Our home is the source of much discussion yet again. Every few months social media churns out the age old tale of why there is a farmhouse in the middle of the M62 motorway.
When I first moved to Stott Hall I avidly read every story, every comment and inevitably ended up feeling low and often humiliated by some of the negative remarks left. Many made for uncomfortable reading and despite my attempts to correct people, my words fell on deaf ears.
Over the years, I’ve learnt to ignore the comments and avoid adding my input, but there is sometimes the odd remark that warrants a reply. The vast majority enjoy seeing ‘The Little House on the Prairie’ as it is fondly referred to. People see the old farm as a way point, a sign they’re nearly home or back in God’s own county.
However, not all are so nice. I was told not long after the birth of our son that I was unfit to have a child, after all who in their right mind would raise a child in such a place. I was left feeling wretched and questioning whether this person had a point. I became even more acutely aware of the somewhat bizarre and less than ideal location of our home.
As the news sunk in, I fought back tears and wondered how on earth we would tell John-William
When I opened the blades it became evident it was not a penknife a quick search of Google revealed it was a fleam - Julian Norton
Our lives, however, are not spent locked in the middle lane. The farm stretches for many miles with remotely located barns and shedding pens where we spend many hours working with the sheep.
On a recent trip to London, I quickly realised how little we had to worry about, after a day spent walking the heavily polluted streets of our capital. From the minute we departed the train, the smell of exhaust fumes was overwhelming. With little to no wind and row upon row of high rise buildings, the air was stagnant and unable to escape.
Perhaps the constant howling Westerlies that batter our home, stripping the warmth from our bodies and doing absolutely nothing for my hair or complexion, help to blow a degree of fresh air through our lives. The irony in my statement about returning home to breathe clean air was of course completely lost on my six, soon to be seven-year-old son!
We have all been stunned into silence as we watch on with abject horror as Australia burns. Our own protestations about our dire working conditions of mud, rain and more mud pale into significance as millions of hectares of farmland, forests and parks are decimated along with their natural inhabitants. It is hard to comprehend the extent of the fires, the area so vast, so much devastation.
Farming is such a precarious business, so reliant on the weather. After suffering from seemingly endless droughts, this will be the final straw for many farmers. My heart goes out to them. The support for those that have lost everything is overwhelming and fundraising initiatives are aplenty. For many though, a lifetime of work, following on from previous generations is now all but lost. It must truly be the bitterest of pills to swallow.