The beginning of SpringRSS feed

Posted: Monday 1 February, 2016

by Rosemary Champion at 11:42am in Smallholding Comments closed

So today, 1st February, is the pagan festival of Imbolc, give or take twenty four hours. According to Wikipedia, Imbolc falls equidistant between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox and is traditionally hailed as the beginning of Spring; it is associated with St Bride or St Brigid in her role as fertility goddess. The holiday was a festival of the hearth and home, and a celebration of the lengthening days and the early signs of spring. The lighting of candles and fires represented the return of warmth and the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months.[4] A spring cleaning was also customary. Well, all that’s as maybe, but Storm Henry is blowing a hoolie and we have intermittent sunshine and seriously heavy showers, so spring cleaning might have to wait but lighting the fire might be on the agenda.

Imbolc was believed to be when the Cailleach—the divine hag of Gaelic tradition—gathers her firewood for the rest of the winter. Legend has it that if she wishes to make the winter last a good while longer, she will make sure the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood. Therefore, people would be relieved if Imbolc is a day of foul weather, as it means the Cailleach is asleep and winter is almost over. Hang on to that one, folks.

Picking up the fertility theme, we had the sheep scanner out last Wednesday – jings, it was a foul day – but all fifteen ewes are in lamb. We have three sets of triplets – Poppy, Pixie and Smudge – four singles including three gimmers and eight sets of twins; so 29 lambs in all or 193%. Of course, the trick is to get 29 live lambs born and to weaning and still have fifteen fit ewes as well J

The three gimmers we had visiting for tupping are expecting two sets of twins and a single, and they have now gone home to St Andrews.

If my dates are correct – and they tie in with the scanner’s estimates – we start on 1st April with a single and end on 2nd May with triplets. I’ve ordered my Heptavac P Plus and a tonne of ewe nuts but I’ll leave the lambing box until next month. We’ll be moving the ewe hoggs and the retirees, plus the four singles, in ten days, plus giving the Heptavac and a fluke drench. What fun – hope there are no storms that day.

Despite my best intentions, I’m still working on the polytunnel plan and the vegetable garden plan – I will have it finished this week. I want to get some salad sown in the polytunnel this week.

Halter training the heifer calf, Vicki, is progressing. She’s a feisty wee madam though. She’s caught me a couple of rattles on the leg – her mother has never lifted a foot – but she’s improving. When we turn the cows out in mid March, I’m going to keep her and Rosie here and put the two big cows up to Astwood; Vicki’s still feeding and Annie’s looking a bit thin, so splitting them up will give Annie a couple of months before she calves again to put on some condition.

We put the ring feeder and a bale of straw out for the steers and the bull last week. I’m going up to give them some sugar beet shortly to bribe them to stand at the fence to get their flukicide on, later in the week.

Lots of bulbs coming through though, so maybe it is the start of Spring. We have five smallish flower beds – three round the house and two in front of the West Range – and I am determined that they will look like a proper garden this year. When I start tidying them up, I’ll be able to see where I’ve been but it’s a bit early yet – don’t want to disturb all the wee beasties that have been overwintering there. I also hope to sow a cut flower bed in the vegetable garden – there will be space if I move the strawberries into the polytunnel. We never saw a strawberry last year – well, not one grown here. Between the weather and the birds L Note to self – must do better.


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