a field of golden barley gleaming in the sun

The One About Growing Up On a Farm

Hey there! It’s good to see you here. My name is Lizzie, and I am the redhead who is always wondering! Wondering about life, about this beautiful world, about words and light and colour and form. And mostly about how I can be the best me that I can possibly be.

I am a creator of hand bound books and of art, in the form of cyanotypes and photographs. I am also an avid journal-keeper and I’d like to share some of my journal wonderings with you today ….

Golden Early Memories

I thought that I would tell you a bit more about myself …

One of the most important things about me, the thing that shaped so much of who I am and what I like, is the fact that I grew up on a farm; and although my family were not the farmers, the farmers were like my family.

And the farm was my world, my playground, my home; it was the place where my daydreams came to life, and I could be whatever I wanted to be.

It was a proper, old-fashioned mixed farm, the kind that only “hobby” farmers aspire to have these days.

There were dairy cows, that were still milked by hand when I was young. One of my favourite memories is following Willie Marshall, the farmer, back out to the field with his cows after milking. He trusted them to know the way, and they trusted him enough to let him hitch a lift by lying across their backs.

There were beef cattle, which were locally butchered and then sold from the farm. My first “paid” job, when I was about 10, was working the mincer and bagging up liver and kidneys.

There were pens full of piglets, reared for the table … jeez they are noisy little bleeders!

A fine sheep, posing for its photo

And there were sheep bred for their meat and their fleeces.

I remember watching the shearing and marvelling at how the fleece came off in one piece, and the skinny little sheep looked so funny without all that fluff around them!

There was a sheepdog called Tibby, which was also Mr Marshall’s pet name for me, which I took as a great compliment.

I’m not sure which came first, Tibby the dog, or Tibby the girl, but I didn’t care.

Oh, and there were two huge hen houses and a big flock of hens, so we had a never-ending supply of fresh eggs and chicken.

A Fruit Garden Outside My Window

Right outside the windows of our home (which was a caravan), there was the most amazing fruit garden, with rows and rows of raspberries, which I still remember the taste of … two in the basket, one in the mouth … was it the other way round?!

And alongside the raspberries, grew strawberries, gooseberries and rhubarb, all of which tasted wonderful and were made into the tastiest of jams.

two of my all time favourite people, and me, sitting on a wall beside the fruit garden

There were fields of corn and barley, and acres of tatties and neeps (that’s potatoes and turnips to those of you not au fait with the Scottish vocabulary!).

Proper Salt-of-the-Earth People

The farmer was a proper old-fashioned farmer, who loved his land and his “beasts”, and took care of them well; his wife was the perfect farmer’s wife – she baked and cooked and cared for her family, the real one and the “adopted” one (us!), with love and a no-nonsense attitude.

They were the best people I ever knew. That’s them, in the photo above.

My Playground

Growing up on the farm was fun, it was an adventure every day.

It was climbing on haystacks and riding on tractors; it was following the potato harvester through wet, pungent soil and filling my wire basket with tatties.

Trees were for climbing up and sweeping out of, on scarily high rope swings.

And there were miles and miles of fields to roam around, dry stone dykes to clamber over and balance upon, and streams and burns to paddle in.

There were masses of outbuildings and barns to play in … a girl could stay hidden from sight all day long, while she went about her games of make-believe.

an old barn

The Taste of Summer

Summers were long and hot, and nothing tasted better than tea out of a thermos flask and homemade cake, sitting in a field of stubble with my back against a newly bound bale.

(This was Scotland, so I’m sure that in actual fact it rained a lot. But it’s the sunshine and the smell of fresh cut hay that I remember when I think of summer on the farm.)

golden memories

I’m a Country Girl at Heart

I missed the farm when I had to move into a town. I’ve always felt more at home in the country.

I love where I live now, in a village that nestles in the Wiltshire countryside, with farmland all around.

like patterned cloth draped across the land

Everywhere I travel, everywhere I stop to take a photograph, I can see the handiwork of farmers, the product of their labours.

I see herds of cows and flocks of sheep; I drive along byways hemmed in by fields of crops or stretches of newly-ploughed earth.

Around these parts there are plenty of pheasant and partridge farmers who grow their birds for the shoot, which many people abhor; but the abundance of fowl means an abundance of food for the birds of prey and the carrion-eaters, so that Red Kites and Buzzards can be seen hanging in the air and spiralling on thermals every day; carrion crows and rooks and jackdaws populate the skies by the score; and on still days, the distinctive “kraa” of ravens can be heard high above.

There are fields of wheat and barley, which give the world a golden glow, and attract the crop-circle makers!

There are great expanses of yellow oilseed rape, and small pockets of blue and purple, where linseed or borage are grown.

purple and gold on the road to Rudge

a curve in the road

Alongside the cultivation of crops, run strips of carefully stewarded land, where wildflowers grow, and birds and bees and butterflies can thrive.

You Can Take the Girl Off the Farm …

All of these things that I see as I go about my life in Wiltshire remind me of how much I love living in the country.

You can take the girl off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the girl!

Every single day, I’m grateful that I live right here.

But it’s harvest time that really stirs my memories of that long-ago farm.

It’s when I see the combines at work, and grain pouring into trailers, or stacks of bales and lines of stubble, that I’m right back there, in my world, my playground, my home.

harvest time in the Vale of Pewsey

If you’d like to know more about me, and my hand bound books, and my journaling journey, and maybe get some tips for your own journaling process, why not sign up for my Wonders out of a Redhead Newsletter.

You can sign up here … Wonders out of a Redhead Newsletter

If you’d like to see more of my photographs, why not check out my Flickr page … https://www.flickr.com/photos/redheadwondering/

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