“The year’s at the spring,the day’s at the dawn, morning’s at seven, the hillside’s dew-pearled”
and so it goes on. March, as we hoped, having come in like a lion, went out like the proverbial lamb. Now we are awaiting the April showers, which, again proverbially, bring forth May flowers. Certainly the blossom already in evidence, appears more abundant than ever this year. We are hoping for a good crop of damsons but, as ever, remember not to count our chickens before they are hatched; a late frost can cause the blossom to drop before it has been fertilised. Having said that, our bees have been enjoying the recent sunshine and milder days so there is hope.
Now that the water in the pond is warmer frogs that have hibernated through the winter are making their way to the water, or emerging from the mud at the bottom of the pond to spawn where the water is shallow. The clumps of spawn are easy to spot at the edge of the pond but although we have toads in the garden I have not seen any strings of spawn which indicates the presence of the toad. They usually return to the pond in which they were spawned so perhaps they are in the Martin’s Hill pond.
Mallard duck which visit the farm pond each spring, have also arrived. They can be heard each evening, when there are often two drakes fighting over one female. Several willow trees were pollarded during the winter, but there are still plenty of trees nearby and in the orchard. Now, before the leaves emerge, is the ideal time to listen to birdsong and endeavour to identify the bird singing lustily to establish territory or perhaps to attract a mate.
On the farm we are trying a different variety of oilseed rape this year. It should not grow as tall as other varieties and is therefore less liable to lodging: that is to say, going flat in bad weather. Thankfully it is now at minimal risk of damage by woodpigeons, having grown out of their reach, so the banger (bird-scarer) will soon be a thing of the past.
Membership of the Epperstone Women’s Institute is increasing monthly, due in no small measure, to the quality and variety of speakers. Any doubt about the latest talk, the History of Marks and Spencer, was quickly dispelled as the speaker, now retired from M&S, recounted how this internationlly-known store sprung from the humble beginnings of an immigrant pedlar in Leeds in the 1880s. Hard to imagine, indeed.