I brought the hind off the hill today.
Cuckoo burn offers bad quad access with the old road broken down by sheep and scattered rocks adding to the danger of traversing a rough slope; but with snow obscuring the hazards –
it could be lethal.
So it has to be a drag- all the way from where the hind is lying to the gate on the roadside where I can heave her into the pick-up. It can’t be more than a mile but it is the hardest physical work…
Walking up to where I cleaned the hind yesterday takes about 40 minutes. Legs strapped I hook a rope around the neck with the end wrapped round my body – and set off – or stumble off anyway.
I am not built for dragging.
My boxer buddy Paul is. He has the height and bulk to lean into the rope to haul the dead weight. When I lean forward nothing much happens apart from my nose getting alot closer to the ground: I have to heave and sweat.
The snow helps – where it fills a sheep track or a drain, it provides a chute for the hind to slide along. I attack the task in chunks – a few paces at a time- stop to catch my breath and survey the ground for the best route ahead, scanning for heather tussocks, boulders, depressions that will bring me to a jarring halt. At times I even pull uphill pull, to maintain the high ground on the hill rather than jam myself against the fence on the broken-down path following the burn to the roadside pastures.
I fall over in the snow a few times, grunt and groan continuously, pant horribly after a longer travel and repeatedly stop after only a few yards over the rougher sections. Anyone looking on would think I am mad- or disabled maybe – as I crawl laboriously over the landscape tied to my quarry like the mariner to his albatross.
But it is not a penance – it is a kind of honouring of the beautiful dead creature behind me. If this is what it takes to complete the cycle from the hunt to the table- then this is what I must do.
I stagger onwards – approaching the slope down to the pasture the sheepbitten grass becomes short and smooth: I run downhill, my burden sliding effortlessly behind me.
A solitary figure is skylined on the monument crag. Someone has seen this whole performance.
My today has become part of someone else’s story.