Saturday, 29 December 2012

A nip and a grouse.

I hope you have all enjoyed the festive period.

We are getting ready for the next few days which sort of morph into one; that strange period of New Year when you never know which day it is and visitors that you have not seen since last New Year appear.
I'm eager for life to revert to normality, sans tinsel and Christmas cake. The farm work continues regardless of holidays and the children are missing their friends. (This is not my favourite time of year!)

The weather is still pretty stormy, we have even had a smattering of snow which soon melted and made the burn swell up again. The cattle are dry and sheltered inside and the strange thing I noticed was that they seemed much smaller. The Farmer told me that the cattle's size was 'One of those things' and had something to do with the Belgian Blue genes.
They are stocky and healthy, just small, Lilliputian cattle who are not in the least bit intimidating, docile and a joy to work with. I'm studying some of my father's livestock books to try and find out the cause of dwarfism in some types of cattle.

On the Eve of Christmas, we received a letter from the man who is assisting us with the Battle of the Roof; the estate want us to provide a letter from the bank which proves we have £50,000 in order to do up the inside of the farmhouse once repairs are carried out on the roof.
This is £50,000 that the estate have estimated we would have to spend on their house. This in addition to a rent rise notice so you spend your money to do up their house and pay extra for the privilege. I will need a new cap as my old one is worn out with doffing.

Given that we have spent the last few years buying then storing all the articles necessary and the fact we would be doing all the work ourselves, £50,000 seems rather excessive unless you are installing a solid gold bath with real swans holding the soap, mink baffies and diamond toothbrushes.

How would the laird feel if I asked him to prove that he had fifty grand in his account?

What is sauce for the goose and all that.

2013 about Scotland wakening up and properly losing feudalism?

Slainte mhath.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Roaring rivers.

I wish it was possible to let you hear the noise outside. It has rained incessantly, turning the small stream in the picture into a wide torrent.
The river at the back of the house is so loud that I thought there was a lorry in the yard. This house lies between  the two bodies of water which join then fall into a waterfall.
We are high enough not to become flooded although the tiny burn to our left has burst it's banks and is now in the garden.

I think we are just about organised enough for the forthcoming festivities but if anything has been forgotten then too bad. We are not going anywhere until the roads are no longer little rivers in their own right.

This is the wildest that I have seen the river in nine years and while I know it will recede, I'm a little bit scared tonight.

Keep warm, dry and safe. x

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

One of those days plus an invite.

You know the sort of days - you begin early with good intentions then as the day unravels, it all goes wrong, hideously so.

I think the zenith (or possibly the nadir) happened when our young son stood at the top of the stairs and his father threw socks up to him, the idea was that son would pair his socks and put them away in the drawer.
Son duly wanted to throw something back so picked up a phone charger made contact with The Farmer's head. Blood and staggering. Shock.

I went into Nurse Ratchett mode and cleaned up the worst of the mess. Our son sobbed and sat wide eyed until he became placated with a small bag of Moon Sand; this gave me time to carefully butterfly stitch the mashed skull.
Mid stitch, I heard voices shouting "Cooee", a couple were in the hall with an invite to the localish school Nativity play.

Why do people just walk in to our house? I think it is a farmhouse thing but I would never walk into somebody's house or hall.
Anyway, they were met with a blood soaked, wild eyed, scissor wielding fright. It was a Bad Hair Day to boot. The man took a step back and his wife did a nifty sidestep which took her outside.

I felt so rude. "Thank you very much for the invite and I would ask you in but I'm stitching my husband's head although you are welcome to come in".
They didn't want to come in, made excuses and practically ran back to their car. I went back to the slightly concussed Farmer and Moon Sand clarted small son.

The coal run was cancelled, we were not going anywhere until hot sweet tea and painkillers were dished out,  The Farmer bundled into a chair and told to rest then told to rest some more as he does not feel comfortable just doing nothing.

Thank you, Eldest Son for turning up and saving the day. Big brother took his small brother to after school club so The Farmer and I had a bit of peace for a couple of hours.
I hoovered up the Moon Sand, mopped up copious amounts of blood, made more hot sweet tea then just enjoyed the peace.

"I look like I've been dehorned, if I had been a unicorn" said the Farmer.
"That would have been easier, I mean, it is heaving with unicorns round here".

"And we found the phone charger !"

Friday, 7 December 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like harassment....

I wanted to sing that 'It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas' with the snow lying deeply around the farm, instead, we are back to day three without water.

The supply has not frozen but rather it has been turned off. Three days of manually supplying the livestock with snow and water hauled up from the burn.

The estate, of course, have not replied to my emails yet they did recently send a reminder of the outstanding water charge for the farm cottage. The one where we fitted a filtration system from our own pocket so the tenants there would not become sick then die like my father did.

We had to report ourselves to Animal Health as we were unable to supply our livestock with fresh water or at least not enough to cover twenty five cattle in the shed.
When this happened before, The Farmer did his best to supply the livestock plus ourselves with water and as the power was off, we had no way of filtrating the emergency supply which we needed for thirty nine days. Yes, of course we became sick and yes, The Farmer had a heart attack from the sheer physical exertion in sub zero temperatures.

We have provided bottled and jerry cans of water to my son who is living at the farm (someone must stay there when the cattle are inside) but I have only just discovered that our nearest neighbour, a blind pensioner, shares our supply and has been gathering snow for three days.

This is 2012, isn't it?

I do not give one whit about legislation, civil matters, legal matters. They are overly complicated, mostly nonsensical and have been created by pen pushers who go home to a clean, running water supply.
I would ask these faceless bureaucrats,where is the humanity? You do not have to sodding well lug buckets of water up steep hills all day or shovel loads of snow (which melts into a tiny amount of water).

Quote from the Code of Recommendation for the Welfare of Livestock Scotland paragraph 54

54 There should be enough water available for at least 10% of housed cattle to drink at any one time. Water troughs - especially those in loose housing or cubicle units - should be designed and placed where: they are protected from fouling; and there is a low risk of the water freezing in cold weather. where there is sufficient space and easy access for all stock and dead-ends are avoided. You should keep water troughs or bowls thoroughly clean and check them at least once a day to make sure they are not blocked or damaged, and the water is flowing freely. Checking for blockages is equally important where drinking nipples are used. Provision must be made for providing emergency supplies of water.

"Provision must be made for providing emergency supplies of water".

Shame such a legislation does not exist for humans.

Update: I contacted our MP and goodness knows what was said and to whom but within half an hour of phoning him, we had a visit from the estate, a telephone apology plus the promise of several large tanks full of water for the *livestock* (nb none for humans) plus a pump to fill the troughs.
Most of the glen have now had the water supply halted as from this evening and nobody seems to know why this has happened or how long it will be off.
The estate has assured me that the elderly and partially- sighted gentleman neighbour will be given proper drinking water.

Many thanks to Gordon Banks MP, Christine Sinclair and Haldis Scott plus all the support here and on Twitter.