We can almost declare that lambing is over for another year as there are now just two ewes left in the barn still to lamb. There have been good results this year, and we have just four being fed via the shepherdess. As you will no doubt recall, Chris always favours getting as many lambs adopted to other ewes as possible in order to have as few possible needing to be bottle fed. In contrast, in years when Woofers have been here, big hearted and available to help, the number bottle fed has always dramatically increased!

This year, in total, there were five, but a friend of the family has added to her flock of Lavender and Ludo with the new youngster Larry! For the rest of the flock still here with us, they are out in the fields enjoying the spring sunshine and April showers. Foxes were definitely around through lambing but didn’t cause us problems. For the humans involved, Tim has been in play through the days, Alice & Brendan have been able to step up to support through Easter and this last weekend, and as for Boots & Chris – the effects of the late nights and disturbed sleep will be overcome soon. Whether Boots is ever prepared to return to a ‘normal’ bedtime is doubtful!

Lavender, Ludo and Larry

On Monday the cows had their ‘part A’ TB test, and we return to tension and working with crossed fingers, or as Chris’s mum called it, “holding thumbs”. The vet was due at 1.30 but wasn’t able to arrive until 4. You can imagine the tension by the time he arrived! Tom, who volunteered with us through Autumn was able to come across to help and enjoyed as afternoon in the sunshine with the cows – a far cry from his Mechanical Engineering course! The vet returns on Friday for the results. Hopefully the ‘all-clear’ will see the whole herd let out into the fields at the end of the week, soggy ground or no!

These last two weeks have been wet. The showers have been as the old adage, but the rain hasn’t always been “gentle”! A few impressive downpours have left the fields squelchy, but the warm sunshine also means the grass is growing well, and for that we are happy. The frost on Tuesday morning made us hold our breath for the wisteria, but it seems it was a ‘dawn frost’ which kept low enough to leave the buds alone.

The fields may have puddles, but the hedgerows are looking splendid, and the wood is bursting into colour. The new hazel leaves are a beautiful green and there is just the starting of a haze of blue, with the odd bluebell flowering. The bluebells are now rather swamped by the wild garlic which carpets one end of the wood, but there are still odd patches of the beautiful blue.

Our big excitement was a curlew’s call heard overhead! Curlews are waders, associated now with upland areas, but historically found breeding in meadows and marshes. Sadly, we didn’t hear it at the scrape. The farm is close to Feckenham Wylde Moor, a small wetland reserve, which is perhaps where the bird was flying to. Still, it is an exciting moment as curlews are much rarer than they were. The UK has lost 65% of its curlews since 1970 due to predation and changing farm practices.

John Humphreys was a voice we knew for many years in our travels listening to the Today programme. He was also the BBC reporter through the independence of Zimbabwe at a time when, you’ll recall, Anne and Adrian were there too. After his well-known interviewing style, his transition to Classic FM was surprisingly comfortable – for our ears at least! His knowledge of classical music, and his love of poetry makes us wonder whether he and Adrian would have gelled or clashed had they ever met! So, a poem Humphreys read out last Sunday, and very fitting:

Spring by Christina Rossetti

Frost-locked all the winter,
Seeds, and roots, and stones of fruits,
What shall make their sap ascend
That they may put forth shoots?
Tips of tender green,
Leaf, or blade, or sheath;
Telling of the hidden life
That breaks forth underneath,
Life nursed in its grave by Death.

Blows the thaw-wind pleasantly,
Drips the soaking rain,
By fits looks down the waking sun:
Young grass springs on the plain;
Young leaves clothe early hedgerow trees;
Seeds, and roots, and stones of fruits,
Swollen with sap, put forth their shoots;
Curled-headed ferns sprout in the lane;
Birds sing and pair again.

There is no time like Spring,
When life’s alive in everything,
Before new nestlings sing,
Before cleft swallows speed their journey back
Along the trackless track, –
God guides their wing,
He spreads their table that they nothing lack, –
Before the daisy grows a common flower,
Before the sun has power
To scorch the world up in his noontide hour.

There is no time like Spring,
Like Spring that passes by;
There is no life like Spring-life born to die, –
Piercing the sod,
Clothing the uncouth clod,
Hatched in the nest,
Fledged on the windy bough,
Strong on the wing:
There is no time like Spring that passes by,
Now newly born, and now

Hastening to die

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