Sunday, 6 May 2012

Mown, Mown, Mown!

Sunday 6th May 2012
A Sky Of Two Halves
A couple of weeks ago the song of the yellowhammer went quiet, either moved on or settled down to breed. But of late the progression of the year has been marked by the scratchy song of the Sedge Warbler, singing morning and evening from within the bush along Don's dyke. When it's more confident and the sun makes a proper effort, this bird will sing boldly atop the bush bursting out its song all day.

At first light this morning, the song of a Whitethroat joined the Sedge Warbler. It seems that at last the migrants are arriving in reasonable numbers. A couple of Swifts scythed through the air later in the day too.

Sue gets to grips with the new electric chainsaw.
This special saw horse makes the chainsaw
very safe and easy to use,
but it was a real pig to assemble.
The first (almost) dry day for over a month and we decided to play with our toys! As Sue busied herself in the stables, making headway into the huge pile of logs pilfered from Don, I zoomed around on the mower. (I wish!)
Actually, it was a lot more complicated than that. The grass has been constantly too wet to mow for several weeks, during which time it has grown at an alarming pace. I had a decision to make, to wait till it was properly dry, by which time it could be contending for jungle status, or to tackle it now while there was a very small window of opportunity. So I took the plunge and spent the whole day ploughing through the swards. At times I was having to make 10 yard dashes, lowering and lifting the blades to give the mower a chance to clear itself of the straggly wet cut grass. Even then, I must have found myself jamming my arm underneath to extract the clogged mass of grass maybe twenty or thirty times. By the end of the day my hands and arms were completely stained green.

The soft fruit area and the orchard after a haircut.

So many visitors
In London, we lived in a city of millions of people, houses crammed together and people everywhere. Yet we hardly ever met anybody properly, and virtually never had visitors. It's not that we're antisocial, just the nature of a big city. I believe that the density of people releases a natural instinct to be defensive and maintain a distance through superficial relationships. I'm not having a dig, or saying that Londoners are unfriendly, it's just how things are.
Here, there are seven houses along a 4 mile stretch of road between two small clusters of houses that just about count as villages. Yet there are days, particularly on a sunny weekend, when we have visitor after visitor. They call for sausages, for eggs or to view the piglets. Many have visited the farm in the past and regale us with tales about previous inhabitants. Many take a keen interest in the project we are undertaking, and it is not unusual for us to spend half an hour or more chatting, even if we don't sell anything.
Yesterday a couple dropped in and bought a large proportion of our dwindling stock of pork. They came to look at the piglets too, and spent quite a while with us. Today, their neighbour dropped in to buy some of the pork she had been recommended! 

A family from Bedfordshire called in to buy sausages, but they went like hot cakes soon after they came back from the butcher's. They asked if their children could see the piglets and we spent another chunk of time showing them round the farm. No sale, our work interrupted, but I wouldn't swap these experiences for the world.
Two more young blokes considering purchasing a couple of piglets. And with every visitor I learn something new, either about the area, rural life, or about keeping animals and working the land.

To celebrate the first dry, sunny day for quite some time, the bees came out to play en masse today and the chickens laid an egg each.

To finish off a lovely day, we enjoyed a rare meal out with some teaching colleagues.

We like living here!

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