Endless Turnips

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There’s no end to these turnips, and perhaps for the first time I begin to think that it’s not much fun anymore. There’s so much to shift and cleave and haul, and the flex of my fingers is failing. That’s seven tons lifted, cleaned and fed to the beasts, and I reckon there’s another ten to come.

And always battling the daylight as a make-believe sun rolls back behind the heather without warmth or charm. So much time is wasted in darkness; it kneels upon me. No sooner has the day begun to grey than I am out and lifting turnips with the geese above me, off towards the good land at Castle Douglas. And I haul and tip and the black hydraulic hoses spray me with oil and always a thin, chesty stream of diesel fumes into the low cloud. Before you know it, the geese are back to sea again and darkness has fallen with a rush of woodcock and rising stars. It’s all I can do to keep the animals fed before the night drives me indoors again.

Don’t think of this as whining. The cattle are doing well and this crop has been everything I hoped – I wanted this hardship, and here it is. But when the last turnip is fed and the field is returned to something other, I’ll be mighty glad.

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