Stuck in the mud


It is now officially spring. We have moved past the equinox and so our days are longer than our nights. I have not noticed yet, but I believe it is true. And as if to welcome our much-awaited season a big yellow butterfly flapped across our border in front of the house yesterday.

It was a brimstone out from its hibernation. it is a good sign and as if to confirm spring is here a chiffchaff began its light monotonous melody. It has travelled back all the way from North Africa to breed here and is singing its repetitive song from the top of our silver birch tree.

Not such a good sign though is the wet weather we have been having and we have not been able to get into our gardens to do the springtime jobs. My friend has a large garden and decided to get on with mowing her big lawn with her tractor mower. Then she got stuck and after several attempts to get out of the bog she rang us.

We went to help. I am not strong enough to help physically but have plenty of advice. You see I grew up on a farm where the land was clay and heavy. Tractors getting stuck in wet gateways was not an unusual event. All the family went to help including grandma and aunts with children. We lived in an extended family, now it is called a multi generation family, all ages were involved in most activities.

We had the resources we needed and the children were usually sent to get them: planks of wood, flat metal sheets, chains and clinker. We soon had the spinning slimy wheels slithering their zig zag track back onto firm land. We breathed a sigh of relief because now the essential farm work could continue.

When I got stuck in the gateway on my own there was no such happy ending. My wellies sank in the mud as I was walking into the field and the more I struggled the more I sank. The mud, like a hungry mouth, swallowed my wellingtons and I had to limp home in my stockinged feet. I was in trouble on two counts, one for the mess I had made and two for the loss of my wellies and the waste of good money.

Back to my friend, we brought chains from our old cow shed and two strong mats made of rubber and wiring. Soon the tractor was free but not in control at first, like a drunk it lurched backwards into the rhododendron bush. Luckily, we stood well clear, I remembered to do that from my childhood experience

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star).

My photo at the top shows the tulips sheltering from the rain and the colour of the brimstone butterfly I saw.


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