Lyn Alderson

Copywriter, Journalist, Blogger


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My defective season….

A winter scene on our Shropshire farm

A winter scene at our Shropshire farm

The weather may still be relatively mild, but the light is fading fast, and I find myself dogged by that familiar grey spectre, Seasonal Affective Disorder.

While I am managing to rise at a semi-respectable hour of 7.30am, it’s a little bit late for a farmer’s wife and self-employed professional, and directly reflects my sluggish winter metabolism.

The SAD syndrome kicks in every year when the clocks go back, and my heart takes a nosedive into my boots, much like Tom Daly making an Olympic gold medal attempt. This unwelcome seasonal change has now become 100 per cent predictable.

Cravings of a couch potato

As winter sets in, I develop a craving for lots of carbs and feel sorely tempted to live as a couch potato. Apparently this is a biological condition related to falling levels of light which affect the brain’s neurotransmitters, reducing the feel good chemicals.

Floss the Sheepdog has a new vocation

Floss the Sheepdog has a new vocation

My SAD is not as bad as some people’s SAD and I am glad! I can fight it by getting outside for a daily walk when the light is at its brightest. I am accompanied by my trusty personal trainer, Floss the Sheepdog. Floss has been given this new title since her semi-retirement from farm life when Pete sold the sheep a couple of years ago. Getting outside on the farm is the best antidote to SAD I know.

State of the art gymnasium

Years ago I was forced to exercise indoors, in a state-of-the-art gym across the road from my office at the Stourbridge News. Three times a week, ultra-fit, lycra-clad ladies kept me working flat out on the treadmill and cross training equipment, in an effort to avoid middle aged spread and dinner lady arms. (Apologies to any dinner ladies reading this; I am sure your arms look just fine and you ought to sue the Oxford Dictionary for unfair discrimination!) Anyway, enough of this empty talk. My personal trainer is here, and she wants to give me a woof time! She will round me up and put me through my paces, and she won’t let me paws for breath…..

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Goodbye sweet summer….

 I'm enjoying autumn's rich palette and getting my bed socks out ready for winter

I’m enjoying autumn’s rich palette and getting my bed socks out ready for winter!

Today I am remembering a former life….

A warm house was as simple as flicking a switch.

Gas-fired central heating warmed up my little box of a home at express speed. Bed socks were for old grannies and scarves were for outside use only. My house got so warm it was like Bermuda as we stripped off to T-shirts in the middle of January.

I admit, it was a bit of a shock every morning to face the hostile environment of my driveway. I had to arm myself with a scraper and attack the ice on my windscreen before I went to work, but unless it snowed and the roads were blocked, winter was a relatively mild inconvenience.

In modern urban life, we are always one step removed from the primitive cycle of the changing seasons. My life here on the farm couldn’t be more different.

Retro kitchen and open fires

We have an original Aga from the 1930s which keeps the kitchen nice and warm, but the rest of the house depends on a labour-intensive wood-burning boiler. We use wood from fallen branches on the farm and pile the logs on by hand every hour or two. Remembering to do it before the boiler goes out is an art in itself! And sub-zero weather is more than a mild blip, it means major headaches for Pete when water supplies to the animals freeze up.

lanternsRESIZED.jpegBut still, there nothing like a night cuddling up together in front of an open fire watching a good film. When the boiler is going and we light the log burner in the living room as well, it can match any central heating system in the world. And the fact that it’s hard earned makes it even more luxurious!

Embracing change

Yes my life has changed. Some of the things I used to take for granted are appreciated far more, and I have so much beauty in my life. I love the stunning landscape here on the farm; beautiful open vistas for mile upon mile, with Shropshire’s famous hills on the horizon.

Goodbye Indian summer 2014; hello windy and wet mornings, glorious autumnal landscapes and wear-your-bedsocks nights!


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My hairy little friends

Do you hate spiders? I used to dislike them a lot more before I moved into our big, rambling farmhouse.

Years ago I would go on to red alert when a spider appeared. I wasn’t a full-blown arachnophobe, but I felt uneasy. If they were really big, hairy, black specimens then I couldn’t deal with them myself and would petition a braver soul to evict them from my vicinity.

picture by Brian Fagan

picture by Brian Fagan

Now I hardly bat an eyelid at even the biggest granddaddy spider. Okay, I wouldn’t like it to crawl all over my naked body, and I’m not volunteering for I’m a Celebrity, but I feel a lot braver than before.

It’s what psychologists call exposure therapy. Most people have to pay for this, or access it through the NHS, but I get it free on the farm. There are so many spiders here, I’m actually a bit bored with them. Bring on the tarantula- that might get me screaming!

Harmless inhabitants

Frankly, there are probably hundreds of spiders living in our house- they certainly seem intent on building Web City 24-7- but I see them as part of the furniture now.

Farmhouse living room, spider free

No signs of spiders in our living room today…but they’re in here somewhere!

And actually, they are quiet little creatures which bother nobody. Not like the raucous murder of crows which descended on the farm a week ago. There were literally hundreds of crows flying overhead all day long, making enough noise to wake the dead, and drowning out the sweet sound of our other native birds.

Scarey Man on the job

So we set up a Scarey Man. No, not my husband!!! He couldn’t scare a fly, he’s far too nice. For all the townies reading this, a Scarey Man is an inflatable scarecrow, which leaps up in the air every 20 minutes or so. It’s hilarious, but the crows think it’s the Devil Incarnate.

And just to see them off properly, so they don’t eat the corn we are feeding to our cattle, we also have another pest control device, a rope banger which has helped to disperse them with its loud explosions.

I’ve also been reading that crows dislike loud music. Mmm, I have an uncontrollable urge to play Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell.


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Introducing my farmhouse blog…

I knew I was in trouble back in 2007 when I found myself getting up close and personal with the new man in my life, while up to my knees in thick mud (I’d been invited to visit his farm).

I clearly like this man a lot, I thought, to negotiate a quagmire in the middle of an unseasonably wet winter.

That moment was the beginning of a steep learning curve and a transition period of several years as I morphed from a sheltered townie journalist to a somewhat atypical farmer’s wife.

Three months after meeting Pete, I was having my first lessons in lambing- but unlike Lambing Live presenter Kate Humble, I managed to slip a disc in my back.

Not an ideal start for a relationship – but I did make a comeback, and I even learned how to deliver a lamb the following year! I followed that by helping with lambing for the next five years, often on the late shift, and sometimes after a hard day in a news room when I was working as a reporter.

You would probably be quite impressed if I told you I am now a red-hot stockwoman, but the truth is, huge black Limousin cows still scare me, though I do stand my ground, armed with a big stick, when Pete needs help moving them around.

It makes more sense for me to do what I’m good at- copywriting, journalism and blogging-while Pete runs his farm. I could no more change into a farmer than he would want to sit in my cosy farmhouse office and work indoors for a large chunk of the day.

But life has certainly changed. I am based at home, and it works fine, as I’ve never yet missed a deadline. The flexibility is a bonus as I am occasionally needed to help round up rebellious heifers when they make a break for freedom!

And while I’m blogging like mad for my clients, I can keep a lookout for visitors to the farm, and take messages.

It’s a different kind of life, with its own challenges and plenty of perks-  an office with a lovely view is just one of them.

Cute little lambs by Lyn Alderson

It’s not all baaad working from home…

In my farmhouse blogs, I will share a few snippets about life in Shropshire- and I guarantee some of it will make you smile.