Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring is almost here!

We had a glorious weekend here at Whitelees.

For most of the weekend we had life enhancing sunshine and for all of the weekend it was dry! 

I'm going on a dive trip in a few days and decided that I would wear shorts while I'm away.  I was digging out the summer clothes only to discover that they all smelled musty.  The didn't really get an airing last year so they've been in the bottom drawer for a long time.  I managed to get them - and all the bedding - washed and dried on the clothes line.  I got clothes dried on Saturday and Sunday!  I just love the smell of things dried on the line.  There is no chemical or artificially produced scent that can top it.  I even prefer bath towels to be dried on the line.  I like the scratchiness.  It makes me as though I get a little bit drier than I do with the fluffy, machine dried towels with added fabric softener.

When scraping weeds and assorted things that aren't flowering plants out of the herbaceous borders I paused as I found that a ladybird was walking across my sleeve.

Today I saw a Mayfly on the window!  I looked at the calendar today so I know that it is still March.  It continues to be March for a few more days. 

Here in March, is a Mayfly!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Can be Cruel

We started the month with two lovely sunny days.  The daffodil spikes have started to show the lumps that will eventually become buds and then flowers. 

There is one hen that needs to have her wings clipped.  She flies out of the chicken run every day, lays her egg in the big plastic tunnel and then flies back into the chicken run.   From time to time she'll have a wander around before going back.  If she is out and needs some company or is bored, she'll peck at the back door.  I'll hear a faint tapping at the kitchen door. . . . when I open the door.  This is what I see:

Hello nice lady!
I have a strict no-chickens-in-the-house policy so this one is wasting her time.

I was outside this morning in my pajamas and wellies dealing with the aftermath of a visit from a fox.  Polly, our dog had been barking.  Instead of going to see what she was barking about, and Polly is not normally a barky sort of dog I told her to be quiet.   When I finally got off my backside and looked out the window, I let the dog out immediately.  The biggest fox I have ever seen was bounding away from the place.  There were feathers all over the inside my chicken run.   I thought that run was fairly fox proof.  It turns out that the run is merely fox resistant!  We lost one good laying hen and another has been bitten but not badly.  The bitten one has just lost some feathers and didn't want to come out of the chicken coop for a couple of hours.  
This is the remainder of my hens - the bitten one is the one at the top, all muddy and upset.  Six chickens is still plenty to be getting on with.  I'll not replace any just yet.  To cheer myself up after all this fox trauma, I filled the bird feeders and checked the pond.  There is a big new clump of frog spawn in the pond.  As I was hunkered down to see the state of things, I saw the BIGGEST great diving beetle I have ever seen.  He really is The Daddy of all diving beetles.  It sort of figures.  Do you know what great diving beetle larvae like to eat best of all?   Tadpoles.

There are new catkins dangling off the corkscrew hazel.  I think they look lovely.  Smaller and far less showy are the little red female parts of the plant, the part that will eventually be edible hazelnuts. 

The plump and delicate little flowers can be seen dotted around the hazel. (In the centre of the photo) They are so small that they run the risk of being covered by the lichen.   

The moles are renewing their efforts in the front and back gardens.  With the fox and increased mole activity, it is time to make a call to my friend Mike the Gamekeeper.

So, that's the news around the garden.  In other arenas, I have completed my 100th dive.

It was cold, murky and almost devoid of underwater life but I had a great day out.