Friday 26 December 2014

Into the drizzle

This week we have knotted the circle with the sheep.  The second batch of ram-lambs came back from the butcher in neat chunks, so that's all that we're going to get out of the flock for this season.  At more or less the same time, we have borrowed a grown-up ram from Paddy the Shear and he has been doling out teaspoonfuls to start the cycle again. If he's any good, he should have spread his largesse round 15 adult ewes with delivery of the product five months hence. In February we'll ask the ultrasound man to come round with his contraption to give us an interim count.  On Saturday we asked Paddy to take his chap home and we'd just finished loading the big feller into a trailer when Mick, the talkiest walker of our hills. appeared at the gate, just too late to distract the work. Hillmen all, we fell to talking about poor Paddy Looney who died in February: characteristically while cleaning out a drain that probably needed cleaning although it could have been left alone just as well.

I made an observation that the traffic of walkers trudging up our lane seemed to be heaviest on marginal dull drizzly Saturdays when I would be more inclined to be working in the dry - possibly seeing to things in the poly-tunnel but probably sitting at the kitchen table bloggin' for Ireland. The map [L] is the current state of rainfall across Ireland at 0800hrs St Stephen's Day, so we may expect a regiment of hill-lopers in gore-tex gaiters up the lane today. Mick explained, from some paternal experience, that the drizzly days were more definitely free for walking the hills because on fine dry days there were likely to be calls to mow the lawn, wash the car, take the girl to ballet, help the chap make a kite from newspaper and sticks, do the shopping, take the dog to be wormed, clean out the garage, paint the gate, fix the dripping tap upstairs before sinking back exhausted for lunch. He didn't say any of that, he's far too nice to gripe and moan. But it had the ring of truth, and I feel I've learned something about how the world ticks.  Not everyone hears the call of the wild, but for those that do, their psychic and physical health requires a regular session with wet boots and windburn.  Listen up families, the old man will do all the chores in due course but you keep him off the hills at your, and his, peril.

The following day, being the solstice and not raining, we all put on hats and coats and headed up the lane in the late afternoon. The clouds were low over the hills and it looked overcast as far as the sea 40km to the East, but god's spotlight lit up some patches of field in the middle distance. In the fading light the wet ground in front was still glinting patchily and the broad bright sky above had a hint of pink; this pastel composition was sawn in half by the black edge of spruce forest running down into the valley.  You could see why some people would prefer to be out even if it meant missing the big match on the telly.

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