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The Advent of Winter – Stuff on the Farm

Over the last few months I’ve been recording some of the stuff which has been going on outside. It’s a time of change and senescence, of storing and stowing.

Blackbird on Ivy

Jackdaw in Dovecot

Mr or Mrs Jackdaw checking out next years nesting accomodation

Wild Carrot in Winter

Wild Carrot

Crows in Ash Tree

Dogrose Hips

Willow and Wild Carrot

Dogrose Hips Sycamore Pollard

The cows are getting their winter coats and eating plenty of hay.

Traditional English Hereford Heifers

Traditional English Hereford Heifers

The light is low and gentle.

WinterTree Shadows

Sycamore in Winter Light

Light Shaft in Barn

Winter Sunset

It’s sometimes easy to get over attached to the indoors in winter, driving wind and rain causing mine and many a bottom to become welded to an armchair as a result. Having spent a good part of life doing an outdoor job I know that the only way to get-over-it is to get-out-in-it.

Thus today found me togged up and trowel wielding as I finally decided to plant the tulip bulbs in the tubs in the front yard. Luckily tulips are quite forgiving of procrastinating ways, people have been known to plant them in January. Gasp.

I go into the barn where I left the bulbs and all I find is a couple of empty nets. Storing and stowing. Storing and stowing. Hmm. I get on the phone and order some more.

Bulb Nets

Luckily, there is one bag which has escaped the mouse/squirrel/rat assault so I get down to business. What is it about about preparing soil for planting? I don’t know, I just love it…I did mention to fellow blogger Fran about my cruel ways with ditching plants and I thought of her as I gaily tossed last summers pelargoniums into the death bucket (wrong colour – another procrastinating moment – leaving it so late they only had deep pink ones left at the shop. Sigh. It’s the Cornish air).

Belfast Sink with Plants

Clearing out summer pelargoniums

This is a cunning trick which keeps the squirrels off your bulbs (if they haven’t already stolen them that is). After planting you tread the ground firmly, then get some dead leaves and scatter them over the area. This really foxes them – they look for disturbed ground and signs of digging. This method always worked for me in the city, though pots can be more vulnerable than the ground, depending on squirrel numbers and ingenuity.

Belfast Sink as Plant Container   www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.comSink

Tulips in, treading down and leaf method deployed.

Back in September when it first started to get cold I posted about wood including how much we were going to need over the winter.

Firewood Basket

Empty Wood Pile

The woodpile three months on

The wind has damaged a barn, lifting old slates right off. This scaffolding tower was found dumped on the streets of London years ago and came in very handy with renovations.

Dislodged Slate on Barn

Scaffolding tower by side of barn

Baler Twine in Wood

I’m trying to think of things to do with baling twine. Any ideas?

25 Comments Post a comment
  1. Reading this before another mad-holiday Saturday at the store – what a soothing send-off. I will conjure these images (that sky!) throughout the day and remember what’s important. And thanks for the new word: senescence. Nice.

    December 8, 2012
    • I hope your Saturday wasn’t too hectic. I like senescence too, it seems to say it all.

      December 9, 2012
  2. Lovely photos! My favourite is the cloudy sky over a tree and brightly lit grass.

    Baler twine is useful for mending gates, growing beans and adding a rustic fashion note to your trousers.

    December 9, 2012
    • Thanks. I’ll be considering your baler twine suggestions with care 🙂

      December 9, 2012
      • My OH (a retired farmer) was asleep when I wrote my comment to you and now she’s writing Xmas cards. When she emerges from that task I’ll ask her about baler twine, or billy-band as she calls it in her Yorkshire accent. She tends to conserve it very carefully because she knows how useful it can be.

        December 9, 2012
    • Billy-band! What a great expression, I might take it up.

      December 12, 2012
      • How’s your Yorkshire accent, lass? Mine’s coming on after nearly 12 years with a real Yorkshirewoman by my side. She says that billy band is useful for tying up your dog when you’ve lost its lead and for making temporary fences. Even temporary gates across public footpaths, easily unhooked and replaced by the walkers but not touched by the animals. This works because you can teach your cows and sheep that billy band is electric fence, so they daren’t touch it however flimsy.

        December 12, 2012
      • Cunning! I have yet to see if they are truly in awe of the electric fence…at the moment it is up against the dark of the hedge so they can see it as they ran straight through it on their first encounter! But I will bear this top tip in mind…

        Eee by gum lass, I can hear it now 🙂

        December 12, 2012
  3. Hi Sarah – just had a bizarre moment that made me laugh out loud – was flicking through country living for some publicity inspiration and there was your stove! Great article, hope you get more blog subscribers from it. Lets meet again before Christmas x x

    December 9, 2012
    • OMG! Didn’t know it was out….thought February was the issue. Must buy one, though I’m sure they should send me one. Fancy singing carols to cows over at Tregillis? 🙂

      December 9, 2012
      • Sounds suitably silly 🙂 Is that the place the party was at last year? X

        December 12, 2012
    • That’s the one…22nd at 4ish I think…Once in Roooyal Davids Ciiiity stood a lowly caaaattle shed tra la la 🙂

      December 12, 2012
      • anna #

        groooovy moooovy will try and make it! xx

        December 17, 2012
  4. Hi, nice article in CL, love the slate work on the stairs and the general calm of your home : )

    December 9, 2012
    • Thank you. Though it’s probably all down to the brilliance of Huntley I think. And what an amazing skill you have too! I really enjoyed your mark making 🙂

      December 9, 2012
  5. You didn’t tell me you’d got into Country Living!? Please elaborate….

    December 10, 2012
  6. Ahaa! Congrats with CountryLiving article! I’m looking forward to finding a copy, though it may have to wait for my return… Good move with the pelargoniums. 😉 x

    December 12, 2012
    • Thanks B, it’s a Rustic Restoration story, not by me though – amazing pictures.

      December 12, 2012
      • How gossip stories spread! Maybe this is a sign!! You write beautifully, you have things to write about… err… maybe you could just dive straight into magazine writing? 🙂

        December 12, 2012
      • You are very kind B! Just happily rolling along at the moment…

        December 12, 2012
  7. Lovely to hear that you’ve been published in a magazine. Have you been submitting for some time? Perhaps you actually started with the magazines and the blog is a followup? In any event, there’s a huge compendium here in the States called “Magazine Markets for Writers”. It comes out annually and has information about everything from the nation-wide “biggies” to the tiny college poetry journals. You can find out who takes unpublished authors, who requires query letters, etc. If there’s not a British equivalent, you might want to get a copy of the MMforW, US edition. The internet has taken down all those old-fashioned barriers to publishing across the pond!

    Your photos here are so wonderful. My favorites are the basket of wood and the sunlit hills with the gray sky. Well, and the heifers. But they always make me smile.

    December 12, 2012
    • Thanks for the info, I’m definitely toying with a new direction…just not sure which way to go and the blog is helping with it all, … but I better clear this up! Our house is the star of this article, sadly not written by me. The photographer is a friend of a friend and he was looking for new material so it evolved from there. I think we have something similar in UK ‘Writers & Artists Yearbook’ – and you’re right, the barriers are crumbling, perhaps something to consider!

      I’m so pleased you like the photos, the light is really lovely at the moment.

      December 12, 2012
  8. I love blackbirds. I love the way that they burst into song at the first sign of sunrise and keep going throughout the day (and often the night). We have Australian ravens here, not actual crows and our ravens are zipping about all over the place catching the massive big cicada’s that are emerging all over the place. It’s a veritable feast for any animal clever enough to wait for the cicada’s to emerge from their burrows and wait for them to split their skins and emerge fresh, completely helpless and apparently delicious. I wish I was able to just “toss” plants…Steve is a plant hoarder and can’t be easily separated from something that he has grown. I would love to give a lot of our potted babies away and plant the rest out but its difficult with Steve giving me hangdog eyes whenever I suggest palming off one of the multitudes of trees that he has propagated. 4 acres is WAY too small for 30 chestnuts, 25 walnuts and a plethora of beeches but good luck to me getting rid of any of them any day soon!
    We don’t have squirrels here but our chooks do twice the damage that a squirrel could even contemplate. I had a lovely clump of grape hyacinths under our big old Japanese maple and the chooks managed to scratch every single bulb out of the ground and strew them to the 4 winds…sigh…
    Baler (we call it “binder”) twine eh?…how about these ideas…
    and my personal favourite…
    My work here…is done! But your work is just beginning! You need to get that crochet hook out post haste and get started on that shopping bag 🙂

    December 14, 2012
    • Plants just seem to have babies don’t they?!

      Love the crochet shopping bag – I’m going to start one, really. I think pink will be very fetching. Thank you. I did make a tapestry once, it took me ages (like a year, working a bit almost every day!) and I had new respect for all those weavers who used to do it all day.

      December 17, 2012
      • Thats what “Failed craft cupboards” are for! Mine is cram packed FULL of started and half completed things including crochet, knitting (can’t do collars or cuffs…), stained glass (don’t ask :(…) and all kinds of passions that fizzled out in a fit of pique. Even I wouldn’t have been enthusiastic to start tapestry! You have my awe and kudos (especially if you finished it and it isn’t languishing in your own failed crafts cupboard under the stairs 😉 ). You certainly do appreciate the talents of someone once you give it a go yourself 🙂

        December 17, 2012

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