Thursday, 3 March 2011

Hard work ahead.



This is a very busy time of the year for farmers - especially so for grassland farmers like us. The fields have to be fertilised, harrowed, rolled; fences have to be mended and gateways have to be smartened up; everything has to be ready for the stock to go out in mid to late April (in the South the date will be earlier than this).

But one thing is essential before all this can happen - the ground has to have dried out after the Winter. February was a very wet month here and the fields are still far too wet to get on, so farmers round here are champing at the bit to get started.

Of course there are other jobs to be done and as we came towards our neighbour's farm yesterday afternoon we saw evidence that the sheep had been on the move; all along the sides of the lane, in the mud, were sheeps' hoof-prints. Sure enough when we got to their fold yard the sheep were all standing there in the sunshine waiting for a pedicure. These are 'mules' - up here a mule is a cross between a Swaledale sheep and a Blue-faced Leicester sheep. They are bred solely for their meat - so these will be going to market before long - maybe even for the Easter meat trade.

I love bare trees. In a few short weeks the trees will be coming into leaf again and I shall extol the beauty of a tree in new leaf, but aren't these two trees absolutely beautiful standing out against the clear blue sky. It is on afternoons like yesterday that I wish I could draw.

18 comments:

Dartford Warbler said...

Our field gateways are still poached, but we are on sandy soil and on a slope, so it soon dries out. Our New Forest ponies are so much happier living out all year round ( with field shelters or natural shelter), but it does take its toll on the fields. One area has been resting throughout the winter, so we can begin to rotate the grazing soon.

I never tire of the beauty of bare trees against the sky. We are beginning to see the swelling of buds.....

mrsnesbitt said...

Are these favourite trees Pat? I have a favourite tree up the lane and notice I photograph it throughout the seasons - a lovely way to keep track of nature don't you think?

Very cold here today - don't think we will be venturing far too cosy near the Aga. Can picture you sitting by yours as we speak! Keep warm. Dxx

steven said...

weaver - i wish i knew why trees at the end of a long field is one of my favourite sights also. steven

dinesh chandra said...

very sweet

Midlife Jobhunter said...

You've brought me a new perspective on brown trees. I've been waiting so for the first sight of spring on my limbs. I'll take another look at the bare branches on the way to work this morning.

Your piece sounds like an awakening - the preparations for the world to get up and get started. And so must I.

Tess Kincaid said...

I always enjoy seeing your beautiful sheep. I love bare trees, as well, maybe even more than leafy ones.

Pondside said...

Every time I drive to work, these days, I look for the sheep but they aren't out yet in these parts.
My favorite view of a tree is in the days just before the leaves unfurl, when the tree is topped in green haze.

Heather said...

You draw pictures for us with your words Pat. We are waiting for our garden to dry out in order to get on with some work out there. At least it can be done at our leisure and we are not running a business which hopes for the cooperation of the weather. Trees are beautiful all year round, but in especially in winter - I wouldn't want to live in a landscape without them.

angryparsnip said...

Awwwwww... I love the little sheep faces. How sweet they look.

cheers, parsnip

at first glance the word verification
looked like "water" because the way it was written but it really was ulater.
I though it was a very happy coincidence... oh well, almost !

jeanette from everton terrace said...

Yes, the trees kind of look like women waiting for their new hairdo :)

Rare Lesser Spotted said...

Trees with new leaf look so attractive
X

Jo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jo said...

Weaver, I agree. There is only one thing in the world I can sketch with any passion and ease, and that's a bare tree. Tsk...their bones are exquisite!

Look at yours, reigning over the hillside like that! Lovely.

The earth here is sodden, too, and it can be treacherous traversing it. Hooves are a definite advantage at times.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I love new leaves appearing on the trees, but you're right there's something special about the bare branches, specially against a blue sky

Crafty Green Poet said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog about the beech tree, I've been reading and now I'm confused! Some beeches have catkins like those in my photo but not our beeches so you may be right, they may be hazel catkins....

Mary said...

I can imagine how busy it is for farmers now that Spring is just around the corner. To we who think farming is the perfect bucolic existence, the hardships are not alway considered......just the pretty fields and docile animals grazing away under the spreading chestnut trees!! However, having friends who farm in Devon I know how diligent they are and how long the days can be.

Today I too touched on fields and sheep in my post - I guess from the tourist's perspective - and of course I'm longing to come home and view the beauty of the fields and trees again. Soon!

Von said...

Hard work time for us to in the other hemisphere.We do no work over Summer, too hot and dry, ground too hard.We wait for the opening rains and then work starts.Fencing, maintenance, garden work and getting ready for goose breeding season.Lots to do in cutting up fallen trees and ranches and burning the residue as bushfire prevention for next Summer.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Dartford Warbler - love the word "poached" - also love New Forest ponies - golly they are hardy. Tell me, do they eat gorse (I uderstand Exmoor ponies do).

I always intend to photograph my faourite tree at all times of the year Denise - shall try to this year. Thanks for reminding me.

Steven - one of my favourite views too. I think because trees are older than we are ourselves we hold them in some kind of reverence.

Job hunter. I like the idea that as this half of the world begins to awake the other half goes to sleep.

Tess - I took the sheep photograph because they were all looking directly at me.

Pondside - I like it when the tiny buds begin to unfurl. Horse chestnuts are lovely here because if you pick a bran in its stick bud stage it will unfurl in the warmth of your room.

Heather - I thought I agreed but then last night on the programme about Spices I saw the High Atlas mountains in Morocco (I spent a holiday walking there some years ago) and I thought how wonderful to live in such a wild place.

ap - sweet they might look but they are not called mules for nothing - if one gets out they all get out - a neighbouring farmer brought back one of ours which had climbed walls and gone a few fields away.

Jeannette - yes - I must say my hair has looked like that now and again.

RLS - it is the beautiful green - but they soon begin to lose that new look.

Jo - yes and four legs are useful too.

Juliet - let me know what you discover - I might well be wrong it is just that they do look like hazel to me.

Mary - I thought like that before I married a farmer!

Von - interesting to read what is happening in the other hemisphere.