Calm before the (Snow)Storm

The tranquility of a new dawn was rudely punctuated by an unfamiliar sound.

Unwillingly surfacing from the semi-conscious enjoyment of my welcome breakfast of pleasure-domed, softly-boiled eggs, the vivifying crunch of crisp wholemeal toast & the strong, sensitising taste of a chilly morning’s finest-brewed Ceylon tea I started in horror as I realised what I’d heard – thankfully, not an animal in distress; but the low, throaty, unscheduled roar of a digger’s engine…. 

Hurriedly I scrambled into one of my comfy old, ex-military camouflage fleeces, convinced that at this early hour – 0545, & not even daylight yet – someone must surely be stealing the mini-digger which had been hired to complete the Dairy Complex’s internal groundworks, on which Peter had been working until such a late hour yesterday evening that I’d left him a box of our eggs on the roof of his car, concerned that unless I did so he wouldn’t manage to get a meal: at least he could purchase a portion of chips on his way home & enjoy them with freshly-fried eggs after such a long & gruelling day.  And having completed another two hours’ work after he left, that’s exactly what I’d indulged in, for my own Friday-night suppertime treat…..

Loading & cocking the rifle with a worried grunt I sneaked out into the semi-darkness; alert to scaring off anyone who might be harbouring surreptitious thoughts of stealing said equipment….

But to my amazement the little excavator, rather than ‘haring’ caterpillar-fashion up the long-&-winding, bumpy driveway, was already apparently steadfastly chomping chunks of earth & slate: lifting, hefting & dropping each bucketload carefully into position.  If indeed this was a thief, s/he was certainly a conscientious one. 

Further investigation & dawn’s sepia light revealed Peter’s car, tucked safely in the shade of the barn’s protecive curtilage; so I ‘made safe’ the weapon after which I hurriedly whizzed up a strong, hot ‘Cappricino’ (frothy goats’-milk coffee) to buoy up Pete’s workaholic energy (even though of course there was a distincy lack in the biscuit department thanks to Tony….grrrr!).

It never fails to fascinate me, watching Peter delicately manipulating the excavation equipment: his consummate dexterity is such that the bucket is like an extension of his own hand – I swear he could conjour up a credible flower arrangement with it, at a push!  Tons of earth & stone are shifted with skill & seeming effortless ease; then gently, carefully nudged into place by the lightest of touches with a variety of heavy, blunt-toothed metal scoops.  

And it’s amazing how very much larger & more spacious our lovely building appears now that all the post holes have been backfilled & the floor is relatively level again (it won’t be baby-bottom smooth of course, until Peter works his next magic with a heavy roller). 

Meanwhile, back on site & appreciatively sipping his steaming, milky coffee Pete is lost in thought; wandering through this newly-created spacious, airy wooden livestock cathedral he gives me his opinion on the overall build in his typically Welsh way:


I grin like the proverbial Cheshire Cat at his welcome acknowledgement.  “This is the future” he presses on, enthusiastically. “The way things should – & must, be done, better for the environment & all that – steel’s on its’ way out, too expensive anyway.”  Whilst I’m not entirely sure that prediciton is strictly accurate as our wooden build is certainly in the minority round here (in fact I don’t know of another one) with the Government’s intention to make every business build carbon neutral in the next few years, a wider range of materials will have to be considered in future.  Meanwhile we’re very proud of our own carbon-neutral building: not only because it’s made of wood from sustainable forests but also it required less concrete than a conventional build; the goats will be housed on a warm, natural-draining, earth-&-slate floor; & even the loo in the changing area will be compostible!  Grey water will be recycled so we feel we can hold our heads up that we’re doing our bit for the environment – with renewable energy to come as soon as we can afford it.

Peter had finished work by 10.30am, & headed off to another job in St David’s – despite the fact it’s a weekend.  Peace descended on the farm once more; & I resumed work, preparing for the threatened snowstorms tomorrow by carrying piles of hay into position for the ponies, whom I hoped to leave outside;  making sure there was enough feed & straw in the ewes’ barn; & taking hay up through the orchard to the edge of Caravan Corner to ensure MacDougal the Ram & his charges, had ample fodder for the following day at least.  Admittedly the wind this evening had a slightly bitter edge to it; though in the sunshine it really didn’t feel possible that we could have the threatened snow…..we’ll see.



About LittleFfarm Dairy

The LittleFfarm Dairy Team: Jo - Goat farmer & Gelatiere Artigianale, plus General Dogsbody; Tony - Airline Pilot & part-time Herd Manager, Product Taster, Accounts Secretary, Handyman etc!
This entry was posted in April 2008, Business, Diary, Life, Livestock, Local Area, Politics, Smallholding. Bookmark the permalink.

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