Following on from yesterday's post about living in the country -
last evening we watched a programme on T V about wild life vets who dealt with big animals all over the world - last night a rhino, an orang-outan and a walrus. As we were watching (it was gradually getting dark outside) the farmer touched my arm and nodded towards the window; there, just outside on a post, was the tawny owl. He sat there for about five minutes - more exciting than what was on the television. And all the while he was there bats were flitting back and forth in front of him.
This morning Tess and the farmer have just returned from their morning walk. What did they see? They saw a buzzard land in the field, snatch a rabbit and fly off with it. Yes, all wildlife is there in the country.
This morning the farmer smiled to see a lovely photograph in The Times of a harvest field in Somerset (or 'down south' as we are prone to saying up here). The caption read something along the lines of 'all is safely gathered in', suggesting that it has been a good harvest and that it is over.
More proof, if proof were needed, that there is an invisible line from Birmingham to the Wash and that anything which happens above that line is back in the Middle Ages. Harvest is just underway up here - winter barley has been harvested, but spring-sown barley is only just ripening - and wheat has a few more weeks to go.
When I was a child the church/chapel harvest festival did not take place until every farmer in the area had finished the harvest. And the decorations consisted of vegetables and fruit. The dado round the chapel walls had string stretched along it and Michaelmas daisies threaded through it. A row of large Bramley apples would be spaced along the pulpit and on the day the congregation would hope there was not a pulpit-thumping preacher who made all the apples wobble, or even worse, fall off. A big sheaf of corn would take pride of place.
Now Harvest Festivals are around the beginning of September, set well in advance and always seem to have an awful lot of tinned food as part of the decoration of the church. How times change - maybe not always for the better. In my childhood days tinned food was frowned upon, certainly by my mother, who always had a tin of salmon, a tin of peaches and a tin of evaporated milk in the cupboard, in case anyone called, so that she could offer them tea. Other than that I don't remember eating from a tin.
Swallows gather in even larger numbers on the wires - earlier than usual this year I think; the swifts have gone on their way back to Africa, where they spend the winter before returning here again next year - and during that time their feet will never make contact with the ground. I will be sad to see them go, but then I have the fieldfares to look forward to - and we still have yellow-hammers at the birdtable - lovely little birds with a bright yellow head.
We have a semi-tame cock pheasant who doesn't ever seem to leave the garden. He arrived as he began to moult and has stayed ever since, coming out of the undergrowth each morning when the farmer fills the feeders, and almost eating out of the farmer's hand.
Yes - life in the country is never dull.