There are times to leave the animals to themselves. The temperature has risen unexpectedly, damp lifting from the saturated ground to clog the hillsides. The light is even, without shadow or contrast, changing little before dark.
First the animals, lying quiet or standing to gain the benefit of a slight breeze. Holly in the Aspen paddock waits: I brush her matted coat, lifting it to ease drying. The mounded silage in the centre of the feeder needs pulled to the sides to avoid waste before refilling. That is for tomorrow – now I have doors to fit.
The hammerhead extension at the pottery is constructed as a traditional post and beam timber frame. The structure is douglas fir, clad with larch – all harvested from Scottish forests. I split the offcuts to make doors for the old agricultural steading that used to house animals and a family in the same low rooved complex of buildings. Two of these need fitted today.
The uprights (stiles) are overlength to protect the doors from damage: these horns are cut first, the stiles planed to fit the uneven old frames. Wedged in place with an even joint all round, hinge slots can be routered and the hardware fitted. Screwed to the frame upright (jamb) the door must be set to close tight to the woodwork. The closing edge is drilled and chiselled square to take the lock; holes drilled from both faces for spindle and cylinder. The keep is then set into the receiving jamb with the precise offset that allows the door to close crisply with no shoogling.
I am racing against the darkness to fit two. The first clicks home with the neatest heft. I progress with the second, lose my rhythm: the keep is set too far from the frame upstand, the door rattles and needs adjusted as I struggle with the failing light.
It is dark as I walk the Nog to the yard to close the chicken house. The crescent moon behind the branches is enlarged and diffuse,veiled in mist. Tomorrow, God willing, we will walk the hills in daylight- freedom balances obligation.