Primrose; Hill….

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!

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About LittleFfarm Dairy

The LittleFfarm Dairy Team: Jo - Goat farmer & Gelatiere Artigianale, plus General Dogsbody; Tony - Airline Pilot & part-time Herd Manager, Product Taster, Accounts Secretary, Handyman etc!
This entry was posted in Diary, Environment, Equine, February 2008, Food, Life, Nature, Restaurants, Sheep. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Primrose; Hill….

  1. katie says:

    Hi, Jo. I’m glad I’ve found your blog – I love reading about what you’re up to. I feel I know you in a way as we saw you at the Builth Wells show when you and Tony gave an unscripted testimonial at the Newlandowner talk. Since then we’ve been on a Newlandowner course, bought a smallholding and are having great fun (mostly!) with it. Anyway, just thought I’d say hello!

  2. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Hi there Katie –

    you’re welcome, & it’s great to hear that after going to Builth you’ve come on in leaps & bounds! So where have you ended up, & what have you got in the way of land & livestock? Is it a life change, or are you still keeping on, keeping on with the day job(s)?

    I know what you mean about the ‘mostly’ bit; we spent ages this morning, slogging through slippery mud trying to move our ruddy ram lambs onto fresh pasture as where they are now is a quagmire – but as usual they were having none of it: thus so far ‘mission unsuccessful’, I’m afraid. Last time this happened we ended up rugby-tackling them individually & carrying them; needless to say we do NOT want a repeat performance! Can’t wait to get ’em in the freezer!!

    Incidentally feel free to email us whenever you like; & if you’ve got any questions or whatever, we’ll do our best to help. Life’s so much easier as a smallholder when we all muck in (or muck out!) together.

    Aren’t Rob, Dave & the team at NewLandOwner, great? They came over for lunch a few weeks ago, it was lovely to see them. And they really do make you feel as if yours is not a silly question – even though I’m sure we’ve asked loads!

    Best wishes,

    Jo, Tony & FfF menagerie.

  3. Richard says:

    Our two Shetlands have managed to turn their paddock into a quagmire as well. They have been turfed out of the stable to make way for lambing.
    I have to admit that I know next to nothing about ponies (Kate looks after the Shetlands), but I am always amazed when I let them out onto new pasture and they break into a full gallop side-by-side…the ground shakes as they do laps round the field. Always makes me grin.

  4. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Glad to know we’re not the only ones forced to evict our ponies for more pressing reasons (literally!), our boys are out for exactly the same scenario. Mind you, that’s what their extra layer of ‘Shettie’ guard hair is designed for (wicks off excess water in much the same way as a thatched roof – just like the coats on our Maine Coon cats who are currently, err, tucked up by the fire!).

    I’m sure these days we all pamper ponies too much anyhow; after all, if we keep on interfering with nature by piling on too many rugs or shoving ’em in stuffy stables, we’ll lose hardy breeds such as these altogether – which would be the beginning of the end for equine kind. Let’s face it, how on earth did ponies manange to survive without those clodhopping great (expensive) allover duvet-&-canvas rugs you now see sported in almost every field…?!

    Our wee laddies wouldn’t be able to move if we dressed them up, like that; & with their lovely, luxurious, naturally-thick coats, would feel hotly uncomfortable, slower & far less happy, if we did so.

    Hey, fancy starting a fast four-in-hand team, Richard? Or shall you & Tony meet for a pairs duel on the scurrying green next time we all have the time…? Yeehah – big grins all round, it’s such fantastic fun!!

    Incidentally I should, perhaps, mention at this point we were both taught our driving skills – oh yes & the ponies were broken to harness – by our great friend & ‘coach’ (excuse the pun) female four-in-hand World Champion Whip, Karen Bassett….but we’re very rusty & the boys are only tiny after all, even if they do go like hot snot….woohoo!

  5. katie says:

    Thanks for the welcome, Jo! We’ve just got 5 acres here in Worcs and that was really hard to find. Prices round here are rocketing. At the moment we’ve just got chickens and rabbits. I have a couple of Toggenburgs on order for the Spring – a dam and daughter and we are going to have a few sheep after I’ve been on a lambing course in March. We plan to grow for ourselves and to sell. Last year we made a start with leeks and potatoes and this year I’ve just put in 20 rhubarb crowns and some soft fruit.
    I’ve just come home from a chicken breeder with a pair of lavender Pekin bantams and fourteen hatching eggs of different Pekin varieties – only to remember when I got back in the car that I’d been going around telling everyone that I wasn’t having any more bantams but would stick to hybrid layers. Oops. It gets kind of addictive, doesn’t it!
    Yes, Rob and Dave are great and we really enjoyed the course. They make a good team.

    Best wishes

    Katie (and assorted bantams who are going to have to be explained…..)

  6. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Sounds like it’s a whirl!

    You won’t regret having Toggenburgs (I presume actual Togs, not BTs?) – they’re lovely goats, highly intelligent & you always have to be a step ahead! If you want any help or advice just let us know – coz if we can’t help, we know plenty of people who can!

    And good luck with the lambing course, it’s always heartening to see people taking the time & trouble to learn about their livestock prior to purchase – everyone benefits with that approach, not least the animals. Sadly, all too often we’ve seen people meander into the ‘Good Life’ with their eyes so obscured by the rose-tinted spectacles that they cannot see what trouble they’re heading for; & that, tragically, is when things go wrong.

    But you’ve done your homework so not in your case – until you get your hide whupped for those Pekin bantams that is….! Anyway; if they lay a darn good egg, does it matter what they are? – so long as they give you pleasure coz at the end of the day, that’s what we do it for, after all! So, good for you – we’re on your side.

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