We live a few miles from Ashbourne, in Derbyshire, a small town that has retained many of its original buildings, independent shops, and even a small version of Derby`s well respected department store. Agricultural vehicles and lorries carrying Derbyshire stone still thunder through the town, past the cobbled market place and up the hill to Buxton. Ashbourne used to have a horse fair, which is of interest to us as at one time Smith Hall was a stud farm, although we only have a few horseshoes to remind us.
On Shrove Tuesday, the famous game of Shrovetide Football takes place. For the unbelievers, imagine a rugby game lasting 2 days, with 2 huge teams made up of inhabitants of different parts of the town, with very few rules, and a lot of beer. The aim is to score a goal for your side, (goalposts being a mile or so apart). The town closes down, shopfronts are boarded up, and sensible folk stay at home!
We are busy making porkpies for one of the pubs, to be taken with the many pints of beer that will be drunk over the 2 day period.
Meanwhile, everything is thriving on the farm. As we sail into March, the days are mercifully getting longer and warmer. We have now around 55 piglets of varying ages, still being carefully looked after by their mothers, although feeding time can be like a rugby scrum! This week I went to our local market with our meat and pies, and came back having sold 3 piglets - well, in essence, anyway. A surprising number of people keep a few pigs, so we are always able to supply weaners, at around 12 weeks old. These will be fattened up over the spring and summer, ready to be slaughtered in the autumn.
In mid April, the swallows arrive, and then we know summer is nearly here!