Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Everybody loves a baby.

Driving back from our little town this morning, after a chance meeting with friend W and a cup of coffee at an outside table, where we met the world and his wife and had so many chats that our coffee was about cold by the time we drank it.  (but how nice to meet so many folk we knew), I came across the most enchanting sight.   And, sod's law, I didn't have my camera with me.   It would have been such an opportunity as I had plenty of time - everything seemed to happen in slow motion.

Scurrying down the middle of the Lane as fast as its little legs would carry it, was the tiniest little lapwing chick I have ever seen.  At the most four or five inches tall it was a perfect replica of its mum who was about ten yards in front of it, on the grass verge, shouting to it to hurry up and get off that Lane and into the long grass!   The baby was having none of it and continued down the Lane as far as the field gate (which was open).   By this time Mum was in the gateway and going off her head shouting at the chick.   Half way to the gate it turned and looked at me - it was exquisite.   Then it was off into the field and the long grass as fast as its little legs would carry it.   Oh for my camera at that instant - but not to be, so you must just imagine the sight.   Sorry.   But thank goodness there was not a crow, or a magpie, or a sparrow hawk anywhere near.   Only one chick - what, I wonder, has happened to the reat?

Monday, 29 June 2015

It has begun.

The weatherman has forecast hot weather for this week, although with increasing humidity.   So the good and the bad as far as haymaking is concerned.   The farmer has taken a risk and begun by cutting our own field for hay (only one field, the rest goes for silage).   There is quite a breeze blowing today so that should begin the drying process nicely - then hopefully a hot sun will begin to crisp up the grass before the heavy humidity kicks in and makes it go soft again.  If it goes too soft then he will make it into silage. There is always that risk and it does make one realise just what risks the farmers had to take in the days when there was only one cut a year, it had to be hay, and the farmer's livelihood depended upon the hay crop to feed his beast during the winter months.  No wonder the farms were small rather than some of the huge farms today where dairy herds are numbered in hundreds rather than tens.
No hay to speak of meant cattle feeding on expensive 'bought in' cattle cake and root crops.

I went out to take this photograph and was assaulted by the wonderful aroma of freshly cut grass - wish this could be a smelly blog.

He has quite a lot of haymaking to do for friends but this looks like a risky week, so he is doing his own first.   One at a time - too dangerous to get all the grass down and then be caught out.   So keep your fingers crossed for us.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

An outing.

An outing today!  At present the sky is black and it is trying hard to rain.   We need rain badly, but I do hope it clears and the sun shines today, in which case I can add some photographs to my post this evening as we traverse the very high Pennines, going over the tops, through between the Mallerstang (isn't that a wonderful name, so evocative of the past) and Blea Moor and then over the top of Blea Moor and down into Ravenstonedale for lunch.

Tess is coming too and we shall walk her on the top of Blea Moor if we have time.   There are about twenty or so semi wild horses up there and we always hope we shall see them.

So - Mallerstang, here we come.   See you later.

The photograph at the top is of The Kings Head itself - a lovely pub and a delicious lunch (beef and stilton pie for two of us, roast lamb for the other two; three sticky toffee puddings - but I had lemon posset with gin and tonic granita (the chef said gin and tonic with lemon juice and sugar and then beat it as it freezes every so often.  It was scrumptious - I shall try it.

Below that:
Approaching the Mallerstang - on the return journey the sun was shining.
Blea Moor.
The glorious buttercup fields.
The 'river' opposite the pub.

Lovely day, lovely food, lovely company - so thanks A and A for travelling up to meet us.


Saturday, 27 June 2015

A Cautionary Tale.

This may well be a tale with a moral.  It certainly reads like it, but I can't for the life of me think what the moral is!

A couple of weeks ago my hairdresser and her partner went on holiday to Cornwall.   Sitting looking out of the window in their cottage one evening, she noticed a little mouse on the top of the garden wall.   It looked decidedly sick and dejected.   She went out to look at it, stroked it - it shivered gently but didn't move.

She decided it was very dehydrated and possibly hungry and would probably die unless she did something.   So she went into the house and put some milk on to a plate and took it out and put it on the wall.   Immediately the little mouse began to drink.   Its skin was so dry she thought perhaps it needed rehydrating so she put some warm water into a spray bottle and went out and gently sprayed it along its back and it seemed to appreciate this too.  They watched it for a little while and it really perked up - cleaning its whiskers after the milk and looking ready to scuttle away to its hole.

It was at this point that a magpie flew down, snatched it up and carried it off - presumably to make a tasty meal for its brood.  My hairdresser was quite upset by this (I would have been too).   With hindsight perhaps it would have been better to pick the mouse up and put it behind a bush before giving it the milk - thus making the whole operation not quite so visible.   Nature red in tooth and claw.   Every man for himself and all that.  A whole list of proverbs and the like spring into my mind - but the whole episode  has stuck in my mind.

Friday, 26 June 2015


The farmer has gone off for the afternoon to finish his 'muck-spreading' activities; there is a gentle rain falling at the moment which will help it to soak into the ground and then, with any luck, the fields will 'green up' again and second crop silage will begin to grow.

Last year was a good year for indoor feeding of cattle so many farmers have silage left from then.   Some years, when the weather is really bad, most of them run out and everyone is scouring all the farms for bits to buy here and there.   This year some farmers won't even make second crop but let their cattle eat the grass off.
All a far cry from the old days when there was only one crop a year and that was hay - and that depended so much on the weather - the right amount of rain to make the grass grow, the right amount of sun to ripen the grass, and then fine weather (of the right kind - no heavy night time dews) to dry the laying grass and make it right for hay. Then the chore of piling it into the hay carts and pulling it back to the farm (I remember riding on top of hay when I was a child) and making a good, strong stack.

Like our grand mothers would not believe the ease of washingday these days so our farmer grandfathers would not credit modern facilities.  Here is a very poor photograph of the farmer and his father 'haymaking' around 1945 - sorry it's not a better photograph.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Stage Two

First silage is now completed and it is time to prepare the fields for their second silage crop (I spoke about routine yesterday - the routine for the farm is even more rigid and one job follows another just as one season follows another).

My header shows you just how dry and yellow the grass is, although of course it has been cut short and would be yellow anyway.   But the ground beneath is hard as I found on my walk with Tess yesterday.

For a couple of hours after lunch the sun was actually shining and hot!   During this time we had our stroll - I forgot my telephone and had a couple of arguments with stiles which almost caused me a downfall, but next door are building an extension and I could see the builders and hear them shouting to one another, so reasoned I could always yell to them if I fell.

Half way down the first field we met an unusual rabbit - it was a very light sandy colour.   We always get one or two this colour every year.  I wonder if someone in the past has let a tame rabbit go in the fields and it has bred.   Does anyone else in this country come across such a phenomenon?

Coming back through the front walled garden I found that my old rose, Gertrude Jekyll was in full bloom.   I got her scent before I saw her - but isn't she beautiful?

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Mr Pheasant.

Some time ago I posted a blog about Mr Pheasant and his retinue of adoring ladies, who frequented our bird table every day and who almost fed from the farmer's hand every morning.He really was dressed in his finest array - with a thick white collar and a white stripe down the middle of his head, which set him off from other cock birds and made him even more distinctive.

He is still around, but what a pathetic specimen.   All his ladies have deserted and gone off to raise families along the field margins. His job is done for another year; he has no need to attract anything or anyone.   And, by golly, it shows. 

His coat is drab; all his bright plumage has either dulled or fallen out;  he skulks all day under the bushes by the bird table, rarely bothering to fly or even walk away; he looks utterly miserable.   Seems this is man's lot.

Monday, 22 June 2015


Are you a creature of routine, or do you just like things to happen if and when?
When I was working routine was, of course, forced upon me.  Even before reaching school the routine of getting my son to school and at least thinking what I was doing about the evening meal was routine.

But now I am retired and have been for many years.   Yet I still stick to routine and without it I am lost.   My week goes more or less like this, with a few minor variations:
Monday:   wash and iron and put on the airer. Have a chat and a coffee with my cleaner.
Tuesday:  go into town, get the post office part of my pension, do a bit of shopping, often have a coffee with friend W .
Wednesday:  exercise class in the afternoon (apart from one Wednesday each month which is our Poetry afternoon).
Thursday:  permanent hairdresser's appointment just after lunch.  Often visit a friend afterwards.
Friday:  market and coffee with friends in the morning, afternoon to do whatever takes my fancy.
Saturday:  often pop into town for a mosey in the morning, again with a friend - often have coffee.  In the afternoon, weather permitting, like to have a longish (for me) wander round the fields with Tess.  I usually do the farm books on this day too.
Sunday:  farmer walks every other Sunday and then I go out for lunch with friends.  On the other Sundays we do a variety of things.

This might sound boring, but I can assure you it isn't because there are so many variations.   Sometimes I go out for lunch in the middle of the week with friend S (time we did it again S if you are reading this ),sometimes friends call here for a cup of tea and a scone, sometimes I go down to the feed merchants with the farmer, sometimes (as rarely as possible as I hate towns) the farmer and I go into our county town, Northallerton - the sky's the limit really.

Any break in this routine and I am not a happy bunny.   I fit the library into my schedule somewhere because I do like to have a pile of books to go at on a wetday.  And then of course there is my blog - reading you all and writing a new post everyday.

Never short of something to do!

And speaking of books, can I recommend to you a book which a friend G lent me to take on holiday.   It is a very easy read and can be finished in two or three hours, but it is one of the most beautifully written, moving books I have ever read.
"Wonder" by R J Palacio.   I think it should be compulsory reading (and discussion afterwards) in schools.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

plus and minus

I love our stand of Scots Pine trees which are by the farm house.   They are always full of interest.
a) they protect us from the prevailing west wind when there is a gale blowing.
b)they provide a comfortable roost for numerous pheasants every night, well away from marauding foxes.
c)greater spotted woodpeckers adore them, running up and down the trunks and flinging off great shards of bark.

But there are minus points too.
a) pine needles fall off in their thousands at this time of the year, blocking all the gutters around the farmhouse so that the guttters have to be cleared regularly or the rain overflows them.
b)mowing round their trunks is a monumental chore and yet it has to be done.
c)pine cones fall off in their thousands and cover the drive out on to the lane with a thick layer.   Walk up the drive at your peril - it is easy to twist one's ankle on a pine cone believe me.   Rake them up by the barrow-load, turn your back and the drive is covered again!

But like a lot of other things in life, for all their faults I wouldn't be without them for the world.

Saturday, 20 June 2015


(Pronounced Massem)

This morning friend W and I trundled off to Masham, a little town about ten miles away, to have a wander round the farmers' market.
We were slightly disappointed because apart from a cheese stall and a very good fruit and vegetable stall the rest of the stalls were just the same old thing - belts, clothes, baskets, toys and the like; in other words not really 'farmers' stuff at all.

But we really enjoyed the outing.   Masham is a delightful little town, quite unspoiled apart from one thing.   The square (shown in my photographs below) is a perfect example of a Georgian Square; almost all of the buildings date back to Georgian times.   But of course in those days there would be no cars.   I have taken some photographs for you to see but it is impossible to get a shot without it being full of cars.

We looked at the square and speculated that one hundred or more years ago it would have been horses and traps that filled the square rather than cars.

I think the only days in the year when there are no cars are the days of the Masham Sheep Fair in September.   This is an event that goes back into antiquity and cars have to be parked elsewhere as the square fills with pens of various breeds of sheep for judging.

We then drove back to our own little town and went to investigate a new tea shop which only opened today.   We really have more than enough tea shops in the square, but this shop has been unoccupied for years and to see it painted, decorated up (very tastefully I might add) and open for business was pleasant indeed.    The only thing which slightly grated was the fact that on the wall all the food available was peppered with apostrophes.   Why is it that so many people believe that where there is an s it has to be preceded by an apostrophe?   Friend W praised the young lady for the beautiful decor, the delicious coffee and the excellent service and then just tactfully suggested that perhaps she could make it 'even better' by removing all those apostrophes.   I do hope she did so.   The shop is an excellent addition to the town and they deserve to do well.  The holiday season is coming on so the omens are good.

Friday, 19 June 2015

At last!

The grass in the meadows has been cut and silaged, so it is short again.   This means that any 'ups and downs', and 'potholes' and any rabbit holes are easy to see and can be avoided by yours truly who is never absolutely easy on her feet these days and falls over at the drop of a hat.

So our afternoon wander this afternoon took in two of the silage meadows.   I was looking for wild flowers and for the family of twelve half-grown mallard ducks which the farmer keeps seeing on the beck.  Tess of course had only one thing on her mind (although yesterday she chased a half-grown male deer sporting half-grown antlers across the field.   He cleared the hedge by several feet and was away like the wind.)

I found my first dog-rose.    It is the favourite of all the flowers for me - coming as it does in all colours from almost white to the deepest pink.   The little patch of silverweed (potentilla) which always appears in the meadow gateway was already in flower and pink campion grew everywhere.

Buttercups, that most goldenyellow of all wild flowers, are almost over but the hay paddock is not yet cut and there are still enough flowering to make the field quite a sight.

Tess found a little 'house' under the hedge, which she investigated.  I would love to think that Cloudberry and Sneezewort from BB's 'Little Grey Men' had set up home there and that if I could see down that hole there would be a tiny Welsh dresser filled with lovely china, and a bookcase full of books on the countryside, and two tiny rocking chairs either side of the woodburner (plenty of wood around) for the little men to sit in and smoke their pipes in the evening after doing what little grey men do all day.   But I fear it is much more likely to be the home of Rag, Tag and Bobtail and that Mrs Floppy Bunny is in the process of 'persuading' her offspring to leave home as she prepares for another brood shortly to be born.

No sunshine, but no wind either after a very windy day yesterday.   So we had a lovely wander.   We didn't see the young mallards; in fact I couldn't see the beck at all as the grass was so long along its edge.   I did contemplate coming back through the big pasture but as there are fifteen very frisky bullocks in there I thought better of it, discretion being the better part of valour.

Thursday, 18 June 2015


An elderly lady died here in the UK a couple of weeks ago.   She took her own life - she had health problems and her family said that the reason given in the newspapers was not nearly the only reason.   But the fact remains that for years she had been hounded by charities to give money.   Every day requests for more money had come through the post although she already contributed to such a lot by direct debits.

I think most of us here are hounded by charities.   I know they need the money.   I give to one or two chosen ones (RSPB and Great Ormond Street Hospital and Save the Children),  but I draw the line there, just adding one special one at Christmas depending upon what has happened during the year (last year a friend died of cancer during the  year and so it was Cancer Research).

But I also know - and again this is only my experience - that if I give to a charity they have been known to ring and ask me if I will increase my monthly subscription.

All charities need money constantly  and I realise that often the only way they can get it is to ask for it.   There are some (Lifeboats for example) which I feel should be totally funded by the Government, but money is spread thinly and it is often sorely needed.

But some of the 'big' charities do seem to pay their executives an awful lot of salary and do seem to use very swish, very new vehicles to run about in in places like Africa.

Over the years I have found that it is better to give a lot to one or two charities rather than to spread the money I can afford thinly.   The same applies to begging in the street, which thankfully we don't have up here in the Dales at all.   If I had a pound coin to spare I would put it all in one 'cap' rather than twenty pence in five 'caps' if you get my meaning.

There is also the problem of unscrupulous people.   I do a lot of puzzles in the Times - many of which need a pencil with a rubber on the end. The rubber wears out quickly but the pencil is still good.   I look at the twenty or so perfectly good pencils in my 'tub' and wish I could transport them to Africa to some school where pencils are in short supply.   But you so often read where shipments of goods for schools and such like are intercepted at ports of entry and the stuff is taken off and sold elsewhere.

Yes, charity of any kind is a problem.   Do we give to salve our conscience or do we give out of a geuine need to be helpful?  However poor we are here in the UK there is always someone poorer than ourselves who needs our support.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015


Reading Tom's blog today started me off thinking about silence.   Being deaf means that the first thing I do when I get out of bed in the morning is to put my hearing aid on.   Without it I really can hear next to nothing.

It is many years since I heard the dawn chorus because the birds can sing all they like and I am not able to hear their chorus.   Blackbirds sing from every corner of our garden and from the top of every post - but I am oblivious to it all without my aid.   I put it in and immediately  I hear the blackbirds, the robin, the chaffinch, the collared doves - and the many sparrows in the holly (are sparrows really in short supply in some places? If so I really think they have all congregated in our garden).

I walk down the lane at lunch time with Tess and it is only when she turns round and looks worried that I realise a car is gently coasting along behind us waiting for us to move out of the way.   Because even with a hearing aid some sounds evade my hearing system.   Cyclists soar past, making me jump out of my skin and risking a tumble if Tess steps in front of them.   I ask myself - when did cyclists stop having bells on their handlebars?   When did motorists stop using their horns to make us aware of their approach?

Obviously I wish I were not deaf, but I have been like this since I was in my early thirties.   When I taught in Comprehensive School I had to have absolute silence for calling the register (do they still do this today?) - I had no hearing aid in those days as my loss was not great enough.   My form were marvellous and always got really cross with anyone who scraped their chair or rustled a paper.   Wonder if it would still be the same today.

But there is an advantage.   If there is something (or someone ) I don't wish to hear then I can switch off.   An example - if I am on a train and reading a good book, or trying to do the Times Crossword and some one behind me or across the aisle is going on and on about something - then silence is golden.   If I am in a cafe and there is that awful piped music in the background, it is rather nice to drink my coffee without hearing it. Just me and a friend sitting close together and my hearing is good enough to hold a conversation, and the music is blanked out.

It is like so many other things in life.   We are stuck with them and we have to make the best of them.   Music, which used to play a large part in my life, is quite a closed book now as my hearing loss is such that it is difficult differentiating between the notes  and often the piece is quite a way into it before I have established the note and the key - then I can follow it but can't always hear all the different parts, so listening to music is no longer an important part of my life.

 Just home from my over sixties exercise class - the first time I have been for five weeks - and by golly it tells!   I am tired, stiff and ready for a sit down - but a woman's work is never done - dish washer to empty, dog's dinner to get, sandwiches to make for tea and then I can sit down and watch 'Pointless' with the farmer (an apt title in more ways than one)!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Two jobs going on today.

Silaging has begun.   This morning the grass cutter moved in to cut our first crop of grass.   As we don't have this for ourselves, but let our farmer neighbour have it, we can just watch and enjoy the spectacle (and hope the weather holds fine).

The other job is 'doctoring' the sheep.   One of the lambs was quite poorly so the people whose sheep we have for the Summer, came down this afternoon to dose them.   In a very short time they had an injection, a drench-which is administered by a quick shot in the mouth-, and a spray along their backs and round their rear ends to discourage the flies.   In no time at all they were back in the pasture, but what a noise in between times, when lambs and mothers became separated and were calling for one another.

The next job will be the shearing.   Many of the ewes have already lost most of their fleeces along the hedge backs.   I can only think it becomes very irritating when it begins to be shed and they rub against the hedge in an effort to relieve the itching.

Today has been a warm, sunny and pleasant day - almost a Summer's day.   There are only five days to go before it is officially Summer  so we should be looking forward to more of the same.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Can animals tell the time?

Every night (we are definitely creatures of habit) at around ten o'clock, the farmer goes down the yard to shut in the hens.   He takes Tess with him and leaves her wandering about in the yard for her last mooch before bedtime.

Every night at about five minutes to ten Tess gets out of her basket, stretches, yawns, shakes and goes and sits by the farmer - and nudges his leg.  If she could speak I am sure she would say ' come on it's ten o'clock'.

Exactly the same procedure in the morning when the farmer goes for his morning walk around the farm, starting at eight am.   At five to eight Tess gets out of her basket, repeats the procedure and sits by him.

When the farmer opens the back door on both these occasions one of the farm cats (Blackie) is sitting on the doormat waiting for a bowl of milk.   The other farm cat (Creamie) is waiting a few yards away, too shy to come nearer.

Thinking back to our days as a Dairy Farm (before we had foot and mouth), it was exactly the same with the cows.   They would be waiting in a line at the pasture gate at six in the morning and again at four in the afternoon.

What hidden clock prompts animals to being able to tell the time?

Sunday, 14 June 2015


One thing I learned when I married the farmer twenty-two years ago is that for the farmer the weather is never right.   It is either not wet enough or too wet, not warm enough or too hot.   When it comes up to hay-time we need good damp days to help the grass grow, then a few days with a good breeze (but warm) to dry it nicely for cutting.   And after it is lying in the field, hot sun to bake it to perfection.   The same, more or less, goes for silaging.

Luckily we are not arable, but if we were I am sure the weather would be even more important.

But of course we never get what we desire weather-wise - and he usually ends up saying 'we have to take what comes' (true).

Our gardens have been parched as there has been no rain for a while and we have had a week or so of warm sun.   However, this weekend it has been cloudy, cool and damp.   This morning it is actually raining that very fine rain.   Not much in measurement but at least enough to encourage the plants to take it in.   Already the vegetable garden is looking receptive.   But the farmer has just come in and says we could do with a thoroughly wet day rather than it just 'damping' as it is doing.   

As I say - the weather is never right for a farmer.

Friday, 12 June 2015

A beautiful day!

Today friend W and I met our friends P and D in Kirby Lonsdale at the super Italian Restaurant Avanti.   I don't think the journey has ever been more beautiful.   The wild flower meadows were yellow over with buttercups and in some cases white over with daisies.   The grass verges were thick with cow parsley and pink campion, and there were young calves and lambs everywhere.   What a lovely season Spring is.  It was warm and sunny and the sky was blue.   What more could anyone wish for ?

Might I suggest that the best addition would be a good lunch?   Well, that is what we had.  Chicken caesar salad (W), pasta (me) - and then we excelled ourselves when we both decided to have a dessert - Strawberry Eton Mess.  It was so beautiful that I had to take a photograph to show you.
Back home again I find that today's sunshine has brought out the first of my roses.   This one is a delight - I have no idea what it is called but I have had it in a pot for some years and every year it does well.

Let's hope for a few more days of this weather - we deserve it after a rather miserable May.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

At last.

Summer has arrived for a few days at least.   Such periods are often quite rare up here, so we have to make the most of them when they arrive.

The last couple of days have been pleasantly warm and sunny without being really hot.   And in the early morning (when I am writing this) you can hear the silence - does that make sense, I hope so because there is no other way of describing the beautiful noise-free 'noise' outside.   Have you ever noticed how different the sound is in the early morning from that in the late evening?  I suppose the difference can best be described as 'fresh' and 'tired'.
Yesterday our exercise class was cancelled at short notice, so of course friend W and I exercised by ourselves (our jaws mainly as we ate delicious scones in a local cafe).

Tomorrow it is the journey over the top of the Pennines to Kirby Lonsdale in Cumbria to meet our friends for lunch.   If the weather stays like this we should be able to see the tops of the Three Peaks for a change.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Guess who called!

Look who called in for breakfast at our feeding station this morning.   This is a red-legged partridge - not native to this country but introduced as a game bird some years ago.

My bird identification book was published in 1972 and at that time
the red-leg was listed as being only present in Spain, parts of France and the extreme South east corner of England.   Now it is all over the UK, although not all that plentiful.   I have seen them before in the area, but never in our garden - so what a nice surprise.

She came, ate quickly at the wheat the farmer had scattered for our visiting pheasants, and then was gone.   This suggests she may have a nest nearby and was just leaving it for long enough to have a drink and a quick meal.   I do hope so.

As far as the pheasants are concerned, one cock pheasant never leaves the lawn and trees at the side of the kitchen window.   He is moulting, his job is done for the year, there is plentiful food on hand, so he wanders up and down aimlessly all day.   He has recently been joined by one hen pheasant, who rejects all his advances.   She is alone and we suspect that she has lost her nest to predators.   Nature is so cruel.   Once a predator has found a nest of eggs they will remove them one by one and the poor old hen will be able to do nothing to stop it.

Other than that there are baby birds everywhere, beaks agape, waiting on branches for mum to push down food.   Yesterday the farmer severely pruned a fir tree, lopping off many of the lower branches.   It has opened up a very dark part of the garden but I suspect some of the babies will be searching for somewhere to sit and wait for breakfast this morning.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Busy day

The farmer had to go to hospital in Middlesbrough today for his monthly balance tests - that part of it was splendid as he came out 100% in all areas and does not have to go again, providing he keeps up the exercises and doesn't notice any fall-back.

We go the country way in that almost the whole journey, apart from the last five or so miles of the forty-five, is through countryside, albeit rather ordinary countryside.

But today (no camera of course - sod's law) it was far from ordinary because there were two fields of a crop we rarely see around here.   Two fields of glorious blue flax in full flower.   They looked like the sea and were enhanced by the adjoining field being a field of bright yellow rape.   While I gasped in wonder the farmer remarked that it is a darn nuisance to combine as the stalks are so tough (ever the realist).

We called at the garden centre on the way home and bought pansies and geraniums for our pots, salvia for a bare spot in the garden and a fantastic bright orange gazania for my favourite pot.  We got home,made a pot of tea, then planted all the plants.   Now it is over and done with, watered in, swept up, all rubbish cleared away - done completely.   In addition the farmer has sawn a lot of branches off the bottom of a tall Christmas tree which was blocking the light. I now feel satisfied and exhausted, so off to sit down .

We had lunch at the garden centre so hardly any tea to think about.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Stage Two in the race

For weeks the fields all around us have been a bright, healthy green and the grass has been growing well.   As we have gone about doing this and that, the farmer has remarked 'good crop of grass there' or 'that grass needs to grow a bit more'.   In other words, every farmer in the area who has cattle has had his mind centred on grass.

But now, driving into town this afternoon, there are few bright green fields to be seen (apart from the few sporting growing winter wheat) - everywhere the fields are a pale, wan cream.   Yes, first cut silage is behind us to a large extent - most of it gone to forage silage - that is cut, carted away on big trailers and stored in huge
walled off areas, covered and left to cure for winter eatage.   Big bag silage will come later with the second crop of grass.

Which leads me to stage two.   No sooner is the grass cut than the slurry wagons are out, spreading thick slurry on all the shaved fields.  What is pale and wan today will be a good, rich brown tomorrow (with a smell to match).  For make no mistake, grass is given no quarter.   It must produce two crops and hopefully for many three crops of Winter feed so there must be no hold ups.

Cows don't realise how lucky they are.

I see from today's Times that the 'artificial intelligence expert', Ray Kurzwell, predicts that within the next fifteen years or so humans will be able to utilise 'tiny nanobots' made from strands of DNA, which will utterly transform their biological essence.  They will be able to connect their brains directly to the internet.

I ask myself, do I wish to do that, and the answer comes back loud and clear - NO.

This week I ordered my prescription from our Medical Practice by computer, as I always do.   Then I tried to order the farmers - but the site refused to delete my name.   I blamed the Practice, tried for several days and finally rang the order in.   Yesterday my son suggested that I change server to try again - and of course it worked.   I haven't even mastered the very basics of computer skills yet - so you can forget utilising nanobots, whatever they are, be they large or tiny.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Out for Sunday lunch.

The farmer is out walking with his group today, so I went out with my son and daughter-in-law for Sunday lunch.   Now I am back home having eaten far too much (roast lamb with roasties, Yorkshire puds, vegetables, followed by fruits of the forest Eton mess and then coffee.)

No more food for me today but it was a jolly good lunch.   And the place we went to has a good vegetarian menu which is helpful as my son is a vegetarian and so often everything on the menu is cheesy.

The farmer's walk was also a success and he has come back feeling good after a walk along the River Ure and a good chat to friends.

I have quite a busy week ahead - Monday the usual chores, Tuesday to Middlesbrough for the farmer to have a balance check up at his hospital,Wednesday my exercise class, Thursday my hairdresser and Friday off to Kirby Lonsdale to meet our friends for lunch - I rather think this is the first time this year.   I must check up with them but it is certainly a long time since we met and friend W and I so enjoy the journey, seeing them and the Italian food.

In between this I really must begin to pot up plants for all my pots in the garden.   The trouble is that at the moment the wind is so strong that it is likely to blow them out again, as has happened to one of the geraniums I planted.

 Buttercups are looking particularly splendid this year.   As I write I can see them in the paddock outside the hall window = the field is the most beautiful golden yellow.   That is the one field the farmer makes into hay each year (weather permitting - if it suddenly changes then the 'hay' becomes 'silage').   He says that cows don't like buttercups and that they are a 'real nuisance' in the field.   Hay is no longer really needed unless one has horses, so I think he really makes it for old times sake.

Tess and the farmer are setting off for their afternoon walk.  He wishes to be back in time to watch the Grand Prix which starts at 5pm I think (which means that after an hour's talking the actual race probably starts an hour later.   We have walked round the Montreal circuit some years ago and were surprised how small it all seemed when it looks huge on television.   The road is quite narrow and as I remember it there were not all that many buildings, so I wonder if some of them are pre-fabricated and are put up just for the event.   Does anybody know?

Saturday, 6 June 2015

An interesting little tale.

This morning was our monthly Coffee Morning - a chance to catch up with friends and have a chat.   The weather is bright, sunny and extremely windy - we were nearly blown away just getting from the car and into the Village Hall.

Coffee, biscuits and chat and then home for lunch (lamb kebabs on a bed of rice, olives and peas followed by local strawberries and cream).

Over lunch the farmer told me a tale from the Auction Mart yesterday.   His cousin's daughter, who lives over in the Lakes, kept hearing tiny scratchy feet in the attic (I would call it a false roof) above her bedroom.  She found this a bit scary and hoped it would go away but it didn't; in fact it became a lot of scratchy feet rather than what just sounded like one set of feet!   Time to call in Pest Control she thought - pretty certain that rats had taken up residence.

The Pest Controller put up his ladder and ventured into the false roof - and guess what he found?   Not rats or mice at all, but a stoat with a nest of little ones.   She hissed at the sight of him and he withdrew tactfully, leaving them to it.

Apparently stoats are not on their list of 'pests to be dealt with', so she has to leave it there until the stoat has reared her young and they have departed.   Then she can try and find out how they got in and seal it up so that there isn't a second brood.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Done and dusted.

Just a short post today as it is already almost seven in the evening and I still have everyone else's blogs to read.  A busy day today with various things to do, but home now and settling down for the evening.

This afternoon we paid our fortnightly visit to our Feed Merchant in the little town of Masham.   Here is a photograph of the farmer going into the store, and then one of him coming out, well stocked up.   That is wild birds, hens,  farm cats stocked up for another week or two - and a new collar for Tess as her's broke this morning.

We feel it is very important to feed the wild birds this time of the year.   They have such a hard job to keep up with the feeding of their broods, it is a help if in the short time they have to get themselves fed, it is only a short trip to a feeder.

Looking out of the window a short time ago there are hedge sparrows, tree sparrows, two male yellowhammers, goldfinches, greenfinches, spotted woodpeckers, blue tits, great tits, a coal tit,collared doves - all within the past half hour or so.  Most of our hen pheasants have disappeared - the cock wanders around like a lost soul all day, never going far from the bird table.   Over the last few days a hen pheasant has joined him there; we can only assume she has lost her eggs to some kind of thief - maybe a magpie or a jackdaw or even a rat.

Coffee morning tomorrow morning so something to do tomorrow too.


Thursday, 4 June 2015

Second Spring.

We are very lucky.   We had our first spring down in Aldeburgh.   The May blossom was fully out on the hawthorn, all the trees were in full leaf, lilac, laburnum and wisteria were magnificent and buttercups were in full flow.

We came home to an almost wintry landscape by comparison.   But the last few warm(ish) days have made a difference.   Now the May blossom is bursting forth, as is the cow parsley.   On my way to the physiotherapist this morning I passed a huge bank of ox eye daisies, the fields are yellow over with buttercups - Spring has sprung.

This meant that when I set off down the lane this morning, en route for my physiotherapist, I had only one thing on my mind.   Were the purple orchids in flower?   Yes, indeed they were; not as many as last year but a goodly number and a joy to look at - they seem so exotic in such ordinary surroundings.

I stopped, making sure there was nothing coming either way, and took a quick picture - only two orchids in the shot, but there are many more round about.   They are my private signal that Spring has arrived - don't care what the weatherman says about June 1st being the first day of Summer meteorologically, Summer doesn;t come here until June 21st and the Spring flowers are all in bloom.
So Spring it stays for another  seventeen days.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The thief of time

Procrastination.   I think we all suffer from it to a greater or lesser extent.  Sometimes it is hard to leave a book we are reading (Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane), sometimes it is something as simple as sitting and gazing in to space (I am really good at that), but I find that the hardest thing of all is the actual standing up.

Once I am on two legs and moving forwards then I am half way there.

Last Friday on the market I bought a dozen pelargoniums to pot up, mostly in the manger under the front window.   I have had a good excuse every day for not getting round to doing it.   We were going out, it was raining, it was looking like rain, it was too windy (this has been a bad week for gales here).   But today it is fine, there is only a light breeze, I am ready to go -so this is just a short post today to say I am going out into the garden.

This afternoon is our exercise afternoon so it is early lunch and then an hour of movement, which will do me a power of good as I have missed three Wednesday afternoons.

Lunch will surprise the farmer (we rarely, if ever have a pudding as we watch our weight) - there is quiche and salad left from yesterday so that will do for the first course.   Yesterday I bought some blueberries, so I am going to make pancakes with blueberries and honey.   All being well I should earn Brownie points (if it works out well).

Photo of pelargoniums later should prove I have not procrastinated.
There you are; half an hour later and it is done.   Why has it taken me so long to get round to it?

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Nature red in tooth and claw.

There is no doubt about it, living - as we do - in the depths of the country, we are so much closer to nature in all its aspects than we would be when living in a town or city - or even in a village.   The farmer walks his fields at least twice a day, to keep an eye on things and, even though I can no longer walk all that far, he brings me up to date when he comes in.   After all, farming and nature are his passions.

So here are a few of this week's observations:

The ash trees are still not in leaf up here.   We are hoping that this will endorse the old saying 'if the oak before the ash, then we're in for just a splash' (rather than the alternative ' if the ash before the oak, then we're in for quite a soak'.   I see one from where I stand at the kitchen sink.  It is a magnificent specimen and I sincerely hope that it doesn't get ash die-back.

Myxamatosis - that cruel disease of rabbits - is back.   Tess caught three baby rabbits this morning; all had mixxy and the farmer put them out of their misery.   Being caught by a dog must be terrifying for a baby rabbit, but death from the farmer is swift and anything is better than the slow, lingering death  to which they would succumb otherwise.

Sparrows have managed to find their way under the roof in our utility room and seem to have built a nest directly over my tumble drier.     For the past two days one baby sparrow has driven us mad with its chirping - never ending cheep, cheep, cheep.   When we came back from shopping this morning there was one frantic baby sparrow fluttering around the window.   The farmer caught it gently in his hand and put in on the branch of a tree just across the drive.   I just hope mum finds it there.   It flew off before I could take a photograph, so should be able to look after itself.

The farmer has just gone to get out his grass-cutter and give it a grease as our friend and neighbour A has asked him to cut forage grass tomorrow afternoon.   We had threequarters of an inch of rain (and a gale of 70mph) overnight but as it is still blowing a gale this morning the grass should be dry by tomorrow afternoon.   Silaging begins in earnest.

This morning, on his morning walk with Tess, the farmer found a young heifer stuck across the top of the fence.   She must have been trying to get into the neighbouring field.   The farmer helped her off, came back for a fencing rail and mended where she had tried to get over. It is most likely that she has come into season and was trying to get to the cattle i n the neighbouring field - it would have been a bit of a waste of time because they are heifers too!

Enjoy your day.

Monday, 1 June 2015

People with a passion.

It struck me last night while watching Country File, how people with a passion for something get such a lot more out of life.   I suppose if you are not that kind of person then you can't manufacture that kind of life.   The programme was from the Channel Islands and it went round the late Gerald Durrell's Country Park.  Apart from all the things he started, the staff had begun a project to enhance the number of choughs on the island as they were in danger of dying out.   It was fascinating to watch the little birds grow into noisy irks - it was also fascinating to watch the enthusiasm of the folk involved in the project.

Later Adam went to look at a herd of 'curly' pigs from Hungary.  They were lovely (particularly the runt of one litter who needed some TLC and so had grown up in the kitchen and followed them everywhere).   The chap who kept them had started out with a pair just as a bit of a hobbby - but they had gradually taken over his life and he was now curing the meat and making it into pancettas, hams, pork joints etc.   It looked delicious

We all know of gardeners who have spent their lives creating beautiful gardens - and often leaving them to the nation - Sissinghurst being a case in point .

I know we can't all be like that but a bit of a passion, the desire to get involved in some project -  to keep a diary (I have a friend who has done this for many years), to search for, and catalogue wild flowers, to travel the world ,or even more ordinary things like cooking or making a good vegetable garden.

My son walked over the fields to our farm last night quite late, when it was dusk and rather wet.   He came because he felt like a walk and to lend me a book to read.   He is a chap who has intense enthusiasms (like his father before him) - it makes him an interesting man to chat to.

The farmer has the same kind of interest in the countryside - theflowers, the birds, the wildlife, what is growing in the fields.   It is never boring to drive around with him down country lanes (this was underlined in Suffolk last week).

What a lot folk miss out on if they just go on their way living rather than being enthusiastic about it.