I put my case for learning in the Land Rover to my main inspiration and was told that there is no way I could take my test in it as I have to prove that I can drive at the national speed limit. The Land Rover does a maximum of 40mph downhill with a following wind. I was told that my best option would be to have lessons several times a week until the car felt more familiar. I came up with increasingly pathetic and desperate reasons why I needed to learn in the Land Rover ending up with the fact that I have to have a bath before each lesson in the Mini Cooper, so I don't leave it smelling of horse. My main inspiration's reply to this was "Oh, no! That could be two baths a week then!" Then he suggested I do as his brother does (who was there listening) and cover the smell up with perfume instead! I gave up and admitted defeat gracefully and in fits of laughter.
I had a two hour lesson on Thursday followed by the same on Friday, by which time I was relaxed and doing 62mph on one A road, and spent a lot of the time having a giggle with my instructor. I have another on Monday and am actually almost looking forward to it! I need to motivate myself to get on with the theory part now.
I also realised in the last few days that, although I am supposed to be selling the four remaining cows with calves at foot, I really, really don't want to part with the two cows who calved after David died. He was desperate to see the calves, as those two cows were his favourites. They are lovely, quiet, friendly cows in their prime (and home bred) and they have exceptional calves. I also get on so well with livestock farmers, who are all big softies where animals are concerned (well, the good ones are anyway. You have to be observant, empathetic and willing to put yourself out and do whatever it takes, to look after livestock really well, which is probably why they've made such a fantastic job of looking after me too!) and I'd like to still be a proper livestock farmer myself too. Having a few retired pet sheep doesn't really cut it!
Doing manoeuvres when I'm driving is my 'thing' - anything that involves going slowly and backwards is my area of expertise and I love it - so if I learn to drive a loader tractor before the winter I should be able to manage to do a few cattle and sell the calves as stores next spring. If it proves a financial disaster I'll have to think again before the following winter but I'm going to give it a go. I just need to find a nice, quiet Aberdeen Angus bull to borrow for a few weeks now, to get the cows back in calf.
I also think I can see a way to get the yard to provide me with more income and company, plus a supply of new people and horses to meet. I look at my ponies in their stables and really envy them, having each other for company all of the time. I have become a real herd animal and really, really dislike living alone. If my plans work then I might be able to use the farm to provide me with everything that I need to be happy and fulfilled. If they don't then at least when I can drive I will have more options. At the moment, though I'm cheerful and happy for much of the time, I am still spending a lot more time alone than I'd like to ideally. I'm sure I'd get used to it but as most of my friends are farmers it'll get worse before it gets better, with harvest fast approaching, and if it wasn't for frequent jokey text messages with my main inspiration whenever I'm feeling lonely and a bit down, I'd be doing a lot less well than I am. I don't want to be any more of a pain in the **** to him than I already am, and preferably less of one!!!
A very dear and wise friend of mine emailed me the following words which I hope she won't mind me sharing with you because I think they are beautiful and absolutely true:
"I do believe that love is the glue that keeps the world from falling apart, likewise laughter, kindness and friendship. They are like golden threads that come through."
This is my new blog to continue my journey with my Dales Ponies. It will also be the story of my building a new life for myself, alone now, except for my friends, horses and dogs, since my partner died in March 2009. We had lived and worked together, mostly twenty four hours a day, for nearly 28 years and I have never lived alone before. It is a tribute to my wonderful friends that I am still here, still sane(ish) and ready to re-invent myself. I love them all more than words can ever say and can never thank them enough for all they have done and are still doing. It is also a tribute to Alexandra Kurland and 'The Click That Teaches' that I know how to save myself now. To new beginnings.......