One cannot easily become bored with our English weather. It is so wonderfully varied and variable! After the wilds of last week, the weekend brought us mild days, with a boisterous southerly wind; So much depends on the wind and from where it blows. Recent days have been deceiving, seeming quite temperate until that bitter wind from the north or east returns.

As for the snow – at first it looked like the snowy weather was going to miss us completely. The first day of reported snow and there wasn’t a flake to be seen, but we did get rain, so we mostly didn’t mind! Next morning it snowed and snowed tiny little flakes. It didn’t really have a chance to settle as it was blown horizontally across the fields by the very icy easterly wind.

If that has been the weather storm, in the barn, it is the calm before the lambing ‘storm’! At the weekend, Chris, Brendan and Boots got stuck in with the sheep: Having been involved in another Llyen flock’s lambing activities over the past couple of weeks, it was very nice to spend some time back with the sheep here, although we are not expecting our first lambs until April.

Before the weekend, we had most of the flock in the barn already so that we could make sure they were getting enough food. Normal daily tasks of feeding continue.  The farm has had to find a new supplier of hard feed for the ewes (special treatment for expectant mothers to make sure they have all round sufficient nutrition to be able to feed their lambs, and likewise the licks that provide essential minerals). It was heart-warming to read at the bottom of the invoice for the feed that our new supplier is “the best in the west, Millers since 1675”.

Only the singles and empties had to brave the snowy weather. The ewes in the field stood with their backs to the wind, some chewing, some looking most miserable! Their feed trailer still had to be filled despite the weather, an unpleasant job for the snowy, cold days. In the field on the west side of the wood, the lambs seemed unfazed by the weather. They smelt like wet woolly jumpers, but their thick fleeces offer plenty of protection.

The weekend task was to bring the ewes into the barn. Boots and Brendan got a proper work-out as, of course, the ewes were at the wrong end of field 4, which for those who don’t know is much bigger and more hilly than it looks! While they did this, they decided to take advantage of the milder weather to run the whole flock through the race giving them a final condition check and a mineral drench.

They set out in the morning to set up the race and were quickly stripping off winter coats which was a nice feeling – bring on the warmth! Although the mineral drench is vital to ensure that we have healthy ewes producing good colostrum for their lambs; As for the humans – despite washing hands thoroughly, the coppery taste and smell of the drench stayed with them for the rest of the day….!

The morning of snow fall, the cattle’s hay in the barn wore a cap of snow. The animals remained unfazed! The ewes and young cattle on the other side of the barn are the most comfortable, as they are protected from the worst of the weather.  This week’s focus is the cattle; Blood tests will be taken for BVD, and at the same time the vet will check which cows are in calf. 

The cattle will also remain in the barn for a while yet. Prior to the snow and rain fall, the ground was very dry, but there is not enough fresh grass in the fields to sustain them. Grass needs soil temperatures consistently over 5C to grow. Warm, wet springs mean lots of grass, which in its first growth of the year is packed full of goodness. Dry springs mean poorly performing pasture, so we hope for rain and warmth through the rest of March and on into April.

In the garden and hedgerows, the snowdrops are setting seed. The apricot blossom is beautiful against the backdrop of white, and the spring flowers hung their heads low under the weight of the ice and snow.

The ancient apple tree in the front garden is well over a hundred years old. It has a hollow trunk and has lost one main branch; another has to be supported. We have no idea what variety the tree is, but it would be terrible to lose the delicious apples for good, were the tree to become too old. So, in the autumn we saved a handful of pips, wrapped them in moss and then a plastic bag and put them in the fridge. Apple pips need cold to germinate. There are now five apple tree seedlings have been potted-on. Monday was a biodynamic fruit day, the ideal day for the task. Last time the poem travelled to us care of Alice. That poem reminded Jenny of one from her earlier years. We hope she doesn’t mind us sharing it here – it is equally beautiful we feel. Thank you both.


I should have known
That summer light
Brings winter shadow
That can seem
Eternal death.
I must run away now
Through wet grass and falling leaves
Through beauty and peace
And quench the thirst
Of longing there, with tears.
I`ll watch the sedges tremble in the breeze,
The glistening cobweb drift,
The foxes play as dewdrops
Fly from their fur.
I`ll soar with birds
And breathe the scents of earth
Till every living thing absorbs my grief
And fills me with its joy!
Then I`ll return content
That he should love another.

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