What’s That Brown Stuff on My Designer Boots? And Other Stories From the Farm. Part One.

I herd coos.This is an email (edited for safety) that I wrote a couple weeks ago to some of my friends and family on a recent trip to see my bf’s family in Scotland.

I don’t know how people sleep on airplanes. I tried every possible way to sleep and did not sleep in the approximately 9 hours of flying that we did. Instead, I was awake for 36 hours straight.

We started off the day on Monday, getting on the bus at 430 PM, we (Us and the kids) were all chipper and overly excited for our journey ahead….we finished with one child being “sick” as we were walking off the plane. We weren’t as chipper.

Arriving in Orkney was just as I remembered, beautiful, serene, a vast change of scenery from America. Much to my bf’s chagrin (it’s like a survival completion to him, we should have one backpack for all four of us for two weeks if it were up to him) but we traveled with 3 large rolling suitcases and when we arrived at our final destination in Kirkwall, Orkney, we only had 2 large rolling suitcases. One decided to take a day trip in Edinburgh (pronounced Ed-in-ber-ah).

From airport to Granny and Grandad’s house we traveled to say a quick hello. They are as adorable and Scottish as last time I met them.

Went to bed around 1130 (630 US) and slept till about noon the next day.

When I got up and looked out my large bedroom window over-looking the great wide open space, I saw my bf’s Dad (Who just walked in as I’m typing this at past midnight, I’m in the kitchen, and who was just sleeping on the porch chair…has just come in with his boiler suit on (look it up) and I asked him where he was going and he said, “I’ve just been out in the byres (barn) fetching the vaccines that I left there this afternoon…” This man NEVER stops.) The vaccines were for the peedie calves, by the way. Anyways, back to my story.

I saw Granddad outside walking out to the fields in his boiler suit and welly boots and I knew, there was work to be done. I hollered at the kids, “Grandad’s walking out to the fields, we gotta go!!” They started running too. We’re all excited to herd coos. Cows. Actually, I was corrected, they’re heifers. So, I put on my new, amazing Kenneth Cole rubber boots that my good friend, Lisa D gave to me and I was ready. Although, I had my jeans on the outside of my boots and my bf instructed me to tuck them into my boots. I wasn’t sure why….at the time….

So, we headed out. We had to shift coos from one field to the byres and then separate the Mom Coos from the calves. The calves need vaccines and other things… (Not antibiotics, these are Organic, grass-fed cows…) you might think this sounds easy. Nope. I had to shout, “HERE SUKI SUKI SUKI!” to get the coos to move and come to where we were, I had to wield a cow stick to look like I meant business (no coos were hurt in these events) and I had to really be careful as to not slip and fall in any cow paddies. Second part, we had to move a second set of coos from one field to the byres as well, but these coos were about a quarter mile down the road! So, there’s all this planning that goes into this move. Park one car here, so they can’t get through that area and another car there and a person with a stick covering this area and if my bf was driving the truck, I had to jump out and open and close gates…so on and so forth…so, we’re basically walking a herd of cows down the road. A car came and we had the entire road blocked off with cars and coos, he had to find another way, sorry guy. We’re herding coos here!!!!

This part of the day was about 3 hours long, I’d say….and honest to God, SO much fun. I loved it. I thought I made a pretty decent coo herder. Need to work on being slower when approaching the coos (they’re quite skittish…and I’m not, as my Dad always says, “That graceful.” and as some of you know, I’m not super “quiet”…)

After my farmer gig, my bf’s Mum and I headed to town to do some errands. Herding cows AND shopping??? I’m in Heaven. The stores here are incredibly fascinating to me. There’s a store called “Orkney Television Enterprises (OTE)” and I don’t think I saw any televisions in there. There’s lot of kitchen gadgets, kids toys, lots of dishes, picture frames etc. Somewhat strange, but great at the same time. We ran into, around, 6 people that my bf’s Mum knew. They had all heard about our coming and seemed genuinely excited to see us. Not like Americans and they’re all trying to avoid people they know on the street.

We went to the Co-op as well, it’s like a peedie grocery store. I bought all the ingredients to make lots of different baked goods. My bf’s Dad LOVES pudding (“pudding” is desserts in general here, not just snack packs that Bill Cosby peddles.) Small note: I don’t think Orcadians utilize chocolate chips like Americans do, the bags are the size of one of those “snack” size Ziploc bags that we have, so, I had to buy about 6 bags (at 1.19p each) to make a double batch of Toll House! Ugh, American’s and their need for too much!!

When we got home, I thought I would start on the pudding making, but my assistance was needed. I was needed for, get this….to assist my bf and his Dad in repairing the family wind turbine. “Ummm….have you met me? Do you know my skill sets?” So, I tucked my jeans into my Kenneth Cole boots again and took off in the pick-up up to where the wind turbine was being erected. I guess, while we were “away to toon” (Gone to town) The guys and the kids had gone up to do some work on the turbine as well. But, this time, they needed someone with incredible knowledge of wind turbines and brute strength, so, I had to help out. This is what I did to assist: open a locked shed, plug in a cord, put a washer and a nut on a screw and hand my bf a wrench thing…oh yeah, AND there was this latch to hold down this cover on the engine and I affixed that and then, I said, “Is this pin supposed to go through this hole as well?” And it WAS supposed to and my bf’s Dad had forgotten it on his side……see?? Brilliant. Thank God I was there.

Dinner was sweet and sour chicken and brown rice and since I was away taking on aerodynamics and advanced engineering, pudding was candy bars I had bought at the co-op today.
So, I’m here at the kitchen table, watching my bf’s brother now make some toasties (toast)…and laughing out loud to myself about how funny things are when you are outside of your comfort zone.

Not sure what’s on the docket for tomorrow. Maybe some light herding and some trampolining…yes, there’s a trampoline here. Yikes.

Oh, but I do know that it’s mince and tatties for tea tomorrow. Tea is dinner. My bf’s Mum told me that we were having mince and tatties for tea tomorrow and then we’re having some visitors coming over around 7PM for supper. I was like, I thought we were having mince and tatties for supper. She said, no that’s for tea. I said, well, when’s supper? She said, around 9-10. I said, what will we have for supper? She said, I think we’ll have biscuits and buns. I said, so, dessert? She said, no, like supper. I stopped the conversation there. I’ll just go with it tomorrow. Maybe I’ll try to make some pudding. With a teeny, tiny bag of chocolate chips……….

-Chick A

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