Festivities on The Farm
01 Dec 2021
Who else would we ask to write a seasonal tale than good friend of ours Kat of Gartur Stitch Farm? Hers are tales that are both humble and heartwarming, chaotic, charming and calming, and so we couldn’t wait to hear (and see for our own eyes as our festive film below will show) all about the festive season over on Gartur Stitch Farm…
Growing up, our house at the holidays was full. I have five brothers and sisters and on top of them there was always a selection of neighbours and cousins, friends and boyfriends of my sisters’, friends and girlfriends of my brothers’, and folk who would simply just turn up. Someone would be sent downstairs to get extension leaves for the dining room table, and the age range for the kids' table in the kitchen would go up – inevitably to what ever age I was so I was constantly relegated to sit with the kids – and extra potatoes would go on. In short, we would always make space for whoever turned up at our door.
In anticipation of unexpected guests, my mom always had extra gifts to give. She'd squirrel away nice socks or chocolates throughout the year, grab an extra mug at a craft fair or a nice bottle of bourbon and set them aside, just in case someone popped round during the holidays. My brother-in-law, Bill, always tells the story of my sister bringing him home for the first time completely unexpectedly and my mom, magically, having gifts under the tree for him. The idea that someone would turn up and feel anything other than welcome was the worst of holiday faux pas. After dinner, leftovers would be loaded up, ensuring everyone who came left laden.
With Kevin and I both being immigrants, our biological family here in Scotland for the holidays is smaller, but our community is much the same. There’s always someone popping in. Friends who are passing, neighbours whose festive walks bring them to our farm, an emergency call for eggs. Folks pop in to scratch the goats or get licked by the cow, and kittens come out to say hello to visitors (we have to check they don't go home in anyone's pockets as stocking fillers). If the timing’s right, guests get stuck in and help with milking, rounding up errant animals (I am looking at you, Kenny Rogers the Goat), collecting eggs and anything else going on at the time, because the chores never stop with the holidays.
And being Becky Goldin's daughter, I simply can not let folk leave empty-handed. I spend the year hiding extra jars of jam from the kids, siphoning away some of our honey, standing over pots of sugar and milk for dulce de leche, acquiring small items from our maker friends and making extra soap in anticipation of seasonal visitors. Boxes of homemade cookies sit beside the door for quickly grabbing for courier drivers and the postie. Stacks of eggs are by the kettle as a just-in-case gift, handed out with the obligatory cup of tea for passers-by.
For us, the year of making, growing, gathering, milking, shovelling, feeding and watering culminates in the joy that is giving people what we have made. There is nothing better than handing a jar of farm-made goodness to a neighbour to celebrate the holidays. Sharing makes the work of the place more worthwhile. The gifts are from all of us – the goats make the milk for the soap, Honey the cow makes the milk for the caramel, the bees’ the honey, the garden much of the food-based gifts.
Those presents are a small way to connect us, the land, the animals, the community we’ve built and the season – pocket-sized reminders of life here at Gartur, a place where there always has and always will be room at the inn.
Do note, the Festive Film was captured prior to the bird flu lockdown within the UK