Tuesday March 1st is, of course, St David's Day. But it is also an important day for my particular farmer, who is very tidy-minded and likes to keep everything shipshape around the place. One of the things he gets annoyed about are untidy hedges. Some of our fields are enclosed with the traditional Dales stone walls, some have 'cams' (as they are called up here) of hawthorne bushes which have grown together to form almost a thicket, and some have mixed hedgerows - sloe, holly, beech, hawthorne, maple - a lovely variety of things which make for a pretty hedge.
All hedge-cutting has to be completed by law before March 1st. This is because after this date it may disturb nesting birds - and indeed we do have a splendid variety of birds which nest in our hedges - blackbirds by the score, and yellowhammers to name but two which nest here every year.
This year, as you know, has been one of the wettest on record and as the year has gone by the farmer has got more and more worried that his hedges would not get cut in time.
Well, this week the weather has been sunny, frosty and perfect for the job. And, true to form, our trusty hedge-cutting man, Mike, arrived with a helper yesterday and by the end of the afternoon all our hedges were looking very smart. There are still a few briars, which the farmer will go round and cut off, but other than that all is shipshape.
In addition, for the last two days, the cows in for the Winter have been cleaned out and bedded down with fresh straw. The 'muck' has been led to a heap in the field to spread when it has matured a bit more.
All is neat again. There is just one fly in the ointment. About six months ago the farmer backed into a wall on his cousin's farm and made a large dent in the back bumper and cracked the back light. This afternoon, I have to report that I did exactly the same on the other side - this time on our calf-house just outside the back door. I suppose the only good thing is that we had not taken the car in for the first bump to be repaired - so now we have to book it in for a new bumper and new lights - if we had had it done after the first bump it would have been another new bumper - so perhaps that is a tiny glimmer of pleasure to be had from the whole affair.