Farm Life, Highland cattle, Other People's Stories, Uncategorized, Uvie Farm

Nothing happens – but time is told

Nothing happened today. Why would it – on a day so still, damp – and short? The hours tiptoe down the road winding between dawn and dusk.
The moist air holds woodsmoke as the Nog and I disembark from the house onto the jetty of the day; it is drawing from the east, heralding colder weather.
The beasts need fed after a day of semi-starvation. The rusting yellow JCB fires up with a boost to its failing battery and a squirt of spirit in the air filter, the Nog scrambles on board for shelter from the light drizzle and a bale is dropped over the fence for Billy and the girls. The bale wrap catches and falls; I use the backactor to release pressure on the plastic, and jump down to roll it up. Billy obstructs me, turning his great horn-ringed head to the side, more interested in contact than feeding: I oblige with a good scratch to his spine.
This evening I am up to the yard again: latch the door to the chooky house, check whether Holly, lying in the shed, is close to calving and away uphill with the Nog.
Cars are speeding parallel to us as we set out on the old road past the gallows mound. The Nog is the colour of dry bracken, I am in deerstalking camouflage; we don’t disturb the drivers. Crossing the road at the old tinker’s stance with its declaration of larches, we take the oblique path through the ancient quarry workings. Vapour sweeps the cliffs like skirts below the monument to the lairds wife. Damp bracken is near crimson against the dark purple of heather stems.
Behind the hill, the burn drains the peat above the crags, tumbling with a sound of endless transition, emblem and agent of constancy in change. A jet ploughs the high atmosphere on its way over the top of the world, unseen above two ravens calling briefly to each other as they head for their roost in crevices on the black crags. Water drops hang unmoving on the birch twigs like small dulled lights.
Cold claps my cheeks and earlobes as I walk steadily upwards, dismissing any scent from the sodden vegetation. Arrived at the small summit, the monument resolves itself in a memory. I stand to share the view awhile with Sarah Justina Macpherson, ‘beloved wife and mother..’ A brief light illumines the clouds above the snows of Ben Alder and Ben Nevis, while to the east the headlamps of a single vehicle creep around the base of the mountain towards our starting point.
The Nog stays close as we descend to the birches with their roosting pheasants, he knows not to disturb the massed ewes grazing the slopes
The stove is still lit, the house is warm.
A small old clock sits by the stove.
I have it from my grandmother. Carried from France to the New World by her grandmother, it sat inert in my grandparents house, having no key.
Yesterday I cleaned the metal case with a toothbrush and pickling vinegar.
Today, it is telling time again.
Tomorrow I will sharpen the chainsaw and make alot of noise blocking logs.


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