Friday, 27 May 2011

Lost in Day-Glo.

We are shocked at the damage the storm has done to the surrounding area.

Many trees have been uprooted, about 40 lovely oak trees down a few miles away, things blown where they have no right to be and unrecognisable objects caught on buildings or trees. They flap like Nepalese Prayer flags offering a silent prayer to the Ether.

We are back to normal, the roof mended. The bedroom wall shall take a bit of work though but I am secretly thrilled because it will be much better than before and this time we can stuff insulation where there was none.

We had a strange visitor or group of visitors on Wednesday.
A posse of Hydro Electric vans came screaming up the farm road - I counted four vans packed with men plus a heavy lifting machine.

The little one and I went out to see what they wanted.

"Where is your car?" asked a very official looking chap in a Day-Glo vest.
"It is there". I pointed to the car which was about seven feet away. I was puzzled.
"Where is your other car" Mr Day-Glo demanded.
"No. That is the car there. Why?"
"Where is the car with the electric wire on top?"
"We don't have one".
"Look, we have been called to this farm where a pylon cable has snapped and has trapped someone in their car. at this postcode".
"What is the name of the farm you are looking for, please?

He told me the name of the farm and I had never heard of it.

"There must be some mistake, this is The Mains of ClartyBog Farm. The farm you are looking for does not exist".

Another chap went around the steading to see if we were hiding some terrified person in a car with a pylon on top and seemed vexed not to find one.
I started to worry about the real victim, poor soul, trapped while the Monty Python team did the Spanish Inquisition routine guessing at farm names.

"Can you tell me the person's name, please. I know most of the people nearby".
He said the name and I was quite shocked. This person's farm was quite a few miles away and it would take a while to get there.
I gave them directions and they all melted away.

We later discovered that the other farm did not have a trapped person either so God knows what happened to the real trapped person or where they were. I hope they are ok.

It just adds to the mystery of What The Jeff Happened on Monday Afternoon.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Bats and battening down.

Old houses can be creepy places at night.

They can invoke the memories of shrieks and howling, the fluttering of night creatures, wings brushing against sleeping cheeks and the transition from deepest sleep to deepest terror.


A howl emanates from Rosie's room and suddenly everyone is awake and lights are switched on.
The Farmer gets dressed.
It always amuses me why he does this and I think it is an automatic response to all emergencies - best tackle them fully clad, including socks, rather than waft about with dressing gown aflap or bare feet.

The bats are back and flitting through the house. They stop when the lights go on and rest on the first object, here, the bathroom curtain.

I admire their tenacity and their ability to survive the harsh winter. They live up an old chimney, a few up in the attic where you can sometimes hear them shuffling about when Spring comes.

We cannot touch them so have to draw back curtains and open the windows then hope they will fly out. Sometimes they go out but occasionally they continue to fly around the house.

The Farmer does all the window opening and I stand there like The Evil Dead, contributing nothing much at all.

Rosie gets really cross and decides to move her quilt and sleep downstairs.
The little one has crept into our bed while we were dealing with the bats. He is sprawled out. His fingers are splayed and look like two small starfish.

Eventually, the house settles back to silence and I lie awake hoping the bats fly outside.....

The following day there is an almighty storm outside and at one point, the secondary glazing begins to bulge. There is a gap in the window which means it never shuts properly and the wind finds the gap and screams through it. The noise is awful.
There are thumps and moans, bumps and more screaming winds. A window breaks at the back.

We are all gathered in the living room but the children are really scared. I am too but have to pretend that everything is fine and that the storm will soon pass.
The little bat has sought shelter just outside the bathroom window and she clings upside down to the window sill.

Night falls and we manage to get the children to settle and sleep. The following morning, it is still very windy but nothing like the day before.
The very spine of the roof has been torn off and moves menacingly like a huge snake, spitting pieces of broken slate on to the ground below.
It had whipped around and broken the back window.

The guttering and downpipes lay broken and some fascia had been blown into the field.

The plaster in the bedroom finally gives up the ghost after the rain pours in through the roof.

It is all a bit of a mess.

Rosie eyes the situation and begins to huff.

"Oh great, now the bats can just march in through the roof".....

Monday, 16 May 2011

Rudeness in the air.

"Wasps are so RUDE, Mummy"

He was playing outside and a wasp spoiled his play.


"Yes, they just fly in and want to sting me. Wasps are rude but bees are politeful"

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Our family and other animals.

It has been one of those weeks where it started at a gallop then just increased in speed.

The calves are being born almost daily and it is a tonic to stand, farmer like, with one foot on the gate, watching the first new minutes of a calf's life.
The mother cow moos very softly and licks the newly born calf then the other cows come close to sniff and lick it as well.
The calf is soon transformed from a wet mass which flounders in confusion to a sturdy, clean little creature which soon bounds around the cattle shed. They appear to be born confident.

I tried to take photos of the new calves but Head Honcho was not allowing it. She was like one of those people at weddings who spring out of nowhere and ruin the shot of Auntie Jessie's new hat, all askew after two sherries.

I respected Head Honcho's authority and the Meaning It look in her eyes.

It has been busy trying to share time between the house, cow shed and rest of the farm. The little one had picked up a nasty bug and was really quite unwell. Phoning the doctor unwell.
I made him a nest on the sofa and made sure he was drinking plenty but felt very worried. The Farmer has been feeling increasingly tired so was happy to sit quietly with our son and cuddle him.

There have been plumbers and fencers in to make quotes plus various minor dramas - escapee calves, hens with newly hatched chicks wandering in front of the tractor and needing shooed to safety.

The weather has been bitter sweet too - very heavy rain then the occasional burst of heat and sunshine which the sheep like. They turn their faces up to the sun and bask.

I had another farmerly Foot-On-The-Gate moment last night and watched the sheep and outside cattle enjoying the sun. I love moments like that when you can just empty your mind and thrive on the peace.

The Farmer has succumbed to the little one's lurgy this morning and from the look on his face, will soon be ushered back upstairs to lie in a heap for a while.
One gets better by passing the bug to another, I think.
Our son seems a lot better today and feels very hungry, thank goodness. He has asked for an egg ( to fill the new egg cup with feet on it) but he may as well ask for the moon.

There are so many hens but they all escaped and live like little feral creatures in the sheds and barns and the eggs are very well hidden. They all roam around in gangs with attitude and hardly a day goes by when you think "I must catch them tonight and put them back in the hen run" but it never happens because it would be easier catching oiled toads with a wheelbarrow.

He settles for toast and yogurt.

The garden is woefully neglected yet the old, established plants cheerfully start to burst into life.
This apple tree is over 100 years old yet never fails to produce good cooking apples.

The swallows (or swifts? I never know which) are back and chatter noisily to announce their return and tell tales of their journey. I tell them all our news too.
They pick up bits of mud from the farmyard and repair their nests in the eaves.

I hope today will be sedate, slow and restful. An Elephant Sunday would be good.

Monday, 9 May 2011

The one who got away.

Time has flown past so quickly. Days have turned into weeks and weeks into a new month.

Today, after much faffage, we decided to let the little stirks out to pasture. OK, I decided and The Farmer frowned a lot.
He frowned because 'traditionally' they go out on the 12th of May and only God knows the reason for this.

I have mended the trough for the field, filled it with fresh water from the only tap and possibly sweated several kilos carrying said trough and setting it all up. Everything was ready and they were jolly well going out whether it was the 12th or not.

It all went very well with seven out of the eight. They went out beautifully with merely a 'cush cush' as encouragement. They walked to the field and settled immediately.

Lazarus, the calf who was born with a leg deformity, ambled amicably beside me. We spent hours and hours with him when he was newly born, soothing his tight front legs and helping him to walk. We fashioned a hammock as a lifting aid as he became bigger and two would take the weight while a third would 'walk' him.
The work paid off and he eventually walked himself, very stiffly at first then became more fluent in his gait.
He and I walked together to the field and he seemed very content. I felt very proud of him and ruffled his coat.

The idyll was only fleeting because There Is Always One.

'The One' was a black and white feisty stirk who jumped over the hurdle and galloped off at speed.
"Please God do't let him go to the top field" I muttered.
My eldest son went to find him.

"He is up in the top field and I am going to just lie here and be sick because I ran up the hill after him". My son looked green.
Sure enough, there was a black and white dot on yonder hill. The furthest point of the farm and up the worst road in Scotland.

We had to go round shutting all the gates to the newly sown barley fields but the stirk had taken the path of least resistance and gone as the crow flies - straight across all the fields.

An hour or so later, we took a convoy of tractor, trailer, car and green son up The Bloody Awful Road And We Must Do Something About It, to the top field.
There was a stare off and I could hear 'Duelling Banjo' play in my head.

The Farmer was there for expert advice but warned not to lift gates or run which he broke almost immediately by lifting the gate and breaking into a trot.
The cow ran further down the field then hopped easily over one of the many horizontal fences which may deter the odd dandelion from growing but would not contain so much as a guinea pig never mind a hoofingly large stirk.

It got to the good bit in the 'Duelling Banjo's', the bit where you want to dance wildly and shout 'YeeHa!".
The cow ran back to the farm just as I managed to get stuck in the only tight bit of the fence.
My eldest son took hysterics at my getting stuck and I swore at the ground and flapped my way free, dignity long gone, cow long gone too.

The roles were now reversed. We were the specks on yonder hill while the stirk was at the farm. I imagined it was laughing or worse. Smirking. a Smirking stirk.

We hauled the sorry circus back down the Pits of the Earth road, our very eyes shaken out of their sockets by the deep ruts and finally returned to the big shed.

Smirk stirk was calmly munching oats.

Let's just say that another hour, which I will never get back, passed and we finally managed to get the stirk into the trailer only to drive it about 50 feet to the field.
It romped out and joined the Good stirks.

"I have just aged ten years" I said to The Farmer. Eldest son was beyond speech.

"Of course, you stood in the wrong place" said The Farmer. Calmly.

"Wrong place! I was standing near Inverness at one stage, what do you mean wrong place? That cow was possessed by Satan!"

"Stirk. It is not a cow, it's a stirk".....

When we got back to the big shed later on, a tiny calf had just been born. It had managed to take it's first faltering steps just outside the feeders and was wandering lost while it's mother mooed loudly.

We lifted the calf back beside it's mother.

"Don't even think about escaping'. I muttered to the calf. "Just because the first thing you saw was a runaway, don't you dare think it was setting a good example. And anyway, the top field has monsters lurking which eat runaway calves".

I will be watching that one in the future.