shearing day

It’s been a funny spring, with a warm April and a cold start to May, making picking the moment to shear hard to choose. But this last week we have had some quite hot days and showers, and so today was the day. Who knew there was a 7am on a Sunday morning?
The shearer did his usual swift and professional job and the sheep were happy to be let back into the field one by one, minus that heavy coat, and sniffed at each other trying to recognise who was who. Apart from Betty obviously, who can’t be like the rest of the flock:
betty looks for her coat
Instead she seemed intent on finding her coat before leaving.



My son has been an adult for some time now, and our home education days a long behind us, but our approach to education did leave a lasting legacy: we turned following up an interest in a certain area of history into having a jolly.


And so, as my lad is still fascinated by Henry VIII and wanted to see where he was buried, we found ourselves visiting Windsor Castle. First port of call is St George’s chapel. Well they call it a chapel – my idea of a chapel is something about the size of a large shed, their idea of a chapel is cathedral sized. It is a beautiful and peaceful place, and the final resting place of many royals.

St Georges chapel, Windsor

For my son, this brought a sort of reality to this story from history. For me, I got more of a feel of that when visiting the state apartments, and seeing all the art – so many portraits of Kings and Queens past, that I am so familiar with, only this time the actual pictures.

The staff there were lovely – really helpful, and when they clocked my son’s obvious interest, engaged him and were keen to give more information. A good day, and St George’s day too, which seems apt.

Once home, our son happily researched what we had seen today, put his memorabilia carefully away,   then moved on to the next plan. Still rating Henry VIII as his most favourite character from history, he is now plotting a trip to Hampton Court Palace.

april outside

small blue
Today, I spent a fair bit of time sat in the shade of the big umbrella, needlefelting hedgehog pincushions, as you do. It’s bizarrely warm for April, I mean.. sitting outside.. in the shade! We’ve been barbecueing and walking in the evenings too. Far too nice a day to craft inside, in fact the house was colder than outside.
I brought my camera too, as I had a lot of company:
The swallows are very chatty, and sit on the telephone wire above my head telling it all. Behind me on the rosemary the bees carefully worked each tiny flower
honeybee and rosemary


butterflies taunted me, an orangetip scooted by several times without stopping, and it took a lot of leaping up with the camera before I snapped a picture of the small blue. She seemed to like the marsh marigold, as did the bees
marsh marigold and bee

The flowering currant was covered in all types of bees, this, I think, is a tree bumblebee
tree bumble bee and flowering currant

Not a bad place to work

Today I met up again with the lovely Rosie and her boys.
I know Rosie from the blogosphere, and her blog Eco-Gites of Lenault It’s nice to interact with someone going through the same sorts of experiences, re smallholding etc, albeit in a different country.

We met at Knightshayes, lunched and partook of cake, before touring the house, which is really interesting, and all the guide people were friendly and helpful


We walked the grounds
I really liked the fox and hounds topiary hedge
fox and hounds hedge

and am always jealous of the large walled kitchen garden. And perhaps the team of gardeners. They sure do grow a lot of rhubarb there..

Obviously, that was all very tiring, so we were obliged to eat cake yet again – well it is Rosie’s cake holiday – it would be rude not to.

broody takes no prisoners
Seriously, take a look at that face. You wouldn’t want to get between her and her chicks would you?
Technically not her chicks, well I suppose they are now. These hatched in the incubator over the weekend, and last night we slipped them under this broody hen, removed the fake egg she was nursing and now she is a proud, fierce mother of eight.
She is excellent for these fosterings, as soon as we slip the first one under she is clucking and shuffling her feathers to make room.. and yes pecking the hell out of the hand that delivers the next chick into the warmth of her feathers.

The chicks seem pretty happy with the arrangement too.

tawny owl

tawny owl
As well as working hard and eating too much over Easter we also had the tawny owl event.  This starts with Mr CIG waking me up to tell me he has let the hens out, put out food and water, the sheep are ok and by the way we have a tawny owl in the shed now. And with that he climbed back into bed.

A little while later I came to enough to question whether I had dreamt the bit about the owl.  You see, I am a bit of a  ‘night owl’ myself.. I’m not at my best in the mornings, but this did filter through. Yes, when he let the birds out, he found the poor little owl caught in the netting covering the run – we have to protect our flock and their eggs from jackdaws, crows and buzzards, all of which we have plenty, but owls work in our favour, hunting at night and killing vermin.  Once he had disentangled it, he set the owl down but it just sat there.  He was able to pick it up, so popped it in  a hutch in the dark and quiet, with some water.

We contacted the local owl rescue – they even have an owl emergency line, and we were told we had done everything right that the owl was unlikely to take flight in the day time and to try again at dusk.

So we left him alone, resisted the temptation to show him to family and friends and waited it out.  My son kept coming by to ask if it was dusk yet, as owls are one of his favourite things.
And when it was just getting dimpsy, we took the owl out – and he was far more alert now, all big eyes and trying his wings.  We balanced him on a post and waited and he took a moment to get his bearings, then eventually he took flight and took to the tall trees.  For once I was glad of those trees that shade our garden.
We often hear owls here, and we have seen them in the distance, but it was special, if unfortunate for the owl, for us to see one up close. I’m pretty sure he was unharmed and as we released him where he was found only a short while later, fairly sure he will do well.

This morning Mr Cig woke me to say he had done the early morning animal check, let the birds out, and everyone was ok. As he climbed back into bed, he added ‘and no extra owls’.


chocolate cupcakes

This long weekend. we opted to stay  home-based. We have walked and cycled

built a new block wall (part of the ongoing kitchen project,

scotch eggs
we have gardened, moved chickens, repointed some wall, and helped our son with his garden project.

Obviously, all  this work needs to be fuelled…. with chocolate cupcakes, roast turkey, Easter biscuits, almond croissants and Scotch eggs.  Needs must.


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