It is hard trying to think what has changed since last month. There is still plenty of cooking going on, everyone is staying alert to the virus and I am wishing I had paid more attention to the garden last year, not realising how much it would feature in our lives this year. Although I did manage to find some colour in the garden where at first glance there were just greens.
Flowers from the garden
I do have lots of elderflower and the smell after the rain is intoxicating. I can’t decide whether to make the cordial this year, I feel the shop-bought one tastes just as good.
You know you are growing older when your friends who grow beards during lockdown all have white ones. My brother-in-law was the first really white beard I remember from a few years back. He had been on a sailing expedition, but he is Norwegian and their colouring is always a bit different to ours. But white beards and not a black root to be seen!
Housework has lost all its novelty - after starting with a special wood cleaning product for the kitchen floor, we have now descended into washing-up liquid and bleach. The boys have been reminded to make sure they notice clean stairs and floors and ladies’ washed and curled hair.
The working from home has continued and the outside office has been particularly popular.
We all stood to attention for the VE Day two-minute silence - and many in the village celebrated in their gardens the huge victory 75 years ago.
My personal battles are so insignificant - but an important one I am concentrating on at the moment is training my young dog to respect sheep. I have seen so many horrific injuries from dogs who start to play with young sheep and then nip them and get a taste of blood. While it is a natural reaction for a dog and stems from their ancestor, the wolf, who would hunt and kill animals to survive, this instinct has to be trained out of the domestic dog. Elspeth, the Manx Loaghtan sheep, is a great training aid. I have been taking Bruce, the young Labrador, on walks with Elspeth.
Bruce learning sheep eat grass and have horns
We had one walk where if you wandered too close to Elspeth on one side you got a sharp nudge with her horns, and then if you wandered over to the other side, you received a gentle nudge from Harry, which is enough to send most of us off our feet. After that, we had a very effective social distancing maintained on the way home, with a sheep either side of me and the dog lurking a good 10 yards behind.
Bruce practising social distancing
Elspeth has popped up rather a lot this last few weeks. Since her clipping, she can fit neatly under the gate, and if she feels a walk looks interesting she will tag along. She loved a recent trip to the river and mixing with some young children enjoying the water.
Elspeth at the river
Elspeth looking for something green to eat
Spaniels guarding the boots while the master swims
When some nudists decided to land at the Falls, they were only wearing boots. The signs were placed on gates to warn us although they were not on registered footpaths - and the cows looked surprised.
We have been less successful than the hen pheasant on the egg front. She hatched all 15 of her brood, but we only managed two chicks from a fully automated incubator. One is a pedigree lavender partridge brahma, I will lay money on it being a cockerel.
Chicks at the ugly duckling stage!
The final adult cockerel
The new bull, Lionheart, has produced some lovely calves.
Lionheart’s first calves
And little Locky loves having Aunt, Granny and Mummy all to herself. Although I am not sure what she will make of Lionheart once he joins the little party next week.
Locky with Granny and Aunt
Locky in close-up
My very exciting news is that I have found some more Mangos. The original "Mango" is the mangolitza sow I am chatting to on the signature photo at the top of my blog. She had curly hair and I am still asked if we have any sheepy pigs on the farm from the days of Mango. I hope to collect two young mangolitza gilts next month, I know they will be stars of our socially distanced farm tours now we have got the green light to resume.
Me and Mango
In other exciting news, the farm shop here at Fairhurst’s at Berry’s has now reopened. To open with a bang, they have come up with a fantastic deal for a bacon sandwich and cup of tea or coffee to go for £5.
I recently had a lovely walk in a garden shrubbery with a friend, and she showed me a trunk of wood that was home to four baby blue tits. They were on the verge of their first flight.
Home to a blue tit's nest
All good news is to be celebrated at the moment, so when my husband burst into the kitchen to announce, “Good news”, I wondered if we had secured a grant or lockdown had ended, but the news was the arrival of a pair of English partridge on the hill. I felt sad that this should be a source of celebration and not the norm. It reminded me of a walk I had earlier where an oyster catcher was desperately trying to save her chick from the dives of a black headed seagull. It makes you wonder what type of countryside the next generation will experience.