A bird in the hand

Last week it was more a case of five in the greenhouse instead of two in the bush. To say I got the fright of my life as I walked in there is a bit of an understatement. It felt like an aviary. Only five birds? Big jessie I hear you say. But their frantic buzzing and flapping around and banging into the perspex windows with loud thumps made me flap almost as much. Once I regained my composure, trying to catch them ate into my precious seed planting time. It was not an easy task. That delicate balance between holding them firmly but not squeezing the living daylights out them. The poor wee fellow in the picture was the last to get caught and freed. I would like to think that his calm posing for portrait photos at the end was a token of his gratefulness, but I suspect it was more a case of being stunned after flying back and forth into the windows. Hopefully he's now back safely in the bush.

Seed planting finally resumed and that, along with bed preparation, has been very much the main task over the last fortnight. Whilst sitting in front of the fire on dark January evenings planning what to plant it was easy to get carried away with the seed order. It then arrived and the size of task is rather daunting. When I opened the parcel from Tamar Organics, packet after packet came out. And almost all planting needs to happen over the coming eight weeks. In all honesty I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing. I'm drawing comfort from Dorothy, a wonderful neighbour in Edinburgh with an allotment. Her advice was, "stick it in the ground and it will generally grow". The 'generally' bit is the part that's worrying me particularly with some of the more exotic things like peppers and aubergines. My Grandma was an ace tomato grower. I just wished I had paid more attention now. Oscar's been helping me and I'm encouraged that a fruit tree of some sort in the greenhouse is in full blossom. There's different views on what it is. Apricot is the most likely but it will be exciting to see what appears. I just hope it doesn't die on my watch. The tomato seeds are at least coming through as I have brought them up to our bedroom window ledge for full sunshine and away from little fingers. I'm hoping my grandmother's skills are genetic.

The planting team

Any ideas what this might be?

The one downside to all this working alone in the potting is the radio. It's either a case of commercial radio with endless PPI adverts or BBC stations with Brexit mentioned at every turn. It's awful. Does anyone really care? I certainly don't, even if some of our income is tied to EU subsidy. What a waste of energy and time. So it's good old Spotify, until my phone battery runs out. Late one day - it was the twilight hour - just after the phone had died, a ghostly figure with large white disk eyes appeared on a post just outside the windows. The big jessie in me jumped a little but then I became really excited when I realised it was a beautiful barn owl. Was it the one that lives further down the land or another? I don't know as we hear twit-twoos every evening from all over the place. It was just fantastic seeing one up so close.

One could be forgiven for thinking the photograph above was taken in January but during the seed planting fortnight we woke up on a Saturday morning to find the snow falling. Winter had suddenly arrived. Instead of gardeners 'planting panic' we had skiers 'powder panic'. For a brief moment work halted, we dug out an old flat coracle we found in one of the sheds and attached it to the tractor. And round and round the kids went. They do say all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Louise hard at work

By the afternoon it had all but disappeared. Friends, Iain and Louise arrived, so it was back to work. A warning to anyone who visits! They were a super help and we set to starting to clear the old plastic rabbit guards from the trees in the woodland. We then moved on to finishing off the weed control fabric around the final rows on apple trees in the new orchard. At one point the wind picked up and the fabric became a giant kite surf. Quick as a flash Louise did her best footballers victory dive and spreadeagled over the end. Who knows where the fabric would have finally landed had it become full sail.

Iain and footballer Louise

Since the snow just over a week ago Spring is back in full swing with thistles growing in fields, the first of the sheep back on the land, apple trees budding with vigour and earlier sunrises and welcomed longer days. And then there's the bees flying daily and returning with bright yellow legs. That's my next task. Give them a proper, well maintained home. I'll buzz off now. Until next time.


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