To everything its season as the saying goes. Farming goes through the seasons year by year and nothing changes. Because the farmer has been farming for nigh on sixty years he has it all at his fingertips and does the same jobs each year at the same time.
This week there have been various what he calls 'squaring up' jobs. First of all there are all Nature's winter prunings to take care of. Every winter gale brings down the old, brittle branches on trees in the hedgerows and walls. These lie about until this time of the year when the farmer collects them all up on a trailer, piles them in a field and has a bonfire.
Then there is the mending of fences. Whenever he does this I am reminded of the Robert Frost poem which begins "Something there is that does not love a wall". The poem is called Mending Walls and I love it. We had a piece of walling rebuilt (at a huge cost I might add) and this left a gap where the beck ran through. Sheep have little sense when it comes to water, so this morning the farmer has built a fence across the gap - and a good job he has made of it too, I think you will agree. The same sheep are hopeless at judging width and therefore they try hard to squeeze through gaps (the grass in the next field being always greener). They are also pretty good at dying and if they get stuck in a gap overnight they will be pretty weak by next morning. So while he was down there the farmer also built a neat little wooden gate from old bits of wood and an old tyre (waste not want not is another of his maxims) because sheep definitely cannot open gates.
Walking round the fields after lunch we went to look at the place where there is always a good display of snowdrops and sure enough they were there. Ronald Blythe always says that snowdrops are good at taking long walks - well we think these snowdrops took a long sail because the only way they could have sprung up where they are is by them being carried down the beck during a flood and deposited on the bank. However they got there they make a fine display.
The blackthorn is in bud as you will see from the photograph. A few more days like today (it is eleven degrees as I write) and it will be well on the way - and very early.
In the vegetable garden the farmer has finished the digging. The birds have enjoyed a feast of slugs' eggs which he left on the surface and it is all looking very neat. I love it when it is like this. The Swiss chard is springing up. I know from experience in growing it in the past that in year two it soon goes to seed, but at present it is nice and green so I intend to collect it tomorrow and serve it up for lunch before it has a chance.
Our poetry meeting is here tomorrow, so this afternoon I shall be looking out some favourites for when it is my turn to read. It is such an enjoyable afternoon, I do wish you could all join us.