Even on the bleakest of days, something will always come along to lift you out of the doldrums - Jill Thorp

The hardiness of our sheep has been tested this last week, with a noticeable drop in temperature and non-stop rain.

There's always positives to be found on tough days, says Jill Thorp. (YPN).
There's always positives to be found on tough days, says Jill Thorp. (YPN).

Great torrents gouge scars down the hillside leaving our yard a muddy mess.

The top part of our drive has yet again been carried to the bottom of a steep slope leaving a great mound of stone of various sizes. The sheep, well used to the battering of continuous wind and rain, have found their usual shelter spots, as have the Welsh Mountain ponies, also known for their tough demeanour.

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My Bluefaced Leicesters are bedded down on copious amounts of straw in one of the sheds, oblivious to the autumn gales engulfing the outside world. Occasionally they stare at the roof, eyes bulging in surprise as the rain hammers relentlessly on the building, the wind threatening to rip the sheets from the wooden rafters.

The cold and damp finds its way into our house. Despite years of trying to improve the energy efficiency of our 300-year-old home, it’s still draughty, still damp and oh so cold in the winter. Draught excluders are wedged behind every door, heavy curtains with thermal linings cover the kitchen and sitting room doors and log after log is fed into our burner to keep the house warm.

Electric blankets and hot water bottles are an absolute must unless of course you are eight years old and built with an internal furnace that ensures not only can you sleep minus any pyjamas and a thin duvet, but you can also work outside all day in next to nothing.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been pulled to one side by my son’s teacher and asked to send him in long trousers and a jumper. Shorts and t-shirt are for summer, not autumn or winter. I gave up that battle long since. He is hot even in the depths of winter!

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With the news full of COP26 discussions, meat taxes and of course the endless blame being laid at farmers’ feet, it’s easy to see why depression has such a firm grip in rural communities.

As the rain beats relentlessly against the window, the dull drone of the cursed motorway and leaden grey skies all threaten to rob us of any positivity, a feeling shared by many no doubt.

But as I get older, I find that even on the bleakest of days, something will always come along to lift you out of the doldrums. We are blessed at Stott Hall with an abundance of birdlife and most days we get a glimpse into their worlds.

From the short-eared owls hunting on the edge of darkness to the achingly beautiful curlew gracing our uplands in the summer months. On a particularly grim morning we were warmed by an intimate encounter with our resident buzzard. He was perched on our gate post.

As I pulled alongside he briefly lifted his wings, but then dropped them and watched us intently, eyes scrutinising our next move.

John-William remained silent, also caught in the moment as the three of us had a brief but intensely magical connection. And then he was gone.