The rain is steady and warm- thin vertical columns propping some unseen vastness outside the sliding door.
So I am quite content to crack on with ironing linen for the guests. Ssshhhccc – ssshhccckk- and fold – sccchhk – and presssss – pillowcases, 2 per person, fitted sheet (I have a system even for those awkward elasticated ends), duvet cover inside out and useful if they have projecting seams to fold by. One gaudy towel apiece – (the bedlinen on the other hand is – O so tasteful : blue ginghammy – kind of Walton’s farmhouse effect??) Not too much steam otherwise they’ll be clammy: fold once, twice, three times –.press, psssshhhtck.
By lunchtime the baskets are stacked with neat squares ready to reassure the incomers that they will be cared for and comfortable in this wild place.
After lunch – the rain has eased and I reckon I won’t get too wet if I continue with yard work- strictly a spring job clearing the winter’s animal waste and excess feed, but truthfully a preparation for the next time of use.
I have scraped the yard to the calving paddock with the back actor and gathered a steaming pile in the gateway – flies circulate and long strands of half rotten silage shine greeny yellow on the surface like the hair of sunken drunken mermen.
It stinks – of course- a mixture of wastes- ripe almost sweet- I have virtually lost the ability to distinguish its quality- or power.
My brother G once submitted a sculpture at a city exhibition along the lines of ‘bringing the fields to the streets’ or ‘country in the city’ – some such. He collected a skelp of silage from the farm and presented it on a plinth. It was a hot summer. Sitting in the airless hall, the silage began to ferment and the stench gradually filled the white painted space and sophisticated nostrils. The gallery goers, used to all kinds of confrontational, controversial art where offensive is an almost integral part of creative identity – were offended – by smell. G was asked to remove it.
And suddenly the Nog is barking furiously- hackles raised – front legs braced, teeth exposed…and round the other side of the digger – body rigid, barking, terrified, angry, intense.
I look past the machine for an intruder-
but this is no normal watchdog alert- the dog is seriously spooked.
And then I see it- the scarecrow, mophead, effigy – the Beast raised from the depths of the dungheap where Cocky’s corpse decomposes quietly- come to wreak some nameless revenge on Nog the Poultry Tormentor. A fork of the digger has caught a clump of silage and bunched it on the point with the rest lying along the metal before joining the bucket. It looks like a crude head and long fowl neck.
I climb on board –
time to tidy up.