Tuesday 21 June 2022

Midsummer's Day, Summer Solstice

A glorious Midsummer's Day, west Wales at it's very best, flower-filled hedgerows, fields of sheep and cattle dozing in the sunshine, dusty lanes and roses in the gardens, all just lovely. While I am able to admire the glories of summer from the comfort of my garden and cool kitchen when the heat gets too much for my chilly northern spirit, the menfolk have been very busy in this wonderful weather taking tractors and kit around the parish making silage for the neighbours. Long hours again and heavy loads leaving in their wake fields mown to a paler shade of green after their lush rich grass has been taken away. The colour changes across the valley are beautiful as each farm works their fields in a ceaseless round and while everyone is doing the same job but at different times, the patterns of the patchwork move like a green-shaded kaleidoscope. The summer solstice is of course a milestone in the passage of the year and many people were allowed to gather at Stonehenge this year to see the rising of the sun this morning and there will have been gatherings at other important sites around the country where people have erected stones or built chambers to capture the magic of the rising of the summer sun on the longest day with bright blessings to all.
This is perfect weather for the bees and the Farmer has just gone to check them as at this time of day (mid-afternoon) they are out busily foraging so the hives are reasonably quiet and more accessible without the need to kit up in full bee-suit and gloves. If all goes well then we should have good crop of honey this year. Our bucolic pastoral life here seems a world away from the madness that is going on in the outside world with train strikes all over the country and travellers frustrated and angry at the disruption the strikes are causing. Without wanting to sound smug all I can say I'm glad we don't have to go too far from home these days.

Tuesday 14 June 2022

Sheep Shearing

The Farmer has been busy shearing the last of our few sheep. We have only 30-odd ewes these days and he tackles the shearing over a couple of days, pacing himself as it is is hard work. I used to help many years ago packing the fleeces but somehow have got out of the way of it more recently (a touch of sciatica doesn't help!!). It just happened that this year both the Sons were off the farm doing silage and digger work elswhere though Elder Son did come and help catch the ram and hold him, he is very big and extremely heavy to manhandle for shearing. As always the sheep are relieved to have their heavy coats removed as the weather is getting warmer. The effort that goes into producing wool is in no way echoed by the price we get for it. Last year we sent our wool in to British Wool and were paid somehwere in the region of £36 for the 81 kilos of wool and I doubt that this year's wool cheque will be much better. Is it worth the trouble of shearing, packing, transporting the wool sacks to the collection centre and then being charged for the collection? Perhaps we should just use the wool for mulching round our apple trees and in the veg. garden? On a more positive note we are now having some beautiful weather after some weeks of unseasonably cold and wet days. The countryside is looking stunning and the gardens are coming into their own. We have elder trees in full blossom at present, so pretty with their broad flat creamy clusters of tiny flowers. I have made elderflower cordial in previous years and neighbours make elderflower champagne which is very potent stuff but I will admit I don't like it very much. The Farmer who is going off all day on a tractor turning grass over 8o acres around the parish has just come in with the remark that I have company for the day in the form of a solitary newly-hatched chick. It is in a box here in the kitchen and is very, very vocal and the cause of much curiosity for my terrier who must be be kept well away from it as her natural instincts will get the better of her and it will be end of one chick. The Farmer had set up his incubator with a number of eggs in it but only the one hatchling has survived. These things happen but we'll do all we can to make sure the one lives on. Here is picture of my rather lovely lupins with their guardian Buddha.