Fingers and Thumbs

Three of us it took, and over an hour, to agree

That all the cows were where they ought be

How many could we see and count

Fifty six should have been the right amount

Browns and blacks and Devon Reds shifted

As we counted, those huge beasts drifted

Heavy silhouettes turned to solid shapes

They moved and merged, seemed to evaporate

What was one, then sprung two more cud dribbling heads

Then a brown one suddenly grew six legs

And stretched out long until it was two

And so we had to start the count anew

Up on the hillside we saw them clearly

And at last confirmed the tally

Each of us found fifty six

But wished we had known the farmer’s tricks

.

n.b. To count the herd when there is no one about to help, organise the cattle to pass through a gate into the fresh pasture one at a time, counting them as they go

.

Christopher Perry

21st April, 2020

Day 32

Today is overcast and hence a little warmer. The benefit of cloud cover is tempered by rain in the air, but when the rain becomes noticeable it is a pleasure to feel it on the face. This is April, there should be showers!

Here in the east, close to a north-facing coast, there is no rain shadow to help the farmers. Temperatures are generally lower, the air drier. Drought is a concern, so any rainfall is welcome. Today’s is not enough to do any more than damp dust down. I pass a field where hundreds of crows are profitably flocking behind the track of a tractor pulling a huge roller. The roller is being used to break up the heavy clay clumps in the top soil. This work will help young crops break through to air and light, allow rain, (or piped water), permeate below young roots.

A little further inland, the leaf canopy is far from complete and the woodland floor has plenty of light. With the warmer air and the brighter light, blue-bells are ready to spill out in swathes, but not yet.

The villages and local market town are quiet. A cricket square has been optimistically striped with a motor mower. More surprisingly, a budget home hardware shop is open for trade with buckets, brushes and brooms, step ladders and all sorts of shiny, useful items smartly displayed in the window and on the pavement. The proprietress stands outside the open door smoking a cigarette. Has she been following the news at all? There is no one else in sight.

When I get back to the house our conversation continues by telephone, naturally. Define friendship? It does not demand constant physical presence. You are not beside me, but always with me.

.

Christopher Perry

18th April, 2020

Full to Overflowing

The cows have got to be milked

Whatever else happens

So, some sheep have been filched

The cows have got to be milked

Chickens attacked by the fox

The piglets slipped out of the pens

The cows have got to be milked

Whatever else happens

.

n.b. www.napowrimo.net Day 12 challenge: write a trioletnearly.

.

CLP 12/04/2020

On Me Head, Lass

Do you mind if I…

The attractive young woman began

Moving to my side

Touching the nape of neck

Checking me over

Closely

Touching my ear

Rearranging a little silver-white curl on my crown

…if I photograph your hair?

I think it’s beautiful

.

After taking a few photographs

From different angles

She turned to her phone, smiled

And said

“That will be ten pounds, please”

That’s a fair price for a haircut

I paid, happy as a show lamb

(And we all knows what happens to boy lambs don’t we’s?

There’re the first to leave the farm)

.

CLP 21/02/2020

January Road Trip (XXX)

Earth tumbles off steel

Turned turf rolls over face down

Gulls trawl plough’s soil wake

.

n.b. After the urgent work of hedge cutting, trimming, mending, it is the time to plough. This is the moment to open the ground to air, rain and frost so the soil can break up, breathe and prepare for sewing and the warmth of spring.

It seems that every field I have passed from Norfolk to Hertfordshire is being worked today. This is the heavy, steady work of the season; rod by rod, acre by acre with the patience of the ploughman.

.

CLP 30/01/2020