I KNOW that spring is here at last because the oyster catchers are back. They have been gracefully, if a little noisily, flying around the fields.
Little green blades of grass are emerging on the fields which the sheep are happily munching. I have a couple more lambs and more are imminent if the sheer girth of some of my ewes is anything to go by.
I just need a spell of bad weather when they will appear, probably all at once. They like to give birth in adverse conditions because it means there are fewer predators about.
In the retting pit there is a huge expanse of frogspawn. I have given a little of this to a friend with a garden pond who wants to encourage frogs because they deter or eat insects. I still have plenty left.
One night, just as I was heading up to my bed, I heard the panicked bleating of a lamb outside. Armed with a torch, I discovered one twin had got the wrong side of a wall – mum was bleating one side and the lamb on the other.
It took ages to reunite them but finally they settled down together in the top field.
Another ewe has given birth to a single tup lamb and resolutely refuses to let me anywhere near it. She is a good, if a little fussy, mother, so I am leaving her to it. The old adage that if the lamb can run faster than you can, there isn’t much wrong with it, is a wise one.
Another night, the dogs were getting excited and vociferous in the kitchen and, upon investigation, I found the cat had discovered two baby rabbits and had brought them in.
One was dead but the other, hidden behind the Rayburn, was unharmed, so I released it. I couldn’t bring myself to finish it off. The look the cat gave me, and the expression from Brillo, were very condemning.
The second rescue cat went off to a lovely lady, and apart from refusing to get into the basket for a trip to the vet, has established a régime where no liberties can be taken. If it does not settle I will take her back.
I gave the first talk of the season this week at Bolton by Bowland. There is a charming village green and war memorial and everywhere there were the prettiest flowers, mainly miniature jonquils and some crocus in bloom. It was in aid of the church, an architectural wonder. The tower is huge and inhabited by a colony of jackdaws that squawked raucously at me as I stood and gazed up at the carvings.
At the village hall, I was welcomed by the vicar and I was treated to one of the best boeuf bourguignon meals I have ever tasted.
I donated half-a-dozen fresh eggs for the raffle and the vicar was heard to ask what I fed my hens on as the eggs were enormous. One of my hens regularly produces a double-sized egg, and one of these was included.
The talk went well and, having had a wonderful evening, I drove home to discover the dogs had been investigating my knitting again.
It took ages to unwind the wool from the furniture. I hid it in a higher place and went out to check the sheep before heading to bed. Of course, they were all up in the top of the far field and were tranquilly settled, chewing the cud.
I intend to revisit Bolton by Bowland when I have visitors to show them rural England.
The reality TV programme set in Grassington is having an effect. We hoped it would attract visitors and it has. On Saturday, the village was swarming with trippers, most of whom spotted me and wanted to chat. It took me about an hour to get up the main street.
They had with them the most delightful selection of dogs who wanted to say hello, too. I finally broke free and got back to the tranquillity of home.
That was the idea, any way. Henry, my turkey stag, has recognised that spring is here and was loudly courting his ladies.
Unfortunately, he elected to do this outside the front window and in the end, as I wanted to listen to the news, I had to move him.