Saturday, 25 August 2007
There's gold in that thar shed
Listening to: Hurt (Johnny Cash)
Staring: out to sea
Drinking PG Tips (can you ride tandem?)
You do take things for granted sometimes. Having been brought up in East Anglia (the 10-year stretch in boarding school apart) I have got used to the idea that straw is in plentiful supply.
Car trips around the Fens during my childhood always seemed to be in the wake of massive trailers, piled high with bales being shipped off to the livestock farms in the North and the Midlands.
More recently, looking after a horse in Shropshire, all that was needed was a phone call and a load of bales were at your door.
Not so on Westray. If I had a pound for every time I've been told "straw's like gold here" I'd have. . . well, four quid, but you get the picture.
That threw me into a minor panic. The hens are packing their cases and ready to move in any time now (as soon as the agricultural merchants deign to send the fencing wire I've already paid for that is) and we are only days away from piggy blast-off. Not only that, but Sally's horse Xena is due here in a month or so and everything needs to be perfect for the horse with an attitude worse than Joan Collins with a hangover.
The barley is due to be cut here in a couple of weeks and I don't fancy my chances of elbowing my way to the front of the queue for straw - Viking blood runs thick up here.
I consulted the oracle (Marcus) and it appears the island's haulage firm has "a few bales" in the back of the shed. Can't imagine why I didn't think of that.
I wandered down to the depot in the village and passed the time of day with Keith, discussing the probability of both Scotland and Ireland blowing up disastrously in the early stages of the Rugby World Cup, before asking about the straw.
"Oh yes, we have a few bales," he said. Sure enough, there were a few, but they were bloody massive. I've lived in smaller houses.
"Those won't fit in the back of the Land Rover," I said, pulling on walking boots, checking my map and compass for a trip around one of the bales. "No, we run a couple up for you," said Keith.
That's why this morning I'm clearing tools out of the barn in a desperate attempt to accommodate a couple of uber-bales. . . which cost about £15 each - gold's cheap up here in the islands.