I picked my way carefully across the farm yard. It was littered with debris of various sorts. I had hidden the elderly Toyota behind a newish 4×4. There were several other newish cars in the yard and from a low squat building I could hear the low gentle murmur of chickens. My heart sank a little bit further. I knocked on the door of the newish farmhouse. Next to it the original was collapsing in on itself as building stone crumbled and gave way to various types of vegetation. The door opened, and Chris greeted me and thrust out a worn and hard worked hand. I shook it and stepped inside. Somehow the inside of the house was more chaotic and tumbled down than the yard and the buildings outside. I realised that by comparison we lived at Birdwatcher Mansions in luxury. The house had that cold damp unheated feel, there were no carpets, and no curtains. The light bulbs hung down bare and institutional from the ceiling.
We started the meeting. I pride myself on my ability to listen and to be a good listener but on this occasion, perhaps wary of my surroundings and having just noticed that the jumble of empty containers and rubbish that I could see through the hatch way was in fact the kitchen, I found that I had ignored the first bit of what Chris had been saying. I resurfaced so to speak on the unsteadying words ” only about three million sperm”
I must have looked like a recently landed fish as I gulped at him, trying to think of something intelligent to say. “Um well okay, perhaps we could just clarify that then. You’re saying that basically…….” My voice trailed off.
A wry smile flickered across his face. “The key to it is sexed semen” he said and paused briefly before adding “By sexing it you get a 90% chance that you will get a heifer.” I tried to look as if this information meant something to me. I think I failed. No I know I failed because I then said “Heifers, ah so your into beef cattle then.” “You’re not the agricultural adviser are you?” He said this with out any malice, just a sort of world weariness, a sort of what the hell have they sent me this time.
I confessed that I wasn’t. He started to explain to me about Heifers and dairy farming. Outside someone in dirty overalls shuffled across the fields to some hen houses. At the window a face appeared, glanced at me and bobbed down. I saw the top of a woolly hat creep away. In the kitchen someone reached into what I suppose was a fridge and taking out a large chicken carcass began hacking bits off it. I wanted to go home. I would have to do some research, but dreaded to think what Google would come up with if I put “sexed semen” in the search engine. I would have to find out though, all in the interest of research of course. I smiled to myself!