I am beginning to question the logic of walking across the hill with a rucksack of apples on my back for the pigs.
Its saving about three pounds a day, obviously the pigs enjoy them and I am getting fitter carrying them. Those are the positives.
There is a down side.
So far I have been accosted by The Oracle who thought I was a thieving hippy, terrorised by a naked hermit running through the bracken, hit on the head countless times a la Issacc Newton in my quest to get the fruit to obey the laws of gravity therefore allowing me to retrieve them from the ground rather than risking life and limb climbing the tree, risked the wrath of the witch from the ghost house (she is an ex witch but the curse remains, don't look back) and exposed myself to injury as the sturdy hazel branch I launch enthusiastically skywards to knock the apples down follows a trajectory that inevitably sends me scurrying for safety (into the path of falling apples) to avoid a head injury.
I am used to getting strange looks from walkers on the hill, usually as I am accompanied by a goat and have a machete in my hand, but wearing a crash helmet as a precaution against falling fruit and logs is perhaps one step too far.
So today I resolved to retrieve the precious fruits from a cottage on the hill which is unoccupied, one of the three holiday homes. This was an easy mission even for an accident prone person like myself. The tree was just inside the garden and no on lives there, its on the dark side of the hill out of view, I can pick the apples at my leisure. Even with a goat and four of the magnificent seven racing around this was going to be easy.
I started to fill my bag but was feeling distinctly uneasy. More uneasy than I did in the garden of the ghost house where you know you are being watched from the windows, don't look back.
I was sure there was someone here in the garden with me. It was then I saw the gardener,my old army skills hadn't deserted me, I saw my foe before he saw me. Admittedly I was assisted by the fact he was using a petrol strimmer which sort of gave his position away and I was able to make a tactical withdrawal without being detected.
Once back on the hill path I regrouped and started back down the hill with my entourage, four dogs and a goat.
Except she was missing.
From the sudden silence of the strimmer and the explosion of oaths Maggie had decided to stay behind and help the gardener. I considered for a moment going back to help, she was after all one of ours, we shouldn't leave her behind, I should show compassion and mercy, it was an unfair fight.
I made good my escape, the gardener would have to fend for himself.