Yesterday was Easter Sunday. I haven't turned religious, but it marked the most important day in the calendar. It is not a fixed date but it is one which marks hope and new growth.
For as I was digging out a new pond, I happened to glance up just at the right time to see a swallow disappearing through the window into the stables. Before I continue, I'd like to do something very unusual and apologise for being wrong. It's not the apology which is rare, it's me being wrong! But I did say in a recent blog that the swallows wouldn't be back until later in the month. So the appearance of this single swallow took me somewhat by surprise. But when I checked up, they returned on 8th April last year, so three days earlier this year.
The morning had seen a large flock, maybe 50, of wild swans departing to the north, so it was definitely a case of out with the winter and in with the summer.
Last year six swallows returned together and alerted me to their presence with their excited overhead chattering. This year's bird is a lone bird, but it headed straight into the stable as if it knew where it was going and rested up there for quite some time before heading into the sky over the farm to feed up.
For reasons I won't go into (not to do with Sue), I am making myself scarce in the house at the moment and spending about 12 hours a day outside. I am achieving plenty. I have had some help too. For the guinea fowl have been putting a lot of effort into turning my onion bed into a very fine tilth.
I obliged them by planting all my onion sets today, 350 of them in total.
I have placed them in rows 10" apart (25cm new money). When I have squeezed the spacing in the past, not only do the onions come out smaller but hoeing down the rows is a nightmare, normally resulting in the beheading of at least a couple of onions.
I have spaced the Giant Stuttgarters at 6" apart to give them plenty of space to grow into fine specimens. The Red Barons are closer at 4" apart.
Needless to say, I've netted them all just in case the guinea fowl return!