Monday, 20 February 2012

Love, Life, Passion.

Now that we are well into February and have been waiting for Nature to whip the rug from underneath our feet and replace it with a sheet of ice, I think it is almost safe to say that the absolute worst of winter is behind us, gently nudged out of the way by Spring.

In some ways it was one of the quickest winters in years. No long hard frosts, no deep snowdrifts to isolate us from the rest of the world. No frozen water for weeks on end.

The first warmish days lure us all out, daringly without dung coloured duffle - a dufflectomy. You physically begin to feel lighter and slightly chuffed when people remark that you have lost weight; you haven't really, you have just removed three of the woolly jumpers and two pairs of trousers. Maybe even got slightly wild and worn shoes instead of wellies. Ok, that bit is a fib.

The woes and stresses of the long dark winter evenings evaporate a bit with the increasing light. The quality of light changes and wakens us up as the earth wakens up.

We are preparing for the rush of spring work. Planning, ploughing, seeds to sow, things to mend, all the time accompanied by a burst of life and growth as your work companion.

Our family had a rare day out on Saturday, a break from the farm.
Our little boy's two nursery teachers got married on Saturday and they invited all their small charges to come along for a glass of juice and biscuit and to see them in their wedding finery.

The man looked resplendent in his kilt but our son became rather upset. He could not understand where his much loved Helen was as there was a 'real princess' standing beside his teacher.
We explained that the real princess was Helen in her bridal dress and he just stood in awe. She was so beautiful.

After the little ones became a bit restless, another mother invited us to their farm to see some new lambs so we headed up into the hills, feeling very self conscious and uncomfortable in our best clothes (and shoes).
The new lambs were beautiful. Tiny Oxford Down x Texel, sturdy with small panda like faces and fat woolly cheeks. One nibbled on my finger and another very couthy one leaned on me for ages. The shed was sunny and quiet. A tiny bit of Heaven, I thought.

The little ones played happily, fussing over the lambs then went to feed the chickens. We stayed a short while then headed for home as a blast of heavy snow fell.

We stopped for something to eat and our little boy danced to the music in the cafe. He did not leap about or anything, just danced then said the music made his heart feel full. I knew what he meant.

The land makes my heart feel full. The sun on your face, the tiny snowdrops and daffs which are beginning to appear, the new lambs, new life and the sheer passion of Life itself makes my heart full.

We are so grateful that this winter was kind to us and feel rested somehow, ready to tackle all the nonsense that is thrown to trip us up and make our life difficult.

It is easy to tackle with the energy from a full and passionate heart.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Kept in the dark and cold.

Once upon a time, there was a farm without a fire. Now, the fire was ordered in Autumn last year and lo! it finally arrived.
The fire installer was also contacted in Autumn last year and verily he agreed to install the fire.

The fire installer lived in a house technically next door to the temporary house which the family without a fire at their farm were renting. I say technically due to the distances in remote places but he was a neighbour albeit a new one.

The fire installer was asked to install the fire once it arrived and yet again he agreed, but did not turn up. They are like hen's teeth in this area, fire installers.

Yesterday, The Farmer phoned Mr Fire Installer up, only to be told that the fire would not be installed due to the Farmer's Wife sabotaging a shoot!

The Farmer was shocked but not half as shocked as the Farmer's Wife.

The Farmer's Wife phoned up the fire installer to find out what the hell was going on and yes, he curtly told her that a shoot outside her temporary home in which he was party to as guest of the laird and his family, was ruined by the Farmer's Wife.

The Farmer's Wife explained to the fire fitter that no warning of the shoot had been given, no note, phone call or even a knock on the door. Had she known, she would have taken her children out for the duration of the shoot.
As it was, she did not see the cars arrive as they parked to the west of her house - the side with no windows.
Her children were terrified as the shooting began *very close to the house*. Her daughter, like many other children with the same condition, had sensitive hearing to certain sounds and could not be consoled. The little four year old boy was screaming too.

The Farmer's Wife went outside to ask the gamekeeper to move the guns which were within the legal shooting distance from the house. Much like this one in the photograph..

Her next door neighbour was also out to ask the gamekeeper why he had not been given warning and why the guns were shooting so close to his house. His wife was in tears from the shock of several guns being discharged all at once.

The Farmer's Wife and her neighbour were ignored. The guns continued, one even firing across the road.
The police were called.

Being a remote and rural area, the police arrived surprisingly quickly and took statements from the Farmer's Wife and her neighbour. Everyone was visibly shaken, the shoot had moved on.

The Farmer's Wife told the police that there was never notice given and one year, a shooter's dog killed all her poultry. No charges were made and it took a long time and money to replenish the stock out of her own pocket.

All the Farmer's Wife wanted was written notice of the shoots so she could remove her children and animals from the area. She was not a hunt sabateur, just a mother concerned about her children (and a responsibility to her dogs).

Nothing came of the complaint although the policeman said he would talk to a fellow policeman who shot and see what he could sort out.....

Nothing came of the cat who was poisoned by alpha chloralose even although it was the vet who reported the poison used and *not* the owner of the cat. Red kites flew here although not so many these days.

So, there we have it.

No 'and they all lived happily ever after' rather 'they had to go to a different county to find a fire installer and meanwhile felt pretty damned cold until one turned up so lit fires outside to keep warm'.

The woman felt so hurt at the allegations and felt furious that not one person from the shoot thought to ask her to her face why she wanted the guns further from the house or some warning.

It is only common sense or courtesy.

Sadly, a lack of, prevails.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The rattling bog

Fed up being cooped up in the house and feeling squiffy from the effects of the medication to kill the shingles, I happed up in the dung coloured duffle coat and we all went out today to gather more limbs from the birch trees which the Hydro men had cut.

Now what The Farmer had omitted to tell me was that the limbs were on the other side of the rattling bog, just behind the house.

The rattling bog is a permanent marsh with little pools of oily, stagnant water and in days of yore would have been home to a kelpie. Kelpies were river or marsh horses which lurked malevolently then carried poor unsuspecting travellers into the marsh for all of eternity.

It was just the sort of story we were told when young and gave you The Fear so you would not go near rattling bogs. The whole thing rattles and moves when you put weight on it like it wants to slurp you in.

Creepy place.

We skirted around the edge and wandered up the side of the river where the ground was solid. Right in the middle of that photograph is the spot where an enormous bull wandered and got stuck, a tractor tried to pull the bull out and the driver was lucky to escape as the tractor was pulled in too. They are there for all of eternity.

You really can imagine that a kelpie would live here.

We hauled the limbs back to the house and I felt completely exhausted. Perhaps next week would have been wiser to go back to quite strenuous work as the limbs were large and heavy. Oh well, there is always next week and more limbs.

I forgot how beautiful it was down by the river. It is a favourite spot and the river turns the corner then falls into a deep waterfall. It is quiet just now due a lack of melting snow.

Tonight, we have a sweet scented fire roaring, throwing out a good heat. You can smell the burning birch logs outside.

I wonder if the kelpie out the back can smell them.....

Friday, 3 February 2012

Locusts and pox

The good news is that the fire for the farm has finally arrived today despite being ordered in October but hey!

The not such great news is that it is minus silly figures outside and the fire needs to be put in.

Normally, it would not be a problem but something had not been right somehow with The Farmer and our youngest son. "Something behind the eyes" as my Granny used to say.

I have been given the role of Nurse Ratchett this past few weeks, wafting about with steam inhalations, decongestants, Calpol and the odd hot toddy, all to no avail.

The Farmer is very down indeed after the loss of his friend and I wondered if his resistance had lowered with all the events of the last few months... he and our young son took to flopping miserably on the sofa and punctuated the air with sniffs every few minutes. Drove me daft.

Well, it has all become clear.


As welcome as a pack of Tesco mince or a landowner's agent.

Then the water supply froze.

I am just waiting for the plague of locusts whilst applying calamine lotion to any waif that passes and eating enough garlic to hopefully stave off any germ that looks at me sideways.

Our Eldest son is holding the fort, feeding the cattle and sheep, keeping us all at arm's length. I caught a whiff of garlic when he flew in to grab some supplies (tobacco) and flew out again.

We just have to sit this out, scratch, sniff, inhale steam and the odd frozen fag outside, eat chocolate and garlic then wait for the thaw.

I do this for the sheer glamour of rural life, you know ;)