I love this time of New Year. I know it is a bit unfashionable, and there are so many other times to celebrate a new year, or beginnings of another cycle, and there are the negative associations of excess. and drunkenness to be considered, but maybe because I am Scottish, and this is really our holiday, it could be in the blood, this date still resonates within me. Calendars may have changed and days been lost in history, but there is something to be said for the general feeling of goodwill that is evident among neighbours and the community in general as we collectively reflect and anticipate the change of year.
I love the feeling of hanging up a brand new calendar - as yet unsullied by scribbled appointment reminders and things to do. A whole clean year dangles there in front of us - what shall we do with such a resource?
Diaries too - 365 slots waiting to be filled with the stuff of life. But I was never very diligent at keeping a journal. As a child, I used to find the Brownie Guide diary in my Christmas stocking every year. Invariably there would be one entry - "1st Jan. Went to Gran's" - which we did every year. that was all until the next diary - different year, different colour, but only one event ever recorded.
Now blogging has cured me of my chronicling reticence, (as you may have noticed) and I find it important to come to this space and write about life as it happens to me. In the last year, there have been immense changes in my life. One of these has been our long, slow move to Lewis, in the Western Isles, and the purchase of a Croft. I have been feeling that the blog now needs to reflect our new lives, hence the name change. I will miss The Interrupted Gardener - she was such a good and patient friend,( and I always loved that name,) but now we have moved on and- dare we call ourselves Crofters?
Just before we came down to the mainland for Christmas, we were fixing up some gaps in the fence when our neighbour, who comes from a long line of ancient crofters drove by with his wife. They stopped the car and called "You look like a proper crofting family!" (in a Lewis accent)
So - there we are - proper Crofters! (he also in a much quieter voice mentioned that we were putting the fencing on upside down, but no-one needs to know that)
The Barefoot Crofter came to me last summer as exactly the right name for the blog. You may have noticed the different url earlier, but now, as we take our first tentative steps into 2011, I feel this is a good time to make the rest of the changes.
Why barefoot? Certainly it is not because we are able to go about in our bare feet very often in this land and climate! It fits on a number of other levels though :
We are so new at this - we have no history of crofting, or even farming in either of our families. No experience apart from what we have learned from our gardening, and John's long ago summer holiday job on a sheep farm. Although we have plenty of help and guidance from the community around us - who know what works and what doesn't, still we are able to make our own plans, try out our own daft ideas, and learn from our own mistakes. In a sense, we are barefoot, because we do not have to put on our fathers' shoes - we can run free.
We are also barefoot because we wish to tread lightly on this land. Caring for our land and livestock, environment and community in a sustainable and nourishing way - is there any other way?
So - we have many, many plans - some of which may take a season or two to achieve. Lots of hard work - and fun ahead. It is such an exciting time, as I contemplate my new calendar. I do hope you will join us for some of the journey - kick your shoes off and run along.
Or keep your wellies on if you like. xx