Farm Accommodation, Farm Life, Living with Nature, Uncategorized, Uvie Farm

Solitary walking

I am kitted up for walking the Nog at the end of the day: stalking jacket, gaiters,hiking boots, stick. The Nog knows the form and is through the door as soon as it’s cracked.
20 paces on and everything changes. A shot claps from the far side of the river – sounds flat like a rifle, possibly connected to the herd of red deer on the riverbank a few hours earlier. For the Nog this is the end- hopelessly gunshy, he turns back to the house, turns again, sits at the end of the bridge looking at me. For all his excitement at running the hill, this fear dominates. He follows meekly as I return to the door and let him through to curl thankfully into his basket.

*
This lesson derives from the time we were halfway up the old quarry path through the birches, and a guest started to zero his heavy bore rifle on the farm, the sound of his ranging shots booming back off the hard granite faces. I ushered the Nog ahead of me upwards for a few hundred metres, until his resolve shattered and he turned and ran. Following him downwards, I failed to find him at the deer fence bordering the road and only caught up with him at the front door, set like a concrete ornament.
He must have wormed his way under the deer fence and crossed the main road in his desperation.

*
Alone now I take the same route, intrigued at how much less invasive I am without my hyperactive shadow. A roe and calf trot uphill to the side of the path, turn and look back at me from fifty foot as I walk quietly forward. Three goats, white with large black patches, one heavily pregnant, pause from stripping the bark from a fallen birch to watch without moving from their basket of denuded branches, briefly bright in raw orange.

*
I am more inclined to listen to the southeasterly and the water windcombed from the crags. I share the landscape surveyed by Sarah Justina from her granite, cross-topped obelisk. The strata of colour and contour are layered from the dull marsh grass with the black coils of the slow river fringed with dark birch, up through brighter pasture to the rolling frieze of conifers with snowfields behind grading from scattery to solid white where the eye moves into the wild. Broken cloud rolls across the peaks, seeming to snag.

*
At the foot of the hill I walk parallel to the road before crossing to the yard – cars roar in passing, headlights revealing the road ahead.

*
I move unseen through the darkening wood as invisible ravens call to roost.

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