Living By The Land – Episode 28

LOUISA’S heart was racing pleasurably as they turned up Farmer Robert’s drive. Roast dinner would be served in the big kitchen soon, but she knew she wouldn’t be able to eat a morsel. She was already counting the minutes until it was over and she could be alone with Callum again. As they drew into the yard, however, Martha, who ran the dairy, came up to them.

“Could I have a word, Louisa, in the dairy? Don’t fret, lass, it’s nothing bad, just a little idea I want to discuss with you.”

Intrigued, Louisa let go of Callum’s arm and with a smile of farewell she followed her boss into the creamy warmth of the dairy.

Martha went over to the big scrubbed sideboard and placed both hands on it.

“It’s your new cheeses.”

“Don’t you like them?” Louisa glanced over at the churns holding her experimental flavours, feeling as protective of them as if they were her offspring.

“No, no, quite the reverse. I think they’re marvellous! In fact, if you don’t mind, I’d like to serve up the first cut of the chive one at dinner today.”

“You would?”

Louisa flushed at the thought of everyone trying her recipe, especially as “everyone” would include Callum. But what if he didn’t like it?

“It’s not only that,” Martha went on and Louisa forced herself to concentrate. “Silas and I have been talking and we thought, now I’ve got more help in the dairy, we could start a line of cheeses, if you see what I mean. A special label, like, to sell them under at market.”

Louisa stared at her.

“A special label!”

Martha nodded and suddenly reached under the counter and produced a little piece of paper. She thrust it at Louisa, looking shy. Louisa took it and found herself staring at a beautiful sketch of a Lower Meadow cow, complete with verdant tufts of grass around its feet.

“It’s beautiful, Martha!” she exclaimed. “Did you draw this?”

“Not me, no. My husband did it.”


Louisa looked again at the soft-lined sketch and tried to picture the bluff old herdsman drawing it.

“He’s very talented,” she remarked quietly.

“That he is,” Martha agreed proudly. “He used to draw all sorts for me when we were first courting. He does it in two minutes, too – says he can make hundreds of these if we need them. I’d have to talk to Farmer Robert first, of course, but what do you think?”

“What do I think?”

A sudden image of her mother sprang into Louisa’s head. Grace had always encouraged her daughter to strive for more, to believe in herself. She’d be so proud to see Louisa making speciality cheeses for market.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea, Martha,” she said and was rewarded by an almost suffocating hug.

“What are you two up to?”

They turned to see Amelia in the doorway.

“We’re going to make cheeses,” Louisa told her friend gleefully.

Amelia pulled a face.

“We make cheeses all the time, Louisa.”

“Not like these ones, eh, Martha?”

“That’s right,” Martha agreed, “and we’re going to need all the help we can get, Amelia.”

Amelia giggled.

“Not from me, I’m afraid. At least I hope not. I’m going out with Tiernan this afternoon, and I swear he’s going to offer for me.”

Louisa leaped across to her friend and grabbed her hands.

Alison Cook