Ugh, today was a draining experience – quite literally.
I gloomily shivered my way through the usual chores, huddled against the damp, desolate chill of driving rain. Relieved to return to the cheery sanctuary of the snug cottage in which the woodburner crackled with warm invitation, I took off my wet things & hoisted them to dry on the ‘Lazy Susan’ strategically situated above the Rayburn, & knuckled down to some therapeutic cheesemaking. I managed to persuade Tony to grumpily haul himself out of bed at around 11am, although he was clearly unimpressed at being made to rise before midday when the weather was so inclement outside.
He immediately switched on his laptop & began checking emails; however I unfortunately required his help ouside as the drain on the rear of the Long Barn has for several weeks now been blocked with the fall of autumn leaves from the ash tree adjacent to the haybarn, & I cannot reach it without the help of a ladder (which someone needs to hold steady owing to the unevennness of the packed earth-&-slate floor).
Having persuaded Tony to help I cleared out the ‘gunk’ from the bits I could reach; decaying, slippery leaf mould adhering to my freezing fingers as I scrabbled to clear as many blockages as I could manage whilst he cobbled together a gutter-sized rod with which to push clear the more unyielding plugs. With a fair bit of effort & grim determination, clinging onto the ladder & both getting liberally soaked by sloshes of icy water & clammy wet leaves, we managed to get the job done. And we even managed to improve matters by repairing parts of the guttering which had sagged under the sheer weight of the water they contained, which was spilling onto the walls beneath & eating away at the mortar adhering the very fabric of the building. At least we have arrested some of the damage; I only hope however it does not prove too little, too late.
Like the catastrophic problems we recently suffered with the neglected driveway drainage, this was a task which should have been undertaken weeks ago when the weather was at least dry but the majority of the leaves had fallen; I am therefore hoping that this too will prove a salient reminder for next year. In fact Tony was prepared to leave this latest unpleasant task, still longer; however as there are serious storms predicted in the next few weeks & he will be very busy with work I felt we really should expend the time & effort now, making it one thing less to worry about. Too many tasks have fallen too easily by the wayside this year; as a result the Ffarm has suffered. I’m not prepared to let that happen again.
I cooked us a late lunch & then started the arduous process of checking all our sheep & goat records in preparation for defra’s annual census on January 1st (no rest for the wicked you see; we never get a day off – not even from doing tedious paperwork!). At Tony’s request I did some invoicing followed by the evening chores.
Tony’s grumpy & uncommunicative mood unfortunately persisted throughout the day, from the moment he rose to the moment he disappeared back upstairs less than ten hours after originally getting out of bed. However, he very badly needed an early night as he would have to drive to Heathrow in the early hours to be ready for his standby duty from 06:00.
Although when on standby he is technically classed as being ‘at home’, for Tony & many of his former merged-company colleagues, this is simply not possible as they have to be within one-&-a-half hours’ callout; so of course taking Tony’s example it’s impossible for him to remain on the Ffarm. Subsequently he has to commute to Heathrow (£75 round trip) & pay for B&B accommodation (£25-£50 per night) for the days he is on standby (paying for the accommodation regardless of whether he is called out, of course). After a day or two of standby he generally then works a gruelling shorthaul programme for a few days which also requires overnight stops in London & the associated additional costs that involves. I estimate the company merger has cost us an extra £550+ per month on average (certainly over £6000 per annum – with only a negligible pay rise & no hope of promotion for at least 7-10 years!).
Unfortunately the merger company’s work pattern is completely at odds to that of the organisation he originally signed up to join; & as the new company is so large it has thus far proved pretty unsympathetic to the needs of the individual employee, he & his colleagues are inevitably suffering. I would like to think the new company does care about the stresses & strains it is perhaps unwittingly imposing upon its’ workforce; however as I gather it is already overburdened with staff perhaps a cynic might suggest this is an easy way to force people out – without having to pay any redundancy. Indeed, the company might even – bizarrely – potentially get some revenue back; as pilots who have converted onto a different type of aircraft have to reimburse the company any outstanding course costs if they wish to leave (even though the merger company did not actually fork out that money in the first place!).
For Tony, paying back his bond would currently cost around £6,000+ which of course we cannot afford as we desperately need that money to start our new business. This is therefore not a happy circumstance – especially as we ironically stad to lose far more than that every year, unless the company changes its rostering policy – which is I suspect highly unlikely! So in a sense it is not surprising that poor Tony is feeling frustrated at present.
At around 0200 he got up for work in his characteristically CRASH-BANG-WALLOP way (I’m sure he feels everone else should be up, if he has to be; lucky for him I don’t share that sentiment the other way around!). So after that & coupled with all today’s exertions & anxieties, I shall certainly feel drained tomorrow…!