Sue Woodcock: Spinning yarns the old way and making new February friends

Share this article

The River Wharfe in full flow is a magnificent sight, even if it is murky and tumultuous.

Sheep are gathered in clumps behind the walls and the birds are taking shelter wherever they can.

At last, the remnants of the snow have gone, but I expect we shall get some more.

An acquaintance of mine was desperate to re-home her two lovely cats; they are two females used to being house cats, and until we can find the right home for them, they have taken up residence in my front bedroom.

My two cats and the dogs watch me with outrage as I prepare the newcomers' food as they demand to be fed first.

On a couple of nights, the howling wind and rain kept me awake for at least 10 minutes before I got to sleep.

I managed to clear a large pool outside my front door by cleaning a lot of mud from the drain; the geese were quite disgruntled as they had to move to another pool a bit further away. The fields and mire are sodden and squelchy and very slippery. It makes a change from skidding on ice.

When I came back from the pub quiz the other night, the sky was clear and there was strong moonlight. The puddles everywhere were reflecting the moon like a myriad of silver lanterns; even in foul conditions I delight in being able to appreciate such wonders.

Living as close to nature as I do has a special meaning for me. It may not be always ideal but I am in a situation that most people never experience. I can observe those special little moments and wildlife as it is. I don't always understand what I see but I try. I am always learning something new. I read a lot and hope to discover what causes some of the fascinating effects I observe.

My lovely neighbouring farmer kindly returned four of my errant sheep, including my tup, John. As they trotted out to the trailer, I fully understood the meaning of looking sheepish. They looked very guilty as they passed me on their way down to re-join the flock.

They have been right at the front of the queue when I feed them and seem no worse for their little adventure. Now I just have to work out to whom several sheep that have joined my flock belong to.

At last the chickens have started laying again. Not many eggs, but a few.

One of my goats looks quite podgy and is, I think, pregnant. I am not sure about the other two.

I have agreed to teach some friends and other acquaintances how to spin. The pub where I do the quiz has agreed to let us use their facilities, so every Wednesday afternoon in February we will be there.

I am therefore frantically assembling and servicing some spinning-wheels and getting all the necessary equipment together. Although it will mean more work for me, it will also mean that I will no longer have to spin wool for them. They can do it themselves in time.

I suppose I do keep pretty busy but recently I have been a bit lethargic. I sometimes wish that I could hibernate. Everything seems so much harder when the weather is bad. All I want to do then is relax in the warm in the evenings once all the chores have been done, but this coming week I shall be lucky if I have one evening at home.

At church, we had a special service to do with our partnership with a mission in Tanzania. Some of it was in Swahili (which our vicar speaks fluently). The mission employs disabled folk over there who are otherwise unable to work, and they make the most wonderful crafts. I even purchased a picture of a lizard made on elephant's dung paper. I like lizards and snakes quite a lot and I am sad that none inhabit my fields. I may have newts but have never found any yet. I expect it's just too high and too cold for them.

Already the days are getting longer. It is still light at 4pm. When the sun is shining, I know that spring will come eventually and things will improve.

We may have had a lot of rain but nothing in comparison to Brazil, Australia and Sri Lanka. Life is not so bad when you consider the alternative.

CW 22/1/11