It’s all relative

Note: During the months of February and March, the farmers get into their cow sheds and piggeries and cart off the mass of manure that has accumulated over the winter, and take it to the stubble fields. This is a time-honoured way to return goodness to the land and ensure fine crops later on in the year. Farming is a cyclical affair, which if done properly will produce food for everyone on the planet till Hell freezes over. But once the cycle is broken or interfered with, and artificial fertilisers are used instead of the natural organic ones, the long term result will be disaster for the land, the well-being of farming, and the quantity and quality of food grown, a domino effect that will be hard to set up again.
I digress; the above is food for another blog.

The folk at the farm next to ours, about a quarter of a mile away, we’re engaged like everyone else in manuring their fields. Great trailer loads of steaming manure left their sheds, and we’re dumped off in piles on the fields, regularly spaced, so that after spreading, the manure would evenly enrich the land when ploughed in.
There was a father and his son and daughter over the way, and while the young ones were tending to the milking and the thousands of chores that farmers seem to be able to do simultaneously, the father was out spreading the manure.

On one particular day, rather cold, but dry and a little sunny, the father returned from his morning’s work, had his dinner of soup, meat and potatoes and pudding, sat in his favourite chair, lit his pipe and promptly died.
Grieve, dear reader, but not too deep, he was ninety-seven, his going was not unexpected, but of course there were consequences.
Grandpa and I were outside, communing with Nature through the seat of our pants, when a great rumpus got going over the way. The son and the daughter could be seen racing in and out of the farm buildings, running round and round the corn stacks, yelling and shouting at each other, although we couldn’t make out a word.
As we watched Grandpa said something rather strange. “Well, well now, maybe herself is about to get a bit of her own back.” I heard what he said, but I didn’t understand the implications of it until I was much older, and it was a bit dark!
I am translating the gist of what Grandpa said into English, for fear in the original those reading this wouldn’t get any of it now!
The chase continued on for a while, but suddenly the man was running straight towards us, across fields that were newly ploughed, soft earth forced into ridges, the hollows full of puddles, the tops muddy and impossible to stand on, but all that muck apparently wasn’t going to stop him. On he came, crying out, falling down often, till, if he hadn’t been moving, it would have been hard to pick him out from the general landscape, so messed up and wet he was.
We went out to meet him as he reached the corner of his field and our lane; he hung over the fence, exhausted, haggard, mighty short of breath, but determine, we could see, to get whatever had set him going off his chest.
“The auld man’s deid,” he gasped out.
“Aye,” replied Grandpa, to keep the story going.
“Aye so,” the man went on, “but he hasna finished the back field yet!”

Is an explanation needed? It would be a kindness, I think. Remember the father was in his late nineties, which meant the son and daughter were in their mid seventies. So at this busy time of the year on a farm, with so much to get done, it was past thinkable that they’d have to go out and spread manure on top of everything else.


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