Nearly the end of February now and the sun is shining again. Isn’t it strange how good weather seems to make everything seem better. Good weather and good news, at last. Children can return to school in two weeks and, all things being well, we will gradually come out of lockdown from then onwards. We have been told we can open for business on Monday, April 12th, so at least we have a provisional date to work towards. The vaccination roll-out has been nothing short of remarkable in the UK and despite a recalcitrant minority defying lockdown restrictions and therefore prolonging the agony for all of us, the stats’ are all moving in the right direction, at last. We aren’t out of the woods yet and Covid compliance will have to continue for months. Apparently social distancing and wearing masks has reduced infections and deaths from ‘standard annual influenza’ by ninety-five percent, which could be seen as a good thing, but presumably means we all now have virtually no resistance to everyday bugs. Hey-ho, at least the sun is shining…!

The snow-drops and daffs and even the primroses are now in flower. Although it seems like the new-year celebrations only just happened it will be March on Monday. In three weeks we will alter the clocks to British Summer Time and daylight will go on until about seven O’clock in the evening. How quickly the seasons change and how nice to live in such a temperate climate. Last year, we had two months of glorious sunshine in April and May which gave us some much needed respite from the pandemic, albeit short-lived, and suppressed the reinfection rate. Let’s hope for more of the same this year, combined with ever increasing immunity¬† as vaccination cover increases.

The ducks have started laying eggs again. Traditionally, they always start on Valentine’s Day, although last year something went awry and one of them laid right through the Winter. This year we were completely iced up for the week leading up to the 14th with the end of storm Darcy bringing perishing cold Easterly winds. Because the ponds were frozen the ducks couldn’t get to the nesting box on Duck Island, where they like to lay their eggs, safely away from thieves and predators. Their natural instinct to start laying, which must be triggered by day length, was temporarily suspended for two days. As the ice receded and the weather warmed up, normal service was resumed – on the 16th of February I collected four eggs. All four ducks laid on the same day….. isn’t nature amazing. I haven’t found any goose-eggs yet, but that doesn’t mean that Bianca hasn’t started laying – I just haven’t managed to find them. My ‘Goose-sexing’ dilemma was a complete failure. Unable to confirm if Griselda’s replacement was goose or gander scientifically, I kept the one with the damaged wing and gave myself a fifty-fifty chance of having another goose. ‘He’ is now a young gander, called Nelson, for obvious reasons and being bullied by Ghengis and Ghandi, and alternately loved and then hated by Bianca. She actually seems to be revelling in being the only female in the flock. Her first job on being released in the morning is to march round to the sheep-shed, with her noisy entourage in pursuit and turf out the horses and goats who were happily clearing up their breakfast and still trying to decide what to do with their day. Even Matey, my enormous hunter, runs away in sheer terror, with the whites of his eyes showing. Bianca and her ‘chapter’ honk and hoot (as if with laughter…!) and stand up tall and flap their wings as if to say ‘We’re in charge now, OK, and don’t forget it’. Having the run of the farmyard means she could be laying eggs secretly in any one of a dozen different hidey-holes. Usual story there then, I will keep you informed of any progress.

Yippee….. It’s Guinness Six Nations rugby time again… favourite sporting test of the year. Even though this year is a bit of a car-crash. It was Wales v England earlier. I was almost apoplectic by the end, jumping up and down and screaming at the telly. I have only just calmed down enough to be reasonably circumspect about it. There is one golden rule in rugby which has always set it above all other sports, in my humble opinion. The referees decision is final, regardless of whether it is right or wrong. That ensures that games keep going and with four full international refs’ on each game very few mistakes are actually made. Some of these were real howlers though and will doubtless be discussed and repeated on Question of Sport ad infinitum. Unfortunately it does beg the question ‘should Northern Hemisphere Internationals be reffed by Southern Hemisphere refs’ because having a French ref for the game that decides who will effectively play France for the title could be seen to be slightly biased. The French do seem to be in a spot of bother at the moment. What with Brexit and their vaccine failure and vaccination fiasco and now Eurostar and EDF on the point of collapse their past does seem to be catching up with them. Anyway, let’s hope the rugby can continue and may the best team win.

Out on the farm the seasons are slowly evolving. We have put food out for the birds again and our woodpecker reappeared after two days and is now frantically signalling for a mate from the dead branch on the oak-tree at the bottom of our front field. We haven’t seen it on the bird table yet so can’t tell if it’s the male or female but hopefully one or both of them will be seen attacking the fat balls which seem to be their favourite choice. These are Great Spotted Woodpeckers and the males have red patches on the back of their necks. If only our geese were so easy…! We have one hen thinking about going broody but she has changed her mind twice so far, which is obviously her female prerogative, but we may have chicks for Easter. We will be stocking up with piglets and lambs ready for potentially opening up in early April.

The painting and decorating and refurbishing is continuing apace and everything seems to be in organised chaos at the moment but I keep telling HQ that it will all be done on time. The lawns and fields will need mowing and rolling in a minute so the list just gets longer and longer. I’d better go and do some work…….

Cheers for now, Farmer Chris.

P.S Anyone fancying a Spring break, its not too late, we still have some bits of availability in April , May and June – if you’re quick !

For  availability  and prices please go to our booking page.