‘Snowdrops, Snowflake? Not our thing. We’re ‘ard, we are. We don’t have the time or the inclination to stop and smell the roses. We don’t bleat to be taken into the barn with every change in the weather, not us. Come rain, come shine, you want your grass eaten? We’re the girls for the job.’
‘Along the hedgerows, are they? Can’t say I’ve noticed any. Don’t have much time for hedgrows, personally. You seen the size of this field?’
‘Stressful isn’t the word for it, dawn to dusk, with never a break.’
‘It’s the intensity of it, mostly – you know, concentration, focus. You can’t let little things like the weather distract you. Not if your going to get the job done, you can’t – and we’re going to get the job done. That’s what we’re here for.’
‘It’s our pride, I suppose, you know, reliable – that’s us. Show us a field of grass and get out of our way. We’ll handle it. Do the whole job for you. From start to finish. You toddle off and soothe the finer feelings of those sheltered Charolais of yours. We’ll take care of the grass for you, don’t you worry.’
‘More snow, you say? So what – I’ve got me big coat on.’
It’s a nice day today – that line of water at the top of the picture is the Solway Firth, put there to dampen the spirits of any rampaging Scots army.
But, I really wanted to chat about the gentle sights and sounds of the countryside. The cheerful chirping of the birds, the soft lowing of the cattle. Speaking of which, it’s cattle that take centre stage in this missive. You see, they suffer from chills to the tootsies, often referred to as footrot, so they can’t be left lying around in the fields over the winter. They need to have a nice clean, dry barn made available to them. The word I’d like to focus on here is clean. Cows, being obliging folk, do their best to give as good as they get, and they return the fodder they recieve, in a slightly used condition to be sure, at the first available opportunity.
On a regular basis their stalls are cleaned with a pressure washer and the accumulated detritus is pumped into a large tanker. As soon as the tank is full it is towed out to the fields and, with the aid of a powerful pump the grass is sprayed back where it came from.
If you were wondering when we would get around to waxing lyrical on the scents of the countryside. This is not that time.
For the last week or so, every time we’ve chosen to walk down hill towards the bridge – over the beck and along through the tree tunnel to the tee junction – we have been buried under a tidal wave of noise. All the rooks from round the area are currently gathering in one or the other of the local fields to discuss and debate strategies for the coming year.
In previous years we’ve seen this happen, usually in October or November, but last year the autumn event drew paltry flocks. There is no doubt that, on many fronts, last year could have done better. Spring and summer were both very early and autumn has been mild – interspersing bright days leading to sharp frosts, with bitter, knife edged winds under a dark, soggy cloud blanket. Perhaps the avian organisers postponed the meeting in the hope of some sort of seasonal definition.
There is an old country fable telling how, in autumn, the rooks all gather in a circle and nominate one of their number to give an interesting and entertaining recitation. Should the audience not enjoy the story – the raconteur is promptly pecked to death.
And you thought stand-up comedy was a new idea.