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

On the Plucking Post

Blue Tit left on a plucking post in Somerset

Bird of prey at work

Interrupted in mid-flow

She will return soon

.

n.b. Unusual for prey to be left almost whole on a plucking post. I must have scared the predator off while working on the hedges.

.

CLP 10/01/2020

On August XXI

Now gone with all else

Held in cloudy memories

Bottled and pickled

.

n.b. The serious work has begun to collect the fruit, vegetables and crops from the summer. What must be gathered from the orchard floor and stored for winter; what can be collected from the vine and pressed; what can be cut from the plant and eaten fresh, or kept dry; what can be picked from the over-burdened trees and turned to juice, or pickled, or made to jams and chutneys; what can be best preserved frozen?

The stoves burn, jars are sterilised, temperatures carefully monitored; steam and sweetness fill the home. Hair tied back, aprons on while the heat in the kitchen turns us pink and sticky too during these long satisfying hours before labelling bottles and still warm pots and cleaning up in the company of curious wasps and to the buzz of frustrated flies.

.

CLP 01/09/2019