adam Simon

Do you remember playing with water and building dams as a child? Something we all learned very quickly was that water runs inexorably downhill. You can channel it, slow it down or hold it temporarily but ultimately it insists on going downwards. On our farm, water ends up harmlessly in the sea quite soon, but it can be troublesome en route. Readers will have noticed that, after the dry summer, we had a lot of rain early this winter and we have needed to help some of our water find the ways we wanted it to take rather than letting it choose its own.

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Bess’s Tail (Bridport Times, January 2020)

We write monthly for the magazine Bridport Times. To see this article as originally published, view the pages on Issue.

Written by Leila Simon

Just thirteen years ago this month, Ellen returned from Puddletown veterinary surgery with a roly-poly, black, tan and white collie called Scamp. Probably between 2 and 4 years old, Scamp was, we hoped, to be our new sheepdog. We’d spent two months without one, struggling to gather and move the sheep alone. Perhaps more difficult than that, we’d had no loving doggy presence in the house or companionship out and about. For years we had been looked after by a golden retriever who thought we kept the farm especially for her to play in, and then we got Moss as a puppy who we trained up as a sheepdog ourselves. She had died suddenly at 8 years old from an undiagnosed liver cancer that haemorrhaged. She had been asking for gates to be opened rather than jumping them, however she had seemed fine and was working well – just the evening before, she had moved the cattle very neatly from below the car park at Cogden to the field next door. The day she died had been spent apparently enjoying herself as a passenger in the tractor cab but when she got out she clearly felt bad, and we were on the phone to the vet when she died curled up in her basket. We had mourned the loss of a companion and a working partner and felt we couldn’t wait for a puppy to grow and, as we couldn’t afford a trained adult dog, we tried out a rescue dog.

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