Down On The Farm

Digital illustration of rolling hills, fluffy clouds and farmhouse

Lauren discovers that one good turn deserves another

“We need a holiday,” Lauren told Alison after a harder than usual day at work.

“Take one.” Alison laughed as though it were easy.

“I’ve no money or I would.”

“Go to Farmer Williams’ cottages, where I went,” Alison replied.

“Where you spent a week cleaning for free accommodation?”

“Beggars can’t be choosers,” Alison argued. “I can’t go this year – but you could.”

Lauren’s children weren’t sure about the holiday… the countryside? “What else is there?” they asked.

Farmer Williams’ cottages were almost pretty, but grey curtains, untidy gardens and leaves around the doors let them down.

What have I done? Lauren thought of the work ahead.

Her children looked at their surroundings dubiously.

“They’ll be fab when I’m finished,” she told them as she prepared for action.

“I’m Lauren, Alison’s friend. I’ve come for the keys.”

Lauren peeped around a door and spoke to Farmer Williams as he ate lunch in a kitchen that lacked a woman’s touch.

“Good. I hope you’re not a raver like Alison.” He looked worried.

Lauren started work immediately while her kids explored outside. She vacuumed, washed linen and made the bedrooms fit for holidaymakers.

“There’s nothing to do, Mum.” The children returned shortly, grumbling.

Later, while they slept, Lauren swept floors and paths in order to be with them earlier next day. Some free holiday!

“What can we do?” the children groaned the next morning as Lauren washed windows.

“Give me a minute,” she said. “I’ll think of something.”

As she worked, Farmer Williams passed by. “All OK?” he asked kindly.

“I’m nearly there.” Lauren tried to sound cheerful.

“I’ve let things go, haven’t I? My wife took care of them but since she died… You’re doing a good job, though.”

He was about to walk away and turned back.

“Kids enjoying themselves?”

“They’re city kids,” Lauren explained. “They don’t understand the country. What did Alison’s kids do?”

“Shouted, ran wild, trampled on crops… I’m glad she couldn’t come this year. You’ve done an excellent job.”

Farmer Williams nodded appreciatively. Then he had a thought.

“Would your children like to work? Send them to me at seven. There’s eggs to fetch, pigs to feed… endless farm work.”

Lauren and her children stared at him in disbelief.

“Not you, Lauren, you’ve already earned your keep.”

He gave them a friendly nod and left.

Later Lauren heard her children chattering in bed… they were looking forward to it!

The children left bright and early the following day smothered in sun lotion.

Lauren sat outside on a sun lounger enjoying a novel, unable to remember the last time she’d done so.

Throughout the day she glimpsed her kids in distant fields, wandering into the farmhouse with eggs and being chased by hens.

Work was keeping their minds off the lack of facilities.

It was late when they returned. Lauren’s skin had turned pink in the sun and she felt great.

“Fancy a walk to the chip shop?” she suggested.

“We’ve eaten,” they grunted before going to bed without any fuss.

Farmer Williams invited them over again. Lauren hoped they didn’t feel obliged, but they flew willingly through the door.

“We’re keeping a diary, Mum, to remember what fun we’ve had.”

Lauren looked into two exhausted faces and was puzzled. “Fun?”

“Making pastry, milking goats, mending walls, brushing pigs…” The list went on.

“And you’ve enjoyed yourselves?”

“Brilliant.” They yawned.

As the week passed Lauren relaxed and her skin slowly turned brown.

“It’s been terrific having you here,” Farmer Williams beamed on their last day as they prepared to leave. “Please come again.”

Did you enjoy yourself, then?” Alison asked at work.

“It was fantastic,” Lauren admitted and Alison looked suspicious.

“You’re very brown, Lauren… did you spend the week lazing on that sun-lounger?”

“No – I did my share of cleaning.”

“I told you beggars can’t be choosers.” Alison grinned. “You won’t do that again, will you?”

“Oh, I will.” Lauren smiled. “This beggar can choose. Farmer Williams offered me a free holiday next year in another one of his properties.”

“Let me guess. A pigsty, is it – or a barn?” Alison laughed.

“No… His Spanish villa.”

We’re sharing a lovely family-themed story from our archives every week during March. Look out for the next one!