For the love of cows

And rather epic milk!

Hello 2021! Whatever you dream, whatever you hope for, I wish you all the very best.

Inevitably, at this time of year, I think about my plans. I’ve felt it more than ever this time around, I think, because of this in between houses state in which we find ourselves. A form of limbo, a void. I’ll confess that I’m starting to get twitchy now. I want to be up and at ‘em, and getting busy making some of my dreams reality.

David Barton recently posted on Instagram about his word of the year. I’ve chosen a word for several years. In the past, I’ve had renaissance, illumination, and joy. They often proved to be rather apposite!

After reading David’s post I tried to recall my word for 2020. I had no idea! If I’d written it down, it was in a notebook stored somewhere in Leicester. And then it came to me! Duh!

At the beginning of last year I’d had my word made into a bracelet. I had to check the order to remind myself of my word: powerful. I chose it to help me keep in mind that I was more able and capable than I sometimes believe.

For 2021, I’ve chosen sovereign. It’s this year’s reminder that I can forge my own path, to grasp the nettle, to be free to pursue my dreams. It’s about independence, freedom and autonomy.

Even if I forget the word part way through the year and have to consult Etsy again, it will guide my thoughts as I plan what I would like to do this year.

These are some of the projects on my list.

The first is A Gentler Pace. It languished somewhat last year. Partly because I wasn’t entirely sure what it should look like. I’m still working on that and the thread that links together everything I would like to achieve. It came a bit more into focus when we moved to Derbyshire and I started to see its true potential.

Jane of shared a post today that really resonated. She talked about helping people to reconnect into the natural world, about re-skilling, about local food systems, about undermining capitalism and mindless consumerism, about encouraging creativity and imagination. 

This is very much where my own thoughts lean. I’m seeing how important it is to shop local. Not just for the seasonal produce and to minimise the carbon footprint, but also to support local traders and sustain the immediate community. I’ve realised how reliant individual businesses are on each other, how one only succeeds when they all succeed.

Spending time outside has always been an essential for me. Being part of this incredible rural landscape shows me, on an even larger scale, how crucial it is for us all to reconnect with nature. It ties in with living a seasonal life. I remember, as a child, that foods were only available in season and I have a hankering to return to those days.

I certainly don’t miss the hustle of my old working life. I felt like a square peg in a round hole for most of my career. I believe there is another way and I’m on a quest to find it this year.

I believe creativity is the key to us knowing ourselves better. It’s always been through my creative pursuits that I’ve found flow and a sense of peace. Photography, for me, has been my favourite act of creation. The focus that it gave me led to many aha moments and realisations.

Another project is Explore the Peak Park. Initially, I thought this would be about promoting the Peak District through video, podcasts, photography and blogs. This still remains part of my plan - but there are so many others doing the same thing and my rebel streak wants to find my own way.

I’ve tweaked my remit to include the theme of story - mine and the back story of those businesses I visit. I think this widens the scope of what I can do.

In her post Jane mentions impact not influence. I like that. It speaks to me of making a difference, however small. You never know the impact that you can have on someone or something.

Last week I mentioned a film called 73 Cows, the story of Jay, a former beef farmer who, quite literally, put his herd out to grass and followed a completely different avenue.

Today Chris and I popped to Sainsbury’s in Ashbourne. When I came out, I recognised Jay in the queue to enter the supermarket. I couldn’t help myself so I went over and said hello! It was only a brief conversation (I mentioned seeing the film and driving past his farm on the way into town) but it ended with an invitation to visit the farm! You really can’t make these things up.

I discovered another dairy this week! Inn Farm Dairy will be our local 24 hour shop for milk. I can’t believe it was only Tuesday when I first visited them as I’ve already been three times this week. The initial visit was just a recce. We managed to scrape together £1.20 for a litre of milk. As soon as we pulled up to the car park, I spotted three pens of calves and a line up of cows feeding. I was overjoyed.

On that first day we met the farmer and his wife, and had a long chat. The day after, I went back to spend more time with the calves. The farmer’s wife invited me on a tour of the farm when I’ve got some wellies. But in the meantime, she took me through the farmyard and showed me all the other calves too.

We visited again yesterday - I’d run out of milk! Cow number 645 fell in love with Chris. My little favourite, 692, was dozing in the corner.

Before we moved I hoped I would find some local cows to visit. I had no idea that I would be able to get so close. Close enough to be thoroughly licked! I love knowing exactly where my milk originates. I couldn’t have imagined any of this. Living in Derbyshire has opened up a whole new world.

Tomorrow I need to go back to the dairy. We’re almost out of milk! Oh, the hardship!

Until next time, thank you, as always, for reading my newsletters and sharing this journey with me.