What Doesn’t Kill You


Coltsfoot is one of those plants that make me wonder about the sanity of the human race. Or perhaps it doesn’t – perhaps it’s actually the reason we’re the dominant species.
You see, we’ve been using Coltsfoot for thousands of years as a cough remedy – while it may well help your cough, research, in Germany, in the 1950s, showed that it does serious damage to your liver.
But we do this all the time. Think of potatoes. Up in the Andes the first potatoes they found were seriously poisonous. Eventually, after goodness knows how many Inca died from eating them, they developed a variety that was non-poisonous. Why did they bother? The thing is poisonous. Nothing to see here, move along, please.
I’m sure you can think of a great many other examples (kidney beans, did I hear you say.) It seems that we will not be beaten. If we can run it down or catch, trap, ensnare or pick it we will eat it – even if it kills us.
Oh, and if you’re wondering – the German government banned the sale of Coltsfoot, but by 2005 horticulturalists had produced a non-poisonous variety. What can I say?

Shrinking Violet


‘Hello there, do you mind if I sit here with you for a while?
‘There’s such a lot going on at the moment, isn’t there?
‘It’s so exhausting, everyone is rushing about, no time to stop and chat, busy, busy, busy. I was looking for a quiet corner to try to catch my breath – and then I noticed you, sitting here by yourself.
‘You don’t mind do you? I don’t want to intrude.
‘Everything is in such a whirl. I tried to talk to some birds this morning but I’d hardly got two words out and they were gone – off to look at a great nesting site, they said.
‘Well I understand of course, time goes so quickly, particularly at this time of year, and it is the early bird that catches the worm, so to speak.
‘The snowdrops aren’t much better, are they? I mean, those white hats were so becoming, but they’re tossing them aside. And what are you left with? Well, they’re just green, aren’t they, the same as everyone else.
‘Then, what about the crocuses? They all looked so pretty before the party, but to look at them now, well, I’d hate to ask what went on there. Most of them are standing around with their party frocks in tatters, looking disinctly, well, disipated, you know what I mean, don’t you?
‘Well, I better be off. Thanks for the little chat, I always find other people’s opinions so stimulating. Good bye.’

Settling In

Lambs - First Day Out In The Field.
Lambs – First Day Out In The Field.

‘It’s OK, honest.’
‘It’s not OK, where’s the barn gone? It was right here until they shut us in that noisy box thing, then when they opened the door it’d completely disappeared.’
‘Please stop worrying. Mum’s here. It can’t be that serious, can it?’
‘Yes, but it’s so, so, empty. Why aren’t there any walls?’
‘Of course there are walls, we just haven’t found them yet. They’ll turn up once we’ve had a chance to look around, you’ll see.’
‘Where’s everyone else? Why are we here all on our own?’
‘Will you stop panicking. Look there, and over there, and over there. Everyone’s here.’
‘Yes, but they’re so far away, Why aren’t they here with us?’
‘Why do you keep asking me question? I don’t know. They’re over there because they’re over there and we’re over here because Mum’s here.’
‘Don’t get cross with me. It’s all scary and different, that’s all.’
‘Sorry. It really isn’t that scary. Can you feel the wind ruffling your fleece, doesn’t that feel good. It makes me want to jump.’
‘Wow, do that again. It looks like fun!’
‘Come on, you try it. It’ll be much more fun if we do it together.’
‘OK. One, two, three, go!’
‘Wait, where’s Mum? Oh, there she is. Right, it’s my turn to count this time.’

For The Birds


The snow is slowly making its way off, exiting stage left. Google Weather Report did turn up with a brand new snow storm for this week – but nobody asked him to play his party piece and the snow stayed propped up in the corner. I did feel a little sorry for him, but he should have known better.
This week we are all about birds. The Blackbird’s song is actually part of the mating ritual so he only sings in spring. As it’s nearly a year since his last performance, he needs to have a little practise before he feels confident, and we have been hearing the odd warble from the bushes.
The Song Thrush has shown no such restraint, and is, already, belting out his favourite aria from the top of the silver birch at dusk each evening. The Robin, too, is well ahead of the game and telling anyone who will listen that he will not accept the slightest impertinence – from the safety of the centre of the hedge.
Today’s picture is of a Chaffinch, they’re suddenly everywhere, What they lack in vocal gymnastics they make up for in numbers. I suspect this guy is from last years hatching – he’s got that cock-sure teenage attitude about him. He’s wondering if there are any girls watching him and if they think he’s cool – or whatever word the current generation decided to use. They were the first to think up this whole boy/girl thing, after all.

A Little Colour

Purple Crocus
Purple Crocus

It was pretty the first day – but not any more. In fact you would be pardoned for thinking that we are now totally fed up with it. We’re talking about snow, of course. Let me summarise for you – it’s white, it’s cold, it falls out of a gunmetal grey sky. As you can see, it’s inclined to be a bit samey.

Once you get over the novelty of it (that takes about five seconds) you find enthusiasm for more of it hard to come by. Yet more of it is what we have had for most of this week.

I could add to the superabundance of snow photos currently littering the internet, but I have decided to give you all a break.

Admittedly we don’t have that much snow, I think the last time we were dredged (as in icing sugar) to this depth of suffering was around the 2009/2010 winter. So I suppose we shouldn’t be so surprised to be completely unprepared for it.

But we always are – both surprised and unprepared.

I thought this nice picture of a purple crocus, that I took last weekend, would cheer us all up.