Saturday, 15 May 2010

Jobs I have acquired

Once upon a time I had roles which, although various, nevertheless took me through the hours of the day according to the whatever situation I was in at the time. This still applies. However, when living in the UK, these roles were far more minimal to what they are now. In comparison to the 'then' time, the 'now' time is multiplied many times over. 

Back in the UK I did my house duties so wore my house-maid's hat. I did my work, so wore my 'psychic person's' hat. My 'woman-living-with-her-Hubs' hat provided me with the role of partner, and sundry other hats, like 'dog-walker', 'chief gardener and DIY person', 'dressmaker and knitting person', 'erstwhile writer', etc, filled the rest of the hours of the day.

To which has now been added 'Chief Collector of Poo'. With a shovel, hoe and bucket I walk the Paddock each day to pick up the leavings of our flock of sheep. It is surprising how many 'leavings' are to be had from this merry band of munchers.

So why bother to do such a task? Well, the daily accumulations would eventually make the Paddock into Poo Paradise. And, anyway, the poo is like treasure-trove for Hubs/Head Gardener, who now has his much longed-for manure for the Veg Plot. 

So this is the Paddock looking from the lane towards the house. The Sheep House is in the corner to the right. And that is another added-on job: to sort out the bedding each day. To rake it back so the ground can dry, then to rake it back again so the sheep can be cosy-tosy at night. And another job: to go get the hay and straw. So on the way home from the Supermarket I now also purchase two bales of straw which can be just about crammed into the boot of the car, leaving the shopping rolling around in the back seat of the car. 

 Carol in the shop up in  Castelnau said that I have 'arrived', meaning that I am now an established farm-girl. Standing in front of her chill counter, having a chat, I felt  a sneeze starting to rise up. Grabbing into my pocket for a tissue to stem the flow of sneeze moisture, and out from the  pocket also came a handful of straw which drifted gently onto her pristine floor. Ah well. A farm-girl I have now become. 

We both remember me two years ago, newly arrived and still wearing skirts and shoes (this was before the time of mucky trousers and muckier boots), laying my head on her shoulder for a moment with the effort of it all. I have come a long way since then.

Another task: 'Leader of the Sheep'. At the moment we are needing to establish a routine for them. So, despite their reluctance, them wanting to bed down amongst the lush grass of the Station Field and not in the sparcer food-space of the Padock, they have to be moved. Normally they have parked themselved in the middle of the field, hoping, I think, that we might forget they are there. But at dusk, with a pot of maize in hand, out we go to fetch them.

And I call to them in a sing-song voice and rattle my pot. Meanwhile Hubs opens the gates. 

At first they pretend they can't hear me. Like Hubs does sometimes, and Bools and Guss. But all here have learnt that I cannot be ignored. For the sheep this is the same. Eventually they realise that to shut me up they have to respond. This they do. With a thundering charge they come towards me. Yahoooooo! Grandly galloping towards me they come. Timing now is critical. To get them across the lane before a car comes along is paramount. I wait. They are fast approaching. Hubs says 'Move'. I move, turning to cross the lane with a brisk stride, rattling my pot, calling the flock. Over the lane they come, charging at my rear. I keep marching on down the Paddock. At some point I hope to leave go my fear of being mown down by the sheep. The noise of their feet pounding the earth was quite fearsome at first. And they are quite big. 

But I have learnt that they are gentle souls and only jostle. I have found this out by starting to let them feed from the pot and not dropping the maize onto the ground which I did at first fearing lest they bite me. Now I have started feeding them by hand. And I even get to have a fondle. And the Big Boy Male has started sniffing at the offered maize although still feels it is beneath his dignity to accept the food on offer. 

And then all is done, and I leave. And outside the gates we watch the flock settle down, the youngsters doing what all youngsters do at bedtime, and that is racing about like hooligans while the adults look on with weariness. 

In the morning it is the reverse process, but with no food offered so no stampeding rush. More of a shoo-ing of them from the rear as they plod on out into the field for their given task of the day, which is to get the field cut down for us, and provide us with manure, to grow good meat, and to give us pleasure and great joy. I hope we do the same for them and give them an equally good life. 

Things I have learnt: that my fingernails and hands are never going to be the same again. That one has to accept that one's clothing is always going to have some form of farm-life stuck to it. That the next role to learn is Under Pig Lady, because Max arrives tomorrow, and to be patient with this seemingly never-ending learning curve. 

And here is Gussy waiting for Hubs to open the office door, and guarding the day's treasure of a bucket of sheep poo.


Roz said...

Gussy looks gorgeous! I'm very impressed you are poo picking each day. If hubs wants some horse poo he is welcome to come and get some xx

Barry said...

From the outside it looks like a totally marvelous adventure. And certainly makes for a stimulating read.

Vera said...

If you were closer to us, we would! But you also gather up the poo, don't you! So we are fellow poo-gatherers! WOW! By the way, my friend lives near you, Roz, and says there is a reclamation yard in Confolon that is selling the same flooring as you purchased for 38 euro
per meter, and as you are in the Haut Vienne it is not too far to travel for you - just a thought for future reference.

Vera said...

Barry, I am glad that you like the read, and you are right about living here being a marvelous adventure. And I continue to think of you in your own particular journey, and sending you blessings of much love.

DUTA said...

'Sheep leader' sounds great, so does 'farm girl'.
No doubt, you work hard, but you also derive a lot of satisfaction from every new step, from any improvement. And in the end, you'll have a beautiful house and a successful farm. That's a lot.
In the meantime, we,readers enjoy reading about your adventures and admiring your humor and the pictures (great picture that of Guss "guarding the bucket of sheep poo"!).

Vera said...

Every day brings fresh challenges, Duta, but like you say, we also are deriving bucketfuls of satisfaction which makes it all worth while. Thankyou for your comment, it is nice to know my writing gives pleasure to others.