The Softer Crofter

New arrivals at the croft introduce themselves.

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I’m really not sure my talents are being exploited to the full.

It’s been a busy few weeks here on the croft and one of us is putting on muscle, shedding pounds and falling asleep on the sofa at 9pm.

Sadly, it’s not me. The heavy lifting of shearing, dosing and fence-building has turned out to be the husband’s area of expertise – which should come as no surprise as some time in the previous century he got all sorts of certificates from agricultural college.

My proficiency is the ability to serve the purpose of an inanimate object.

If you need a cardboard cut-out to make a flock of very stupid sheep run in a particular direction, I’m your woman.

Or, if your requirement is for a shelf to hold hoof spray, clippers and a dosing bottle then look no further.

Although I’m assured my role is crucial I do feel a 3D printer could quickly wheech out a cardboard doppelganger that would be equally useful.

The only folk who’d notice would be the midgies who would have less of a feast.

The 3D me would free up time for me to have fun with my new friends who arrived this week.

Fourteen organically-bred little pigs were fetched from another farm in Argyll and have now taken up residency in our woods and paddock.

They range from squeaky wee black weaners to medium-sized ginger Tamworths.

They haven’t yet learned that I’m a bit needy so they scampered in all directions when I served breakfast this morning rather than coming for a cuddle and a scratch as their predecessors had learned to do.

The variation in size is part of our plan to supply the shop and pub with a consistent stock of steaks, bacon, burgers and sausages as we ran out at an alarming rate last time.

We hadn’t anticipated the demand; because so many of our neighbours are vegetarian we expected to have a glut of pork in our own fridge.

But the carnivores soon came out of the woodwork and our gammon steaks and chilli, herb and apple-infused burgers were soon to be smelled sizzling on barbecues throughout the village.

Like so many, much more professional, farms we have diversified into something approaching a petting zoo.

The main difference is that rather than charging tourists we are hosting our large and growing family, many of whom have had their plans for Florida and the Maldives Covid kyboshed.

Two of our guests have spent almost their entire lives in lockdown so their parents are delighted to bring them out to the wilds of coastal Argyll and let them get up close and personal with all of our four-legged family.

Our niece will be two in November, but already life has become confusing.

She is a budding David Attenborough and is quite the expert on animals and their sounds.

However, she is insistent that our Highland Cows should say ‘roar’ and refuses to concede that they’re ‘moos’.

Cows should be black and white, while orangey yellow beasts with fluffy tails and wild fringes are lions. Fact.

Throughout her five-day stay with us she continued to roar at our imposters and we gave up the bovine argument.

It seemed fine to let her live with this version of reality until it occurred to me that when travel restrictions allow she might find herself on an African plain running up to a ‘roar’ for a cuddle and a ride on its back.

This is why we don’t run commercial visits – I can’t even begin to imagine the insurance claim that would ensue.