Sue Woodcock: Not a drop to drink for the wildlife

The hot weather is still with us. The ground is rock hard and dusty and the grass has almost stopped growing, in my field at least.

It might be great weather for Wimbledon but for the countryside it is desperate. It just needs some careless person to drop a cigarette to set fire to everything.

There are loads of young birds in the undergrowth and all of them are searching for water. I have more little turklets running around and they are quite adorable. The bigger ones have learned to come up to the farmyard for feed with their parents.

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I went down to tidy the village children's playground and discovered that the previous evening some unpleasant person had decided to wreck it. The parish council had already called the police who arrived promptly and I cleared up countless broken bits of fence and a demolished child's scooter.

We mended the dry stone wall on the perimeter and wondered why someone should think it fun to cause so much damage.

The culprit isn't that bright because we were told who he was by someone who had seen him doing it. I hope he and his parents are prepared to foot the bill, which could easily amount to about 500.

I went over to Trawden to give a talk to the WI one evening. They were a lovely group of ladies who were very welcoming. It is a very pleasant village and some of the gardens are beautiful. I rather enjoyed the drive back and the sunset was superb as I came up the lane.

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I have met quite a few new people this week. I had let the dogs out and wondered who they were bothering at the gate. When I got up there I met a couple who wondered very politely if I would sign a copy of my latest book for them.

Over a brew I found they were from Ripon and they have promised to come and see me again.

The next day I was coming back up the lane having been up to Kettlewell where I had met friends I had worked with years ago and had lingered over reminiscences for quite a while. A couple had waited ages by my gate to greet me and they had come all the way from Nottingham.

He is an arboriculture expert and a fellow writer. Both of them were very interesting. They had come bearing gifts of dog food. Again, the kettle went on and we became friends.

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The summer concerts with the Buckden Singers are July 16 at Hubberholme

and July 17 at Threshfield. We have had rehearsals at both places.

I love the church at Hubberholme and really enjoyed the drive up there and I saw that one of the huge yew trees in the churchyard has been felled and the stump made into a very clever and attractive seat. Of course, we all had to sit on it and it was well done.

Among other works we are performing is a selection from West Side Story and in one number I have to portray a juvenile delinquent so no acting required for that one!

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I love being part of such a friendly and vibrant group and it is the high point of my week.

I was out checking the fields one lunchtime and heard a terrific commotion from my solitary tree, a large sycamore, on the edge of the mire. Numerous birds were mobbing a very large bird of prey and eventually it gave up and flew off. I think it was a marsh harrier.

A pair of curlews have taken up residence in my main field. They have apparently accepted my presents because they fly down from the wall and strut round quite close to me. They are both graceful and magnificent and also quite a size. Their plaintive cries embellish the sounds of nature at work here.

The two little pygmy billy kids are growing fast and the other kid, Godfrey, is now quite a size. I found him trying to jump over the half door into the feed store the other evening.

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All the lambs are growing and should do well. My Muscovy duck produced four ducklings. Only one survived, but it is growing and is very cute. It has quickly learned to stay out of the way when the sheep rush expectantly to the feedstore door.

In the warm weather the dogs come inside and snore gently in the front room. Brillo will optimistically dig for rats or moles but soon gets too hot and then plonks herself firmly on my chair.

I am trying to spin out a particularly fine fleece from the Jacob ewe who had such a long coat but the dogs think it's funny to distribute bits of it in the hallway.

On Sunday, a group of Buckden Singers went to sing for about half an hour at Skipton town hall for the Forces Day. Not only did we enjoy it but I think our audience did as well.

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It made me feel immensely grateful to be contributing something for our brave servicemen and women, past and present. There were quite a few veterans in the audience and to see them happy and enjoying themselves quite made my day. The town was thronging with crowds, all intent on expressing their gratitude. It made me proud to be British.

I live in a comparatively safe part of the world for which I thank God daily. Let us hope that our fantastic Armed Forces can come home safe to share in what they are endeavouring to achieve for all of us.

At the quiz later that day I met some people who have raised a lot of money for Help For Heroes. If I were a great deal younger I would volunteer. All I can do now is help where I can and admire those who fight on our behalf.

I come from a service family as do many of those from my generation. My grandfather fought at Gallipoli, my father in the desert and my cousins in Italy and Burma.