The farmhouse tree dungheap, in a hollowed out pit was opposite back court linhay with its one side wall coated in a clamber of scented rambler roses. White-washed, cob-walled swallow-raftered shippens cleaned out with broom and four pronged pick. Galvanised buckets hauled from granite trough and iron staved hogshead. Cage-trapped rats drowned in a crown of diamond bursting bubbles, before being buried in the heap. The annually painted dark blue wooden wheel barrow carefully wheeled over cobbled court, across the meandering stream and through the alley way beneath the hay filled tallet.
Occasionally afterbirth speared in a slither-slide, quivered in the barrow. Slate blue with scarlet veins. Watching in awe as the amorphous mass became the lion's mane jellyfish from a recently read Sherlock Holmes story. Prodding it. Fascination overcoming fear in that first index finger touch.
Buried deep in the steam and heat, where the grass snake, three feet long of hempen-rope flesh uncoiled her way into the depths to lay a clutch of matt-white leathery shelled eggs. Once in a shredding of skin and flesh, Rhode Island Reds in a fearsome frenzy feasted on the quick-silver squirm.
Dung carted and placed in equally spaced heaps in Lower and Higher meads. "To dress the grass," my father said with a well-aimed thrusting pick showering the air in all directions. "Next year a coat of grass and flowers to make the sweetest hay."
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Valid until: Tuesday, December 24 2013