Wind

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It’s a mistake to let weather like this get away from you. I hate the wind, and I’m filled with spiteful rage to find it free and happy. Such a wind is hardly joking; having been given free rein, it tugs my cuff and sneers, saying “now what?”

It was a rough day to work cattle, but people were free to help and you can hardly turn down the chance to get a job done. So the wind ran through us all as we went to the pens; it rolled upon itself and bellowed in the beech boughs, turning hazel to hurtle till the catkins sang.

We brought all the beasts into the pens, with the smack of their hooves in the mud. We drew off the calves from their mothers and pressed the young beasts into a chute. Then we freed the cows to their field, although they hung around and bellowed anyway. With shoving and prodding, we drove the calves up into a gaping aluminium trailer where their hooves clattered and the vent flaps clicked like castanets.

Of course the trailer got stuck. Deep peely rinds of mud came spurting up in the tyre treads, and always the endless wind about us, fouled with birds and diesel fumes and a plastic feed bag fleeing. There were gulls low and idle about the land, and the sea all ribbed with racks of white foam. We waited for another tractor to rescue the trailer, and I slouched in the whinns and watched breakers smash on the granite shore.

Now the calves are home and pained by the lack of their mothers. It’s an endless moan, but here is a turning point for the spring. The cows have new calves to think of, and they can no longer afford to spend their milk on last year’s young. And the calves of 2019 must become stirks and heifers in their own right.

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