Jeremy Clarkson and his co-workers at his farm, Diddly Squat, have revealed their plans for this Christmas — and they’re not as idyllic and restful as one might think.
Writing in the latest Sunday Times Magazine, Jeremy Clarkson, his partner Lisa Hogan, contractor Kaleb Cooper and expert wall-builder Gerald Cooper (no relation to Kaleb) each announced their plans for December 25 and all involve early starts, tending to animals and keeping things going on the farm.
Clarkson expects the unexpected
Initially painting a picturesque scene of how one might imagine Christmas at Diddly Squat — candlelight, home-grown goose, vegetables from the fields and charades by a roaring fire — Jeremy Clarkson himself quickly deflated the idea, saying that Christmas Day “will be like every other day only with added mud.”
The Sunday Times columnist reflected that his own illusions about farming in the winter were quickly shattered once he properly took it up.
“When I first became a horny-handed son of the soil two years ago, I figured that winter would be an easy season. The sheeps would be pregnant, the cows would be in their house, the crops would be growing on their own, the hens would be standing around waiting to be eaten by a fox, the badgers would be spraying TB around the fields and I’d be in Val d’Isère, living it large on the fat subsidy cheque.”
That was not to be the case, however, with subsidy cheques now “smaller than a pre-war postal order” and the necessity of going out in the cold and wet to attend to jobs that were neglected during the harvesttime such as mending gates and fences. This is something, Jeremy feels, at which he isn’t very good, frequently driving crooked nails and smashing his thumb with a hammer.
“I was woken by a neighbour who said my cows had pushed over the fence again and were on the A361… there’s nothing I can do to be certain that the exact same thing won’t happen again on Christmas Day”
“After you’ve smashed most of the bones in your hand and bent two whole bags of nails, you will get one to go through the piece of fencing post and then you’ll hold up another so that they can be joined for ever more by the nail. Nope. What actually happens is the second bit of wood splits and then someone rural strolls by and says, helpfully, ’That nail’s too big.’”
While taking a day off from the fencing on Christmas Day may be possible, farm animals tend not to celebrate the birth of Jesus and so, there may still be escaping cattle and sheep to deal with.
“Back in November,” Clarkson explained, “I came back from a weekend of solid drinking and staying up late in Scotland, absolutely knackered. I fell into bed on Sunday evening at around 10.30 and was woken up at 2am by an alarm on my phone, alerting me to the fact that the automatic hen house doors were opening. It took an hour to sort that out and I didn’t get back to sleep till four.
“Then, two hours later, I was woken again by a neighbour who said my cows had pushed over the fence again and were on the A361 two miles away. And there’s nothing on God’s green earth I can do to be certain that the exact same thing won’t happen again on Christmas Day.”
While he plans to give Lisa a Christmas present of a sculpture and Kaleb a model of a Fendt tractor, what he’d really like himself, he says, is Ken Miles’s Ford GT40 racing car that raced at Le Mans, and which is likely worth many millions of pounds.
Lisa loves winter on the farm, despite sleepless nights
Lisa has been busy all year running the Diddly Squat shop and says that demand has been particularly strong in the run-up to Christmas with customers coming in to buy “Cow Juice (milk), Bee Juice (honey), cheeses, chutneys, jams, tea towels, travel mugs and chopping boards,” as well as Jeremy’s range of scented candles.
While she loves Christmas, “on the farm it can end up being like any other day because there are livestock to tend to.”
Wandering cattle are a regular occurrence thanks to Jeremy and Kaleb’s poor efforts in building a pen and she said that she and Jeremy were “out the other morning before six, herding the beasts for three hours. It’s like an early morning workout. As well as running a half marathon you’re shaking heavy bags of food. At least it’s good for muscle strengthening and toning.”
“It’s like an early morning workout. As well as running a half marathon you’re shaking heavy bags of food”
Still, despite the early starts and sleepless nights, thanks to Jeremy’s overactive fox detector device, she does very much love living in such a beautiful area of the Cotswolds, reflecting that she recently stopped to admire “just how lovely this part of the Cotswolds is. The sun was rising and it lit long streaks of mist over the winter countryside like the brushstrokes of an old master.”
What she’d really like for Christmas, she said, is a cedar tree and has bought Jeremy a locator tag so that he stops losing his keys so easily.
All Kaleb wants for Christmas is for Jeremy to get a smaller tractor
Kaleb expects to be up at dawn on Christmas morning looking after Jeremy’s cattle — changing their bedding, cleaning out their stalls and feeding them. It has, he says, been a difficult year, losing his grandfather, who he says “was like the role model in my life.”
He plans on Christmas Day to have lunch with his mum, Rachael, his partner, Taya — who is a dog groomer — and his nine-month-old child, before heading to visit his dad, Mark, for a game of rummy. He said he’s looking forward to taking his dogs for a walk in the afternoon, maybe checking on the crops while he’s out.
He plans to give Jeremy the green triangles out of the Quality Street tin as they’re the “runt of the litter”
As for lunch, he said, “I normally get a turkey or goose at Christmas in return for helping out on poultry farms when they’re rushed. All the vegetables, carrots, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, peas, broad beans are grown in my little veggie patch and put in the freezer.”
What he’d really like, he said, is for Jeremy to replace his Lamborghini tractor with a Fendt as the Lambo is too big, which leads to Jeremy crashing into things like walls, gateposts and electricity poles.
He said that, as a present, he plans to give Jeremy the green triangles out of the Quality Street tin as they’re the “runt of the litter” and he knows that Jeremy hates them.
And Gerald wants … your guess is as good as ours
The legendary dry stone wall expert says:
“I int thar ginnen this Xmas with stone walling and all. Bin usual turkey and stuffing but dimple bung up missus. Last year she knit up woolly jumper surprise.
“Noshed off on wickerbum near log firekip. Sudden like aaagh. Hearth rug alight scorch me toenacks and jumper ruin. Blazing idiot she say. Hoot about it now. Got new un. Har!”
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