The happy farmer has gone into overdrive, I arrived home on Friday lunch time to find he had ripped out the patio doors leading off our kitchen. For once we had a ‘spotless’ view of the garden. Thankfully it was a beautiful day. The ‘not so laid back forester’ arrived up after work, just at the right moment, the point where the new door frame wouldn’t quite fit, and the lip on the new French windows was catching. I crept quietly round them, trying to get on with cooking, very aware that we had one hundred and one other things to get done before Hoot’s funeral. By the time darkness fell the new doors were in place and looking quite splendid in their new home.
A massive digger has arrived today and is clearing and levelling the ground in preparation for the foundations on the extension, the happy farmer racing back and forth with tractor and trailer, scooping up the debris. The pottery cats have taken refuge on the farmhouse sofa, that’s their excuse anyway. The sheepdog has decided she really wants to be a house dog today and keeps creeping in and hiding under the kitchen table, I am seriously thinking of joining her!
We laid Hoot to rest on Saturday. In a moving service at the village church, his son sang the most beautiful Gaelic hymn and his nephews played guitars and accordion. A procession of about fifty or so cars made the two mile journey along an old farm track, to the hillside where Hoot was to be buried. Cars and the traditional hearse were abandoned at the farm steadings, the coffin, moved onto a trailer, pulled by an old 125 tractor, and followed by a quiet stream of mourners to the graveside. Hoot’s final resting place is in the corner of a field, shrouded by the Paps, and looking out down the hillside to the sea and the Sound of Jura. In the distance you could hear the roar of the waves in the Sound, and above on the hill a lone piper played as Hoot was laid to rest. Cheese and oatcakes were washed down with drams of Jura malt whisky, as Hoot’s friends picked up shovels and began to fill in the grave. As time passed a steady stream made their way back to the croft, the happy farmer driving the tractor and trailer back, drinking and driving, the Hoot would have been in his element. Back at the croft several of the boys were busy pushing the traditional hearse, as another reversed it back, skilfully, out of the ditch in which it had become stuck. Huge pots of soup were warming on the aga, chairs and tables were laid out in the old steadings, sandwiches and clootie dumpling were served, a gathering of Hoot’s family and friends.
As we headed back to the ferry we passed the hearse on the single track road, heading in the opposite direction, they managed to flag down our jingly jangly friend to lend a hand, as at the last minute they remembered the tanoy system they had left in the village church. They all raced round the corner in the nick of time to catch that ferry back across the Sound. Our jingly jangly friend joined us back at the farmhouse kitchen together with our lovely Dutch friends who had arrived off the afternoon ferry to stay on the farm for a week’s holiday, and we toasted our special friend…..Hoot.