Monday, 28 February 2011

Spring forward, five steps back.

I forgot what having a toddler was like.

He is not really a toddler, now that he is three and 'big', but he has a knack of making the shortest journey a reallly looong one.

It has been lovely spring weather and the sun has been warm. It has shone on all the murky bits of the farm which lurked gloomily in winter and have been caught skulking in a clandestine manner.
The dung heap looks dungier, the dark corners less frightening and the miscellaneous which begs to be hauled out and put on a bonfire.

Now, I know all this as our little boy and I would do a 'whole farm review' today. We would walk around everything and note what needed doing in order of urgency - not that it bothered the little one, he just wanted to walk with PieDog and Mum.

Except, he insisted that we took a bicycle with us - his sister's bike. The one he is not allowed to go near because it is big and it is her bike.

There is hardly an inch of the farm that was left untravelled with child, dog, weary mother and bicycle. Every yard of wellie deep mud has a tyre track running through it.
We must have walked for miles, well, I did as it was three yards forward and ten yards back to rescue small child and big bike.

"Please would you put that bike down ?" I asked through gritted teeth.
He flopped dramatically to the ground and threw a tantrum.

So we continued at snails pace.

We went so slowly that I could practically count every blade of grass down the track. I actually did some weeding on the verge, whilst waiting for boy and bike.
We checked the sheep - now out in the field - bike came too.

It was afternoon when he tired of pushing the bike - I was almost comatose but managed to put one foot in front of the other. If I had my wits about me, my foot would have been firmly put down and a 'no bicycles allowed' rule put in place.

We share a birthday and he has my nature. He is like a tiny version of his father and any of my genetic contribution had to be internal as in 'he has my spleen and kidneys'.

After his bath (he was covered in mud head to toes), stories, hugs, gentle persuasion to go to sleep, bribery to go to sleep, he settled.

There is not a part of me that does not ache after humphing the bike over areas where a Land Rover would not dare venture.

He wants to do it all tomorrow as "It was good fun".

I really am going to have to put an aching foot down and draw the line.

Friday, 25 February 2011

I need a hacker.

I love my tractor.

It is not 'my' tractor but the only one which I like. It is a monsterous Valtra, has awesome power and is all clean and neat inside.
The other tractors are pig sties inside - sweet wrappers, bailer twine, tools, oily rags which look suspiciously like they were once a good tea towel, tractory bits and the obligatory jumper slung over the back of the seat. Oh and barley everywhere.

I do not care for the tractor with the forks especially as I am not fully trusted incase I 'Take someone's eye out with it or drive into a cow".... I would rather avoid using it but if we suddenly need an amateur opthalmic surgeon then I am the dude.

My tractor does not have front forks, all the needful things go at the back so it will take the bailer, cutter etc easily. I say easily as it is all computerised.

Now the reason I need a hacker is because the tractor has been changed from the dizzy 'fast rabbit' speed (and there is a little illustration on the gear stick of a fast rabbit) to 'slow tortoise'.
I was busted by The Farmer. He caught me doing a 'Bat Out Of Hell' impersonation - yes the one where the zombie is flying out of the earth on a motor cycle, head flung back with the speed - except change the Harley for a tractor.
I was doing the breakneck speed of 9.3 miles per hour in a 6.7 mph max field. He Frowned. It was last Autumn.

I need a hacker to crack into the computer part and make the tractor speed up a bit. The manual has 'mysteriously' vanished and the tractor sits at a 'mysteriously' low pace. Hmm.

The Spring work has started and despite sneaky, stubborn clumps of snow found clinging to tuffets of grass, we have an awful lot to do in the next few weeks so I feel the need for speed.

The Farmer has his own pace for everything. He seems unperturbed by clocks and watches, appointments are made for vague times, "late afternoon" etc, he never rushes. He does things slowly and methodically and does them well.

I, however, like to crack on, usually as there are lots of things still to do. The Farmer once set up the ancient old David Brown tractor, the one without a cab and an old seed bag as a seat, set up the wuffler then warned me "Not to fall off as I would get wuffled and the gears were a bugger to change unless you had rugby players legs".
I drove all of three feet, did not have rugby player legs, did not know how to stop and wailed about my eminent demise under the wuffler. He walked (slowly) alongside and stopped the machine before I burst a blood vessel or fell into the wuffler. I learned patience that day.

The indignity!

So how can I get the Valtra to go back to the breakneck, G forces speed? Bill Gates would probably know but the chances of him turning up here are slim.

I'm going to try charm. Honey being sweeter than vinegar and all that.

I need that 2.6 miles per hour back.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The best of British

I have made a new discovery today.

We travelled a fair distance to get to the main Post Office, now situated in Perth. Down the A9 and everything.

There were two people operating the little booths, despite a very long queue and soon I could hear mutterings of discontent. Actually, older ladies just go for it. They don't mutter but say out loud to anyone within earshot "It is just like 1950 Russia. Country is going to the dogs and the state of the roads..."
There were murmurs and nods in agreement. One lady helpfully suggested that we needed a queue entertainer; "Just like the old days". (I have no recollection of Post Office troubadors but hey).

After 3/4 of an hour, it was my turn and I was all organised with the passport application papers for my daughter. She is going on a school trip with her school and very excited about it. The pupils have worked hard at fund raising for the trip.

The lady Post Officess looked at my collection of papers. I had a note from a previous visit to say everything was in order but they needed my daughter's birth certificate which I brought along.
The woman looked at the form and pulled a grimace.
"I need proof that you are British" she said.
"What do you mean? What sort of proof?". I have never been asked this before.
"I need to see your Citizenship card".
"I don't have one. I did not think I needed one as I am British".

It was looking more USSR than Perth right now. The elderly lady was very astute in her observation earlier.

"Go to the back of the queue and fill in your parent's name".
"I am not sure, but you have to".
"Well, your daughter can't go on her trip then".

After a loooong 'debate', it transpires that because I was not born in this country but in Africa and despite having had three (British) passports in my lifetime, I am not British according to Perth Post Office.

We had a long drive home. The long suffering Farmer forced to listen to my rant all the way back up the A9.
When we got back to the farm, we settled the animals for the evening with some hay and filled up the troughs with water.
I told the cows as I hefted armfuls of hay in to their feeders.

"Sorry if I am not feeding you in an overtly British manner but I am not British according to Ms Jobsworth in Perth Post Office. I don't know what I am except for terribly cross and confused".

The cattle lowed in solidarity. They understood. They mooed Britishly.
The sheep too. I told them and they made their little British noises through mouthfuls of hay.
I would have ranted to the cats as well but the cats don't care. They just like milling around and being petted.

I will have to spend most of tomorrow sorting this out with Passport Office itself. Oh joy.

Perhaps this is one of these 'discoveries' one makes in their life whereby you are not the person you think you are but it has all been a hideous prank with a Kafka twist.

I am going to fret and knit tonight, take out my frustration on the cardigan that refuses to grow anymore than a centimeter a month. I will knit and feed it anabolic steroids to make it grow.


Sunday, 20 February 2011

Eagle eyes and Pie.

The Farmer saw a golden eagle today.

He was taking PieDog a walk up to the top field when he heard the flapping of wings before seeing anything.
He described the bird as being 'massive' and a 'flying barn door size' with a fan shaped tail. The bird circled them both, eyed them well, soared about 30 feet from their heads then flew away slowly.

I would love to have seen it and will now lurk with my camera, hoping it returns.

I also hope that it is an omen of better things to come because if it is, what an incredibly powerful, positive, protective and beautiful omen to see.

Something like this changes the perspective completely.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Terribly disillusioned.

Perhaps it is wrong to write when angry and upset but I am going to anyway.

There was a chance to 'talk' to Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister, today on Mumsnet.

There were many intelligent and emotive issues expressed eloquently. I added my tuppenceworth but did not receive a full reply.

I have written about our day to day life on the farm here on this blog but have held back on many things for fear of retribution.

So here is a heartfelt letter to Mr Salmond from the wife of a tenant farmer.


Do you know how it feels to have to ask a laird to use your own money to repair a house or barn and wait for permission?
Do you know how humiliating that feels?
Can you understand how demoralising it can be if a laird decides to ignore your request and the subsequent lengthy, expensive business of taking them to court?

Do you realise how demoralising it is to plough a field, sow it with grain, harvest and store the crop only to have your harvest rejected as the Scottish maltsters find it 'cheaper' to import from Europe? Scottish whisky should be made from Scottish barley.

Do you know how it feels to have land taken from you for shooting? Can you invisualise how a farmer feels when pheasants are allowed to ruin his crop, destroy bales of silage then have winter crops trampled on by shooters yet still have to pay for the field?

Do you know how it feels to have to boil water, every day, so your new born baby has a chance of survival. How can it be right that a laird owns the supply yet dodges the law which says that every human has the right to clean water?

Do you know what it is like to live in slum housing with fungi growing on the walls, huge gaps in the external walls which let rats in, yet have to ask permission to have it mended?

Do you know how hard it is for us to struggle on in an industry which is forgotten and unsupported?

Can you see how angry people become when their farm rent is increased due to the global price of a crop rising yet their own crop has been rejected? Why should the laird benefit when he gives no input into the farm? They are his buildings after all and it is his legal responsibility to repair or replace. What do you do when he refuses?

Can you put yourself in the shoes of an elderly farmer who knows he should retire, lives in a rural area which is void of services yet is loathe to be thrown on the scrap heap as he has a wealth of experience which he could teach a new entrant? Why can he not be given a small piece of land and a house in exchange for his talents?

Are you aware on how it feels to be harassed and bullied by people with land, clout, money?

I will bet you that you do not.

I will continue to raise my children with dignity and manners, respect and vision plus how to view right from wrong. I have taught them about injustice, oppression and feudalism since they were tiny.
My husband and I will continue to work our piece of land, offering our stock the best husbandry we can, mending dangerous buildings, wading through deep mud, the bitter cold both inside and outside the house and continue the fight for our corner.
For our right to work without harassment, for the right for our industry to be recognised and fully supported.

Come and walk a mile in my wellies, Mr Salmond, and see how it feels.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Romance, mystery and sheep hoof gizmos.

I forgot that it was St Valentine's Day. Today being a Monday, and all.

There was the usual flap and faff getting dressed, breakfast, catching the runaway three year old who finds it hysterically funny when you manage to get one of his socks on in the kitchen and the other when you have caught up with him in the upstairs bathroom which seems so terribly far away. I may have wheezed a little.

There was a burst of activity getting them packed into the car, kisses and waving at the door.
The little one was going to nursery, The Farmer and Rosie off to the market in Stirling (which is miles away from us but sadly, now the nearest market).

There was a special sale of machinery, tools and Things You Will Find On A Farm But I Have No Idea What They Are Called.
The Farmer was after a special crate which catches an individual sheep, holds them steady then flips them up so you can inspect and trim hooves and things. The machine we currently have is The Farmer who has to bodily heft the sheep and hold them while I waft like the Lovely Debbie McGee, waiting for the inevitable hoof in the eye. And that big Wensleydale tup is massive.

Once things around here had been done, I felt at a bit of a loose end. It is strange to have time alone. You know the feeling when you are flat broke and tend not to look at things then you get money and it does your head in a bit as you could spend it on so many things?
Well it was like that but with time as collateral.

I wandered about and huffed and puffed, irritating myself. I wish I had gone to the auction sale too but it was too late to be rueful.

I took stock of the state of things outside and wish I had not. Everything looks rough after the winter and there was no colour anywhere. The Scots call this time of year "The Dreich End" - the drab end of the year. Cold, drab and miserable.

Some paperwork got sorted but my heart was not in it and I kept looking out of the window.

Eventually, when they all returned, Rosie was all sparkly eyed and had a lovely bag covered with rose prints. "Oh, open it, Mum, open it"!
There was a card which said "To Mum from a secret admirer"...........There were also some chocolates in a heart shaped box.

The Farmer came in, walking and kicking his wellies off at the same time so his sock looked about two foot long.
He had lilies and more chocolates. "We never got the sheep crate but I got a wee thing for the cattle".

I dare not look as the last 'wee thing' looked like a nuclear reactor but with more parts. I think it is for sorting out grain but it probably has a fancy technical name and I will never figure out how it works. When it is up and running, I will waft past and say "Oh, aye" then go out again.

Tonight, we opened the chocolates and enjoyed some. Sheep hooves and dangleberries were far from our thoughts.

I wonder who my secret admirer is..... ;)

Friday, 11 February 2011

I should have stayed in bed.

Do you ever have days when the moment your feet hit the floor, you realise it is going to be one of 'those' days?

Yesterday was one of those ghastly days. I smacked my head off the low part of the ceiling the very second I stood up. normally I instinctively duck but not yesterday.

We ran out of coffee but it was going to be ok - an internet delivery order was just about to arrive and I would feel semi human.
The driver drew up....then drove off again.

The car died a death on one of the most remote roads in Scotland which had no mobile signal. Cue a long, sorry walk home.

Most of the day was spent trying to track my shopping and give Tesco their due, they really have no idea about, well, anything really.

Every little niggly thing crawled out of the woodwork and added to the misery. Flooded kitchen floor, tick, dog ramraiding the kitchen, tick, stepping in wet with a socked foot, tick.
The children fought over everything and each told on the other with painful detail. "Mum! he is breathing and MEANING it"......

I even checked my biorhythms - yes, there they were, dragging their knuckles off the floor like a surly oran utang.

The day never improved and actually got worse so I had a pathetic sobbing session/ pity party on the sofa. A hoofing great wallow in the Ocean of Despair.

The Farmer, who is right as rain now, crept up beside me and gave me a hug. His day had gone really well and he was all chuffed and I tried to be coherent but failed.

I fell asleep on the sofa and woke at OhMyGod o'clock. The fire had gone out and I felt a bit disorientated but climbed wearily upstairs to bed.

The shopping finally arrived today. It was all wrong but at least we had milk and coffee.
My car was towed away to the garage. We had managed to muck it out and made it look half presentable and used half a can of Febrese to mask the PieDog/ farmery smell which farmer's cars have although I suspect the mud up to the roof gave the truth away about our profession.

Things have gone slightly better today but I don't quite trust the Fates fully. It was a 'Wait until the rug gets tugged from under your feet' feeling.

Ever the optimist, I hope tomorrow will fare better. I must remember to duck when I wake, though.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Patience being a virtue and all that.

I made a tentative enquiry, ooh, maybe six years ago.

I upped the ante four years ago then really started to insist last year.

We will throw the dirty word 'BT' in there, quickly. Oh hang on. Quickly is not in their vocabulary.

They came today with a new pole and we missed them. Just when the outside world decides to roll up to the farm with something for us all to watch, we both miss it. I might have even done a baking if I knew. Fancy!

The Farmer has uber lurgy with bells on. That is all I will say about the matter but have every faith that he will feel better soon after some rest and medicine. And broth. Cures everything, broth.

The telegraph pole at the back of the farm fell down about eight years ago. The line trailed in the mud but on such a steep slope that you practically need climbing gear to get to it.
A few years later, a cow managed to wander into this area and I worried that the telephone line might wrap around her hoof so I phoned BT. We cannot have bungee jumping cows or else everyone will want one. The 'Ministry' won't like it.

The cow has long wandered away, calves have been born, fish have evolved, oceans have risen, ice caps have melted since I first notified BT.

Anyway, they came today and erected a lovely new telegraph pole.

In the wrong place.

I will phone them soon and expect them in 2019. I will even point to the area, if I'm spared. (Highland upbringing, we say that sort of thing in the Highlands and look nervously skyward when saying it).

I'll ignore the fact that they have cut us off on numerous occasions due to the bill being sent to a different house and a different name which has nothing whatsoever to do with us. Lets just say that our bill is sent to a family who are not us with a phone which is not ours. (Despite my paying monthly direct debit)

The Farmer will recover, life will go on, Spring will be Sprung, new species will be discovered.

But my Patience may just begin to fray a little.....

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Heat and cold.

The snow is back and The Farmer has a bug.

Just when I thought that Spring was hiding behind the big tree, winter returned with a ferocity, pushing Spring from her hiding place and spoiling it for everyone.

We are beginning to feel a bit wearied, The Farmer and I. 'Trauchled' is the Scots word.

I felt worried for him as he looked unwell yet we had to plod on and get the work done. He lay in a heap on the sofa once we came inside so I put on a huge fire, made hot lemon juice and gave him some painkillers. It was early afternoon and the little one was at nursery.

The Farmer felt guilty that he was lying in a heap instead of tackling the myriad of jobs to be done outside. Farmers tend not to 'lie down' to feeling unwell but push themselves to the end of their energy until they look quite dreadful.

"Let's just stay in and have an elderly moment by the fire" I suggested. I felt there was no harm at all in having a quiet moment, just the two of us absorbing the peace and heat from the fire.

He slept and I sat on the hearth, hogging most of the heat which felt good. The snow continued to fall outside in big wet blobs and I was glad we were not out being slapped with it's icy fingers.

It was a relatively quiet evening. The Farmer and his son slept cuddled up to each other. The bathroom ceiling caved in a bit and poured water all over the floor. PieDog sneaked in to the kitchen and stole some eggs from the table.
It did not matter.
I think we were all too tired to care and it could be dealt with in the morning.

He feels a bit better today after a good sleep. The water and eggs are cleared away, it is still snowy outside.

I have now developed a taste and hankering for peaceful moments by the fire with The Farmer and told him.

"We can do it again when we are 65", he said. And for just a moment, I nearly believed


Sunday, 6 February 2011

Trying to catch the rainbow.

Yesterday threw virtual puddles in my path.

My daughter has been sad at school and I needed to find out why she felt sad so she and I ventured off to Abrefeldy for a day out and heart to heart talk.

Sometimes it can be difficult to get her mind to focus on any one thing. I can ask her a question and after a while she comes out with a great stream of suggestions which break down into tangents and I am left baffled.
She can seem glum but feels 'ok' in herself except her downturned mouth belies this and an aura of gloom emits a sad signal. I feel like a moth beating it's wings against an opaque window. The moth knows there is light behind the frosted glass but it cannot get to it and ends up exhausted.

We find a shop which sells all manner of brick-a-brack and things. It is an old fashioned shop which smells faintly of eau de cologne and faded grandeur.
We find the corner where the children's books are huddled and we sit on the floor to rummage.
She feels happy looking through the motley collection and finds some old maps which sit amid 1980's Blue Peter annuals. She tells me all about lines of latitude and the lessons she had on map reading at school.

"Why are you sad ?" I ask.

"I'm not" she says.

My darling girl. How I wish I could understand better. I wish I could catch her sadness and release it to the wind as you would with a butterfly trapped inside a window.
I wish she could feel great joy and confidence and how to make sense of the world. I wish I could catch all the colours of the rainbow and wrap her up in them.

We buy an ancient, battered Monopoly set as she loved the tiny houses and the card which demanded that "Every player shall pay you £10" then we walk to the town square.
She starts to laugh when she sees a red hackle stuck on the top of an information kiosk.
"Mum, why does that kiosk have a big red feather on top ?" and I answer that I have no earthly idea but perhaps the designer thought it might be nice. Useless but nice.

We walk arm in arm and she is singing softly to herself.

On the journey home she munches at a salad dish which we bought and inbetween mouthfuls of chicken and lettuce (she carefully picks out all the red vegetables; always has) she begins to talk.

She airs her concern for a school chum who has come from another culture and how can she make this fellow pupil 'feel at home'?
She does not understand why she does not 'get' jokes or lighthearted remarks which someone else had said to her a while ago. She has taken their remarks literally.
She feels that she does not always fit in with others. She feels left outside when others are in.

I feel like I understand a little more. Just a little.

I am in awe of her capacity of love and care for others. She trusts unconditionally.

We have a quiet moment just before she goes to bed and we talk about our day out in Aberfeldy.

"What a lovely day we had Mum. I feel happy".

I would shift mountains if it helped her keep this feeling of happiness but I know it is such a transient emotion and each day, each hour can bring a roller coaster of emotions.
She is changing and growing up and I try to remember how I felt at that age when you stand with one foot in childhood but the bulk of weight is in young womanhood.

The world and it's people are mysteries. We all dance an elaborate dance around one another and leave invisible, intricate Celtic patterns in our wake. We never truly understand our fellow Man but we try our best to make the dance one which we can tackle the steps in time to the music.
Some take longer than others and dance their own dance. Sing their own tune with it's own elegance and beauty.

The world can seem like a very monochromatic place sometimes and we forget or don't know how to add the vibrant colours, yet they are there.
Those who see the world in black or white can almost become overwhelmed when colour is added and understood. That feeling when you really 'see' something for the first time.

My daughter feels lighter in her heart today. My heart feels fuller.

We will never catch the rainbow but feel gladdened when one illuminates a stormy sky.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Rainy night in Perthshire

It has snowed and blown a gale.

There is still a howling gale outside tonight. The storm has taken down tree limbs and rearranged all the little ones plastic toys into an almost tidy pile in the corner of the yard.
It is a sneaky fast wind, one which rearranges your hair into fifteen different styles (none fashionable) then steals your hat and flings it into a forlorn corner of the farmyard.
The layers of clothing were all back on today yet, oddly, there were tiny wafts of warm air on the wind. I suppose anything which gives respite from the constant minus zero temperatures will feel tropical but there it was, a palpable change in the temperature. Just fleetingly.

We tried to rush the feeding but the wind slowed everything down to the sedate rhythm of Stornoway on a Sunday.
It was easier lugging feedbags if you were pointing the right direction like the little figures on a weather vane. Not so easy against the wind but marvellous for the upper bingo wing area of the arms.

Once everything was done, we came in and tried to thaw out for a while. The little one was given a warm bath as he had been jumping in puddles and the best puddle had gone beyond wellie level.

We got the house warm for the evening and settled down to huddle by the fire and radiator while the gale played a mournful pibroch outside.

I am knitting a cardigan for our youngest son. I am making it two sizes too large as I am a very slooow knitter and get a bit fed up if the knitting requires more than 20 stitches on large needles.
The pattern claims to be fairly straightforward - no fancy bits and only one button hole but it takes around five minutes to do one row and I have to watch every stitch.
I Committed my Life to finishing the front half (December nights)and now there is the long haul of doing the back.
At this rate, he will be 21 by the time it is done and it won't fit.

How can I enthuse?

Well, the wool is lovely, bits of cotton and silk through it plus the colours are bonny. It is just the process of knitting....knit, purl, knit, don't look away, purl..zzz

I look at other craft blogs and feel so inadequate. Other people seem to whip articles up in no time at all and are enthusiastic.
I knit because I sometimes feel comatose with boredom on a winter night once the little one is in bed and the Farmer has fallen asleep on the sofa.
The work outside tends to knock the last remnants of energy from us once we come inside to the heat yet I feel a sense of needing to do something that does not demand too much physically.

The colours of the wool remind me of the early days of autumn when there are flowers in the garden and heat from the sun on your back and the dark russets and browns are the brackens which curl up and hide from the winter.

Today was good though. I felt the warmth in the wind.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Cracking the secret.

The weather is actually starting to become foolish.

We have had sleet, rain, sunshine and a wild west wind all in the space of a few hours.

The bonfire had to be abandoned - unlit and miserable. The wind, at first a gentle breeze, soon whipped up into a frenzy and God, was it cold.
The thaw has left the farm under thick mud and it is difficult to walk, nay, wade your way hither and thither with the usual posse of mooching ducks/ chickens/ cats at your feet.

Last night I sat in shock and could not get warm at all despite the Farmer piling hot water bottles and thick eiderdowns over my semi- hypothermic body.

I cracked it today.
The secret is six jumpers, thick tights and two pairs of trousers. Three pairs of socks (makes it difficult to put on wellies though), two hats and a woolly scarf to keep them on.
And the dung brown duffle.
Yes, you can barely walk properly for padding but, hey.

Sailed through the elements, me. The only exposed part was my eyes but I managed the feed/ repair jobs without falling over.
The Farmer was working inside the big shed, inside a heated tractor so was oblivious to the cold. He does not seem to feel it as badly as I do. Actually, he does not seem to feel the cold at all.

We finished up and went into town for more Champion Tup Mix plus a few vital supplies for ourselves. I have been like a zombie since we ran out of coffee a few days ago and I have not woken up properly since Saturday. Caffeine was Vital.

Now, is it just me or does anyone else get the Dude having a Crisis on the tills? Today, I appeared to have Withnail of Withnail & I fame.
"I appear to have offended someone in a past life" quoth Crisis Dude. He was having a mini bitch about working in a supermarket.
He was having his moan just as the effect of wearing six jumpers and two trousers hit me like a firestorm in the Sahara.
"I actually think I am going to die" I croaked from under the beenie hat. (Pulled down low as it was a bad hair day). I knew my face was lobster red and sweat was starting to pour down said lobsterness.

"I am destined for greater things" said Crisis Dude, ignoring the fact that I was dissolving before him. I could not get the plastic bags open and started to faff. A queue was forming and people were Looking.

Oh, it was SO tempting to rip off all six layers, wildly pull my hat off then run naked and screaming out of the store and miles away from Crisis Dude but we needed the coffee so the clothes stayed on.

"Why me, why do I always get Crisis Dude/Dudette, why do you never get the person who hates the world and vents their spleen then lobs the shopping in a rough manner through the peep thing"? I asked the Farmer.
He and the little one were all happy waiting in the car while I ran in for the shopping. They were eating oranges.
"And I overheated in there. A near death experience, actually".

I saw a whisper of a secret smile flicker over his mouth.

"I don't know lass, maybe you just have the knack".

Half way home and once I had removed three of the jumpers and my brain had cooled down to less thermo-nuclear temperatures, it dawned on me.

"You very rarely do the shopping! Well, not the angst inducing shop where people with attitude lurk at the tills. You shop for fun things like sump oil and wheel bearings".

I have cracked it!

The Farmer says he will do the next few supermarket shops ('because they are a cinch'). The little one and I shall eat oranges in the car and roll the window down if it gets too hot.
We will laugh and take our hats off or maybe our socks if we get bored waiting. We will not be freaked by Crisis Dudes who intend in plotting a small revolution or uprising between teabreaks.
There will be no breaking of sweat....There now, it's out and said.

Oh, please tell me that it is an overdose of woolly jumpers and not being a 'Lady of a Certain Age'.... ;)

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The harsh light of reality.

The harsh light of reality has shone over the farm.

It is standing there, pointing a finger at all the hidden faults which were covered by the thick blanket of snow and ice.
The thaw has pulled the blanket back and exposed a multitude of sins; broken guttering here, burst drains there, missing slates, little heaps of rusting machinery...

The Spring work has come suddenly and we have hit the ground running.

A few days ago, I walked around the farm with a notebook and tried to list "What needs doing", then realised it was a bit futile and you could just whirl round blindfold and open your eyes to something which needed attention.

It is like a farmyard with hundreds of demanding children. "Me, me look at Me, come and spend time with me".

The elements have nibbled at paint and metal and left oxide bruises all over the place. The farm looks battered and hungover from a very wild night out.

The fields have been under attack too - moles have been busy under all the snow and there appears to be more brown mole heaps than grass.

Where on earth to start?

It is also bitterly cold with a lazy, icy wind blowing. The wind cuts through the many layers of clothes I have on and bites earlobes, fingers and nose. It renders the dung brown duffle coat as useless as if it was made of chiffon.

I plan to build a big fire today. The old rafters can be consumed by flame and return to the Great Shed in the Sky. They are so riddled with woodworm that they disintegrate when you pick them up and it is sad in a way. They once held the weight of a proper slate roof and sheltered many a beast from the hard elements and now they crumble to dust at the touch of a hand.

I can smell snow on the wind and the highest hills are dusted with a covering. It is still winter but it wears a false mask, a Spring like face with hidden arctic agenda.

I wish I could throw this winter on the bonfire and make it go away.