We had a swift burst of good housekeeping, in a general sense – we fetched in coal and logs to the porch, then filled the various scuttles and baskets in the drawing room and dining room so that we will have enough for the next couple of days. I swept the porch and LT fetched the bins from the end of the drive. We cleaned the kitchen and washed up the things that wouldn’t reasonably fit in the dishwasher. We shrugged at the thought of dusting or hoovering, having done quite enough to feel satisfied.
I mentioned the other day that I’d ordered another field gate: that was delivered this morning. To start with, I’d thought to have it put where it was going to be placed but then thought again – apart from it being rather tempting for a ne’er-do-well with a gap, I realised it, and its posts, need to be painted with wood preservative before they’re installed. I had asked Wince if he might be able to put it in and, being endlessly willing, he’d said yes, if he had someone to help him, but he said it doubtfully. So yesterday, I suggested to him that it might be better to ask the farmer if he could do the job or suggest someone who might, and Wince was obviously glad to agree.
I have been meaning all winter to go and speak to the farmer – well, farmers, it’s a partnership of two couples, parents, son and daughter-in-law. They sell the raw milk, butter and cheese that I’ve mentioned before. Some of their cattle graze two of our fields – the Ups and Downs and Humpy’s Meadow; the Front Field is just cut for hay. The wire fencing is in need of some repair, and the job is beyond LT and me. Some of the wooden stakes have rotted at ground level and there is no question that we can drive in new ones. It occurred to me that, if they would put in the gate too, it would be ideal. They’ve got all the machinery to do it more easily. As far as the fencing was concerned, I reckoned that, if I supplied the materials, they might do the work, but when additional work was included, that’s more than I’d ask for and I’d rather offer to pay. While I was about it, I’d ask them to demolish the rotten remains of Humpy’s stable too (Humperdinck was my mother’s pet donkey, who died some 18 years ago) and, I suddenly remembered, replace another gate I’d forgotten about because it hadn’t been used for so long. I know, not everyone manages to completely forget entrances, but I had.
After lunch, LT sat down with the newspapers while I headed off to the farm, remembering to take wellies in case I had to search. I parked outside the milk kiosk and trotted off to the farmyard. It was a pleasure, actually, it’s beautifully looked after. The cows were all in their well-strawed pens, mostly standing or lying chewing the cud, there were some half-grown heifers, some other cows were eating silage. There was a great stack of straw bales and a couple of huge heaps of muck. Obviously there was some mud and muck around, but it was very tidy and the yard had recently been scraped clean. However, there was no sign of either man, so I completed the tour and arrived back at the car, planning to go and check the office and the dairy. And I met a chap who was helping someone about her milk requirements and asked if he knew where G or J were. Both gone home for lunch, he said, so I said I would go and call on G, the father.
All is sorted, I’m glad to say. I explained all that is needed and G will come and check the gate entrance where I haven’t yet bought the replacement – he explained that they stopped using it because it’s so awkward in the narrowish lane, but if a new gate were wider (or, preferably, if there were two eight foot gates), perhaps put in at a slight angle, then the problem would be solved. I could leave it to him, he’d talk to J and they’d come back to me. I asked if they might also deliver me a load of muck, which would rot down over the summer and be dug in this autumn, and he said he would. So I was quite pleased with myself. I hadn’t been putting off the job exactly, I’d just not got around to doing it, but there’s plenty of time. They won’t be putting cattle on the fields before the start of April, so they’ve got a couple of months to find time – I expect they’ll get on with it sooner rather than later though, as springtime is very busy on the farm, of course.
Roses will be a bit disappointed, naturally, once we don’t have the occasional drama of cows getting out into the garden, but I’m sure I can make it up to her.