The first time it happened, I nearly left the ute up to the axles in the paddock at a gate. That was last week when we had to shift a roll of fencing wire, 80 temporary fence posts and a couple of hundred metres of hot-wire a long way up the valley. The second time was trying to get the trailer over to the pig paddocks so I could take three porkers to the cutting shop. That time, I had to unhitch the trailer and manhandle the thing to the crest of the hill. I’m a bit old for that. Today, however, I just got part way up that same rise with new hay bales for the pig shelters, and 200 litres of milk, when the ute stopped. The wheels spun, the mud flew, and there was a lot of foul language from inside the cab. Sadie said.
That was after getting the ute nearly bogged at a nearby farm trying to pick up a few extra pigs. The gate was too narrow. The pigs escaped. The neighbours were very accommodating as the pigs dug up their driveway and garden. But, all up, I saw enough mud today to do me for a while. A long while. Shame it’s going to rain again later tonight. And tomorrow. And over the next week. I kind of forget how we just don’t dry out for a few months each year, regardless of how wet or dry the winter is.
I was rather glad it was winter when my three-year-old decided he’d let himself into the orchard to chat to the chickens. Over and over and over I’d reminded him about the bees. I’d reminded him that the hive doesn’t hang from a tree like in Winnie the Pooh. It looks like a box. It isn’t like the cartoon hives. I’d said don’t, don’t, DON’T go near the box. But a three-year-old’s version of "near" is quite different from mine.
His screams were not the sound a parent ever wants to hear. From where I was standing, I could just see a little of his shirt through the trees; directly in the flight path of the hive. Bees come in and out in one direction, and he’d managed to place himself in their way. Quite near the hive, from my perspective. I raced over and plucked him out of harm’s way, equal parts worried and sick. Luckily, bees are slower in cold weather. And Hedley hadn’t done anything to enrage them or create a swarm. So it was merely a scream of fright as a bee crawled up his leg, a few landed on his shirt, and one buzzed near his face. Miraculously, there wasn’t a sting on him.
Because I work from home a lot, I get to see a fair bit of my boy. Every day, there’s something new going on. In fact, I cooked for my first ever children’s party last weekend. Ginger creams. Apple and sour cream slice. Cheese biscuits. And the cake Hedley wanted for his birthday – a chocolate cake with pink icing. I probably should’ve made a dinosaur cake. Or a Thomas cake. Or a troll cake. That’s what he’s into. But he barely looked at my handiwork, failed to successfully blow out the candles, and spent the time running around like a boy possessed with a bunch of like-minded kids.
Hedley didn’t get the pirate hat from the pass the parcel, and didn’t even care. He did get his first Roald Dahl book, a big jigsaw puzzle and a newly filled sandpit. Along with just enough party food to keep him sustained if not manic.
Meanwhile, we’re still finding chocolate cake crumbs in places you’d never expect to find them. I’m just glad it wasn’t a mud cake.
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