Wednesday, 30 April 2008

May Day

As I write this, the rain has stopped, and it has become a calm, quiet night. May Eve. Tomorrow is Beltane- the first day of summer. Traditionally, the young people of a community would be going out now to the woods, to find Hawthorne [may]. It would be brought into every house at dawn, to 'bring the summer in' . And then taken out smartly at dusk, as it may only be in the house for Beltane.

This rather splendidly ragged chap discovered that we were feeding the birds back in February. He has become bolder with time,and merely crouches if he sees us around. Although there are less tatty males around, he seems to be top of the pecking order. In fact, we have seen him chasing
other males off, with little resistance.

And this is the prize. We don't know which hen is the mother, but we are sure of the father's identity. So, in about three weeks time, we hope to see fifteen fluffy,peeping, pheasant chicks.
I wish you all a warm, sunny, joyful Beltane.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

No Otters

Saturday finally felt like Spring...even though thursday will be Summer. So it felt good to start the Otter Census in balmy sunshine. The first part was a walk upstream for about a mile, which was through lovely, traditional grazing meadows. Absolutely no sign of recent Otter activity, but I did see a Roe buck, a Stoat [redder than a Fox,with it's little black tail whirling around like a windmill] a Brimstone butterfly,lots of Orange Tips and a wonderful number of Peacock butterflies.

The second part took me downstream about a mile and a half. This was through mainly arable fields, which are down to oil seed rape this year. It is such a vivid yellow. The stream winds about much more here, then becomes a river, when it is joined by another stream.The banks become shallower, and where the edge has silted, I finally found two clear otter paw prints. About a quarter of a mile further on, near the bridge which marked the end of my patch, I also found spraint.

The walk back was much quicker, with nothing to look for. But I did see a Fox within sight of my back gate!

At home, a routine check of the Bees- we made a nucleus on Hive one. As usual they were bursting at the seams.The others making up nicely.

Sunday started as beautifully as saturday. I had to repeat the checks I had carried out for Otters. Part one was done swiftly and uneventfully. As I was leaving the house to start part two, Best Beloved called out 'The bees are being silly'. Despite our work yesterday, they swarmed. Not far, twenty-five feet, into the nearest apple tree! Now,there's not a lot one can do until they really settle. So we put our bee suits on[our white overalls and hoods]and wedged a skep above them in the tree, then left them to it.

So, on with the final part of the check.This yielded a spraint at a different point,but no more pawprints. Then a brisk walk back in search of a cup of tea.

The bees had settled down, but as you can see from the photo, instead of spreading INTO the skep, they had started to go up the OUTside. As I walked home, the sky had been getting darker by the minute. It now started to rain. Not a little drizzle, but big, fat drops. The bees were very hurriedly brushed into a clean brood box, and with little ceremony, dumped into a hive and a roof dropped on. I am sure you will be pleased to hear that by six p.m. they were humming like a choir at vespers. [That means they are happy]. We got soaked to the skin.

A funny old weekend.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Keeping warm

This is the first time I have designed a knitted garment, and although it is a simple base shape, there is quite a lot of surface pattern from the different stitches, and colour in the Fair-Isle. It was made for a friend's very new baby. I am quite pleased with it as a beginning. [Double click on the image for detail].

He says he is staying in bed. It's too cold and far too wet for an Aby to be out!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Working holiday

Best beloved is on leave this week, so has decided to clear out the wood-shed and refill it.There was only a barrowfull left from this winter. This picture shows that he has already sawn, chopped and stacked four rows deep. He gets to feel very smug, and I have a lovely, safe feeling that we will be warm next winter.
Doesn't it look great?

I ,meanwhile, tidied and cleaned out the bee-shed.The kit is now logically arranged, like with like, instead of everything heaped together anyhow.
In a break for a cup of tea, I saw this honey bee working her way along all of the dandelion flowers, and her face was yellow with pollen.Even better, her pollen 'baskets' were bulging with it, too.
The bees spring build-up is very slow this year.I am having to feed them...but hopefully it means they will survive.

Tea and cakes

Steenie, M. andJacqui came over on Sunday afternoon, so, of course, I made cake. A quick recipie is an old one for rock buns. To make them a bit more interesting, I left out sultanas and currants,and put in dried cherries and cranberries instead. Much more of a zing.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Some knitting,some cake...

It is 'Close Knit' tonight, so I have made some cake. Individual Bakewell Tarts, in fact. [Our strap line is 'knit and eat cake', after all!]. I hope everyone enjoys them -I haven't made the mini versions since we had a female Prime Minister.

And I have finally done the 'finishing' on my 'composed mitts', by Michele Rose Orne. I do like a bit of Fair Isle!
I'm itching to show Nicky's waistcoat, but I still have the button band to make...and some buttons to find.
Time to feed pets before I go.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Sunshiney days

All the sunshine we have had over last week, although intermittent, is really bringing the flowers on.
This Camellia was given to me as a present six years ago. It is the first time it has flowered, and there are several buds, so more flowers to come, which is very pleasing.

And this little flower is an Ipheion. A lovely little bulb which thrives in the sunshine.