What Katie did at Christmas

PUBLISHED: 17:08 10 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:25 20 February 2013

Writer, compère, broadcaster and smallholder Katie Johnson lives with her husband Glyn and other assorted animals on the Herefordshire/Shropshire border.

I have finally succumbed and joined a social networking site. One of the first people I discovered was an old school pal who took great delight in letting me know that shed sent a picture of us in a play at middle school to the local paper for its Nostalgia column!

Talking of schools, up and down the county they are all busy with their Christmas productions. I played an angel one year and mum made me a set of wings from tin foil and pipe cleaners. Happy memories too of village pantomimes, one in particular a fair few years ago when I played Cinderella. One of my ugly sisters was The Reverend Canon Mark Rylands, the new Bishop of Shrewsbury oh yes it was!

Weve said goodbye to our neighbours whove sold up and moved on. They had to leave their hens behind so we have a few additions now and posh ones too as theyre rare breeds. We are introducing them slowly to our lot who are viewing them with great suspicion. One thing thats bonding them is their treat of warm mashed potato, much to the annoyance of our Golden Retriever who tries to get in on the action. Been good to have a few more eggs though.

From mid December to spring the Highland cows will be on their full ration of hay, this always makes for an interesting time when feeding them, as twice a day youve half a ton of moving shag pile hurtling towards you. 1: You hope that they can see under that fringe and 2: That their brakes work.

Weve decided that were going to have a go at growing our own veg next year especially as we have a ready-made slug control in the form of the hens. If youve not been, theres a super vegetable plot at Acton Scott Working Farm in south Shropshire which we visited earlier in the year, and look out for Victorian Farm Christmas filmed there which will be shown this month on BBC2.

I do love this time of year, especially with the celebrations and events happening across our patch. I love carol singing, and have spent a few happy evenings in the centre of Hereford with the gang from Tarrington Brass. I also had the privilege of reading a lesson in Hereford Cathedral which I really enjoyed. Having said that I did my ankle a mischief just before I went and ended up in Casualty until gone two the following morning. Im not sure which was bigger, the swelling in my foot or the bags under my eyes.

Weve got our calendar for next year, well sort of. Glyns mum and dad gave us one as a present, but with mum being a little forgetful at the moment shes gone and filled it in with all their own special dates and activities. Theyve got a better social life than us!

One thing I always get excited about it is getting our Christmas tree, although it takes me ages to choose. Well be heading to Dinmore Hill which supplied Downing Street with its tree a couple of years ago. If you head that way and see Colin Griffiths, hell make you smile with the tale of putting it up outside Number 10. It turns out it doesnt matter who you are, everyone has trouble with vertical hold.

Christmas Eve well be at our nearest church for Midnight Mass, its touch and go whether the electric will stay on though. We did lose it a couple of years ago but we all tend to take torches anyway as the nearest street light is two miles away and we park in the field next to the church, which the sheep will only just have vacated, adding to the atmosphere in more ways than one!

So were all probably thinking where the year has gone? And writing that very line in Christmas cards along with we must catch up this year. One thing with social networking sites is that you do get to see current pictures of friends gone by; the only thing being is that if they look older. Does that mean I do too? Heres to water pipes not being frozen, wellies without holes and enough grip on an icy morning. Happy Christmas and bring on 2010, whatever it throws at us.

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