Archive for October 23rd, 2008

What Kind of Sandwich Are You?

You Are a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

You are a traditional person with very simple tastes.
In your opinion, the best things in life are free, easy, and fun.
You totally go with the flow. And you enjoy every minute of it!

Your best friend: The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Your mortal enemy: The Ham Sandwich

Hat tip to Jennie and Welshpurpletree.

Compulsory sex and relationship education

Hurrah! The news that the government is expected to roll out compulsory sex and relationship education in primary and secondary schools is bloody brilliant – and a long time overdue.

Obviously, it’s extremely important that teenagers are “in the know” when it comes to sex, relationships, contraception, STIs and so on, but personally, I’m in favour of sex and relationships ed from the moment a child enters the education system.

I’ve seen friends teaching their kids about sex from a very early age and it’s not embarrassing nor does it “promote promiscuity”. It simply begins to inform children when they’re too young to be embarrassed so that by the time their hormones kick in, they’ll have the basic facts. Is it me, or is that the single most important thing we can do for our children? To ensure that they’re prepared to live in this world and with other people!

Incidentally, your kids are never too young to learn about gay relationships as well. Jennie’s two kids, Handsome and Cheeky, are more than used to the idea and it doesn’t seem to cause them any problems. There are the obvious views that are ingrained in most of us (society’s “norms”) but the boys are more than happy to put those to one side. An amusing consequence of Jennie and NDT* fantastic approach to parenting was Handsome’s comment when B and I went round for dinner the other night. I picked up one of the Christmas catalogues and told B I was going to get her a pink doll’s house with her name printed on the roof. Before B could retort, Handsome piped up. “But Auntie Jo, you don’t like girly things. Apart from girlfriends, I mean.”


* NDT = Jennie’s husband who is Not David Tennant

Busy bees

I’ve had a couple of fun and productive days up at the farm. On Tuesday, B spent the day with me and we got Scrumpy’s ark shifted (it might not sound like much but the next time I have to have one of the pigs, I’ll take some photos of the process so you can see how complicated life is when you keep your pigs in a modern version of the traditional fold!) and then yesterday, Jennie came to help (again!) and we got started on the lasagne garden. She took some photos and detailed our work over at Jennieworld.

I’m thrilled that we’ve got started on the veggie garden. I’m a beginner at this whole smallholding thing (as you can tell from reading my blog) but at least when it comes to animals, I have an idea of what needs doing. The basics are the same for all livestock (water, food, bedding, secure fences, comfort, health) and it’s a matter of figuring out the details. But when it comes to plants… I’m less than a beginner. I’m a total novice. I have never in my life even attempted to grow something, other than a dimly remembered experiment in science aged 10 – something about a test tube and a bean. Oh, and some cress in a hedgehog container so that the cress grew up and looked like the hedgehog’s spikes. I don’t know what happened to the cress (I have no memory of it growing) but I know mum used the hedgehog as an ashtray for over a decade.

All that is a way of illustrating how much I need some help and while Jennie claims she knows very little, very little is in fact a step up from where I am. Besides, the extra help yesterday was invaluable. Even between us, we only just managed to finish everything in time for me to leave at 4 to get to work, so I would have been stuck on my own!

What I’ve really enjoyed about B and Jennie’s contributions is twofold. First, having an extra pair of hands. Both bemoan their lack of physical contribution but they’re the only ones that are bothered. Me, I get bothered by having to, for example, put the ark next to where I want it to go, go back to the previous site to get the rubber mats, put them down in the right place and position to ark over them, then go back to get the bedding that can be reused, then make yet another return trip to get their water bowl… Having someone there who can make these trips while I put up the electric fence makes life much much easier and speeds up the whole process considerably. B and I finished and were able to have lunch at about half past one. On my own, I would have been a lot later! The same with the garden. On my own, I would have got the cardboard and some of the compost down, leaving me with much more to do! Instead, today I just have to collect a small amount of cut grass and then go round and get the used hay and straw I’ve been saving from the pig arks. These piles have been sitting out in the rain so they should be good and damp and ready to kick start the composting. Not to mention all the pig poo that needs collecting!

So, you see, having an extra pair of hands is fantastic. So is the company. I quite enjoy being on my own, probably because with animals about, you’re never truly on your own. But while the animals make me laugh on a daily basis, it’s great to have someone to laugh with, to share the joys and beauty of working with animals. Company makes light of the worst jobs and deepens the sense of satisfaction of a job well done.

So, to B and to Jennie: thank you for your help and for making the time and effort to come to the farm and spend your time with me. It’s more appreciated than you know.