Winter is starting to drag. Persistent rain and wind have left the fields soft and lifeless. There’s more brown than green in the grass. . . it’s hard to imagine that, in less than four months, we will be stacking the hay in the barn.
Out in the dark grey sea, the shapes of neighbouring islands Papay and Rousay glower through the mist, surrounded by big swell and sea spray,
Few folk in Westray can remember there being as much snow before Christmas as there was last December and, although it has been warmer since, January and February have been hard work. A walk out to feed and water the pigs takes some effort as the conditions suck the energy out of a 49-year-old, well-used body.
And there are the gales. I thought I was used to them until a couple of weeks ago when I spent much of the night drinking strong tea and comforting an extremely nervous Owen the collie/spaniel cross as 100mph-plus winds battered Orkney.
Still, a positive attitude and a heavy-duty padded boilersuit cover a multitude of sins and a trip down to the bottom field to dole out carrots to the ponies, the wind blowing rain into my face, was almost a pleasure.
The lads were pretty perky and showed no inclination to get out of the weather. You can’t help but admire the hardiness of pigs, sheep and ponies who don’t have the option of curling up in front of the fire with a hot brew and the rugby league on Sky.
The boys are coming up tomorrow to graze the patch near the pigshed where Molly’s nine piglets are getting on just fine. It never ceases to amaze me how fast piglets grow up and those little floppy things that seemed so fragile a fortnight ago are now double the size and little barrel-shaped things zooming around the pen.
It will be good to get them outside when spring finally comes.