Monday, April 30, 2007

After the Lord Mayor's Parade

...comes the man with the bucket and shovel. We know what that means. Pay back time.

This vernal euphoria, this woosh of pretty-pretty green, froth of fronds' unfoldings, skies the blue of a song thrush egg, flicked with cloud and mornings licked with wet. Sometimes a chill in the air but then it's only nearly-May. I'm beginning to sound like Cold Comfort Farm's fey Elfine. See me skip through field and dingle!

But ha! Indoors a thin film a dust has settled over anything horizontal. Glass is smeared. Fingermarks besmirch. Short of old Adam Lambsbreath from that same novel cletterin' those great old dishes with they ol' thorn twigs, this could well be 'Cold Comfort Farm'....this is grim indeed; in blog-speak: OMG :-(

So enough of this 'hey nonny no' whimsy: the household gods must be appeased. Beds to be stripped and changed, floors swept briskly and brusquely. Away with dust and winter's grime! Be gone you beetles! Spiders get thee hence! Dogs retreat to the sanctuary of their beds, little knowing that they may be swept from them at any time as the wave of cleanliness takes everything in its path.

Laundry is sorted and stuffed into The Machine. Detergent added, buttons pushed and I feel the satisfaction of a job well done. But too soon afterwards comes a sound so terrible that both dogs leap, barking with shock and horror from those beds. It is the death rattle of a washing machine.

Which is why shortly afterwards my laundry and I are to be found towards the bottom of a learning curve in a launderette in Welshpool's High Street. I am unfamiliar with the etiquette of the Launderette. For example - if you need to use a machine can you remove someones washed washing to put your own in? The old geezer with the sports bag and next in line said he wouldn't, and he wouldn't want anyone to move his washing either. But we both kind-of-agreed, well it was up to I took the pragmatic approach and unloaded a load of towels which really should have been washed separately. (For heaven's sake - red and white together?) I stuffed my own stuff in and blundered on to the next unknown - that of getting the machine to Go. A kind girl told me, as if instructing a half-wit, how to put in both powder and money; which and how much went in, and where. I did as I was told meekly. I stood gawping for a long time waiting for the 'fabric conditioner light' to come on. It never did, so we managed without.

I sat in the sun watching the washing and Welshpool's world go by. Inside the hum of machine and sloshing water, the whirr of the spin cycle and that hot fabric smell from the bank of dryers on the wall. Outside, shoppers dipped in and out of Woolworths and clucked together beside the Market Hall. A slight breeze brought a freshness to an otherwise warm spring day.

......A slight breeze, which should the tumble dryer fail too, will come in very handy.

Friday, April 27, 2007

In search of bluebells

We have dingles round here. A dingle is a steep and wooded valley - it may also sometimes be called a 'beach' - as in 'Snailbeach' or 'Perkins Beach'. This is from the Old English baece - which describes the land in a river valley and has nothing to do with the latter day Beech trees - fagus sylvatica - which now stretch skyward from many of our 'beaches'. Denounce those who tell you otherwise. This land is older than those trees. Confusingly my walk today took me to Beech Dingle. I was simply walking through a valley. I was after bluebells.

I found bluebells. Acres of bluebells, pushing snouty blue buds up to the sun. Blue cups opening on slim juicy stems 'til the land was a mirror of the sky. Another week and we'll be walking on air. A hazy blue craziness. It's a curious illusion when the blue which should be 'up' is under one's feet.

I also found eggs.....

We planted this Korean Pine only a couple of months ago. It's probably less than 2m high and because there is as yet no other planting around it, it's a bit like the 'Lonesome Pine'. Look closely and you will see that Mr and Mrs Goldfinch have decided this is the ideal home and have built the ideal nest:
At the front of the house, tucked in Rosa 'Alberic Barbier' live Mr and Mrs Hedge Sparrow. ('The Dunnocks' to their friends.) The Robins live above them:
But Mrs Pheasant has lost this egg. How careless. I found it on the field and couldn't resist an 'arty' display of egg, flower and twig:

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The only good squirrel....

I know, I know. Cute and furry - and that's just the dog....

A rat with good PR is a fairly accurate description of Sciurus carolinensis - the Grey Squirrel. An American import from way before the days of rock 'n roll.

Not unattractive, acrobatic and entertaining it does have some good points, which to my mind they are far outweighed by the bad. Birds' eggs and nestlings make a nutritious supper as, mysteriously, does the electrical wiring in the roof space. Thus to my mind the only good squirrel is a dead squirrel.

After a brief rumble in the undergrowth the Brave Hunting Dog emerged with this. An ex-squirrel. Well done Chester. Good Dog.

n.b. This is not 'Hunting with dogs' - which will result in a severe penalty. This is the result of a dog hunting.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Yesterday. A wasted day stuck in the stuffy confines of Shrewsbury's Music Hall at a meeting. A meeting where small and pointless detail was being ground particularly fine. A meeting which started with the singing of Jerusalem. This was the WI.

Amidst that formidable army of women (not wimmin, definately not wimmin...) in their sensible shoes and no-nonsense clothes I was that lumpy sulky teenager again; in assembly, at speech day where this was our School Song. Back in the school hall again singing with 600 other female voices that über-patriotic paean, hearing the ghostly voice of music mistress, Miss Wallace pounding the piano and booming down the years 'BREATHE! Breathe girl! ARMS BY YOUR SIDES!' Actually it really sounded quite good. There's nothing like a bit of singing to start the day is there?

But the day went downhill rapidly after that as speaker after speaker droaned on. My inner teenager summoned up hidden reserves of resentment. Financial Statement. Was I bovvered? Amendments to the constitution. Durrr? Sub-Committee Announcements. Puhleese.....The voices on the platform became distant in my head and I was away to a land of dreams - a secret place where birdies chirruped, flowers opened creased paper-fine petals and the soil grew warm and inviting to the hand's touch.

This drifted back to me from years ago. Not strictly relevant, but in the spirit of things.
Naming of Parts

To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning
We shall do whatever we have to do after firing. But to-day
To-day we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens.
And today we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you can see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For to-day we have naming of parts.

Henry Reed

Sunday, April 22, 2007


This little fella was fortunate enough to escape last year's predations by Powys County Council's Highways' Department. Hurrah! If the verge-mowing gang didn't obliterate it we felt sure that the other team, repairing gullies, certainly would. However it's a tough critter and has survived despite their best endeavours. There's another one a few yards away too - so that's double good news.

Now for the techie bit: It's an orchid - a Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) - the one we're most likely to find in the British countryside.

The name orchid comes from orchis - from the Latin, based on Greek orkhis, meaning "testicle". Some species of orchid have long, thin roots or rhizomes, but the orchis group have a pair of tubers which resemble a pair of testicles. Even to this day the expression is used in Medicine - orchitis is a painful swelling of the testicles. Ouch. (I guess - as I'm never likely to find out just how painful.)

You never know when that sort of information will come in handy do you?

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Don't tell next door's cat - but in that corner over there, about 4 metres away from now and cradled by the thorny 'Albéric Barbier' is a hand's-palm-nest of grass, soft stuff and magic. It holds four eggs of clearest blue, the size of tiny. How wonderful is that?

Above this little nest and about 2 hand spans away a robin has hauled bedding and other household bird-goods into a box and set up home as well. A comfort zone of hair, moss, roots and fine feathers. There may be eggs there too.

Swallows, just in from Africa, hang out on the wire across the yard and take two-three days to gulp in where they are. I wish they'd choose to make our barn their home but no, I guess it's not to be. The old silo over the garden wall - which we dearly wish would be carted away - proves too enticing, and this evening they are seen making investigative swoops into its dark and cool interior.

This silo is due to go. Fate will have it that sometime in the next few days, in the hiatus between lambing and another of many other urgent farming tasks, someone will turn up with a low-loader and a purpose.

We'll look at it, our vista and the wheeling birds. We'll weigh things up. We'll have to say: 'John, leave it for now, there are swallows in there - nesting.'

To protect the innocent no photographs have been taken.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Country Crafts No. 3 - Knitting

Laura has been knitting. These were to be seen at Marton's recent Craft Exhibition. Mice cost £3.00. Bargain.

I guess it's all to do with time and place and perception. Were these massive and massed in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall, hand wrought by Grayson Perry, Tracey Emin or Damien Hirst's elves we'd be going head to head with Mr Saatchi for the privilege of owning one or several. Just a thought.

Any takers?

A patchwork of flowers

As 'mini' gave way to 'maxi' and the 'summer of love' became a free-for-all; as the 60's became the 70's - the Laura Ashley idyll was born. 'The decade that taste forgot' was yet to happen and fashion, while taking brave futuristic strides, was also in reflective mood. Thus it was that country whimsy - the dainty prints of yesteryear - came to the high street to jostle with the more cutting-edged 'Chelsea Girl' - although I don't think the term 'cutting-edged' had been invented yet.

The fey fair shepherdess look had a certain appeal - usually to the wrong shaped person - and vast smock clad maidens were to be seen billowing in town centres and on university campuses alike (I'm not sure we ever used the term 'campus' then either). They dreamed no doubt of drifting through hay meadows strewn with wild flowers, walking hand in hand with some handsome swain whilst tending a snowy lamb. The Fairport Convention was heard in our land. How we rocked to the sound of folk....For some this was a reality but for the rest of us - well we could at least dress the dream.

This early and magnificent spring with its abundance of sweet wild flowers reminds me of those innocent days before punk gave us all a timely kick up the butt. On roadside and in hedge bottom myriad sprigs and sprays of yellow and blue and white and pink are pushing their way up through the growing greens of leaf and grass towards the light.

I pass by, photograph their transient beauty and stitch my own flowery patchwork.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Newish moon

Tonight, in the western sky, a sliver of moon.

I should turn over a coin in my pocket for wealth and prosperity. No coins there tonight, just a crumpled piece of foil.

I turn it anyway. Just in case.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A spring flower?

Quite unexpectedly we find ourselves the proud owners of a row of cauliflower.

Just look at this gorgeous beast. I am, momentarily, in its thrall.

Parting the twisted glaucous leaves reveals a head of creamy white curd. This vegetable unique-ness never fails to thrill; the cavern of a fresh sliced, seed hung pepper, the tightpacked complication of cabbage or the pod of peas opened like a book. Seen for the first time ever, that's the thing.

..........Sounds like bad porn but it will make a wonderful supper.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A secret garden

Lovely day. 22 degrees C in the shade of the catslide.

Planted peas and parsley.

Visited a garden which, along with its keepers, is so vulnerable that it's whereabouts should remain a secret. Nature is reclaiming the beds, borders, orchards and bowers laid out by worthy Victorian clergymen to feed the bodies and souls of their burgeoning famillies. I walked on lawns of primrose and cowslip under bridal white blossom - ghosts of yesteryear around each corner. A wilderness. Gates hung askew. Roses whipped unkempt off drunken pergolas. Nettles threatened ankles. Sweet birds sang.

Its elderly owners; fragile as that blossom, skin as papery-fine and bones as twig-like, hovered - put out of place by their invited guests. Their garden's deshabille so matter of fact - they and it in glorious decline together. A breathe of wind could blow them to paradise were they not there already.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Pilot

When a little plane gets lodged in a tree in this blame apportioning world, who gets to eat dirt?

There are things that bull terriers are good at: food, walks, sniffing, sleeping.....and then there are the things that are better left to the professionals. Like light aircraft.

This blog is for gridrunner who hinted that apologies from the pilot might be in order.

Ever heard a dog apologise?

Or explain for that matter.....

The news as it happens...

These are for Harry......

Ready to go - note ladder and climbing gear

Big tree - small tree surgeon - he's up there somewhere.

Got it - I think

Coming down on a bit of string

Nearly there

The SuperCub has landed. Phew.

Lake Vyrnwy

Just one quick picture from our travels into deepest (darkest?) Wales on Wednesday. This is Lake Vyrnwy, about 20 miles to the west of us. In the spring sunshine it was a beautiful place to be. Surprisingly it was almost deserted, very few cars and only a few cyclists pedalling around the lake.

We drove on over a single track road - also deserted - through some spectacular scenery to Dinas Mawddwy - which I thought was A Very Strange Place Indeed. Very 'Little Britain'. If the 'only gay in the village' had walked into the pub, along with the projectile vomiters, I would not have been at all surprised. Please do not ask me to pronounce 'Mawddwy'. It is not as it seems.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The second Trelystan Air Show and first disaster...

It was the perfect day for flying. Clear blue sky and a breathe of wind to make things interesting. The SuperCub was charged up and ready to go - with a camera strapped to the undercarriage. The ruck of sheep and lambs on our field, having established that no sheep nuts were involved, turned their woolly backs and left us to watch the second Trelystan Air Show.

Harry threw the little plane into the air and it was up and away into the wide blue yonder, swooping and soaring over dingle, fields and trees. Our small neighbour and his mother came out and watched from their door step. He, very excited, hopped from foot to foot, jumping and pointing as the SuperCub circled overhead and flew swiftly with the wind back over the field.
Going into the wind was more of a struggle - but it held good and steady - we anticipate some fine aerial shots of house and garden. I urge Harry to fly further afield but he thinks there won't be enough charge in the batteries. A few more circuits and a few more dives and it's time to come in to land.
The triumph of hope over experience...

But, oh no! Disaster. A mis-judged dive and the little plane is lodged in the top of a tree. A very tall tree. A mature Ash, going on for 30m high. We stand in silence - it's like the aftermath of air disasters anywhere I guess. The emergency services arrive quickly - in the form of our small neighbour with a very long stick which is, not surprisingly, about 27.5m too short. Bless.

My family of optimists dismiss the idea of climbing up - it's way, way too high - but do try flinging up a weighted cord, bolas - style, like South American gauchos. When that proves unsuccessful they find a bow and fire arrows Robin Hood style with a fishing line attached. We lose an arrow over in the next field and then the bow string breaks - so no success there either. But, hey it's an afternoon's sport! Meanwhile the little plane sinks even more firmly into its twiggy nest.
It's up there somewhere..

We retreat to mull things over. The pilot is taking it very well considering he has just lost his entire fleet. Fortunately we have a tree surgeon coming later in the week and we'll probably be able to persuade him to go up and free the plane. All in day's work.

Monday, April 09, 2007


The force that through the green fuse drives the flower.........

The asparagus bed that Alan planted last spring, and which we have nurtured through its first season, is showing signs of life. I noticed the first spears pushing through the soil a couple of days ago - drawn irresistibly from the soil's moist, dark depths by the warm spring sunshine. Unfortunately they won't be making their way to our plates this year.

Asparagus is a crop which requires patience. The crowns need time to build their strength before the succulent spears can be cut in any quantity. It will be another year before we can gather a harvest and enjoy them dripping with melted butter and scattered with shavings of Parmesan or dipped into creamy hollandaise sauce. So many recipes and such a short season.

Worth waiting for? Definitely.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter Saturday

Easter - and the bit of one's brain that isn't focused on chocolate turns to thoughts of gardening.*

Garden centre owners rub their hands with glee as the punters flock in. They make plans for Caribbean cruises, second homes on the Costas, ski lodges in glitzy resorts and the sort of yacht that never leaves harbour but displaces its own volume in gin. At this time of year the business is the 'proverbial license to print money'. The off-season enticements which bear little resemblance to the world of gardening - Santa's Grotto to name but one - are distant memories - replaced by perky 'spring bedding' and most things yellow - the colour de nos jours.

On the home front, there's a vague nagging to be out there moving soil about, digging, and a niggling thought that things could look, well, more springlike. So this afternoon, along with the members of the public that weren't a throng in Welshpool High Street munching pies and eating ice cream I went to our (best ever) local garden centre.

The Derwen Garden Centre, on the Guilsfield road out of Welshpool is a pleasure to visit. The ratio of gimcrackery to plants is wonderfully low. If you want to buy a scented candle or an organic pork pie, they're for sale - but plants are the thing. Here be plants. And here be people who know about plants. (And what a terrific range of plants there is, such variety - and if the Derwen doesn't have what you want there's always their nursery The Dingle a couple of miles up the road.)

My shopping list today was fairly modest - some bog plants, some perennials and a couple of shrubs. The garden we carved out of a concrete yard and a field 2 years ago is taking shape, the sticks and twigs and budding things we put in then have bulked up well. Keep sight of the fact that things are programmed to grow and given soil, light and water, they'll do just that.

Tomorrow's job will be finding homes for my purchases and tucking their roots into some good moist soil - along with the instruction 'Grow damn you, you know you want to!'

I photographed these flowers on the way down to the village yesterday - not a commercial stem amongst them. How lovely they are.

*Apologies to those for whom chocolate and spring bedding are not at the top of the list and for whom Easter is very significant religious festival.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


When the cry of 'Bank Holiday' is heard throughout the land the British shopper goes into overdrive; shelves are cleared of sugar, toilet paper, turkey crowns, Aylesbury duck, party platters, tear 'n share breads and all things alcoholic, chocolate, ersatz and dippy. It's family frantic. It's a jungle out there.

At the supermarket today there is shelf stacking (big style and aisle blocking), there are wailing infants and recalcitrant children, bumbling oldsters and just plain damned stoopid people. It's a machete job to get from Fruit and Veg to Beers, Wines and Spirits and I've only got a trolley. I wish for a winged chariot with knifed wheels to whisk me through these dithering twits. Get out of my way. Now.

I have my first Violet Elizabeth Bott moment (I'll scweam and scweam and scweam until I'll sick!) in the milk and yoghurt's aisle where congestion and stupidity is at its worst - not helped by a Sainsbury's trusty having a long and customer friendly chat with a random customer. We push our trolleys by with ne'er a care about each others' ankles. Revenge is sweet. Ouch!

It gets no better as I weave my way through Tinned Goods, Soups, Rice and Pasta, Foods of the World - and by Breads and Cakes I was losing the will to live. Some aged crone instructs her husband (a hen pecked biddable body perhaps) to fetch her '4 Hot Cross Buns' with the addendum - 'and I don't want 6'. Damn it woman, buy six, freeze two. Get a move on. I want to lie down, groan and sleep. Another two old ducks lament the huge detail, slowly and in the way.

I calculate how time consuming this all is and how many times each item is handled before it is used by the consumer:

Loaded from source to supermarket, unloaded and stacked on shelf then:
Off the shelf and into the trolley
Out of the trolley at the checkout
It's picked up and scanned - and put down again
Pick it up, bag it and put into back a trolley
Then out of the trolley and into the car.
Out of the car and into the house
Out of the bag and onto a shelf
You finally take it off the shelf/fridge to use......

How time labour intensive/time consuming is that?

There was a bit of a hold up at the checkout when a small and indulged child wouldn't give up a tube of toothpaste to 'the nice lady' so she could scan it. All was resolved with a few placatory words and only a few tears. Eventually I paid for my trolley full of goods and escaped into the car park where latecomers were still looking for somewhere to park. This shopping frenzy was obviously going to go on for hours.

Drove home along Long Mountain with the shopping bouncing away in the open back of the pick up where I'd stowed it. Every so often an orange Sainsburys bag caught by the wind flapped into view and I'd keep my fingers crossed that it wouldn't disappear in the slip stream, over the hills and far away. Because at this point I wasn't up for chasing carrier bags - littering or no littering - I was up for going home.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bad Greenhouse

I learned a long time ago never to volunteer and really should know better - but find myself saying every time: 'Of course I'll help, no problem........'

Which is why today I was to be found in helpful mode, lending a hand in a friend's greenhouse-building project. To be more precise this was my third outing with spanner, screwdriver and ever diminishing reserves of patience. And the Thing is no nearer completion.

I should have known from the outset when L. proudly displayed the nascent greenhouse in the form of assorted bits of aluminium and plastic ranged haphazardly on a barn floor that this was not going to be straightforward. There were XL1s, 2s, 3s and 4s and a 5, XL1-Ss, XL5s, XL55s and 56s, 128 flanged 8mm screws with hex nuts, 130 8mm self-tapping screws, 8 slotted screws and 8 square plates, D4s (x 8), a pair of angles, SANs 12, 13, 16, and 17, CTs and WTs - 88 and 87 and a solitary D147. A numbers' game. It wasn't immediately obvious what any of the pieces were or how, by joining them together we'd form a greenhouse.

OK. Have a cup of tea and read the instructions. Never trust a set of instructions that don't give you a list of tools required but do suggest that a table knife will be handy.....Second up; on my List of Never Trusts come the words: 'If after a period of time your panes work loose, tweak them back into place.' There's a technical term for you. Tweak. And I recommend if those pesky panes do work loose you'd better be quick off the mark in the tweaking department as due to its insubstantial construction a strong gust of wind will blow this greenhouse right into the next parish.

We identify some bits of aluminium and begin the task of bolting them together with the minuscule 8mm flanged screws and the things we have decided are hex-bolts - not helped by painfully inadequate working drawings and instructions that read like algebraic code. L's enthusiasm has waned a bit and I have decided that were this my greenhouse it would be shipped back to Norfolk Greenhouses. Now. PDQ (With a covering letter to the MD using words like: 'suitable for purpose? I think not.' In bold type.)

After many putting togethers and taking aparts we end the afternoon with the finished front and back frames leaned against the barn. Our fingers are sore from screwing and unscrewing the minuscule 8mm flanged screws and in need of comfort we go and eat cake.

Day 2 sees the framework completed - well, we think it's completed but there are a lot of bits of aluminium left over. Doors; aha! they must be door components. And those are window bits. L.'s enthusiasm has returned. But it has been a hard slog. We offer things up this way and that. Nothing is clear. We take stock and look at the instructions for tomorrow's job of 'Applying the Trim and Glazing'. OMG. The last of the afternoon sun leaves us feeling chilly, our fingers are sore and we are in need of comfort. We eat more cake.

And today we set about Trimming and Glazing - which involved trapping plastic sheets in plastic trim which clips onto the aluminium frame. (The table knife was very useful at this stage.) We manage to 'glaze' both sides - which sounds impressive but there's an awful lot more to do. We're not finished yet. My heart sinks at the prospect.

Most of me wants to help my friend out with her greenhouse - for which she has paid hard-earned folding money. The rest of me wants to rant about awful-dreadful-terrible design, cheap-shoddy components and indecipherable instructions, all of which combine to take a pair of capable people an inordinate amount of time to make into an insubstantial substandard piece of kit. Rage, growl, snarl, grumble.....a hearty curse on all purveyors of bad design

Sunday, April 01, 2007

We see the sun at last.

Phew. That pesky fog lifted and our spirits have soared. Man, beast, bird; we're bawling, bellowing, barking and crowing in celebration. Hurrah. The sun has got 'is 'at on.

And I've got my hat with ear flaps on too because while I can feel the sun it's also windy and not particularly warm. But I can see the sky and it's blueblueblue.

Close my eyes and I hear: the wind through the trees in the dingle, a curlew over there somewhere, goldfinches chitteringchattering up in the sycamores, the faint mew of a buzzard over the fields at Fir House and the various bleats and baas of sheep and lambs all around us.*

I've planted a few seeds in the warmth of the greenhouse: tomatoes, peppers, aubergine, leeks and celeriac. There's such promise in these dry little grains - hard to believe that one's vegetable harvest can be held in the palm of the hand in April. Remind myself we've a way to go yet. More haste less speed etc.

And here's Wilson just enjoying being a dog in the sunshine. The other dog, the brave hunting dog, is poised beside the Henhouse on Wheels, 'pointing' Mrs Black and the 3 Mrs Browns. He has been there for about 2 hours. They, safe within their pen are now oblivious to him. Silly dog.

*Carl told us today that they've lambed over 1700 sheep and there are about 150 still enceinte. My back-of-envelope figuring makes that about 3,500 lambs this spring.....No surprise then that at every turn we see sheep - and lambs learning the serious art of being sheep. Treasure those brief hop, skip and jump, king of the castle moments - they're brief. Next stop lamb chops...