Potential New Career No. 1 – Cattle Herding

Due to the incessantly inclement weather, that has scuppered my ability to work on an irritatingly regular and bank account depleting basis, I am considering a career change.  Can I run a few ideas past you?  Here is my first suggestion.

I have often doubted the usefulness of my Cattle Herding brownie badge.  After all these years, yesterday it came in very useful, albeit using my car to complete my task rather than a long stick and a “whoa!”.  Of course I didn’t drive when I was a brownie, a scooter would have been the best I could have managed, but I’m sure if a Ford Focus had been available I would have taken full advantage.  The heifers (possibly) were rather pretty beasts, one black and one golden, and they had set on a direct route to the main road.  This is probably not the best place for snacking when you haven’t studied the highway code.  Even then it is a questionable practice.  Nonchalantly, they turned around and I pootled behind them in first gear as they slowly wandered away from the nasty fast cars.  Suddenly they veered across the lane and delicately tiptoed over a low, perhaps broken fence, back to where I imagine they had come from.  Either that or they would soon be making some new friends, I spotted several sheep and some highland cattle already in residence. They looked the sociable kind; I am sure they were fine.

On the way home I was especially vigilant, but there was no repeat performance.  Hopefully their wanderlust was satiated.  As for me, I think I was a natural at the herding game.  Although I must specify no more than two cows at any one time and I won’t like getting out of my car.  A gap in the market, perhaps?


Whilst rejecting me, someone described my work as “niche”.  I imagine it was not meant as a compliment.  I laughed, then did my puzzled face and felt a bit sad.  My writing is me, which surely means I must also be niche.  No one had mentioned it before.  But it explains a lot.

The photo is a detail from Antony Gormley’s The Planets which circle a seating area outside The British Library.  Which is full of niche stuff.

Back To It

After a month long sabbatical, today I returned to work.  I call it a sabbatical because it sounds grown up and important and as if I am doing something worthy with my time.  Researching the lesser spotted snoddlegrass perhaps or volunteering in the Home for Grumpy Old Men or maybe knitting hats for bald eagles.  None of these are the case.  It mainly involved good intent and excessive inertia.  Oh, and chocolate.

After a dreary December I was ready for a break and the thought of sog and mud free days was enticing.  For the last couple of weeks I have been restless to return.  Batteries recharged.  My clothes a little tighter.  Ready for action.

It rained, of course, but not until just before lunch.  And it was lovely to be part of the Westwell Hall pack again.  My cleaned and sharpened tools are dirty, my coat mud-encrusted, twigs are in my hair, order has been restored and all is well in the world.



GMBG – February – The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

Welcome to February’s GMBG, my monthly book:earthling dating agency.  My attempt at a good match this month is The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry and Grev.

I have known Grev since I was a teenager, although in truth I don’t know him at all.  I have seen him perhaps twice in the last thirty years.  We are Facebook friends.  He is on my postcard list and I am never quite sure if he thinks this is a little odd or perhaps that I am stalking him.  Which in retrospect will only be made worse by me sending him a random book.  But I’m not, and the book isn’t random.  Let me tell you a few things that I have gleaned.  Forgive me if I am wrong.

Grev is a Cornishman, I thought I should mention that first, but he is also a citizen of the world.  He is politically savvy; he scrabbles in the mire in an attempt to find diamonds. Sometimes he despairs of folk, occasionally he is sad but, more often than not, he is very funny.  He is a musician and I have often been guided in a new direction by the tunes he shares.  He cares.  And I like him.  And he likes poems.

Wendell Berry is a Kentucky farmer who writes poetry and prose.  I cannot vouch for his agricultural skills, but his writing is exemplary.  Not only does he observe beautifully, submerging into his immediate surroundings, he is also a rebel, a revolutionary, a man who observes the larger picture and rails against it.  He can write a love poem to his wife, a tree or old friends and all are equally touching.  My copy of this book is kept close.  I delve frequently and am forever amazed by the joy his words give me.

I’m hoping they give a little joy to Grev too.