Crofting Life

Winter and the flamingo dance.

That time of year when snow glistens in the sun. The muted sounds buffed into tranquillity. All perfect winter scenes as social media are serenaded by a whole orchestra of glittery, snowy pictures that burst onto the scene.

And then it all melts. And you’ve got a foot of mud to wade through. The soggy ground squelching, holding wellies down stronger than an industrial hoover. The fear of becoming wellieless grips as each step is taken. The thought of a soggy sock in the middle of an open field, far from any relief of a dry foot grips your chest as tight as watching a movie where the music has gone into ‘suspense’ mode. The potential of looking like a flamingo, but without the glamour safari backdrop, as your welly remains in that last step is a very real, impending doom thought. Separation anxiety very quickly sets in. Noo, this is not the time to try the hippy bare-foot, guitar playing country life walk. This walk was to sort a fence. And a urgent matter. I don’t want a soggy sock. I want my wellies!

And so, to redeem that tiny piece of grace, two hands desperately go into starfish mode, the yoga pose (yes neighbours, of course I’m practicing yoga in the middle of a cow field) is maintained as the slow and very cautious bend is undertaken to perform the tug of war against the mud. Who’s going to win? Surely not the mud. The tugging ensures. Until suddenly, you win. The mud releases it’s grip as you fly backwards. Your wellieless foot is still dry. Hooray! Ok, you’re bums now soaking from the landing, but hey, at least you’ve been reunited with the wellie. The mutterings of ‘aye, this is the good life, huh?’ reverberate in the mind. Well, no one can’t say I’m not close to nature. I’m about a foot deep in it!

And I’m not sure if I look better in the flamingo pose or the yoga pose. I’ll go ask the cows.

Crofting Life

As the snow lies

December ended up being a bit of a blur. Not in the “have you been to Specsavers?” type, but the day to day tasks turned to a ‘lets try and keep everyone and everything alive’ mode.

The microscopic bugs seemed to have held the house hostage. The siege seemed never ending; one attack would finish with that moment of silence before the next one would spring out from nowhere. In the middle of those situations, the snow fell. Suddenly at first. And a lot. And then the temperature dropped. Not to any drastic plunge by any means, but just enough to freeze water. And water’s fairly crucial. So the battle of the ice was declared; a twice daily repetitive strategy was enforced. Grab the wellies, the waterproofs, energy from the depth of your toes (before they freeze), start ‘The Battle’ song by Hans Zimmer in Gladiator, clench the fist, lift that snow shovel high and call out that battle cry.

The byre’s water went first. So the cows were let loose to the top field (which can have a water trough filled from the house). Rocky and Hilda are out wintering, so they needed another gate opened to access the far field which has a burn, which has so far, never frozen. But it has been close, so a 20 minute trudge through the snow to check water was flowing commenced. And in the mean time, let’s not forget the hens. Nor the dog. Or the mini crofters. The clean washing pile was deemed a non essential service and still seems to be suffering the aftermath.

So it was back on one of those days, between two children becoming ill, that I took ill. And was in bed. So the SOS lifelines were called. The dog went down to one set of neighbours, another checked the cows and chickens. And another popped up at tea time to feed the boys their tea (who had managed on cheerios and youtube). And to add a wee cherry on the top, a water filter at the polytunnel decided the situation was just too much, and burst.

The water pressure at the house raised the red flag. The burst pipe hunt began and once the flooded polytunnel was spotted, the repair work began. And it highlighted how much of a maze of pipe work we have, and how hard it is to find anything when it’s three feet under snow.

So the music tempo changed. And along came Elvis and his ghetto. But adapted, to fit the scene. The song, with their rewritten lyrics had been forgotten about until today.

As I cleared a path to the pickup, checked the cows, and attempted to get the boys ready for school, the song came back.

As the snow lies

On a cold and dreich December mornin’

Another water pipe begun to freeze

In the byre (In the byre)

And the crofter cries,

‘Cause if there’s one thing that she don’t need

It’s another job that needs some heed

In the byre (In the byre)

People, don’t you understand

The woman needs a glass of wine,

Or a two week trip to where that sun shines

Have a look for Timbukto

And in her dreams you find her there.

But now we find the schools been shut

And have more work to do

Well, the weather turns

And a soaking crofter with a runny nose

Works in the snow as the cold winds blow

At the byre (At the byre)

And her hungry burns

So she starts to roam the fridge at night

While she dreams of spring

And she dreams of light

In the byre (in the byre)

So now, the snow swirls around outside. The pick-up already covered again in snow. The school run never attempted after the messages arrived of adverse weather and school closure. And the gentle strumming from Elvis softly plays as I dream of spring.