Sunday, March 3, 2013

Signs of life...

Very protective mother and her lamb in Pond Field.
It's a grey and cold morning, but there are encouraging signs of life everywhere. The piercing cry of a buzzard cheered me as I toiled up the lane with the dog. I love watching them soar on the thermals, their huge pale wings and their sharp eyes. Their cry always takes me back to when I very first moved here and would lie in bed and hear them early on summer mornings, the sound still unfamiliar and slightly unnerving but an exciting reminder of my new life 'in the country'. I'd go to sleep to the sound of owls hooting and wake with a buzzard's cry - wonderful.

Primroses have been brightening the garden for weeks as have hellebores in their lovely understated way. Other than that, the garden is pretty desolate. But once on the farm, there's lots happening. Green shoots pushing through the dry and faded beech leaves and, of course, the bleat of lambs. These tiny little beings always stir such a mix of emotions in me. They are the sweetest things, so appealing and comical as they bounce and leap in all directly seemingly without any control over their legs. I think it was Alf Wight (AKA James Herriot the vet) who said lambs were the most gorgeous babies, but they grew into the most boring adults - or words to that effect.

Mr Mole has been busy. Farmer Greg will not be happy!
My enjoyment of the lambs is always tempered by the rescues I've had to perform over the years. Many are comical (lambs' heads stuck in fences, lambs legs wedged between branches, lambs in water troughs etc.) and usually successful, but there have been quite a few disasters too. Even after all this time, I am still soft-hearted and get upset when they die or are terribly injured and if it's one I've missed by not heeding a cry, or not going in a particular field for a few days, I feel so guilty. And they're not even my sheep!

But despite all that, the signs of spring are magical, nature stirring into life. The novelty never wears off and, I suspect the older I get, the more I appreciate it. This morning, evidence of a very industrious mole could be seen all over the top of First Park, Greg will be cursing and possibly even stamping on his hat - but that is usually reserved for the burrowing badgers. ("They beggars, why can't they dig in the hedge like they'm supposed to and not come rampagin' out here and diggin' in my fields?")

Poke your eye out!
Neil has been busy logging and tidying around the farm and dragged into the garden a large limb that had come off a willow. It was covered in catkins and, rather than watching them wither and I die, I produced a ridiculously large 'arrangement' (if you can call it that) which now requires careful 
manoeuvring around the kitchen table to avoid poking your eye out.

Later, I must nip out and start netting the veg beds. Already, shallots and garlic are sprouting well and the birds and next door's cat are causing havoc. It's all very competitive out there!