This week, I am mostly floating along on a cloud of smallholderyness. It was my much-anticipated Big Day Oot last Saturday, with a trip to the mothership – the Scottish Smallholders and Growers Festival.
It was wonderful to be beamed over to Planet Lanark, and move freely amongst kindred spirits, without having to shape-shift like that nekkid blue lassie from X-Men.
I could look around me and see women with long hair and hand-knitted jumpers. Even men with long hair and hand-knitted jumpers. Men with long hair and beards, proudly and freely flowing, as if to say: “I am a smallholder, my animals come first, and I don’t care if I look like I’ve just come back from Woodstock.”
Worryingly, there were also a few lay-dees with beards. But we’ll gloss over that.
I graciously allowed Gamford a day off, and was happy to let him accompany us (in the back of the pick-up with the dugs, naturally. Wouldn’t do to pamper him by giving him a seat inside, might make him soft). After all, we needed someone to carry the loot we bought.
OK, so that whole last paragraph is made up, apart from the fact that Gamford went to the festival with The Young Master and I. And what a great day we had. Anyone who comes home from a trade show/agricultural show/event with the following items has obviously had A Great Day Out:
A free tree. Yes, that’s right, a real free tree.
Delicious, giant cupcakes to placate The Young Mistress who was left behind to enjoy a ‘special day with Daddy’, because it doesn’t matter how special your day with a parent has been when you are 6, it’s never, ever as good as the day your sibling has just had with the other parent. It just isn’t.
An amazing, two-part gizmo like a giant dustpan with a tall handle and a kind of rake, used by horsey folk to poo-pick in fields. We don’t have horses. But we do have poo, as the owners of three dugs. In my largesse, I have given this to my husband as an early anniversary present. I bet you can just guess how delighted he was.
A small length of sheep’s wool wrapped around a bit of card.
As I said, A Great Day Out. Item one was from those friendly and helpful folk at the Woodland Trust Scotland. In return for your contact details you could choose a free tree. And they give free advice on very useful stuff like grants. We likey.
Item two was the delicious by-product of farm diversification. Yonderton produces rare-breed pigs and cattle ... and soap, cordials, cards and ginormous cupcakes.
The amazing poo gizmo (item three) came from Louis’ Little Farm, which was selling a small but brightly-coloured range of funky chook ‘accessories’ from brightly-coloured feed scoops to £700 Omlet ‘Egglus’, the designer – and very practical – plastic chook houses.
Item four was, in fact, some hand-spun yarn spun by none other than The Young Master, who really impressed me with his patience and dexterity.
What seemed to be a group of lovely Nanas (aka The Lanark Spinning and Textile Group) had two spinning wheels and were gently coaxing folk into giving it a go. But the highlights of our day were the talks. We listened to enthusiastic experts sharing their knowledge and experience for up to an hour a time. Priceless, and worth the £10 per adult admission alone.
Our personal favourite was the energetic and super-enthusiastic talk by Janice Houghton-Wallace, turkey supremo and the person who sold us our turkey stag, Vic.
Janice is secretary of the Turkey Club UK, writes articles on the birds for various magazines and even helped Gordon Ramsey when he raised backyard turkeys on The F-Word. If you don’t want to keep turkeys after hearing Janice, you probably never will.
The festival may still be in its infancy, as this was only the second year, but I’m already polishing my wellies and deciding whether a lay-dee beard will be a good look for next year.