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This Year’s Crop

First Lambs This Year

First Lambs This Year

As anyone who has ever kept sheep will lose no opportunity to tell you, sheep are the Houdinis of the animal world. They are escape artists par excellence. This field has had a new gate and new fencing installed recently. We’ll see how long it takes them to find their way out. Once the sheep realise that the all the tasty stuff is actually in the field with them, however, they knuckle down and focus on the job of keeping the grass clipped as short as possible. But this realisation dawns slowly. 

For the first few months, especially, the lure of the wild blue yonder is too strong to be denied, or may be it’s just that the grass has to be greener on the other side of the fence, they’ve read it on Facebook – it had twenty thousand ‘Likes’ – so it must be true.

Driving around at this time of year becomes increasingly hazardous as the lambs become more adventuresome and bolder. Some have taken the trouble to plan their escape route ahead of an emergency, others haven’t. When you drive down the lane, those on ‘Red Alert’ immediately take evasive action and head straight for the hole in the hedge they made on their way out of the field. Those happy-go-lucky types, for whom forward planning is an anathema, scuttle up and down the verge or run along the road in front of the car. Many times I have had to wind the car window down and lecture a bunch who belie Bo Peep’s belief.

Leave them alone and they’ll come home, indeed!

Spring

Dunnock - Singing - It Must Be Spring

Dunnock – Singing – It Must Be Spring

Isn’t Spring a strange word. It must be one of those words that have their roots far back, at the beginnings of speech. You know, just when we had begun to tolerate our teenagers going round saying “Ugh” to each other (and all the thirty and forty something-s had started saying it too – just to prove that they were not really getting old) someone, somewhere comes out with “Spring”. Now, IMHO, all of us who thought we knew where we were up to, are back to having no idea what’s going on, LOL.

Spring, the kind you find sandwiched between winter and summer, not the kind that bounces around, or the kind that is coiled up and used for beds, or even the place where the water gushes out of the ground, has had one try at getting started so far. We had Im Bolg around February 4th. You know, writing was developed as a way of recording the sounds we make – as words, if I tell you that Im Bolg is actually pronounced im molk and it refers to the approximate date that ewe’s come into milk, can you remember how long it is since you had a bolg shake?

Here we are at March 1st and Spring is going to have another go at starting. If all else fails there is still the vernal equinox on March 20th (in most places – might sneak over into 21st in some places) but that really is the last chance.

Some can’t wait while Spring phaffs about, though. This Dunnock, singing his heart out on the hedge as we walked past today, has obviously become impatient with dates and times and has decided to just get on with it.

Surprise!

Agusta Helicopter

Agusta Helicopter

The weather this week has been awful. The RSPB was running its annual ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’ – on particular dates you are supposed to count all the birds you see in your garden over a continuous period of one hour – we didn’t have an hour with any birds in the garden at all on those dates. They were all, very sensibly, sheltering from the ferocious wind and driving rain.

Because the weather dial, upstairs there, is set on ‘Random Selection’ at the moment, we have also had some clear sunny days during the week. We’ve done our best to synchronise our perambulations, we’re too set in our routine for them to be peregrinations, to the sunny periods and we’ve had proved to us, once again – sunny does not equal warm.

It has been hard to find something that would risk a venture out, into even the brightest day, that we could use as a picture for your edification. We’ve seen our robin – we know it’s ours, as two robins are incapable of co-existing peaceably – and a batch of chaffinches who, on the whole seem to be able to settle disputes, vocally, but without recourse to fisticuffs. They appear, grab a beak-full of seed and wing it back to the shelter of the bushes.

Then, on our walk this morning, quite suddenly, out of nowhere, this helicopter appeared. I grabbed the camera, wrenched the lens cap off, and pointed in the general direction (which was up, as it flew low, right over our heads) and pressed the button.

Not a bad shot, hey? We think it’s an Agusta A109

A Hopeful Sign

Gorse

Gorse

I had this nice picture of Gorse. Yes, even in February this bush is producing flowers. So I shook Google awake and sent him off to see what he could find – for me to pass on as if I knew it all along. He found a few things. Did you know that we have three different types of gorse in the UK? One variety grows less than a metre tall and only in the south east, so this isn’t that one. The other two hybridise at the drop of a hat, I blame the bees myself – standards are slipping everywhere, so it is pretty pointless even trying to decide which one is which.

If you look closely at the flower and think it reminds you of a sweet pea or runner bean, you would be quite right, Gorse is a legume. Like the rest of the legume family, gorse is into nitrogen fixing and if you occasionally cut it right back it will release some of its store back and enrich the surface soil. It is also into calcium, it will fish it out of the sub-soil and use it to give its thorns a bit of backbone. When it dies back it drops its thorns, and sprinkles the calcium around.

It is actually, really interesting, if somewhat prickly, stuff. Chris Dixon of Penrhos in Wales, has a very interesting site here, with a whole page on how he uses it in Permaculture.

Then there was Dr Edward Bach (1886-1936) who devised a system of Flower Remedies. Gorse, for him was the remedy for people who had lost hope.

Indeed, a glimpse of the bright yellow flowers at this time of the year does lift the spirits.

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Multiple Choice

A Sunny Day in January

A Sunny Day in January

You find me in a quandary. What a strange word that is, do all words with qu sound like relics of a forgotten world to you? Then, there are all those words with gh and ght in them – dinosaurs all, stamping round swinging their massive tails and bellowing at the top of their lungs. You know, writing is just a way of recording speech. Someone, some-when in antiquity, sat there with his quill pen and wrote w r i t t i n g and then he chewed the end of the pen and wrote t h o u g h t.

Now, you can forgive him for adding the w at the beginning of writing, it was, after all the bleeding edge of human advancement, and they all had high hopes for it. Putting a w at the beginning made it special, and writing writing, with its w, made the writer feel special too. But why thought? They may have imagined that they had just invented thinking, every generation seems to do that, but if they wanted to give thinking a bleeding edge spelling, why not apply a little consistency? Surely wthort would have done just as well?

I must confess, for a moment I had considered pondering on whether a quandary had three or four wheels or perhaps a fur-lined collar, but no, the actual problem is – do I claim the brownie points for catching the sheep right in the middle of the gateway or the crow in flight?

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That Time Of Year

Christmas Decorations

Christmas Decorations

We’ve been away. I’ve been off to a local rest and recuperation centre. He has been down south visiting relatives. We synchronised our existence again today – and went off for our walk, just as if nothing had happened. I think it’s pretty safe to say, nothing had happened.

I left a few posts in strategic places as we went on our rounds but, from the fragrance of the moment, life seems to have been wandering on, in pretty much the aimless manner it did when I was here to oversee things. I suppose that in winter (or are we still in autumn?) you can’t really expect dramatic developments on a daily basis. The cows have all moved on to greener pastures – or at least a comfortable cowshed with all mod cons to see them through the cold and wet months. The cow I spoke to about this was very emphatic this was an important part of their work ethic, to say nothing of their hooves rotting away in the mud.

The sheep don’t seem to be quite as picky about a little cold and damp. They are out there in their dozens, filling up the fields so recently vacated by their, more delicate, bovine relations. I don’t mind sheep – but I do wish they wouldn’t stand at the gates of the fields and stare at you.

Oh, yes. And did you notice? They’ve put the Christmas decorations up.

Tropical Topic

Log In The Beck

Log In The Beck

 

Well I’m off on my holidays. See you in a week or so. What? Oh. Don’t worry, he’ll write something for you. Who knows what you’ll get, probably a helicopter. See you later.

As you’ve gathered, The Dog has gone off to play with her playmates at one of those, what you used to call summer camps over in America – or so I believe. So I seized control. Then I remembered why I let her take over. There isn’t actually anything to write about at this time of year.

We fought our way, through the sleet and the howling gale, down to the beck today. Here I must digress and assure you that our gales do really howl. I’m not sure if it is the ground contours or just the gap between the buildings but it makes quite a noise. The trees, on the hill behind the house, tend to roar. I think that the wind excites them, it isn’t a ferocious roar or roar of pain – they’re just shouting at the tops of their voices, because they want to. So, with the noise of the wind and the roar of the trees and the hood of my raincoat pulled over up over my head, I often feel quite isolated – it’s a bit like undergoing solitary confinement – but cold and wet as well.

As The Dog has gone off to Summer Camp I wondered if the beck was at all tropical – sure enough, I found a crocodile lying basking in the hail. Of course it could be an anaconda.

Or an anadile. Or a crocaconda. An alliganda? An anagator?

OK. It’s a log.

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