Presence, absence and processing

Life is different, but the ‘old normal’ shows no sign of returning yet. A steady flow of visitors has been arriving, staying and departing since last Tuesday. 12 days now. We’re not currently offering camping, B&B or the big house.

There’s more space between bookings. Which is just as well – we are a smaller team and the whole changeover between guests takes longer. There are more processes and safeguards in place. And we’re slowly getting used to the new system.

Two of the smalls just asked to feed the fish and we all noticed that the eco pond cleaner has stopped working. Once again, the water is green and gloomy. Also, someone has donated two small yellow plastic bath ducks to the pond. It’s a little mystery.

There’s been lots of outside activity. A newer yard tipi has been put up. An ugly old farmyard wall is now white. After a couple of weeks of lifting, carrying, climbing and lifting again the husband has hurt his back. Earlier, he took a couple of anti-inflammatory tablets and went for a brief siesta.

While he was resting, a neighbour came to tell me about ragwort – evil poisonous stuff – which has popped up uninvited in one of the fields we use for the donkeys. I immediately went and pulled out what I could. But there was still some left, deep-rooted and resistant to my feeble tugging. Reinforcements arrived in the form of a young male volunteer and the loan of a very conveniently located small fork. The husband emerged just as we’d finished and has now removed all the ragwort we’ve collected. All’s safe in the donkey field for now.

Earlier today I was reading that it’s the first anniversary of Mr Johnson as Prime Minister. The headline, I think, was – ‘Twelve months at the helm of government.’ I’m not sure that’s strictly accurate .

Ragwort – a poisonous weed.

Flaming June

The first day of Summer, though it feels so familiar. And there have been flames, a grassland and forest fire a couple of miles away, which started late yesterday. Driving to buy some garden plants this afternoon, from a small local nursery with an honesty box, we saw plumes of smoke. And a flash, as sunlight caught the moment a helicopter tipped its cache of water on the blaze. It’s just so dry. We came past scorched lawns and banks – very unlike West Wales.

It would have been my mother-in-law’s birthday today, an indomitable little Yorkshire woman. Tough exterior but a soft centre. I still miss her. In a rare moment of abandon, she slipped off her chair at my sister’s wedding. She blamed the upholstery rather than the bubbly.

Today is also my sister’s wedding anniversary, her 29th. She’s messaged me a picture of the table set before the celebration tea-party. Fizz, flutes, cakes, china and a tablecloth – very English country garden. The wedding was like that too – a small affair for about forty or so people. A Victorian church, top hats and tails for the key males. The bridesmaid wore Laura Ashley. There was much sunshine and it was all quite lovely. More charming and more understated than the traditional weddings of ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ three years later.

It’s been a day or two of projects. My son has hung cargo netting – donated by a friend – between trees in the veggie garden, for the older ones to play on. It’s in an area of dappled light, not the full glare. Just what these fair-skinned girls need.

The husband has been making taps – copper ones – out of odds and ends, leftovers and gifted pieces. They’ve been drying outside in the sun post their anti-rust coat of oil. My one-and-only washing up bowl was deployed in the cooling process after soldering yesterday. I’d only just retrieved it, after it had been borrowed on Saturday as a temporary home for goldfish. They’ve been moved now from small pond to bigger pond. The eco pond clean solution has still not worked, so it was hard to find them this morning. But we did. All four.

This evening the new equine guests are moving onto our fields. I’ll visit them tomorrow.

16th April – asses, loss and lemons

Yesterday marked two weeks since we lost Dougal. There is still a very large Spaniel-shaped hole in our lives but, fortunately, his brother and litter-mate seems less bewildered now.

Yesterday was also our anniversary, an oddly low-key day although, since low-key is the new normal, it shouldn’t have been surprising. The twin highlights were donkey-rustling and dessert. Donkeys are cunning. Donkeys are clever. They lull you into a false sense of confidence when you occasionally relax security measures. On one such occasion, yesterday, they took themselves off to explore greener pastures and to evade capture for the day.

Now what you don’t want is an over-indulged donkey grazing unchecked on lush new growth. You don’t want a donkey (or two) having stomach-ache, or colic, or laminitis. You also don’t want a donkey (or two) getting out into the lane and meeting traffic. At this time of lockdown however, there is almost no traffic to worry about and the two escapees seem unscathed by their adventures. They were relatively easy to catch after hours of gorging, and happy to be led home late afternoon, with no dawdling or hedgerow foraging en route.

I mentioned pudding. Having discovered a really simple vegan recipe for lemon posset back in January, the husband has made it for me many times since. Last night’s pudding surpassed superlatives. We over-indulged too!