Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Load of Bullocks

I picked my way carefully across the farm yard. It was littered with debris of various sorts. I had hidden the elderly Toyota behind a newish 4x4. There were several other newish cars in the yard and from a low squat building I could hear the low gentle murmur of chickens. My heart sank a little bit further. I knocked on the door of the newish farmhouse. Next to it the original was collapsing in on itself as building stone crumbled and gave way to various types of vegetation. The door opened, and Chris greeted me and thrust out a worn and hard worked hand. I shook it and stepped inside. Somehow the inside of the house was more chaotic and tumbled down than the yard and the buildings outside. I realised that by comparison we lived at Birdwatcher Mansions in luxury. The house had that cold damp unheated feel, there were no carpets, and no curtains. The light bulbs hung down bare and institutional from the ceiling.

We started the meeting. I pride myself on my ability to listen and to be a good listener but on this occasion, perhaps wary of my surroundings and having just noticed that the jumble of empty containers and rubbish that I could see through the hatch way was in fact the kitchen, I found that I had ignored the first bit of what Chris had been saying. I resurfaced so to speak on the unsteadying words " only about three million sperm"

I must have looked like a recently landed fish as I gulped at him, trying to think of something intelligent to say. "Um well okay, perhaps we could just clarify that then. You're saying that basically......." My voice trailed off.

A wry smile flickered across his face. "The key to it is sexed semen" he said and paused briefly before adding "By sexing it you get a 90% chance that you will get a heifer." I tried to look as if this information meant something to me. I think I failed. No I know I failed because I then said "Heifers, ah so your into beef cattle then." "You're not the agricultural adviser are you?" He said this with out any malice, just a sort of world weariness, a sort of what the hell have they sent me this time.

I confessed that I wasn't. He started to explain to me about Heifers and dairy farming. Outside someone in dirty overalls shuffled across the fields to some hen houses. At the window a face appeared, glanced at me and bobbed down. I saw the top of a woolly hat creep away. In the kitchen someone reached into what I suppose was a fridge and taking out a large chicken carcass began hacking bits off it. I wanted to go home. I would have to do some research, but dreaded to think what Google would come up with if I put "sexed semen" in the search engine. I would have to find out though, all in the interest of research of course. I smiled to myself!

7 comments:

fiwa said...

I'm not sure if that's sad or creepy. The chicken carcass part sounds like something out of a horror movie...

So did you actually have business to talk to them about, or was the whole thing a mistake?

Gadjo Dilo said...

Are you a vegetarian? This all sounds like a vegetarian (or, better, a vegan) nightmare!

Malc said...

I always used to be amazed at the squallor some farmers lived in while their animals had the best of everything. Now I've been here since July and the pig shed and the hen house have been refurbished and rebuilt, while I've done nothing to the house.

Just seen two curlews trot past the window like two joggers on a morning work-out.

The Birdwatcher said...

Fiwa - I had business to discuss. It was a little sad really to see how the farm had declined. At least the younger generation are trying to find a way back for it.

Gadjo dilo - Not anymore, though I flirted with it some years ago. It eas the bacon sandwiches that were my undoing. Looking forward to reading your blog.

Malc - The voice of experience! There's squallor and squallor though. Hate to say it bit this farm lacked a womans touch. Say hello to the curlews when you next see them.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Thanks Mr BW, but I'm scared of starting a proper blog for fear it'll take over my (supposedly) real life!

I was at the River Colne, Essex at Easter and thought I saw black-tailed godwits (like curlews with straight beaks) - you reckon that's possible??

The Birdwatcher said...

Gadjo Dilo - I guess so, there are quite large breeding populations in Suffolk so I believe.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Thanks for the info. I'm not a very experienced birdwatcher, but I reckon now that they were Bar-tailed Godwits, still in their winter plumage :-)