As I went down to the river…

As I went down to the byre for hay,

Studying the snowfall on that fateful day

And what do I find, looking around

Good lord, not a good day

O Lugs, you calm down,

You calm down, bafooning clown.

O Lugs, don’t go down

Down to the field to play

As you take off through the gap to play

Studying the calves, giving off a good display

And who will get you back inside

Good lord, show me the way

O Lugs, you come back

Let’s get you back, give some slack

O Lugs, time to back track

Get you back to the old hay rack

O Lugs, do what I say,

Leave the cows, go on, get away

O Lugs, you will pay,

You will pay with your own fateful day

And in answer to the new lyrics, yes, Lugs is back inside (I never knew cattle could squeeze through smallish gaps). See, with the Ren-gate scandal and Hilda being due last week, I turfed both her and Breena into the field as the Crofter was away. No calf appeared. Great, Renoir must not have been successful on his gate hoping day and she’ll be due with the rest. So, decision was made to stick them both back into the warmth and dryness of the byre. Wrong! A near riot broke out. Lugs took off like a bucking bronco once he got through the gap. So with that the two soon-to-be mothers were given back their field. And who knows if she is really late or really early, but Hilda’s calf arrived today.

In my car

In my car, I’ll be the driver. Or so it is according to Twain. But I don’t think Shania lives on a croft and writes her songs in regard to preparing tea with supervision from a toddler and a baby not sleeping. But when you realise 30 mins before tea that your kale is still in the veg plot, the carrots are still in the raised bed, and you have two hungry boys to try and feed, what do you do? You take the quickest and safest route (really, believe me; it honestly is the safest solution when you don’t have enough bubble wrap, any baby monitor or prison cells for a two year old).

Answer for the kale collection? Two boys bundled into a pick up, driven the short distance to the veg garden, and then left in while I nip out to cut kale while humming something more attuned to a Christmas Carol than Shania Twain due to swirling snow (or if I was a newspaper journalist, a battling blizzard).

And yes, while doing that I had a Minj Crofter/wannabe world’s quickest button pusher/driver. Picture F1 pit stops, but the guys need to learn to collect a bowl of kale and nothing to do with wheel changing. Because for me, speed is of the essence. Not to do with the value of the veg, or the raging snow storm (hello snowflake Stanley), but because, the longer you are gone the more buttons have been utilised. Air conditioning at full blast, radio on maximum volume, hyperventilating wiper blades, oh, and don’t forget the hazard lights are on. Grand, just grand. Restore calm before explaining that all buttons are for the driver; because, in my car, I’ll be the driver!

Ren-gate scandal

Last year, some may remember that Renoir attempted to jump a gate; he wasn’t successful. As you can see.

Welcome to the Ren-gate scandal of 2018 and the consequences.

An unturned water trough and several bricks helped lift his back legs up enough to get him over and succeed in woeing Hilda.

And his romancing seemed to have worked as Hilda has been showing signs that he was succeful. I just would like it if she can hold on until the Crofter gets home.

The count down is on.

The boys are back in town.

The Micro Crofter’s arrival coincided with the byre getting mucked out. Aromatic whaffs slowly drifted down the glen as the cooler, winter air inhibited some of the more pungent smells that have been laying dormant under a blanket of fresh straw. Never mind, as the muck matures, the heap soon flattens out to provide well rotted manure; a high value substance for the polytunnel, raised beds, orchard and veg garden.

It was soon after this that we hit a hiatus with croft work. A typical Friday but the Micro Crofter at two weeks old was doing a good impersonation of a grunting pig. And as evening fell, his breathing appeared to be making him work. And that doesn’t look good to a nurse. We may believe in working hard but we do give exceptions to some, such as newborns. So, the Crofter rang NHS 24. Lo and behold, they wanted to check on a two week old with breathing difficulties. And with that it was deemed that the Micro would go in to town with the Crofter and leave me at home with the Mini Crofter.

Their trip to town didn’t just become a late night. After being seen by an out of hours GP, they were admitted to the children’s ward to monitor the Micro overnight. And this is when you realise how much difference there is between animal health and the NHS. While payment is made just to call a vet out, pound coins magically slip from your grasp the longer the vet is on your turf. Then add the cost of medication if required. The NHS shows the other side and it was a weekend like this that make you want to ensure all involved get the thanks. The staff and service at Raigmore Hospital was top notch.

From being a nurse, it can often seem that all you hear about regarding your place of work is what’s wrong, failures and inadequacy. However, the media may like to pull out the muck and spread it around. But the understanding of it is rarely touched upon. Sometimes issues raised can be useful, but other times it seems it does more damage than what the journalists and complainers realise. The background to the issue is rarely raised. It is as if people complain about our muck heap without having any understanding as to why it smells and how it came about. It may stink but we ensure the cows have fresh bedding by regularly putting in a bale of straw. Yes, they may be inside in a byre but I’m tucked up in our house more in winter.

So, to NHS Highland, thank you to all the staff and the service you provided the Micro. To all walkers passing by, take a good, deep breath of the the muck heap, and as you smell the ‘fresh air’ remember the NHS, for all its issues, we can still be thankful.

We’re going to…America?

No, we’re not. But Neil Diamond’s song is a corker for belting out if you change ‘America’ to ‘abattoir’. Yep, have three sheep in your trailer, a two week old in the back, driving along, singing along. Music is apparently good for babies. You then can go to your next song from the Lion King that also is a great abattoir song. Yes son, let me introduce to you the Circle of Life thing from an early age (which, may I remind some of you is Disney/Elton John, the land of princesses and less of the real life).

Due to a Micro Crofter affecting our Crofting team management system, the sheep have been getting more of a ‘re-wilding’ approach. More being left to their own devices rather than me sitting with them for their daily time of mediation. However, our freezer was slowly indicating a need. In they came for an inspection; two older ones were specifically chosen. You want to make sure they have had the good life, but you get them before they have age related problems so that both you and them can enjoy each other.

And if I can pelt out ‘We’re going to the abattoir…today!’, what other songs can I change?

Get the party started.

The last post up was a wee while ago. Not much has really happened, other than the Micro Crofter finally joined the party last month, several days after the last post. So there’s my excuse for a pregnant pause in posts.

Lousy if you want excuses, no ‘the dog hit the control/alt/delete buttons on my computer and forced WordPress to quit’ or ‘the gale force winds caused a power surge so lost 16 unpublished posts that I had spent hours composing’. No, just an arrival of an 3kg plus bundle and suddenly I become a ‘sit on bum wifie powered by coffee’. Before I get uproar that I am implying I am being lazy, I am (being lazy). But when you’re not getting your full sleep quote, you can tell me what you like, I’m not superwoman, but even she needs her sleeping . I also learned the last time. Don’t chase cows, stack wood, or do normal jobs for several months. The baby may be out, the mind may be eager but the body has had some slight adjustments that need realigned. So, this time, I am taking it easier. Honest.

So the Mirco’s arrival may just be small change on the croft, one major change for his parents. It was late by medical standards, really late by his mother’s requests and therefore, with that lateness, caused numerous telephone exchanges between the Crofter and his colleagues (who, I am indebted to, they gave him a couple more weeks at home!). So if any of you are reading this, thanks guys. Appreciate that. The idea of sole managing a Mini, a Micro, a bunch of cattle and some sheep was a wee bit overwhelming (less the cattle and sheep, more the Mini and the Micro).

It has now been four weeks since then and the Micro can tell you what he’s done (well, tagged along for). We’ll maybe just leave that confession until after tomorrow once the Health Visitor has slowly crept down the road.

Public holidays and creativity

Over the festive period, it appears people often use the time to do more arts and craft projects. So when the three calves showed their true potential for jumping championships, the Crofter decided to join in. Having discovered we had no more electric wire connectors, he used some innovation for getting an electric wire up ASAP. One of the problems with public holidays, limited open times and living a wee bit away from town does help with creative thinking.

May not be the usual connectors, but they will work and gives a lovely hue in colour along the fence. In the mean time, the three amigos are still over in the far field until their current hay runs out and they’ll be moved back.