The first of the wild primroses has come out in flower;
always a cheery sight when we’re gripped in the gloom of winter. A tiny orange-trumpeted jonquil is peeping tentatively from one of the sturdy pots on the cottage’s doorstep, & the bisque brightness of catkins shivers from the hazel bushes in the chilly breeze. Even the gorse is grimly cheerful; argent, acid-yellow flowers studding its’ dark green needles, vigorously punctuating the otherwise dull, leafless hedgerows. Yellow, in all its’ splendid hues, is the colour of Wales as it springs to life after the dark days of wintertide.
But the speculative vigour currently demonstrated by some species, is bringing a sense of unease to the countryside: I mentioned the frogs in the pond the other day; one of the hens has gone broody; & even Rob & Dave, our pair of Brecon Buff geese, were attempting to create lots of little goslings this morning. Obviously the major concern is that should the weather deteriorate again with another cold ‘snap’ (& goodness knows we could do with a really hard freeze as once again there hasn’t been a sufficiently long enough chill this year to kill off all the ‘nasties’), a lot of our native flora & fauna’s cycles will be disrupted & we could possibly even lose an entire year’s worth of the natural population – worrying, indeed.
We were out & about early in the raw, biting wind to refill the kindling & log baskets, tending the fire to keep the house as warm as possible – vital, in this weather & a surprisingly time-consuming job. Next on the agenda was transferring & filling the hefty new water trough we purchased yesterday & ensuring the gate was secured with new locks & chains (Roly otherwise takes it off its’ hinges when he scratches his ample behind!); after which, we could safely move the ponies.
Once all this was done we first moved the Shetlands; who were all too eager to leave the quagmire to which they’d reduced their current pasture & jogged enthusiastically up the steep hill & into their new home, causing us to huff & puff as we too trotted out to keep up with their frantic feet. Unsurprisingly, they settled down immediately to the important job of eating the moment they were through the gate.
Back in Parc Dyffryn, Roly & Darwin were whinnying their agitation & although a little exciteable initially, soon settled down to walk peaceably up the hill; an easier journey in fact, for whilst they take bigger steps than their furry little chums, you can at least lean on a horse’s shoulder which takes a bit of the stuggle out of the steep climb!
Once their feet touched the grass however, it was a different matter. We just about managed to unclip the ropes from their headcollars before they leapt away, squealing in delight & joining the Shetlands in a mad, flat-out gallop around the field, kicking up their heels in happiness. The two little ponies never cease to amaze & delight us with their speed & agility; & what is even more amusing is that they run together as a pair, just as if they were in harness. They’ll certainly make an awesome scurry team….!
Someone, however, was indulging in not-so-sporting behaviour for a Sunday morning: the insistent whine of trials bike engines throbbed along the valley, as someone intent on having their fun without thinking of others, broke the tranquil peace of a weekend in the countryside & for hours, roared up & down the forgotten drovers’ roads in the valley, which will now doubtless be churned & treacherous with mud. Whilst Sundays are largely irrelevant for us here on the Ffarm as every day is a working day, for many of our neighbours that is not the case; & I felt truly sorry for them.
Having not indulged in a Sunday lunch away from home for a long time & to get away from the noisome engines, we opted to go to one of our favourite local hostelries for a traditional roast dinner; & we weren’t disappointed. Seated in front of the roaring fire we enjoyed a fine meal which in fact was so hearty, we didn’t have room for either a starter or a dessert even though we would have loved to gone that extra mile! Rather than hurrying straight back to the ‘ranch’ we relaxed by the fire with a cup of coffee; only to discover on reluctantly relinquishing our seats that whilst we’d been snug indoors the weather had again taken a turn for the worse.
The bucketing rain had resumed, which rapidly deteriorated to heavy hail by the time Tony trudged back into the lambing shed to finish prepping the pens with the new hurdles we’d bought, subdividing the current accommodation to give our ewes their own quiet space to nurse their newborns.
Whilst he did that I turned my hand to some baking: first, some barleycorn bread after which I made a fruit loaf followed by a ginger & orange cake. They were some of the best cakes & loaves I’ve made lately; & the smell was delicious with the warm bread & cinnamon-spice scent permeating the whole house.
After the chores were completed we snaffled a slice of fruit loaf, still far too full after our slap-up lunch to contemplate another meal. With cash on the tight side we indulge in such luxuries very rarely these days; but by gaw, it’s nice when we do!