Farm Life, Highland cattle, Uvie Farm

Runaway machines are just routine- really

The old girls are fed, chooks released, Angus Halfhorn and his ladies need vittles. The ground is soft after yesterday’s rain, so I don’t want to use the heavy JCB to take the bale down to their paddock. I’ll use the quad and bogey to cart hay to them. I bring the quad up from the garage with the Nog doing his kamikaze best to interfere. The only way to deal with this is to gun straight at him yelling: ‘I’ll get you, I’ll run you down you mad galoot’, at which point he sprints ahead up the road. With the shed safely achieved, I climb the stack of bales and, squeezing between two bales, use my back and knees to topple one to the ground, checking first that the Nog’s curiosity isn’t likely to be fatal.
Pulling the bale onto the bogey using the scorpion tail grab, I lock the hinge on the drawbar and haul out. I have to pass through the Apron, the big central pasture inhabited by Billy and the stotts. The Nog and the stotts have a similar approach to chores, dancing around each other in a kind of bullfight: he launching feints at their heads, they butting at him with their heads and kicking up their heels. It is not surprising therefore in this high octane atmoshere that I arrive at the gate with a dancing cohort ready to follow me out of the field.
The trick is to park the quad and trailer, swing the gate open, jump back onboard, speed through and return to close the gate before the animals escape. Gate open, quad through and the stotts are already following to pastures new. I set the handlebars to autopilot ┬áturning up the hill to roll to a halt, while I run back to chain the gate. I close the gate but before I can latch it, I realise that the wheels have turned down the slope and the quad pulling the loaded trailer is gathering pace down the hill. It is a fine judgement as to how much ground I can make up on the accelerating rig before it reaches terminal velocity and crashes to the bottom of the field. This, with the weight of the bale and trailer, would destroy a substantial section of stock fence. The other element of downside involves me failing to remount the runaway machine and getting ploughed under by the trailer like Marshall Blucher by Napoleon’s cavalry. (‘I’m sorry – I schtink’ are supposedly his first words on meeting up with Wellington covered in malodorous mud.)
In the event I judge it right – jump on, correct the quad’s trajectory with just one wobbly moment and proceed as planned.
Y’know- farming really is nothing more than a series of well-rehearsed routines.