Farm Accommodation, Farm Life, farm visitors, Highland cattle, Uncategorized, Uvie Farm

Dirty work this cleaning

Clean clean – I’m cleaning the bunkhouse. A surprise group of guests are coming for a weekend of winter hiking. The place needs prepared. All morning is spent indoors while the snow is whistled up by the wind in the eaves. Start with the bathrooms- don’t skimp on the toilets – no trace of previous occupancy. Wash basins,shower, sweep the place out – fresh towels – and onto the bedrooms: family room and two sleeping lofts. Sweep first, clear any used bedlinen- make up the beds from folded linen from the cupboard at the end of the bathroom. Fold the corners of the duvets back as the final invitation. Hoover the lounge, after sweeping crumbs and dust to the floor.
Stair carpet swept down to the tiles in the kitchen. Sweep mud carried in from boots, food scraps down to the entrance door. Clean round the corners on hands and knees, empty recycling bins, stack crockery from the drainer. Make sure the sets of china and glass are complete in the cupboards.
Finish the tiles with the steam cleaner, working backwards towards the end of the long flex run from the garage and then out the garage door so I don’t tread over the damp tiles.
Lights on in welcome – job done. The house will belong to the guests for the weekend, but I’ve given the best start, first impressions must be good and then they will relax into the spaces as the weekend progresses, breaking down habitual spatial jealousies.
And now a different kind of service, a bale to the cattle.
It is sleeting, wet snow driven on the wind. I need to prepare: warmth first, raingear next. My ovetrousers are pulled over jeans, rolled over the top of boots shedding the rain. Both boots and trousers are covered in muck from the morning’s chores. Up to the yard on the quad, pick up a bale on the scorpion tail bogey and down to the sodden pasture where Angus Halfhorn and the girls are standimg on the drier ground. The gate is poached and guttery with deep mud. I have to reverse the machine up to the feeder – the trailer, weighed down with the haybale, skids in the slime and turns too far. Try again. A different line and more throttle sends muck spinning into the damp air but the bale is now jammed up against the metal of the feeder.
Using the JCB I could drop the bale into the feeder from above but it is too wet and soft for the seven ton machine so I use the quad this time, which means upending the feeder. The weight of metal tests me close to the limit on every occasion but at least it’s not cemented to the mud with frost. Tip my fingers into the mire at the bottom of the metal ring and lift to stand it on its side. The bale is levered into the dish where the old silage, black and rank, has been pulled to the side, to sit neatly as I drop the ring over the hay. Squelching back onboard the quad I open the gate to let the cattle feed.
Quad parked in the garage, trailer unhitched and parked, I’m back indoors. My boots and clothes are wet, dirty and smelling of dung.
The cattle don’t mind – the bunkhouse guests might!

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