Sure looks Christmassy now; thought Jack, as his boots crunched on the frozen snow. He buttoned his jacket against the biting wind from the North. Looks like we’ll have a white Christmas, thought he, pulling his old “carawatha” tighter around his neck.
The farmhouse really looks the part. That new coat of thatch, fresh whitewash and lick of red paint to door and windows does the trick, like a postcard Christmas scene.
Having milked, he fed the two cows in the byre and their calves. No grass to be found out today anyhow and the sheep looked good at the haycock, only their rumps are showing. Enough hay there till Spring. Some oats and beet pulp would be a treat and bring them bleating to the trough.
Four killing pigs and some twenty five turkeys are ready for the Xmas market. Boiling for these keeps Jack busy. He has enough spuds pitted and to bring him to May-day, so buying in four new bonhams will cope with these and still more than needed to keep the table. He had ground some wholemeal and oatmeal at the mill and the yard sported a “two year” reek of turf. A surplus too of cabbage, turnips, onions and table vegetables; all grown in the headlands of the corn fields and the big box held a whole salted pig.
Jacks only worry – the travelling shop. Would it come today, the roads being like they are? He was short on fags and “bakky” must gather the morning eggs for Mogs, scarce enough these cold days too.
Hope they’d have enough to meet the household “commands” few though they are; tea, sugar, lamp oil and candles, pot of jam and maybe a Sunday cake, the weekly local paper.
Self sufficiency and rationing are the order of the day – wartime and isolation. If the batteries last, we’ll hear the news from Churchill or Lord Haw Haw, “twenty more British bombers shot over the Rhur last night”. “Thousands killed on Flanders field”. “Hundreds of Russians freeze with the – 20 cold and hundreds of our Irish brethren gave their lives there also, in the cold and hunger of the trenches, never to see home again. R.I.P. And our Ireland languished in peace and plenty, an island of milk and honey the ancient said.