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Jobs Getting Done Frogs Getting Busy

There’s always a slow period in winter when necessary renewal needs to occur at a fundamental level. A kind of hibernation. I find that living close to the land it’s easier to get a sense of this.

Does anyone else feel like this dormouse?   (No, not you, you southern hemispherans…)


But jobs still need to be done.

The incredible amount of rain we’ve experienced over the last year has not made things easy.

Drip on branch

Very drippy.

However, in the last couple of weeks a few projects have started to get underway.


Digging out the corral and filling with crushed stone to make hard standing instead of quagmire.

Cattle corrall near completion

The small gap to the left of the gate is where the crush will go.

Hedge cutting winter 2013

Hedge cutting before the nesting season. We cut ours every two years to allow the animals and birds a chance.

I also move the cows to the Triangle Field to graze down the grass there. It’s only just across from the Cow Field so I hope it’s going to be pretty straightforward. I get some sheep hurdles at our local farmers shop which provide, along with a couple of cars, a corridor to the Triangle Field.

They follow the bale of hay quite obediently (I make sure there is a long interval since their last feed) until H’s dog gives an excited little bark which sends Belita (the nervy shy one) careering back into the Cow Field. She then becomes very distressed at being separated from the others and runs up and down the boundary on the other side. H rounds her up and I keep the other two from escaping while calling her name at the same time.

Gratifyingly, she is following the sound of my voice and then H says I should show my face to her (she’s a vet so she knows the ways of animals well) so I leave the gate closed on the others and go towards her. As soon as she sees me she comes running and lets me guide her into the new field. And very glad to be reunited with Lucy and Mary-Rose.

They are all quite excited by the abundance of grass and after a few high kicks get down to munching, moving excitedly from place to place as if they both can’t quite believe it or get enough, snatching mouthfuls from each sweet patch. This is before they realise that there is no shelter in this field. They have now been out in the open for a couple of weeks. They really don’t like the rain on their backs.

But I am very pleased that Belita trusted me enough to come with me. This is definitely progress.

H manages to capture the moment on her phone

H manages to capture the moment on her phone

Traditional Hereford Heifers Lying Down

The girls taking advantage of some morning sun after a hard night

Traditional Hereford Heifers in Hedge

This is where they try and shelter from the rain.

I also went over to T & N’s where I was able to catch up with Herald, our bull. Unfortunately he got lice, possibly brought with him from the other farm, which has left him a bit patchy but it’s all been treated now. T says he is very good natured and doesn’t mind a stroke.

Moose, their gentle shire horse whom they rescued when they found her in very bad shape in a field not far from them a few years ago, towers above all the others. She is definitely the top four-legged-hooved-animal in the pecking order here.

Shire horse with cows

Moose, Daisy & Herald (looking very small!)

Traditional Hereford eating Hay

They really like hay

Traditional Hereford Bull

Aw look at that face…

Shire Horse with Yurt

Moose leads the way

Before this current sweep of arctic air the temperature was unseasonably warm for a few days ( = more rain). This has confused the frogs and the tulips. There was much croaking from the pond and when I went out in the middle of the night there were lots of frogs congregating for a bout of procreating. The pond is now full of spawn.  The tulips are poking their heads out too.

Frogs mating in pond

Frog spawn

New Tulip Shoots

I only hope it doesn’t freeze in the next couple of months.

24 Comments Post a comment
  1. I TOTALLY reserve the right to lay upside down on my back with my rear end tucked up in the long grass whenever I feel like it! As a southerner, I take offense! Rest time is the best time of summer. You get to lay there upside down in the long grass looking at the sun (whilst burning your retina’s but AH the choice!) and the clouds forming disturbing shapes…talking about your overabundance of rain is also disturbing to we rain free southerners. We are gagging for rain over here. I dread to think of what our water bill will be this year thanks to my desire to indulge my passion and “grow veggies!” Your digger reminded me of what we had to do to enable us to walk from the car to the back door when we first moved to Serendipity Farm. I imagine my father used to hover from his sports car to the back door…we lesser mortals had to trudge our way through the much and mire and stand in a sodden morass of complaining humanity while the drippy bits evacuated our shoes before we could enter. We did the very same thing that you did albeit sans the digger. We did it the old school way with a barrow and good old fashioned walking. I love your beautiful hedges. I am in the process of trying to grow some Washington hawthorns to effect the very same thing. They have edible berries (actually eat from the shrub berries…) and amazing long thorns so should give the native birds a really good chance against the ferals. Food AND protection on their doorstep.
    What happy cows! I love reading about them. The connection between animal and human and the developing trust makes me smile. I am starting to think of our dogs as cows to be honest…they don’t trust me either and would rather stay inside looking morose than walking in the rain…shaking themselves and looking accusingly up at us every 3 – 4 steps…
    Moose is gorgeous! What an eminently pattable creature she is! Solid, stolid AND solidified in her environment 🙂
    I adore frogs. We have them hiding amongst our potted plants and their loud call belies their tiny size. I love tulips and used to try to grow them in lovely bulb pots but gave up after having very lacklustre tulip events and have decided to admire them from afar…please make sure to post lovely photos of them in full bloom so that my afar admiration can be fully satiated :). Another wonderful post full of Southern U.K. charm. I can’t wait till we are up to our armpits in mud and leeches (my 2 dimensional friends will get a snoot of rain and suddenly SPROING! Back into 3D vampires and ready to slither up my leg…) and Brunhilda (our 4 oven wood burning stove) is back in “GO” mode for the duration of the season.

    February 5, 2013
    • Haha 🙂 Thanks.

      I always THINK I might like lying in long grass in the summer but I feel slightly troubled by all the things crawling over me and buzzing around. I’m definitely a large blanket and comfy cushions kinda girl when it comes to outdoor lounging, or even better the swing seat which is pretty hideous (trying to think of how I can incorporate an attractive one in the new design) but soooo soothing. And shade, I gotta have shade for my celtic soul.

      It would be good if we could send you some rain, I will work on it.

      Looking forward to your Brunhilda shots…and leeches, how exciting, though a bit inconvenient. We found one IN THE HOUSE the other day, crawling up the wall. But it’s not a real problem for us, they hardly ever make inroads on humans.

      The digger man is very busy round these parts, he was the one who dug out our pond too…we made more hedgebanks with the spoil. My days of heaving are sadly over – though I have been scuffing off turf today, working on our green roof, it’s going to be beautiful with loads more flowers, my right arm has still got the umph!

      February 6, 2013
      • Your leech was obviously mentally challenged…Serendipity Farm leeches know EXACTLY where to go…I only find them when they are full to the brim and have detached from whichever of my body parts they managed to sink their leechy beaks into to hitch a ride inside…its a tiny little chainsaw masacre scene for a bit till I stop bleeding and I throw the leech out to ducky…Have you tried those Brazilian hammocks? (much better than the “other” Brazilian claim to fame and a lot less painful! 😉 ). I love the single seat hammock, colourful and very comfy out under a shady tree :).
        Green roof? Do tell! I am prematurely excited! I know what you mean about heaving days over…as penniless hippies our heaving days have just begun! My back is suffering from hefting uber heavy ex-fish farm netting from one side of the property over to the other (no idea why but I don’t ask questions sometimes… sometimes it is just wise to let your man do whatever he wants to keep him sweet 😉 ). When I first got here I could hardly hobble around the property. I had the dickiest knee in the book and wondered if I was ever going to be able to make it around the property in a single walk! Now I stride around with purpose thanks to country living giving me a new spring in my step (hard work = weight loss! whodathunk? ) but I am always aware of my middle aged status! Some days Steve and I creak around together after a particularly hard days work leaning in various directions and complaining softly from the wings 😉
        I really REALLY NEED to hear more about this green roof! I can feel my horticultural bones creaking in excitement :)…

        February 6, 2013
    • A little chainsaw massacre in your leg…I like it 😁

      I will be doing a post about the green roof at some point…it’s on a barn but I sowed too much grass seed so it’s undergoing refurbishment!

      I’ll have a look at those Brazilian hammocks thanks. My friend over at throbbingsofnoontide blogged brilliantly about the OTHER type and the general obsession with hairlessness. A god read.

      February 9, 2013
      • A God read? After a Brazilian I would turn blue and SEE God so I guess you get away with that one 😉

        February 10, 2013
  2. great! really enjoyable as always

    February 5, 2013
  3. Nice post, nice countryside!

    February 5, 2013
  4. Gue' #

    Lovely entry.

    Congratulations on a successful transfer to the new field, with just a couple of hiccups. The girls do look happy, enjoying the sun.

    Thanks for the dormouse pic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. A picture of one, anyway. We don’t have dormice.

    I know what you mean about hoping you don’t get a freeze. I’m dreading one, as well. We’ve had unusually warm temps so far this winter and it’s tricked a lot of our flowers and shrubs into thinking it’s already spring. My forsythia is blooming, my azaleas are budding out and I’ve already noticed some azaleas in the neighborhood in full bloom. That’s going to wreak havoc with the usual azalea tourist season downtown and at the plantation gardens in April.

    Frogs and toads are so cool. I used to collect toad eggs from a local ditch, bung them into a small aquarium and put them on the kitchen floor, under a small shelving unit. We’d watch the eggs hatch into tadpoles and then watch them sprout legs. After a while, Mama would demand that I remove them, as she was starting to find tiny little squashed toads on the kitchen lino. Ooops.

    February 6, 2013
    • Haha that’s so funny, I used to have ‘pet’ toads when I was a girl too. But not in the kitchen, we had a dank lightwell to our cellar which was the perfect spot! I’ve never seen them in the tadpole stage. We have plenty around here, they like to hang out on the front step in summer which can make for some near misses, so I don’t know why we’ve never seen the spawn.

      Whereabouts are you? Sounds like it’s quite acidic with all those azaleas. You’re way ahead with forsythia flowering now, is it usually March like here?

      Isn’t the dormouse lovely? Sadly, it’s an endangered species, but there are quite a few protected sites. They spend a lot of time sleeping. I didn’t take the picture btw, I borrowed it from a wildlife site, I think you’d need specialist knowledge, not to mention equipment 😉

      February 6, 2013
  5. Gue' #

    All you’d have to do is check some water sources about the time they spawn. The eggs stick together rather like rafts. Along the edges of the water or around reeds and plants. I would go to a nearby ditch and scoop the eggs up. I had a friend whose front yard had some low spots toads would spawn in. She did the same thing I did. Our mothers were pretty tolerant. To a point.

    I’m in Charleston, SC. The forsythia and tulip trees usually start blooming here around the end of February or the first of March, followed by the wisteria. The end of March and first part of April is our prime ‘flowering’ season for azaleas and dogwoods and the ubiquitious blossom watching tourists.

    When the azaleas are in full bloom, it is a gorgeous sight. Homeowners plant them, they’re in all the public parks and the plantation gardens… oh. It’s breathtaking.

    When we have warm winters, though, they start to bloom too early. The temps drop a bit and they slow down. If there’s a freeze, that’s it for the buds. When we don’t have our usual cool and cold temps from December through the middle or end of February, we don’t get that big bang of massed blooms all at once.

    Check out Middleton Plantation, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens or Cypress Gardens. Either their websites or Google Images. You’ll see what I mean.

    I’d heard that dormice were getting a bit thin on the ground. Poor babies. It’s a good thing that they’ve been provided with protected habitats.

    February 8, 2013
    • I’m going to have a bit of a closer look for some toad spawn. Thanks!

      I’ll check those places out.

      February 9, 2013
  6. What a wonderful collection of photos! I see that we share (or seem to share) duckweed. I think it’s one of the prettiest acquatic plants, and it can become quite thick around here.

    Believe it or not, I thought the dormouse was solely a fictional creature! I had no idea they actually exist – or that they’re so cute. I found out that there’s only one native species in the British Isles, called the hazel dormouse. And (ahem) the Romans seemed to enjoy them for dessert, dipped in honey and poppy seeds. Oh, dear.

    Not only that, dormouse fat was considered good for inducing sleep. That had to be a form of sympathetic magic more than medicine – sleepy creature produces sleep!

    I never could turn a dormouse into dessert. 😉

    February 9, 2013
    • Thanks Linda.

      It’s becoming clear why the dormouses days were numbered right from the beginning 😉 But as with most things it’s loss of habitat…though in an evolutionary sense I’m not sure sleeping most of the time is that useful!

      I found a blog that is entirely devoted to duckweed! The lady over there is convinced it has world saving abilities and campaigns and educates to this effect. Very interesting.

      February 11, 2013
  7. Ooh you sound very busy and productive! Loving the cow photos (you’ve NEARLY convinced me to like them… 😉 ). In the summer there are cows EVERYWHERE round here, moving from field to field around us, with their bells ding ding dinging (all day long…). I often wondered what they do in the winter given that the fields are under two feet of snow, but your cows would be pleased to know that these ones are all tucked up inside with plenty of hay. The barns are attached to the farmers’ houses, so they’re never far away.

    I’m off to bed, your dormouse photo has made me feel sleepy, yawn…

    February 9, 2013
  8. Aho! Herald’s HAIR is AMAZING… curly and bouffant-ish! I really enjoyed this post, such a visual treat (as always). I’m looking forward to catching up, B tells me he’ll be over this week, any chance of a catch-up wed/thur/fri ish? Proper job, get on. 😉 Aah, time to slip back into Cornish lingo! x

    February 10, 2013
  9. It is isn’t it?!

    Let’s have a look at the weather maybe a walk? Looking forward to hearing about all your adventures 😉

    February 11, 2013
  10. Gue' #

    A blog devoted to duckweed? What next? lol

    I just wanted to tell you that I brought my Dad over to visit your blog, while I was with him this weekend. He lives about 4 hours from where I’m at. His health isn’t very good and he’s housebound now. He’s not very swift on the computer but I have managed to train him on how to find some webcams to give him something to look at.

    I wanted to show him your pictures and esp The Girls and the collection of other cows from a couple of entries back. He enjoyed those and found the ones of your holding interesting, as well as the Cornwall pics.

    It was his dad that had the farm and Herefords I mentioned some time back. Dad grew up on that farm, barring the wartime years (1939-1945), when his dad was working here in Charleston at the Naval Shipyard.

    February 12, 2013
    • Thanks so much for showing your dad I’m glad he’s getting some enjoyment from the cows…would that be Pink Eye by any chance, who made a comment?

      February 12, 2013
  11. Great stuff, I love to see those new shoots showing us that spring is around the corner. If I had things my own way I’d be making like that dormouse from the end of October until the end of February. I especially love to see the cows. Always an entertaining visit to your blog 🙂 Debbie

    February 12, 2013
    • Can’t believe it, more rain on the way tomorrow. Time to dormouse up under the duvet 😉

      February 12, 2013
  12. franion #

    I feel as if I’m walking around with you when I read your posts. WOnderful and I’m also in love with your cows. That frogspawn takes me back a few years too – haven’t seen any like that for a long time. Wow, what amazing stuff it is.

    February 13, 2013

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