Monthly Archives: January 2015

Back to normal

It’s the first day with the big group all back and everyone is comparing Christmas presents and illnesses. Chest infections have been popular over Christmas (and continue to be popular as an excuse for not working outside!) and new phones seem to have been popular presents.

My phone is now over a year old and is seen as a positive antique. If it hadn’t been for the unfortunate conjunction of phone and cup of tea I’d still be using a four-year-old phone. It had survived being dropped in the washing up water but the tea was a step too far. If I’d been having a virtuous day it would have been OK but I’d backslid and put sugar in it, and phones don’t cope well with sticky stuff. An ancient phone isn’t a problem to me, I’m still old-fashioned enough to see a telephone as a communicatiion device instead of a platform for games and music and searching the internet.

We’re waiting for lambing at the moment and had a couple of goes at moving sheep. They didn’t work well, as sheep despite their reputation for following the leader, don’t like to walk across muddy ground. The driving of ducks and geese went better, but mud isn’t really an issue for them, and as dusk came they made tracks for the barn with a minimum of drama.

Meanwhile the guineafowl have been invading gardens again, so all is well and truly back to normal.

I really must remmeber to start using the camera again…


The Moving Finger

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam, translated by Edward FitzGerald

Yes, I know it can be read as a bit of a miserable quotation, and I admit I do always get a bit gloomy at New Year. For the first few days it’s always a case of remembering what I haven’t done in the last year, though I gradually build up a good head of steam and start to look forward to the new stuff.

Things are already moving on for next year – we had a booking for a Yoga Retreat yesterday and a local college emailed to confirm five more dates to come and do its animal care course. This morning we had another email as one of our regular schools booked to bring three classes round to look at lambing and do some cooking. That’s a good start to the year.

I’ve also been writing a list of things to do. That in itself is enough to cause depression as it’s a bit like building a mountain for yourself to climb. However, I just mutter the short version of the above quote (The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on:) and get on with it. That’s what New Year is about for me, doing things and moving on.

This year we will be building up the butterfly garden and recording butterfly sightings in a more systematic manner.  We will also be doing more observing and recording of insects and birds. We’ll never be as good as the people at but that’s no reason not to try.

As usual the garden is the site of many of our good intentions, and as usual we’re already falling behind with it.

I’ve been doing some reading over Christmas so I have a few new notes to add to the cookery demonstrations. I’ve also dusted down my old guano notes as I’m feeling the time is right for more talk of manure. And dung, compost, fertiliser, nitrates, personal liquid waste (as Bob Flowerdew calls it), comfrey, nettle tea and anything else that rots, festers or smells.

I need something to replace the “Is it wrong to eat people?” presentation as this didn’t go down terribly well with the parent helpers or my wife. This will, for the moment, join the notes about eating guinea pigs as a subject that needs a little polishing before being used again.

It’s also the time for finalising all the special days – either traditional ones like Lammas or the modern manufactured ones. I keep meaning to do National Carrot Day just because it’s so unlikely, and because we could make carrot lollies just like World War 2, National Nettle Week is a definite for this year because it ties in with the butterflies and making people eat weeds. There are others I’m looking at too, though I’ll be giving National Chip Week a miss and National Mango Week is just taking the mickey.

So there you go – 2015 and it’s all to play for.

First day back

We arrived, we put new food in the feeders and we set the telescope up.

Then we waited.

Four hours later I have only seen one bird through the telescope. It was a Great Tit, which gathered a beakful of seed and flew back to the hedge to eat. That was the only time I was quick enough: all other visits were so quick that by the time I bent to look through the eyepiece there was nothing to see.

After a while we started looking at things like the sheep in the field next door, though as they were all facing away from us it wasn’t a great view. After that we looked at trees, nitrogen tanks, fence posts and passing traffic.

It’s been a W H Davies sort of day – with lots of time available to stand and stare, Or sit and stare, to be precise.

The rest of the time has been spent in taking down Christmas decorations and eating biscuits. I won’t say which bit I preferred but have a guess. It hasn’t been the most industrious start to the year, particularly considering the amount of paperwork that has been building up for me, but I always like to get the decorations down in time for 12th Night. I’m not superstitious or anything, I just don’t see the point in Christmas decorations once Christmas is over. Anyway, a day with birds and biscuits can never be a bad day, even if you do nothing else.

Considering that my only resolution of the new year was to “be more industrious” this probably counts as a failure. If only I’d chosen “eat more biscuits”…