The arrival of the swallows on or around my husband’s birthday is part of our yearly routine, and anticipated with much joy and then relief. This year, we are also anticipating the arrival of a whiteboard not quite with joy but more with apprehension. Apparently, the workings of our household could be run more efficiently and with more synergy.
The board is huge. There are columns and coloured pens (this must be where I went wrong with the Berry’s staff meetings), and the week is planned with menus and allocated cooks for the day. Then there is a column I am going to enjoy: “things that need to be discussed.” You can imagine that the issue of wet feet getting out of the bath and leaving footprints was just the warm up. Hopefully now the dishwasher will be loaded logically and there will be synergy?
Back to the swallows, we have opened the shed doors after loud protests and the dust sheets have been spread out - they are such a marvel of nature and hopefully we will have a few extra to return South in September.
With no pet lambs to fuss over this Spring, the next job has been the big clip - Harry goes from dwarfing Rolo the Shetland pony to looking like a sheep again
Harry and Rolo
A clipped Harry
Harry and Elspeth followed me up the kitchen steps yesterday and Harry was eyeing up the warm aga stove. With cold nights and the thought of no coat after clipping, he reckoned this could be the place to hang out.
Harry in a warm kitchen
I will keep the fleece as it is fun to see if the children who come to visit on our farm tours can lift it up.
Wheelbarrow of wool
The working tups are looking well after a busy Autumn. Spring for them is a time of rest and eventually a clip.
Working tups (the lads)
Easter was a time like no other - with everyone needing hope this year, the story of Easter seems especially relevant. That a human being could triumph after experiencing so much pain and humiliation is a message for us all.
With no Easter lunch to cook and no Church celebration to be part of, the four of us climbed a hill to witness the sunrise at 6.15 am on Easter Day. I found it very emotional and it certainly gave us all hope.
Easter day sunrise
Easter morning sky
The colours this Spring have continued to be striking, with the yellows giving way to whites, then all the different shades of green arriving before the crescendo of the blossoms.
Wild garlic like a mantel
Crab apple blossom
The dry weather has been ideal for gathering wood for a hopefully busy but late yurt season.
Although keeping Adrian away from the chainsaw has been difficult, he is under doctor’s orders never to use one again - I caught him setting off with chainsaw trousers, helmet and gloves, he said he was off to measure a gate!
Rolo has found a fan in the village who is enjoying having some extra rides during the enforced time off school, with chaperone Elspeth the sheep.
Rolo out for exercise with chaperone, Elspeth
Harry and Elspeth gardening
We try to avoid any nests on our walks. This hen pheasant is either brave or stupid after choosing to sit on her 15 eggs in a spot with a constant passing stream of farm, pig and dog traffic. Her camouflage and the coloured string must help.
Hidden hen pheasant
We are not letting the rare breed hens hatch any eggs but hope for more success with the incubator. The hens are clumsy and non-committal, unlike the hen pheasant, which explains their rarity.
The young Highland calf is so happy to have everyone’s undivided attention. We have refrained from calling her Rainbow as she is dark brown. Fearing that the name, “Covid” might stick, we have named her, Locky.
Our newest Highland calf, Locky
With the grass growing, the South Devon cows are now out in the fields.
South Devons out on Spring grass
And the young stock have been left inside to wean themselves off mum and tuck into the silage.
Young South Devon stock
Countess had thirteen spotty piglets, and they are already exploring.
Mum's occupied, let's explore
With twelve brothers and sisters to share Mum with, heaven is having a protective leg all to yourself.
A bit of mum all to yourself
The tennis court has been a useful distraction this Spring. The llamas seemed to be concerned with checking the height of the net.
Llama checking the tennis net
With llamas, lambs, pigs, hens, rabbits and birds all around the court, I am a very distracted player.
Luckily, no animals have found my rather sparse seedlings in the garden. With my reading glasses on, I can see some green shoots. Rather intimidating to have an expert gardener occupying the next strip with an abundance of shoots and some structures clearly designed for serious vegetable harvest.
I was a late starter for filling some of my cupboards in preparation for the lockdown. I was interested that no one else in Wensleydale was a sweetcorn fan and I could have bought any number of packets of Durex, people's holidays were definitely off. Luckily, my list of essentials starting with hair styling mousse were still on the shelves. I was interested to see what my son had brought North with him apart from his laptop. With minutes to catch a train and so seconds to decide on the essentials on leaving the flat, he brought his hot chilli sauce. I felt maybe emptying his washing machine of wet clothes might have been a better use of time or packing a pair of socks.
I am still learning new words with two boys working from home and live daily webinars becoming the norm. I have only set off the house alarm once in the middle of one. And I heard one participant asking our son if he was transmitting from a torture studio, just because we have a few hooks left in the kitchen ceiling. The camera must have been pointing up to avoid the washing up.
Life will clearly be very different when we emerge from lockdown and face the future. And it has all happened so quickly. In February, I bought some candles from our wonderful White candle factory in Wensley - and I was admiring some white candles that were being made, quite a lot of them. After enquiring about the colour, the candlemaker said they were a special order for a client in Bermuda that were to be flown out in a private jet. They just needed the candles to be the right shade of white.
Candles exactly the right shade of white
Maybe some of the changes we will have to make will be for the better!