My January day (146 days to go…)

by Max Akroyd

Certainly the weather can be grim. The contrast with the wide lapels and medallions of Christmas can be stark and January easily feels like a gloomy straightjacket.

But it’s really not. Because, for anything that grows, light – not temperature – is what counts most. For the first time since October I was working outside in the light at 6pm yesterday. According to GMT+1, dark stretches long into the morning. What’s wrong with that? Sure, if you’re trapped in the industrial day it means stumbling around the farm in the dark to attach machines to your animals, or something. Let sleeping pigs lie I say. No one’s looking so, if the baby and his siblings allow, we make like porkers and stay in our nest until after 8!

5 am is the best part of the day in July – a privilege to experience. 5 am in January is for insomniacs. I hereby declare that January is properly the month of the lie-in! The short hop to school is our only concession to ‘real life’. I’ll make the bread while Emma’s doing that and wander off to feed the animals when she returns. It’s much better to see your extremities being frozen off in daylight and the worst days seem much less fearsome when you’re actually out there, rather than watching them mournfully through the office window.

The pigs are always pleased to see their breakfast, of course, and the shut door of their pen, in combination with the late start, means an abundant supply of fertility just waiting to be collected. And fertility is the next best thing after light. Much to and fro-ing between the animal accommodation ensues, as things are forgotten or need fixing. Time for a coffee break!

Once essentials like sitting around chatting, changing nappies and watching Bargain Hunt are taken into account, the time to do other specific jobs at this time of year is probably compressed into just four hours a day. Hard life, eh? I try and mix the tasks into hour long stints, the variety breaks monotony and saves my back. And I hope, once things are properly established around here, that the working day becomes second nature – and nothing like work-for-work’s-sake deafens the gentle narrative uttered by the farm.

In conclusion, I stick two fingers up to my forefathers, and their nasty work ethic. This isn’t a production line and I’ve swapped thrift and freedom for their factory clock. Nature is the boss now and she determines what my days are for.