Dec 14 2006

Christmas is coming…

Christmas is coming…..


…..and the goose is getting old! Silence fills the farmyard this year. Donkeys feed quietly. Fat lambs steal their hay.No turkey music, no gentle warbling sound answers me on this cold December morning as I potter about feeding, re-strawing chickens, fetching water, all the while bracing myself against the biting wind and the horizontal, sideways rain stinging my face. I drift away as I work dreaming of what it might be like to be in a steamy car in a traffic jam on the M25…….

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Nov 22 2006

Bleak November


 winter arrives


Bleak November anesthetises the landscape. Icy rain, falling from a slate grey sky, born sideways on the east wind, stings my face as I walk over the hill with dogs. The sun breaks through for an instant so low now it seems to struggle over the horizon.

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Oct 14 2006

October 2006

Floating in a mist of time……


This year really is a season of “mist and mellow fruitfulness”. Early morning mist shrouds the valley, spider’s webs glint in the sharp early morning light. The whole landscape has an ethereal, floaty- ness. Trees and shrubs seem to drift, disembodied down the hills. The dove cot has no earthly anchor.

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Sep 14 2006

Food Food Family Friends


Food Food Family Friends



Summer seems to have tumbled over itself in a hurly burly holiday extravaganza. We revelled in a July heat wave and sailed in Bahamian sunshine to the white sand of Bryher on the Isles of Scilly. We walked on deserted beaches, sat silently on hilltops gazing out to sea. We were buffeted by wind and tide, spray soaked, searching for puffins and seals. We followed the sensational Island Gig race shouting encouragement, egged on by the locals. We swam in crystal clear water watching tiny fishes scud beneath our toes. All was relaxation, warmth and wine, wonderful. 

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Jul 26 2006




Rabbits have been on my mind rather a lot recently; grey furry rabbits, large and fat, small and sweet. Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, and my childhood favourite, Alison Uttley’s Little Grey Rabbit: all of them, sisters and brothers, children and cousins, aunties, uncles, old ones, young ones, suddenly here they are invading this valley.

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Jun 20 2006

Flaming June


It’s been the busiest of springs, no time to turn. We don’t seem to have caught our breath since lambing. Three ewes slipped through the net and, just when we’d taken our eye off the ball, decided to give us five more lambs thus successfully throwing all post-lambing-plans in the air.  Paul went for a wonderful sail on Jolie Brise. Late lambs meant I stayed behind to man the fort. I prayed  I wouldn’t need complicated midwifery skills in his absence. He had a wonderful time, ten knots in a force nine but, alas, returned in agony with strained back, not so surprising…. and was unable to move for days, hm ……Next it was my turn, an unscheduled trip to Torbay Hospital with an asthma attack; oxygen, ambulance lost in the lanes in the dark.

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May 12 2006

May Days


The seasons role around again; the valley springs back to life. Cold weather held us all to ransom for weeks, then suddenly everything happened all at once. It was as if a cloak of leaves and flowers unfurled itself across the whole landscape over night. Cornus Nuttallie threw out her white handkerchiefs almost as I watched.

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Apr 13 2006

Rain at last

Spring 2006


Rain at last; that sweet veil of soft weather glides sideways past my window and enfolds the valley. The wind has suddenly swung round to the welcome, familiar south west, so much kinder than the swingeing north easterly we’ve suffered for months. It brings with it the soft, salty, earthy smell of spring… I had forgotten how much I love it.  Suddenly the daffodils, in limbo for so long, glow in the dampness, drinking in the welcome wetness softly landing on their upturned petals. Raindrops hang like skeins of tiny pearls on the roses by the back door. At last, at last the air is damp, the earth turns dark chocolate again and the birds shout out for joy.

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Mar 24 2006

Just Donkeys


"Sal, she’s gone, you don’t have to ring the vet." A rush of grief and relief flooded through me. I knew it was inevitable. I had hoped so much she wouldn’t need help to leave. How could I have doubted her, such a wise, self contained, private old donkey; she knew her time was up. The change in her was so subtle just two days before she died. I was planning to ring Briony and say “come and see old Sweep, I think it’s time for her to go” but she just appeared on Wednesday evening. She took one look at the little figure in the stable and said goodbye, her eyes brimming with tears.

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Feb 23 2006

The Culling Field


February 2006….

grass, no rain, just cold grey days, even the snowdrops are reluctant
to show their little green petticoats. As I look back to this time last
year I find talk of camellias, daffodils and singing crocus; no sign of
any of them showing their face this cold, dark February. In fact as I
look out beyond my desk the cloud seems to be sitting over the whole
valley, just topping the trees with a thin grey veil. And still we wait
for rain.

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