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  • Writer's pictureHighland Croft

It's A Dark, Hungry Time

Late autumn is the time of year when your good-life farming dreams slowly drown in the mud. And you haven't quite got the time to pull them out again and yourself together, because the cows are needing fed. What you don't have though is a tractor. But let me tell you - there is nothing better to keep your mind off wandering either direction than physical, sweat inducing labour. I don't have much time to feel sorry for myself or to dream.

While I'm forking silage across the fence to the cows - this is a punishment usually reserved for a forecourt of hell - I only find the muse to think of very little. And should a thought arise, then it gets swiftly zapped away when I try to detangle silage caught on the electric tape without due care.

Do you think they appreciate my hard work?

The horses meanwhile despise the hay I gave them - it only cost me half a day to dismantle a ringfeeder in the hill, load it on a trailer, bring it down to their field, drive back to the shed and manually load said trailer with hay before driving it down to them again. To emphasise their discontent, they also trashed the lickbucket I treated them to; - garlic, actually their favourite flavour.

In their defense, the sheep haven't been moaning too much as they were given lick blocks prior to tupping time. They do however have a 6th sense for when I carry anyhting resembling a bucket or feedbag across the yard, even when I make almost no sound. In that case, they will be very vocal about their hunger or shall we say greed.

Neither Tib the working collie nor the working cats (vermin control department) can presently complain about a lack of treats: We got a lot of bones back from butchering the pigs and the steer. And I mean A LOT. So in their personal private slow cooker (speaking about spoilt rotten animals ...), they get a delicious dinner cooked for them every day. Needless to say, I'm currently their best friend.

Or will the horses be grateful I'm taking this down for them?

By the time you've done your round, the sun is setting. To be fair, the sun never really came up that much over the horizon in the first place, but now it's 2pm and it's getting dusky. My personal inner clock tells me it's time to hole up with a hot drink, a bowl of soup and call it a day. But no such luck, eh. Because the human population of the croft needs cooked and catered for, as well. Only marginally more appreciative than the animals, I save my haute couisine skills for another day and make carrot and lentil soup instead. But indeed, by now the complaints department is closed and since it's properly dark by now and I am shattered, I decide it's a good time to turf everybody off to bed, the children first, followed by the chickens and the dog and finally, finally, myself.

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