Coming up for air amid the madness of the last few weeks I am aware that this space is in danger of becoming a “sheep blog” and nothing else. They do tend to dominate life at times… it will pass as the major sheep work settles after shearing. Other things do happen. We are still getting frosts, for instance. Beautiful and crisp, but potentially damaging to the apple blossom.
First, a little sheepy update. Fluffyflops had her lamb early on 14th May. She birthed a healthy little ewe lamb. Although she had fed her lamb, she couldn’t bear to risk missing the nuts when I came out with the bucket and she ran over to the feed trough – without the lamb! The Romneys have all stood steadfastly beside their lambs regardless of food, even on their first lambing. I carried the lamb up to the pens in the polytunnel, stopping to wait while Fluffyflops remembered she had become a mum and caught up to sniff her baby. I guess all Mums have been there at some point. I am told I got left outside the greengrocers across the road and was spotted when my Mum looked out of her window with that “I’ve forgotten something” feeling.
The lambing is all done for this year now. Shearing next. I am nervously awaiting a final date for our Romney shearing, some time next week so I have enough time to prepare a couple of fleeces for a show into which I have rather naively entered two…… I am reliably informed that they will need to be perfectly clean. No straw, mud, dead beetles, bits of twig. I need to locate my glasses and some tweezers and clear off the dining room table. I might need a steady supply of tea (or gin?) too.
The really big news is that after a year of planning (and probably twenty-five years of dreaming) we finally have a borehole. The drillers came and spent two days drilling through the slate bedrock to find water.
A few days later, the engineer came to measure Q & Q’s (quality and quantity), flow and content. We’ll get the results next week.
It feels like a Really Big Event. We have dreamed and waited so long to be able to do this, to have our own natural water supply. One step closer towards being off-grid. We’ll keep the mains connected as it will cost to remove it. But we will soon have delicious fresh water coming out of our taps.
In a couple of weeks we’ll have the diggerman in to dig a long trench for pipework running from the borehole to the house, then down the field to the yurt, tapping off at the polytunnel along the way. In my heart I have a feeling that the fresh water will invigorate the polytunnel that has suffered lately. Blight, rats and squirrels, a neighbour’s cat and not enough attention have meant that things I do manage to plant out in there don’t always thrive. Unless they are borage – this does really well, much to the bees delight!
I’ve just read a fabulous book by Sharon Blackie called ‘If Women Rose Rooted’. It has stunned me, joining up all the odd, indescribable feelings I have about the world. Lots of ‘Aha’ moments. It has been life-changing, or perhaps life-affirming, reinforcing some things I’ve always felt deep down but have been unable to find words for. Now I’m reading ‘The Garden Awakening’ by Mary Reynolds. As it says in the foreword, it is “practical, philosophical and spiritual”. A “step-by-step guide to restoring health to the land”. I am reclaiming a little bit of the field to make a garden (where the chicken run has always been) as there is very little garden around the house.
The upcoming trench-digging means I need to clear areas of land, remove some fences and some of the small, self-seeded Alder trees to allow the water pipes to be installed. Unexpectedly, this has started another process. The idea of removing fences is liberating. The land is pretty much as it was when we took it on, with fencing in places that actually doesn’t work for us. We have just taken it this way, inconveniences and all. And now, suddenly it seems the time is right and ideas are falling into place. The veg patch (over which we sweated, bled and got bitten making a rabbit-proof fence when our second child was newborn) is coming closer to the house, into my zone 1 area, following the permaculture principle of having the things you use most nearest the house. I’d like to make a herb area, build a greenhouse for salad near the house and create somewhere quiet to sit and be at one with the land, near the river. The polytunnel will stay where it is, midway between the yurt and the house. It offers peaceful sanctuary during the frequent inclement weather, somewhere I can quietly work with my hands in the earth, far enough away from the phone and the mayhem. My friend up the lane (a garden designer) is helping me draw up and plan the space. In the process of all of this, I can free up some unused, overgrown areas for much-needed grazing. Hopefully, this piece of land will feel more integrated with our daily lives.
Meanwhile, the bluebells are still in flower, scenting the air with their sweet fragrance. Across the river it is a sea of blue. They pepper the hedgerow wth their blueness. I love this time of year, the gentle shift from spring to summer.