Standing at the walled garden’s west gate. Watching. Waiting. Thinking.
Land and sea – dulled and blurred after a day of cloud and rain, retreat into darkness, leaving just shadows to play the night stage. A lone blackbird, its evensong sung, descends from the ridge of the workshop roof with a silky rustle of wings and a friendly chirrup, disappearing between the branches of the old hawthorn and the high stone wall. As night falls, it is neither wet, nor windy, but solemn and peaceful.
I’m waiting for Tilly, still dawdling homeward along the lane, back from our bed-time walk. A night that is still and dry is one that casts far and wide even the slightest of scents. Tilly is catching up on the latest news and gossip: she’s very nosy!
For the past week or so, Tilly and I have been accompanied on our bed-time walk by little Windy. But not this time – or, alas, ever again: tonight, she is over in Eriskay, with all the other lambs, and their mothers.
Windy‘s already nearly seven weeks old : she’s grown exceptionally well – certainly for a bottle-fed lamb ; and, my, isn’t she a quick learner, too! It’s close to three weeks since I first took her to the croft with me in the morning. And it’s nearly a fortnight since she first showed a preference for the company of her peers: the next morning I left her at the croft for the day – she didn’t notice me walking away. Early evening, I returned to the croft to fetch her home for bedtime milk and a warm dry bed in the trailer. She certainly noticed my arrival, running to me at full pelt, bleating wildly, crashing into my legs.
Yesterday morning, I took a bottle of milk with me to feed her among the flock before bringing her home: it’s the next step in turning her expectations away from us, connecting her ever more strongly with the flock.
This afternoon, Jacalyn – our visitor from California (staying – with her friend Dona – at Carrick) walked with me up to Bothy Field. Jacalyn loves to bottle-feed the lambs! She was also keen to see more of our croft – so she can, in future, summon up the croft in her mind’s eye, as she reads The Big Garden & Croft blog posts. After she’d fed Windy, Jacalyn and I walked and talked our way around both field and flock, Windy following quietly along.
But, when we got to the field gate, Windy was nowhere to be seen. Unless that was her – a lamb on her own, more or less where I’d last seen her following us – lying down, but head up, watching us.
She was quiet – accepting: where she wants to be, where she needs to be. I closed the gate behind us, and Jacalyn and I walked back along the Old Road to the van, no looking back over our shoulders.
Standing at the walled garden’s west gate, thinking about little Windy . Not back then, but right now, with darkness falling around her. As other lambs find their mothers and nestle down for the night, where will Windy find safety and comfort? Will she call out for the only bed she’s ever known – our trailer – with its warm dry bed of straw, sheltered from wind and rain? Will she call out for me?
Tilly’s tail wags gently against my leg as she comes through the gate. She stops, turns her head back to look at me: “C’mon, then: time for biscuit and bed!” Me: “Okay, Tilly, let’s go in now – there’s nothing more to do out here now”.
The two of us walk across the garden, past the trailer – it’s door left swinging open, up the steps and in through the front door and into the warm. I turn, shut the door, and lock us in for the night.