My life revolves around hay making. Getting up early, at first light which is a magical time when the world is still asleep, when the day is still thinking about what it is going to do weatherwise. There is a quietness. And there is a feeling within myself of feeling virtuous, of feeling quite smug if truth be told, as I march out to the Far Paddock in the Back Field booted and hatted and with my scythe carried at waist height across my body, not downwards, because it is newly sharpened and I don't want Boolie and Gus crashing into it and cutting themselves as they zip and dart about in delightful anticipation of the walk ahead.
Only once we reach the Far Paddock and I park up by my plastic chair, which is always left where I am working outside on a big project so I can have a sit down when my energies are all gone away and I need to get them back again, well once I have parked up in this treasured space in the middle of the field, then the dogs get fed up, knowing that they have become robbed of the delights of a proper dog walk and will now have to spend at least two hours sitting on damp grass, which they think is a total waste of their energies as they would prefer either to be out and about off our homestead, or asleep in their beds back at the house. Watching me does not do it for them.
Yesterday afternoon Gus took himself off for a wander, only he fetched up in the river. Don't know how he did that. The first I knew that he was up to mischief was when I heard him barking. He never barks, but he was. I was turning the hay, not scything. I only scythe in the mornings, between 7 and 10. After that the sun is up and roasting all. We are in the middle of a heat wave. To remain outside after 11 is torcher.
But I am getting behind with getting the hay baled, so there are piles of hay looking like pimples all over the parts of the field which have been cut. These piles need to be made into DIY hay bales so they can be brought in before the rains arrive, which they most surely will sometime or other.
So I was busy, raking up the hay into larger piles in preparation for making the bales, which I do after 7 in the evening when the sun is on its way down below the horizon and it is not quite so hot. I was in old patched trousers, an open shirt, sleeveless t-shirt, hat, boots. All was patched with the darkness of sweat. My face was shiny with sweat. Fronds of hair were dangling down my face which where in spirals of wetness. Indeed, rivulets of water where running down me everywhere. As I say, I was hot.
And Gussy, the fiend, was off and barking somewhere.
And it came to me, all of a sudden, that there might be people about on the river, it being a day when sensible people would be doing that sort of thing, like sitting by the river, paddling in the river, or even swimming in the river.
And a fear shot through me that perhaps Gussy, the horror, was causing a mischief with these people.
I flung my rake down. My temper boiled up. I had no energy to deal with him.
I marched down to the end of the field, through into the neighbours field, round to the little woodland by the river, down the little dip onto the little beach, straight into a bunch of pristine French people complete with a proper upright barbeque and proper plastic table and chairs, and properness everywhere.
All looked at me in amazement. I must have looked a state. Sometimes, just sometimes, I wish I was tidier and prettied up when working out on the farm. One of the projects for this winter is to make myself some pretty shirts, maybe put a ribbon on my sunhat so it does not make me look so much like Mrs Indiana Jones.
"Je travaille dans la terre. Je coupe l'herbe pour donner les brebis pendant le hiver" (I work on the field. I cut grass to give to the sheep during the winter) I said, trying to excuse my appearance, whilst waving my arms in the direction along the river towards our land of Labartere.
All looked at me in silence. And this is when I regret not having the French language in my head. If these people had been English I would have cracked a joke about the weather, having to cut hay when it is so hot, wishing I was having a BBQ as well, wishing I was sitting in the shade with the option to have a dunk in the coolness of the river. Such situations remind me that I am an immigrant in a foreign land.
Anyway, not to worry. Had caught sight of Gus, the blasted nuisance of a dog, and he was parked up on a small river beach along aways, where the river is busily eroding the corner of the Far Paddock making a cliff several metres high. And he was stuck. I think I would have left him there, working on the theory that he would sort himself out eventually, but two young girls were busy wading their way over to him.
Now he is a sweet looking dog. Lovely eyes. Bright copper coloured coat. But he has a devil in him. People always head towards him rather than Boolie, who is bigger, noisier, and more boisterous, while Gussy, the devil-dog, looks so much more approachable. But then the devil will strike. Out will come a snap. But not always, just sometimes. Totally unpredicable is Gussy.
So then I had a dog in the river, who might snap at two young girls, whose family might then have a go at me, and all I wanted to do was to finish off raking the hay so I could have a shower, put some dry clothes on, and go lie down.
" Le chien (the dog).....c'est possible parler les enfants (is it possible to talk to the children)......le chien, il n'est pas bon (the dog, he is not good)"
Nothing for it but to do a retreat and leave these people to the quietness of their afternoon. Gussy was still barking. I am now fuming both at myself for my inadequacy with the French language which seems to desert me when I am under stress, and at the both dogs now, as Bools refuses to come with me but prefers to linger on with the nice little lady doggie of the French family. I hear my voice, more strident now, yelling at him. He had been growling at the big fat labrador who was also with the family, didn't want him to pick a fight with that dog. Wished I had left the dogs back at the house. Wished I was back at the house. Wished I was less hot and more dry.
At last Bools appears, not in a hurry, knows I am cross. Round to the edge of the Far Paddock I go. Look over the edge of the little cliff. There he is, Gus, still barking at the two girls who are now swimming gracefully around in the river. I yell at him. He looks up, oh so glad to be rescued. I verbally haul him along the bank a few metres. See a slope up which I hope he will have the common sense to climb. He does, with difficulty. I wave at the two girls, say thankyou. I look at Gus and growl some angry words at him.
Then I carry on with raking the hay.
Then I finish the job.
Then I walk back to the house.
Then I have a shower.
Then I go to bed and have a sleep.
I felt better after that.......
Hay waiting to go into the Wood Shed
Hay inside the Wood Shed.
There is more hay in the Half Barn.
There is more ready baled hay out in the field waiting to be brought in.
There is more hay lying in heaps waiting to be baled.
There is more grass waiting to be cut to be made hay out of.
Today I am going to have a day off.