Whilst it didn’t start raining here again until late afternoon,
I have still – alas – been baling out. But not water (thank goodness!)….
The day started with a raw, cold feel & inhospitably strong North-West winds although we were at least blessed with a tremulously clear, watercolour-blue horizon. I was debating whether to turn the sheep back out when the clouds began to crowd the skies with their grey-befuddled huddle; & soon miserable curtains of misty rain were sweeping across the valley once more. So, rather safe-than-sorry I left said sheep cuddled up again, indoors….albeit they’re using up precious bedding & extra feedstuff that I really could do with reserving for any more immediate emergency. However: my decision – my responsibility; & whilst Camilla’s little lamb is much improved it would appear that Daffodil has overdosed on Jelly’s rich milk & is scouring (i.e. has a nasty case of diarrhoea). And as she’s the smallest-of-small lambs, I will not take any risks – for her tiny sake.
The day passed relatively quietly, for a change; thus it was a chance to catch up on the usual sinking raftload paperwork interspersed with an entirely different-but-complimentary raftload of bottle-feeds, milking, checking-up etc. Nobody lambed; nobody kidded. All seemed to be benignly peaceful, until….
Heading into the Dairy Complex to do the early-evening hay feed, I became aware of a muffled but distinctly-panicked bleat.
Where on earth had this emergency call, come from…? I just couldn’t work it out.
All the (goat) kids appeared to be still enjoying their collective siesta, cuddled up in sleepy heaps either in the Mums’ Pen (where they were meant to be) or dotted in various nooks & crannies about the wider ranges of the Dairy Complex (where they weren’t). Doing my utmost not to disturb the sleepy kids I commenced a thorough search of the building.
Another muffled bleat.
I was mystified.
And then it dawned on me…..surely not, though? A kid couldn’t possibly have managed to get stuck behind the sturdy stack of humungous-&-impossible-to-move-by-hand (& I-don’t-have-a-Manitou…!) giant square hay bales, on which they love to play….? Or perhaps, I’m wrong??
Grabbing our powerful torch (a perfect Christmas gift from Mum & Dad) & clambering with considerably less grace than a gazelle (or even a goat kid) onto the bale stack, I eased myself to the far edge & shone the searchlight’s bright beam down into the gap. Sure enough I could just make out a pathetic little chocolate, white-tipped, floppy-eared form, firmly wedged between wall & bale. Actually it looked quite cosy in there; however by this time the little lad had missed a feed, was evidently missing his Mum & his mates, & was generally feeling pretty sorry for himself.
Offering soft words of encouragement I lay down & crawled on my belly as far over as I could, reaching down into the abyss. He was, evidently, well-&-truly stuck. With difficulty I managed to ease my hand beneath the delicate ribcage, & gently lifted the tiny chap in such a way that I could gain a carefully firm hold of his front legs. Having already abandoned the torch so that I had both hands free, I managed to swiftly hoist him towards me with one hand & whilst sweeping upwards, immediately support his bodyweight with the other; before slowly but surely extricating him up-&-out from the constricting bales.
On returning thankfully to terra firma I carefully checked him over for any sign of injury. Apart from being a little shaken – which a cuddle soon cured – he was otherwise completely unharmed; the ‘V’-shaped gap down which he’d slipped had effectively slowed his fall & of course, he’d landed in soft hay, anyway.
It actually reminded me so much of my own wonderful childhood: bounding breathless with laughter along precipitous bales, stacked so high in Reg’s barn; David, Craig & Alex – all of us, enjoying such fun, such freedom, such wild happiness. We were kids ourselves, back then; & never for a moment considered we might get injured or hurt during our daring exertions…..
Happily, there never were any accidents other than the odd bruise of course; but then even from an early age we were all fully sensible & alert to the many dangers of farming – after all, we were well taught & well aware. Health & Safety legislation simply didn’t exist in those halcyon hours of our well-spent youth: but would it really have been neccessary…..? In those days we were all suitably disciplined; & were served a healthy dollop of Common Sense along with every scrumptious supper.
And of course, we spent endless hours outdoors – rain, shine, snow or blow; never blinkered by the lure of computer games. If I misbehaved & was sent to my room as a punishment I would weep at the frustration of not being permitted to play in the sun-soaked fields beckoning with cruel enticement, just outside my window; all I wanted was to be outside rather than stuck in my stuffy room.
Yet these days I suspect a modern-day ‘me’ would consider the worse punishment to be sent outdoors & into the dread ‘fresh air’; rather than cosily cosseted indoors with their choice of Playstation, X-Box, flat-screen mega-plasma TV, DVD, CD, Internet, wii, IPod, plus mobile ‘phone for comfort in their misdemeanours….& that ‘gadget’ list – doubtless – goes on.
Nowadays, children would never be allowed to even contemplate having the freedom to play on any farm, that we did; let alone learning valuable lessons about agriculture, animals, & about working with – let alone for – nature: Health, Safety & Paperwork simply would not allow it. In these litigiously-troubled times, if we have customers/visitors/guests/friends & family here for even the briefest of encounters; we have to pepper the place with a plethora of bewildering Warning Signs – not to mention providing escort duties so closely monitored, that the Secret Service would be proud of our efforts.
So; after suffering the sky falling on my head the other day when an errant goat kid literally ‘dropped in’ to whet her whistle at Jo’s Milk Bar, Tony joked that we need to include in our already weighty tome of a Health-&-Safety-Brief for Visitors, that “Hard Hats Will Be Provided & Must Be Worn At All Times”.
But has such an occurrence happened, before….? Scouring my memory I must admit that well, actually, it has; & in fact increasingly, it does. Some of you may remember that during those ‘halcyon’ childhood days, I was privileged to enjoy the wonderful opportunity to work with a wonderful semi-tamed kestrel whom I rescued, Saxon; however in spite of my most dedicated efforts he would as often land neatly on my head or shoulder, when called; rather than come to the fist, as initially trained.
And then we have Silli.
Ghost-grey enigma of a Maine Coon cat, she’s an elusive spirit who – once you share your life with her – is a beautifully bittersweet one-eyed individual, whom you cannot help but fall in love with; whose unhappy ‘party trick’ is to snatch swooping swallows clean from the air; yet in the next instant she can prove so fragile, so tender….in spite of that ever-watchful glowing, gold-green jewel of a baleful eye.
Every morning, whilst I’m scrubbing the sleep from my own two eyes & clumsily attempting to brush my teeth she sits, tail twitching, imploring, on the carefully-closed loo seat in our tiny bathroom (we know what our lot, are like…!) before launching herself neatly onto my shoulder at my most-vulnerable, gum-debilitating; moment; inserting crampon-like claws into my back & snuggling, beguilingly into my neck; whilst crooning in soft tones, for her breakfast.
Oh, how endearing…. *ahem* especially when her paws rub proverbial salt into said wounds whilst I consider the hefty number of hours before I’ll have a snatched chanced to bolt down my own breakfast – no such five-star service, no such leisurely pace.
I still wouldn’t change this life, this wonderful life.