Thursday, 2 June 2011
Seasons all awry.
On the road sides as we went down to our feed merchant this morning there is a distinct August in June feel. Already cow parsley has lost its creamy-white lustre and the meadow-sweet is blooming a good month early. Pink campion is already going to seed and much of the road-side looks'tired'.
Then you raise your eyes and see that the leaves of the trees, battered by a good week of North Westerly gales, have begun to take on a brown and withered look. You come to a stand of ash trees and see that they are not yet fully in leaf. As the oak trees are well out it seems there may be some truth in the old adage:
"If the oak before the ash
we are in for just a splash.
If the ash before the oak
we'll be getting quite a soak."
Certainly all we have had here on the Eastern side of the Pennines is a splash or two of rain - and it shows. The plums are dropping off from lack of water, as are the gooseberries and cherries. We are watering things like peas, runner beans and strawberries nightly to keep them going.
We have just - ten minutes ago - sown a row of Swiss Chard seed. I have not tried it before but there was space in the garden and I spotted the seed at the feed merchants. So if anyone out there has any recipes for chard I would be grateful for them please.
I am re-reading, for about the fourth time, Roger Deakin's 'Notes from Walnut Tree Farm'. What a wonderfully eccentric man he was (he died in 2006). This book is a collection of his writings which his friend Alison Hastie put together after his death. It is full of countryside observations written with such wit that I keep
laughing out loud in the evenings while the farmer is trying to do his Sudoku.
He also says such a lot of wise things that really make you think. How about this:-
"Books are like seeds: they come to life when you read them and grow spines and leaves. I need trees around me as I need books around me, so building bookshelves is something like planting trees."
It is the perfect book for dipping in to. I do recommend it (Pub: Hamish Hamilton).
Also on the subject of the countryside, those of you who live in the UK may well have been watching Springwatch. The farmer and I have been surprised to find the wide range of food that the Buzzard will eat. We have a pair which soar over our fields and we thought they ate mainly rabbit. But during the course of these programmes, when there is a camera on the edge of the nest, the buzzard has brought all of the following to feed her chick:-
moorhen, grass snake, rabbit, duckling, mole, squirrel and vole. This goes some way to explaining why our local gamekeepers do not seem to be keen on them. We just keep our fingers crossed for the beautiful pair that soar over our fields.
And on the subject of fields - this morning the grass which was cut yesterday has been gathered up and taken to the silage clamp. Now the cut fields lie empty and yellow and seagulls, curlew and rook poke their long beaks into the hard ground, searching for the odd feast. All the cut grass does is cry out for a shower of rain.