Farm Life, Highland cattle, Living with Nature, Uvie Farm

Paddling winter’s pond

A pair of mallard have arrived on the pond. With luck, a dozen or so frenetic soot balls will appear on the water – early March maybe. Seeing the pair paddling suspiciously where, like as not, the duck was born, makes me think as much of the future as the scene in front of me. In the same way, my stack of hay bales makes me calculate how far I will make it into the New Year before the barn is emptied: and a gust tugging at my padded boiler suit throws me forward to the high winds forecast for Thursday. I am constantly wishing the winter away, anticipating the problems it will pose me and sighting on the time when life seems to hiccup and start again. If I’m not careful I’ll be wishing half the year away as in on of those stories where the delight at an unwise wish granted turns acid with realisation..
So its time to put out the bales: it is a good day today – and dry- I can use the JCB to cart silage both to Billy and the girls at the hardstanding and also to Angus Halfhorn and his group down the slope. It is beginning to cut up under seven tons of loaded machinery, the retaining grass roots being ripped from the earth that is now showing dark through green . The Nog scrabbles up into the high cab to ride with me: truthfully, he majors in excavations when he stands with his paws right on the frame of the cab observing intently as I poke the back actor to and fro, but if he’ll ride with me now it’ll avoid the anxiety of having him running around the wheels.
The silage is dropped successfully – a fresh mineral lick for Angus & co and I’m done. The machine parked safely back in the barn, I eavesdrop on a conversation above me. One raven – two – no more – six ravens are wheeling above the farm, gliding smoothly down from the black crags, and conversing it seems – in single assertive syllables as they circle gently in a rare thermal. They reach some parliamentary conclusion – and, joined and always apart, scull the darkening air westwards.


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