Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Fooled you!

When I last posted something to this blog, I made a remark about taking two steps forward and one back. Well, I was wrong. We had ten days of freezing north east winds with wind chill down to -11°C (12°F) which just put everything into suspended animation. There was no sight of the sun and nothing advanced at all. I have a friend who is an organic market gardener and he went away for a week during this time. When he came back, none of his plants, even those inside his polytunnels, had grown in the slightest.

We finally had a couple of nice days over the weekend and we even had lunch out of doors on Saturday when it was sunny and warm. But all that was just to fool us!

Monday the 11th of March, ten days away from the official start of spring, it snowed. Tuesday it snowed all day and this region was put on a red alert. Hundreds of vehicles were abandoned on the roads, whole villages had their electricity cut as cables fell and in the middle of all this, our ewes started to produce their lambs.

I was up in a blizzard at 5.30 on Monday morning checking on a new arrival and then yesterday another one was born in the snow. The poor little thing was shivering so I picked it up and carried it under my coat while I tried to persuade its mother to move into a spare stable. She would not OBEY so eventually I had to catch her with a flying rugby tackle and carry her bodily to shelter. Mum and baby are doing well.

These are Ouessant sheep, a small breed from an island off Brittany. They are incredibly hardy and need very little help which is a good thing since I am not a shepherd! With all this snow on the ground though, I am having to feed them some hay because they just can’t find the grass underneath.
There is a flock of twenty ewes at the Manoir and they all lamb at about the same time so the dawn patrols won’t be needed for too long.

A clump of bamboo which collapsed under the weight of yesterday's snow

Hazel catkins which will still be providing pollen for the bees once they can get out again.

I will show this view at regular intervals throughout the year to show the changes which occur as the seasons progress. I must admit, I did not expect to be showing deep snow in mid-March!

I am careful to leave the snow which is blocking the hive entrances since any bees that ventured out in this cold would almost certainly die. They get fooled by the brightness of the sun shining on the snow into thinking that it is a good flying day.

Isn't that pretty? The sun was only out for a few minutes this morning but I managed to take some pictures before it disappeared again.

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