Yesterday’s gloriously glowing, colour-rich sunset,
might as well be a lifetime away: Yuk. There again; it is Monday, after all….
Normally what we notice here is the subtle changing of the seasons, not the days: the sweet buds of spring as the woods change from silver-grey ghosts of trees to gentle, emerald green sylvan sylphs; the mysterious deep, dark canopy of the summer foliage with the heady scent of honeysuckle & hay on the warm evening air; autumn’s golden mantle, first a magnificent blaze from the two massive copper beeches which lean their venerable twisted trunks over the moss-strewn stones of the old orchard wall before the valley becomes bathed in bronze-&-gold glory in the honeyed rays of the shortening days; & the long, dark shadow of winter’s chill, the leaves gone, the rain, snow & blow causing us to huddle close to the comfort of the blazing fire with the animals tucked up safely in their barns, out of the elements.
But occasionally we do seem to get a whole year’s worth in one fell swoop; such was today. As the sun rose in shimmering golden light over the valley, the very air itself seemed to shiver with silver frost; as a delicate sugar-dusting of ice on every blade of grass, every stone, every film of water & every bare branch was revealed. I hurried around all the ‘al fresco’ breakfasts, glad to get back into the snug warmth of the cottage & sample the equally tasty but tantalisingly different delights of boiled eggs for breakfast – one, a hen’s egg; the other, thoughtfully provided by our duo of ducks.
As the morning progressed however, the temperature increased; & the fragile blue of the cold winter sky was swiftly replaced with an increase in cloud cover, as a stiff breeze blustered indignantly down the valley. The silver van occupied by the two chaps who make up the Dairy Complex construction team finally bumped down the drive, shortly before 2pm; they’d had a bad journey from Derby & already feeling jaded, were not exactly buoyed up by the meteorological prospects the afternoon presented.
By 2pm the first few wisps had increasingly conjoined to more of their mates; until enventually the pendulous, threateningly grim, dulling thickness wept fat tears of rain over the ffarm. Realising that this was a new year & that with our rapidly expanding stock quota we’d already run out of hurdles for the anticipated lambing/kidding frenzy, we hurried off to the local Famers’ Co-Op, where we consoled ourselves against the weather with a bit of agrarian retail therapy.
Having gritted our teeth against the freezing lashes of rain whipping along the river & shredding the smoke from the chimneys along the far bank, we loaded the Navara with hurdles & other such goodies. On returning home we discovered that despite the relatively early hour, the construction team had already wisely given up – as the wind was now whipping stinging sheets of sleet down the valley; & given the still-skeletal state of the build, there was scant protection under which to work with either comfort – or, with the wind gusting as it was, safety.
So with the weather closing in, we tucked the ffarm up in bed whilst diligently restocking our own supplies of kindling & logs: I had a feeling we’d definitely need ’em. After all, as I struggled against the gale to cross the yard – soaked to the skin & freezing cold – I reflected that this was only weather fit for ducks….although even they’d sensibly put themselves to bed, by the time I skidded my way across the wet grass at the back of the veg patch to close their pophole.
What is it they say about Mad Ducks & Englishmen….?!