Friday, November 1
Today we were greatly surprised by the arrival of Neil, our tenant, who keeps sheep on three of our fields. He has been used to coming and going without any involvement from us for a couple of years, but today he and his wife Linda turned up in their scratched old Landrover, towing a caravan and asked if we would mind if they parked it in the field nearest to the house.
When Martin asked why, Neil told him he is concerned about sheep rustling. He says he has heard on the shepherd grapevine that there have been a number of incidents now that the supermarkets are out of supplies and he would like to stay on site to protect his flock. Of course we agreed, especially as he is about to put the ram in with the ewes. He always does that about this time – tupp on Bonfire Night he says, for Easter lambs. And we also agreed because Neil pays his rent in kind and that will seem very welcome this year.
He soon got to work separating some of the older ewes from those born this spring, with the help of his dogs, Meg and Molly. He has to make another journey to fetch the two rams he is using this year and Martin offered to go with him, but Neil said unless he was prepared to see off intruders he would rather take his chances with the dogs. He has to drive almost to Alton, but most of the run is on isolated country roads so he thinks he will be safe. Martin gave him one of our precious cans of petrol in case he has to make a diversion and runs short of fuel.
The pasta I made yesterday was much tastier than the dried, which I still have stored in the larder. I made a savoury pumpkin sauce, scattered over toasted seeds and also wilted dandelion leaves as these are still plentiful. My recipe made plenty, so we are having it again today and Neil and Linda will join us to welcome them to our family for the foreseeable future.