Sunday, 8 February 2009

Down on the Farm.
















JWM Turner, that most British of painters, painted a lot in the Yorkshire Dales because he so admired the quality of the light. This week, with the snow on the ground and the sun shining, the light has been exceptional. I took the photograph of the snowy field, just outside the kitchen window, at about three thirty one afternoon as the sun was low in the sky. The ground was frozen solid and the snow hadn't gone at all.
Frozen ground at this time of the year presents a golden opportunity to "muck out" ( sorry, but you cannot avoid poo on this site). While the ground is really hard the loose housing can be shovelled out into the trailer, load by load, and transported to a field where it will sit in a steaming heap until spring, ready to be spread on the fields when the grass begins to grow. The heap will rot down some more, birds will scratch in it and sheep will gallivant up and down it just because it is there.
So, on Wednesday morning the farmer opened the doors of the loose housing, shut the gates of the fold yard back and began to work with his shovel (mechanical, I hasten to add). The sun was shining but it was freezing hard. Out streamed the cattle. Some of the older matrons, who had seen it all before, stood in the sun and enjoyed it on their backs, but some of the heifers began to jostle and push and jump for joy, tails in the air. Great steaming trailer loads kept going past my kitchen window - all was going well. Then disaster struck!
Fear not - it was only a minor disaster - after all we are well-insured. One frolicking heifer caught the edge of the door of the tractor and crash, the glass shattered into a thousand pieces.
The cow was unhurt but there was glass everywhere, which had to be cleaned up. Now the farmer is sitting in a very chilly and draughty tractor (normally he has the heater going full blast).
Ordering the new glass took me the best part of the morning - it became something like a Keystone Cops silent film! It went something like this:-
Phone call 1. (what is the registration number? Don't know, will find log book and ring you back)
Phone call 2. What is the distance between the door hinges? Don't know, will measure it up and then ring you back
Phone call 3. Is the glass tinted or is it plain glass? Don't know, will ring the farmer on his mobile and then ring you back.
Phone call 4. We think you would be better ordering it from our other depot. Here is the number.
Phone call 5. Hello, this is Skipton taxi service. (they had given me the wrong number).
Phone call 6. Ordered the part.
Phone call 7. Rang the insurance company (straightforward!)
Now the cattle are in their spanking clean housing (farm cats not so happy as it is not as warm without that layer of heat underneath). Looking at the photograph it is hard to believe that there are thirty animals in there, but many of them are eating at the bay along the side (see the other photograph). They enjoyed their frolic in the sun but seem happy to be back in the new straw. As for happiness, this can't be said of the farmer as he goes up and down taking feed to the sheep with a lot of fresh air getting into his cab!

39 comments:

Cathy said...

Oh, how you make miss living on a farm but I have to admit that I do not miss the hard physical work. I miss the quiet early mornings, I miss the smell of the barns and the fields and I miss getting nudged in the rear by a cow everyday :). My parents sold our farm about 12 years ago as they were both in poor health and just could not keep it up but we all miss it.
You are blessed to be in such a beautiful countryside and working the land.

Elizabeth said...

So glad the heifer was unhurt.
Loved the phone call log.......
All the details of your country life delight this city dweller.

jinksy said...

Guess the cows got the best deal then...draughty tractor doesn't sound much fun, unlike telephone ring-a-roses!

Leslie said...

Great pictures of landscapes and cattle. I don't have cattle but I do have ice now and then. I wish I lived on a farm again. This living in a small mobile home is just not "Living"
Hugs~~~Leslie

Dragonstar said...

The cows certainly look happy with their new bedding. Loved your telephone log!

Bdogs said...

Oh, that phone experience is too true. You must have the patience of saints. I'm so glad no one was hurt.

I hope you don't mind, but I'd like to post a link to you on my husband's blog (http://blogs.chron.com/leonhale)
I think your observations would really resonate with him and his readers.

Janice Thomson said...

Oh the joys of farming!
Having been raised on a farm this brought back many memories. Speaking of "poo"...I recall being at that sensitive age of 16 and having left the water run too long in the trough I had to clean the pig barn. So there I am dress tucked between my legs in Papa's big ole rubber boots singing my little heart out shoveling poo....and up steps a man to the open door saying "Excuse me miss are your folks home?" Oh my goodness the horror of it all - sweet 16 and caught in the pig barn shoveling manure and singing no less! :)

Heather said...

Poor farmer - hope he's got a Damart catalogue! I think they do menswear too. Do you think the telephone services are in cahoots with all manufacturers to make life as complicated as possible, so we all have to make so many more calls? Thankyou for my 'L', I shall give it much thought and try to do you justice. My list will have to start with lavender.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

I love reading of your small adventures, different than mine here along the river, but still connected to the land and the natural life—against which, life amid the urban backdrop of concrete, steel, and glass can never compare.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I love the idea of the great steaming trailer loads going past your kitchen window. This post so made me laugh, Weaver!

EB said...

Fascinating stuff. I can hear and smell your barn from the picture :)

EB said...

PS have to say though, the tractor I remember as a child had no cab at all - so no heater - and the barns I remember are umpteen chic little houses now, with fake georgian windows.

Robyn said...

Sheep gallivanting up steaming heaps....lovely image in my mind. Oooooh I do so miss farm life. Pity about the disaster though.

BT said...

Gorgeous photos Weaver. I took some at my son's and the light was gorgeous. They live in Suffolk.
Great story of the cows. I love to hear how the farm works.
x

Sepiru Chris said...

Hello Weaver of Grass,

I posted your haiku for you, last week. Here is how to do it yourself...

Leave a posting on your site.

click on the posting so that you know the specific address of your posting (the "Specific Address of Your Posting") which will start with http://www. ...

Open up 3WW in a separate window...

Paste the following into a comment on 3WW:

NOTE: IF I PASTE THE ENTIRE SCRIPT HERE YOU WILL NOT SEE THE SCRIPT, JUST ITS RESULT....
I HAVE BROKEN THE LINE INTO FOUR PARTS, COMBINE THEM BY DELETING THE "*"s AND HAVING THEM ON ONE LINE...

*
*the words you want to be hyperlinked to your site here, eg See my haiku here*
*


Hope that helps.

If it doesn't say so here and I will try to explain in another way.

Tschuess,
Chris

Sepiru Chris said...

OK. That did not work either.
I will post a series of four comments that show the four parts that are meant to be conjoined

(the * should be deleted from the finished product...)

Sepiru Chris said...

OK. It is not letting me send the broken script... do you have an email? Let me check...

Poet in Residence said...

The mention of Turner reminds of a painting he did of Whalley Nab, near Clitheroe, where he moved a building, possibly a church, about 200 yards to the right. Artistic license, I believe it's called.

Dreadnought said...

Thinking back to a previous post it this has reminded me how much tractors have improved since the good old days. I think if space rockets had imroved at the same rate as tractors we would probably taking our holidays on Mars this year!

EB said...

Dreadnought - that is so true! But I think I'll stick with Norfolk, all the same ;)

The Weaver of Grass said...

There is nothing to beat it Cathy.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Elizabeth and Jinksy - thanks for the comments.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Leslie - hope you manage to see the countryside from your mobile home.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Dragonstar - happy cows make good milk.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Bdogs - I am more than happy to oblige. Enjoy.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Loved your story Janice - oh what trials and tribulations we suffer at 16!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Heather - the farmer wears quite uncountable layers! Enjoy your L

The Weaver of Grass said...

I totally agree incorrigible.

The Weaver of Grass said...

It is now steaming in the field Raph!

The Weaver of Grass said...

EB thanks for visiting. That's called progress. We have a couple of cabless tractors still but only use them in warm weather.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Robyn. The glass is still missing and the farmer has gone out in another tractor without heater or radio.

The Weaver of Grass said...

BT thanks for the comment. I think Suffolk has probably had worse weather than us - they stick out into the north sea and catch it there.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes Poet in residence - there is a lot of poetic licence in Turner's depictions of this area - but then I suppose we are guilty of it in poetry too - and in any kind of writing. Glad about your translation e mail.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Dreadnought - I am off to New York and Washington - think I would probably have rather gone to Mars had it been in my holiday brochure!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Chris. Thanks for the instructions. I shall have one more go and if I fail I shall get Dominic to do it for me long distance. Am looking forward to Wednesday's words.

Teresa said...

What a wonderful little story! Rather like a James Herriot anecdote. Hope your farmer is staying warm!

Keep the photos coming!

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

I wonder, could the tractor window possibly have been delivered yet??!! Poor chap won't be getting any respite from the cold front!

Mistlethrush said...

We're in Yorkshire this weekend so if time permits we'll check out Richmond due to your recent blog about it.

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