Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Spring, Schmallenberg Virus, Teifi Valley

With the glorious weather we've had for the past few days it really feels like spring despite the sharp frosts each morning. The daffodils were out for St. David's Day and snowdrops are gleaming in all the hedgebanks and in great swathes in the the gardens and hidden corners of the farm. The first celandines are appearing and pussy willow and catkins are showing in the hedges. Birdsong is echoing around and our communities of hedge and house sparrows are beginning their territorial squabbles.

On the farming front with the advent of dry weather everyone in the valley is out muck-spreading while they can get onto the fields and as a result we have had a large number of red-kites wheeling around the skies looking for carrion. I watched a pair of kites fighting on the wing one afternoon while a buzzard floated around them keeping out of the way but clearly curious as to what was going on.

Our daughter-in-law has had clutch of hen eggs incubating over the last 3 weeks and two days ago 7 dear little fluffy black chicks emerged from their shells to the delight & wonderment of small grand-daughter.

Another clear sign of spring in the air, as is lambing which is due to start properly next week.
However, lambing this year is going to be interesting as there is a new disease around, Schmallenbergs which is an insect-borne  virus and seems to be affecting many flocks in the country. The signs of it are dead or malformed lambs though apparently once the ewe has lambed this year she is immune to the disease and will pass that immunity onto her next seasons lambs. There is an additional worry that it may also affect cattle.
We just have to keep our fingers crossed that our flock is not affected though the disease has now been found in Wales.

Over the past few months I have been researching the Teifi Valley where we live for a film project (of which there will be news in a few weeks time). During the the research I have come across marvellous stories and fascinating history of the area. The Teifi Valley is a part of Wales that is not well-known despite its beauty and importance in the history of Wales.
It is full of castles, old drovers towns where cattle, sheep & poultry were gathered  to begin their walk to London and other cities for the markets as well having a grear diversity of landscape running as the river does from the wild empty hills of Ceredigion to the soft lowlands near its estuary at Cardigan.
The Teifi Valley is also a place that draws artists of all kinds with its stunning scenery and beautiful light.
One these artists who lives near us is Diane Mathias who produces beautiful paintings of west Wales landscapes,
www.dianemathias.com. Her work is full of light and a joy in the natural world. I love her pictures.

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