The voluminous clouds peppering the sky did not bode well, this morning:
& whilst the local weather forecaster on ‘Real Radio’ (the only station I can get down in the milking parlour) was grimly optimistic about ‘sunny spells’ with ‘maybe a slight chance of the odd scattered shower’ every time I ventured into the Great Outdoors, the heavens literally opened. Suitably soaked & completely fed up, I concluded that the goats would not be going out today, after all. However, a gap in the clouds literally took my breath away: rays of refreshing sunshine shimmered across the wood, highlighting the warm colours of autumn’s onset, subtle golden hues amidst the deep green of summer’s luxurious foliage. Having finished the morning chores, I therefore contented myself with Yet More Paperwork, & a bit of house-cleaning.
The afternoon gave way to further sunshine; so after scrubbing down the walls in the Kidding Shed & tackling the unforgiving toil of forking back our rapidly-expanding muckheap (not helped by the frenetic scratchings of our hens, after their daily dose of worm protein – though why they won’t help me reduce the slug problem instead is beyond me; still, I wouldn’t fancy eating one I suppose….!) I did a spot of training with Nanuk, then took her out for an invigorating walk along the local lanes. En route we met our great friend & neighbour, Janet, who was also taking advantage of the warm sunshine to take Kim (their Border Collie), out for some exercise. I wish I could say that Nanuk covered herself in glory, being a model of good doggy behaviour; but alas, no – she was highly excited at the prospect of being joined by another canine companion – & by Janet, on her battery-powered ‘trike’ (she has Multiple Sclerosis & has to use a wheelchair) which was all new to Nanuk. In between our frustratingly stilted progress owing to Nanuk’s understandably ebullient misbehaviour, we discussed the trip Janet had taken to the Dylan Thomas Centre for a poetry workshop, at the weekend. I wish I was brave enough to ‘turn my quill’ to verse, but out of respect for the memory of my sister – a truly gifted poet – I won’t insult the page.
After a while (& after nearly skinning my hands with her ceaseless pulling) Nanuk settled a little & walked reasonably well to heel. However by the time we reached Black Oak, she was probably too full of hedgerow snacks to want to run around as Janet & I had taken the opportunity to go blackberry picking – & Nanuk didn’t hesitate to help herself to Mother Nature’s larder! That said, we too gorged ourselves on the juicy-dark, poutingly plump berries – tender, tasty & irresistably sweet. This year’s fruits are superb, having had the advantage of plenty of rainfall to swell the berries & a good dose of late summer sunshine to ripen them adequately. Mental note to self: at the weekend, I must harvest the ripe red fruits, hanging heavy from the plum tree in the orchard; & raid the hedges of these delicious blackberries for ice cream, fruit puddings, pies, & of course jam (not to mention blackberry wine & liqueur of course!). I can also dry & freeze them; nature’s abundant bounty is just far to good to miss, this season.
Having virtually dragged me back up the hill to the stout silver trunk of the wind-twisted beech tree which heralds the Ffarm’s trackway to home & a welcome cup of tea before the never-ending circle of evening chores commences, Nanuk behaved impeccably for the last part of today’s lesson together. If only she could behave so well, in public! Ah well; I’m sure her training will bear fruit eventually….