change of season, farm bunkhouse, highland landscapes, hillwalking, Uvie Farm

Today I walked a mountain gold and cold

Summoning crags

Summoning crags

The pump in the basement is old:
it has run dry and burned a few times,
smoking and blowing capacitors.
Still works though – just not strongly
enough to charge the water pressure.

My entire water supply is dependant:
my guests too, my business-
on this old pump’s enduring.
It develops quirks as its power fades
allowing the pressure to run low
as if too tired to chase
only heaving itself into action
when the stream has all but dried.

The one outlet that dries altogether
is the highest: my shower.
In the morning I stand under the flow
wait for it to dribble and die,
and then stretch out a long and trembling arm
to turn the hot tap at the basin
that spurts and sings encouragement
to its lofty wall-mounted companion
which then releases warm liquid joy
onto my chilling head and shoulders.

For three days now the sun has shone brilliantly;
I have the choice to sit at my papers
and wait the slow onset of early dark
and creeping cold
or seize the sunlight on the hill.
The Nog approves my choice.
I will not lose myself this time,
just to crest Creag Dhubh
gigantic companion to the farm round
clear to view
besides many false summits.

Sunlight on the rockface summons:
the grass glows gold.

golden grassland

golden grassland


This gradient demands new pressure
from the old pump driving my legs
upwards to where space narrows
between rock and sky.

Crag Dhubu crest

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Highland cattle, Living with Nature, Uvie Farm

others pass this way

The first snow dusts the ground as I walk down from the yard after feeding the chooks. The ground is a parchment on which the night traffic is written. Hares, mature and juvenile have loped down the farm road, one of the older cows has been up to the yard prospecting for feed and returned unsatisfied, she is scuffing the snow with one hoof, – and, oops, there are my tracks from the ascent, the left boot just dragging on the top of the snow cover, telling of my bad knee stiffening slightly with the cold. On the hardstanding Billy leaves feeding to greet me, sauntering over head down, presenting his flank. I lean against his warm side inhaling the warm musky scent, sharing the pleasure of contact. In the field below, hare tracks become more plentiful, uniting where they cross under the fence wire and then meandering like mortar joints in a random pavement where they have sought toothsome grass beneath the sheltering white.
In the Aspen paddock below , Angus halfhorn blocks my access to the feeder demanding a tribute of caresses: once donated, I move on to where Holly and Abby wait parallel like berthed barges. I stand between the two – not quite contiguous, so Holly is massaged first, deep in the meat beside her spine. Abby is watching, black with a lively eye, she waits and then sways her head receiving the massage, measured by the watchful Holly ready to exercise her dominance over the smaller animal if my attention is overspent elsewhere.
Check the trough – a half inch of ice needs breaking and lifting out otherwise it will refreeze and form a cap that builds with further frosts. A fox has passed through early in the night, her tracks half filled with new snow. She has moved between the recumbent cattle whose lairs for the night are revealed by ovals of bare ground ornamented by small dung piles.
Outside the enclosure, a hare has marked the snow at speed – though there is no predator’s pursuit evident. These animals leave their trace clear, like the man who finished life today after showing that love sometimes makes the best politics.

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