Preparing ground

No frantic roe calf trapped in the bottom paddock today, but the animals are standing awkwardly like Windmill girls in wartime. Holly turns slowly as I enter, her horns garlanded with hay alongside Angus whose head is lost inside the ring feeder, black Abby moves cautiously round to feed from the opposite side, while Moira dehorned and solitary, stands with her quarters against the fence as if for safety. I must attend to this unease when I allocate their places for winter.

I am on the JCB preparing the calving paddock, clearing the guttery areas round the feeder.Alice and her baby move in once I have dug stone into the sump for the roof runoff that turned to glutinous mud last year. Young Alice kicks her hind legs in the air, dancing excitedly in the cool November sun.The yard where they have spent the last two weeks is cleared and a dressing of stone spread. We’ll be waiting on the concrete wagon in the morning – pouring a floor in the shed for my new joinery workshop. Then we’ll set pens for the weekend using metal hurdles so the animals can be brought in for blood tests monitoring against disease. I alone will assist the vet as the concreting will be Chris’s last task on the farm after 18 months skilling in quadbiking, chainsawing, timber framing, molecatching, deerstalking, cattle herding: the many various tasks required by this life and place. He has found work and love, and is moving on

A pair of mallard lift off the pond – they too are preparing their ground.


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