I’d planned on a full day’s logging down on the land, and so went prepared with a flask and sandwich.
Last summer I had spent 6 weeks coppicing an area in the woods, and all the trees that I felled I cut into lengths and stored in a stable to dry-out for the winter.
Dry and seasoned, the wood was now ready to be chain-sawed into sections and split with an axe to the right size for our fire. Of all the non-animal jobs I do, this is by far the most important as we have no central heating, so the fire is our only source of warmth.
However, before I could begin, I had the normal rounds to complete. I let the chickens, ducks and geese out, fed and watered the pigs, put hay down the horses, checked on the sheep and goats.
Finally I was ready to start. After coffee.
I poured a cup from the flask and took a sip. It tasted bitter in the plastic mug, as though too much instant coffee had been used. To make matters worse, it was black. I tried another sip, but it was just too strong.
I needed milk.
All the milk at home comes from Amber, the goat, but she’s just gone down to a once a day milking in this cold weather, and that’s done in the evening. Still, no matter, I only needed a little squirt.
The goats love people and hang around like pet dogs whenever anyone’s there, so it was easy to sneak up behind her. Making a fuss I snaked my hand down, took hold of a teat, placed my cup beneath it and squeezed. And missed.
I watched the milk fire right down the side of my mug and splash on the floor. Bugger.
Wise to my plan and indignant that I should have been so forward and rude to have done it in the middle of a field, Amber gave a squeal and kicked out with her back legs before trotting away.
What I should have done was give up and drink bitter coffee. What I did was start a long campaign of subterfuge of which an M15 operative would have been proud.
I bluffed, double bluffed, even on one occasion triple bluffed until with immense satisfaction grabbed hold of the teat without her noticing what I was doing, and caught a huge squirt of milk right in the centre of the cup.
Amber huffed and trotted away (if she really didn’t like what I was doing, then she could easily withhold her milk so I knew she was only mildly pissed off at me). I tipped the milk into the flask and gave it a shake.
It wasn’t until I took a sip (it was lovely, like having cream rather than milk) that it dawned on me how odd it was to have squirted milk directly from the udder into a coffee and drunk it.