Self-sufficiency in Chipping, Lancashire

PUBLISHED: 08:39 12 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:41 20 February 2013

Self-sufficiency in Chipping, Lancashire

Self-sufficiency in Chipping, Lancashire

Heidi Berry takes time out from milking cows to invent the tractor bra

Im typing this with some difficulty but shall soldier on regardless. I find myself unable to lift me arms above well lift my arms full stop, because of six very tubby, ten weeks old lambs now happily munching grass over yonder.

Yesterday morning I collected them in the back of the Land Rover from a friends farm. When I arrived home I was faced with the dilemma of getting them from to the field without the little blighters running amuck through the neighbours gardens.

I resorted to cradling them in my arms and carrying them one by one, down the drive, across my front lawn, through the gate, across one field, then as my arms were about to give up, the lamb would wriggle like crazy just when I needed to summon the strength to lift it over the fence into the field.

If that wasnt enough Im still a bit achy after last Friday night - it was the best night out Ive had for a long time. I went to help on a nearby farm where my friends husband does the milking when the owner is on his hols.

I was initially asking the cows politely to make their way to the milking parlour. They are huge beasts and I was a little daunted by their sheer mass, but with a touch more assertiveness and some cajoling we managed to get all 41 to their feet and they meandered through the lanes into the yard.

My friends husband then started sorting the cows into two batches; we put the younger batch to bed and then set up the parlour. The cows know the routine well but I had to be shown how to release the controlled amount of food to each bay, bring the cows in six at a time, attach the suction cups to the udders, dip the teats in iodine after milking, send the cow through to her bed chamber when shes done, hose the parlour down and sweep up.

I did get kicked a couple of times, a few soggy slaps from mucky tails and a very near miss when one moody madam tried to turn me into a human cow pat. Oh it was such fun, really! I defy anybody to give me a job on a farm that I do not love!

After the hard work was done we went to feed the lambs and calves. I almost lost my Grannys diamond ring when one of them tried to suck and swallow my hand whole. It was a lovely evening and as we walked back I was asked if Id like to drive the tractor.

I was soon bombing round the newly mown field with my friend perched precariously on the hand brake next to me. She was shouting something about needing her sports bra on and had her arms folded across her chest instead of holding on to the door handle. The suspension was pretty hard and the field very bumpy and I nearly lost her out the door a couple of times. We both survived the ordeal but are now going into business producing tractor bras!

Our four week old duckling, Star, is doing well, it is now about a foot tall and the mass of yellow fluff is quickly being replaced by white feathers. Only one more egg hatched out of the dozen in the incubator but the duckling was very weak and died within hours.

I started to become concerned that as an only duckling, Star would be lonely and was getting too attached to us humans. It used to follow us around the house and fields, if we went out of sight or into a different room for an instant it would start squawking in panic. I couldnt wait another 28 days for a fresh batch of eggs to hatch so we paid a visit to Clitheroe Auction.

Its an amazing place and after a bit of practice we soon got into the bidding wars and came away with a picnic basket full of Aylesbury ducklings. It was a happy sight tipping them out onto the lounge floor and seeing them waddle around together. That was a week ago, theyre all getting on well and spend their days in a run in the field quacking to each other while Bertie the dog licks them through the fencing.

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