Saturday, November 18, 2006

Scottish Ghost Story

Quite a few members of my family are convinced that they have seen ghosts. I've never seen anything that can't be explained or I can definitely say was a ghost, however. . . .

Are we all sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin:

Years ago, shortly after we had moved here and George was a toddler, I used to help out twice a day at the farm up the road. I helped with the cows and calves. It involved letting the cows into the dairy barn, tying them up in stalls, feeding them and then letting their calves out to suckle. My neighbour and I used to stand our little boys (eight weeks apart in age) on the opposite side of the dairy barn to where we were working, out of harm's way and get on with our work. The boys used to move some of the hay and feed around in their chubby little toddler fists. George didn't care for the cows the first couple of times we did this, but he got used to them. As long as they didn't want to sniff him, he was okay. Once the calves were fed, they were put back in their big straw filled pen in the barn and the cows were let back out in the field.

From time to time, I would bring a bowl from my kitchen that had been scalded and milk one of the cows (Jenny) before we let the calves in. In exchange for the milk, I'd bring some eggs from my hens. Back then I kept my chickens indoors during the winter where I could keep a light on. With the light on, they laid eggs through the dark winter. It was a good trade. A big mixing bowl full of fresh milk for six nice fresh eggs.

Through the autumn and into the winter, it was part of our daily routine to walk the quarter mile to the barn and tend to the cows and calves. As the winter grew colder, we just bundled up warmer. George and our little neighbour pal Gordon had practical all-in-one waterproof boiler suits. This cut down on the washing considerably, keeping their winter coats cleaner for longer. I really like the smell of hay and silage when I'm forking it into the troughs.

One winter morning, we awoke to piles and piles of snow. I love snow and I couldn't wait to get out in it. As the roads were closed and the older boys couldn't go to school. It could have been a weekend. It's been so long now, I can't remember. I left George at home with his big brothers. The snow was too deep for his short legs and I didn't fancy carrying him. I started making my way up the road. I had put my waterproof over-trousers on and didn't tuck them into my wellies as I normally did. Snow inside wellies is unpleasant.

As I shuffled up the road, our part of the world was a winter wonderland. It was covered in fresh white snow and all the sounds seemed to be muffled. I was blazing a new path through the snow. There hadn't been a single car or tractor up or down our road. The only marks in the snow were from clumps of snow that had fallen from the branches, tiny animals and me.

When I got to the farm, I noticed that there weren't any other tracks in the snow yet. I was the first person there. Charlie, the bachelor farmer who lives there wasn't up and out yet. My neighbour who lived across the road from this farm hadn't shown up yet either. I shuffled around the farm yard, getting feed for the cows and making paths for others to follow. Our neighbour's eight year old daughter had a new pony that she was required to clean and feed each morning. I shuffled a path in the snow for her too. I wasn't going to shovel a path for everyone, that takes too long and the cows were hungry!

I started in with the work when my neighbour showed up. Pink cheeked and out of breath we worked away. I asked if she came by herself and she said that she had. It was too cold and snowy for the children and she'd take care of the pony afterwards for her daughter. It was then that we heard a man singing in the big shed next to the dairy barn. It must be that Charlie was up and feeding his dogs. He didn't normally sing, but then it doesn't normally snow here. I shouted over to say hello to Charlie. No reply. I shouted again. Silence. I asked my neighbour if she had heard the singing. Yes, she had. Odd. I wonder who that was.

We both definitely heard a man (an older man's voice) singing a song. Neither of us could make out what was being sung, but we heard singing.

When we finished with the cows and calves, we went out into the yard. No footprints in the snow to the shed where we heard the singing. No footprints other than ours.

That's my one and only ghost story.
This is a photo of Gordon and George from the spring following that winter with all the snow.

It is a shame that the neighbours don't need help next door anymore. I really liked doing it. I guess they've moved on from that. I've moved on too. Looking back is nice though. George and I used to have such nice walks up and down our road. The barn that was used for the cows and calves eventually fell down. It was a beautiful old stone barn too. The slate roof and the stone from the walls were sold off after it was knocked down. The old shed where Charlie kept his dogs is still there, but there no dogs in it anymore.

Some winter morning, if it snows, I may just take a walk up to where the old barn used to be to see if I can hear anybody singing.

14 comments:

Alan G said...

Now that is a bit eerie I would say. If you get some snow this winter let us know the outcome of your trip back to the old barn.

Your own your own...I ain't walkin' up there with you! LOL

Jay said...

That's great. You should take a digi cam with you so you can record the singing too. Can a ghost's voice be recorded? I don't know. I'll have to ask my sister. She's a ghost expert. LOL

J-Funk said...

That story gave me shivers. It sounds like a beautiful scene though. I think I'm going to miss snow here.

Claude said...

Just the sort of story I love!
And we live in such different places, I love reading about the way things go in your part of the world.
Keep on writing!

gawilli said...

Oh what a beautiful story. That must have been a friendly ghost! As a child I stayed for a spell at my great aunt and uncle's dairy farm in Decatur, Illinois. Your post makes me remember that stay. I loved it there. Chores to them were the coolest for me.

Betty said...

Great story - but, now I'm cold just reading about the snow. :-)

Kell said...

That was such a great story. And not just the ghost part of it, either, which I loved. But how you helped your neighbors and the snow and the picture--it was wonderful and enjoyable. I just love your stories. miata93

Joy said...

First of all...that picture of Gordon and George is just too cute.

That whole singing thing is a little strange Peggy. I'd say it was just you, but you weren't the only one to hear it. I tend to believe as you do...that it can be explained somehow. Hmmmm....

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

Tell them our French ghost story from our holiday near Bordeaux. I'm sure that Claude would like to hear it :-)

Susan said...

What a wonderful story! At first I did get shivers, but then I had to smile at the thought of your ghost being happy enough to sing as he did his chores.

Your photos of the boys is adorable.

Xtreme English said...

My, that's spooky indeed!! What song was he singing? Maybe that would be a clue to the ghost's identity.

Tink said...

I'm with Kell, I loved the actual story just as much as the "unexplained" bit that was in it. The picture is awesome too! What a neat experience.

sally said...

This Thanksgiving when the power went out on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, we all (6 adults and 9 kids) sat around the big table and told "real" ghost stories. I told about the one I saw at Black's Gaslight Village. Remember that summer??