THERE ARE hundreds of stories similar to those of Sascha De Lisle-Butler, Wowie Dunnings and Paul Wright. Taking on a smallholding doesn’t always go to plan. Sometimes bad health draws you on to achieve things you never would have imagined in a month of Sundays. For some the dream comes to an end. But there are things we can take from these short snippets of people’s lives.
Everyone I spoke to had this at their heart. The illness somehow spurred them on to be sure their stock was in the best state possible. One described it as a major nag, but with remarkable rewards.
Help is available
When you go through the same tasks, neighbouring smallholders can simply see where help is needed. We hate asking for help, but it is usually given without fuss or cost. Like my neighbour simply trimming my hedges, or turning up at lambing “just to see how you’re getting on”.
And, of course, family can step up to the mark when needed and perform Herculean feats.
The rewards are great
Time and again people cope with their difficulties because of their animals. The reward of getting through is that cared for sheep or goat. “We need them as much as they need us.”
Don’t just sit there
Early intervention is important. Sometimes we feel that we are superhuman, or the feeling of not getting through, not being able to care for our animals is a deterrent to not visiting the doctor. Everyone I spoke to was glad they “got sorted” as quickly as they did, even if sometimes it has been a long ongoing process.