Diary of a Highland Lady - February/March 2004
It's the first of my diaries for 2004 and I don't know whether to look forward or back! It's an odd time of year really isn't it? We've all opened our Christmas presents and been amazed by what's been considered 'ideal Yuletide Gifts' - steam irons, kettles that do celebrity impressions, discreet pocket-sized nasal hair pluckers and so forth - and we've carefully packed them away again for the next jumble sale. I wish the Royal Scots Raccoon Guards would give their present to a jumble sale. Would you believe they got an activity centre for Christmas? It's been bells, squeakers and rattles ever since. My nerves are jangling. Mind you, it could have been worse. Dr June sent 'gift vultures' to people she wouldn't be seeing at Christmas - imagine one of those at the foot of your bed on Christmas morning!
Up here we're now at the LBP stage - Last Batch of Picklings. Dr Jeff's got quite good at it, although there were various mishaps at first. For example, the recipe for pickling onions said 'best peeled under water' but he couldn't seem to be able to hold his breath long enough. Another said 'peel the veg and stand in a very cold place overnight' - he said he wasn't going to get pneumonia for a few jars of pickles, thank you very much
The other thing on the agenda is preparation for lambing. This started before Christmas with arrival of 'Arry Ramsbottom. 'Arry is a very large, Gaelic speaking, Scottish blackface ram with enormous curly horns, and he arrived with the specific goal of courting the ladies of the flock. This means that we can expect a fine crop of lambs this spring. Considering my problems with the bottle reared lambs last year, and most especially Dolcie, the Lamb from Hell, I intend to plan a vacation for the duration. Thankfully that's a month or two away yet, it will give me time to decide on a suitable retreat. Having to put up with conversations about ovine reproductive problems, and having a small flock of incontinent bleating thugs in my kitchen, is not my idea of a prelude to spring. Maybe some of you kind readers might offer me a refuge? After all, my needs are quite simple - several lightly cooked meals a day, a permanent lap, cashmere blankets...but definitely no sheep.
Chudley Lacamp and his family arrived over the festive period. Such a nice chap, Chudley, but somehow things got out of hand with the drinking sessions that took place as part of the Mahogany celebrations, or whatever these New Year parties are called. Chudley had his Fursty Ferret beer and Laurie was blotto on a Glenmore Pine Martin Scotch. Even the weasel was looking for pop! I wouldn't say it was all down to Chudley, but ...well, it never happened before he arrived and it hasn't happened since, so I'll say no more about that.
We also had a visit from Dr June's new research student Claire, who is a vet. She is good fun and I was happy to appoint her as my personal physician. I think even Wispa the weasel liked her, which is just as well because Wispa might have to be spayed, like us jills, and Claire is used to working on tiny animals. The Royal Scots Raccoon Guards were less hospitable. They welcomed Claire all right - they welcome any new victim - then they tried to fill her socks with sawdust and wiped their sticky fingers in her hair. Luckily Claire thought it great fun, which probably means she's as batty as the rest of the people in my world.
So we are all curled up waiting for spring to arrive. From what I hear it means birds and bees. Before your imaginations run amok, I should say that I'm speaking literall - bees for the hive and ducks and chickens. We have a hive ready to set up in the orchard, and we are almost ready to get some poultry. I adore duck eggs, and a little honey in my goat's milk is really quite acceptable. Spring looks very promising indeed - apart from the lambing that is.