6 Days before Christmas

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This morning many of us in the South of England woke up to grey, gloomy skies and a blanket of snow. This causes the farmer more than a few problems, especially dealing with his stock. But in the old days the immediate farmyard used to be the responsibility of the farmer’s wife. She was the one who woke very early in the morning (usually 4am), stoked the fire, boiled the water for washing, collected the logs from outside and cooked the breakfast. Then she had to brave the elements to open up the poultry houses, refresh the water and feed them with the daily allowance of corn and scraps from the kitchen. But the lady living in the cottage was smart, she kept an eye on the weather the previous evening and could see the storm clouds gathering and so took all the water drinkers inside to stop the water freezing. She covered the feed boxes from getting damp and would have a larder full of preserved pickles and even smoked bacon for use on cold, windy days like this. On top of all this she had to make the cottage ready for Christmas. This included making the holly wreath for the front door, Yule logs, pomanders and homemade crackers. In the morning, the farmer would have walked up the track past the Coldharbour sign to check all the sheep in the surrounding fields. It was a long and lonely walk and it must have been bitterly cold. These were brave folk. You can learn all about the life of the farmer, his wife and young family by reading all the historical notes displayed in the cottage.

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