Defences breached and fields of flowers

There is a hole in the conservatory. One of the windows broke last night. It’s been a mostly grey day today. The temperature has dropped and the chill has been palpable. The timing hasn’t been brilliant.

Last time anything like this happened it was three houses back and what feels like a lifetime ago. We were living in, and extending, a modern house. For once, we’d employed a builder. Turned out he was a rogue, who disappeared, leaving his sub-contractors out of pocket and us with a building site, and no windows in the front of the house. The husband was elsewhere, possibly in the Middle East. The weather wasn’t good and I had three quite young children. Friends rallied and a posse of other husbands arrived to board up the windows, to protect us from ingress by either weather, uninvited visitors or both. The current problem is minor by comparison and should be fixed tomorrow.

My niece has lost and found a job in the last couple of months. Her first day went well today. The wind was fresh and the donkeys were fast and frisky this morning, relishing their freedom. We played poohsticks on a bridge in the village. With a small, naturally, not with the donkeys.

A friend was talking about how much more closely we look since lockdown, how much more we notice. I’ve seen this especially with the children and have included an image of a burnet moth, feasting on nectar in our tipi meadow. We’re cutting two fields this summer. We have the gear to cut and turn but not to bale, so a local farmer is going to cut and make round bales – either for silage or haylage – from one field. As for the other one, he’ll probably cut the grass and take it away in a trailer to be used as cattle bedding.

What we amateurs relish for its prettiness, and for the pleasure it gives to us, is not necessarily a plus for a professional. The farmer picked a bunch of oxeye daisies to take home. ‘Cows don’t like flowers,’ he said.

I want to make a giraffe’s head

The donks look awful right now. Their coats are between seasons, and they don’t shed prettily. Twice a year, there’s about a month when they appear unkempt and unloved.

They’ve rediscovered the last dandelions as a tasty snack to nibble on their way out to the field. Herb robert and cow parsley are considered delicacies too, but fat hen is out of favour. They know what they like. Docks of course are a big no, and they avoid most wild flowers with precision. But we have to distract them,( as you would a determined toddler), from eating  the oxeye daisies and the willow hedge.

Do most children still know about dandelion clocks, buttercups under the chin – ‘do you like butter’ and making daisy chains? I hope so.

The youngest ones’ mum is feeling better, on the mend anyway. She is enthused by a new project, constructing a giraffe’s head which will hang on the end wall of their cottage. For decoration.

‘Like some people have reindeers on their wall,’ her six-year-old explained to me helpfully. So, while we ladies were using the cottage on the back of the farmhouse as a hair salon yesterday afternoon, the children were collecting oddments of chicken wire for the sculpture.

My daughter-in-law gave both me and my daughter a trim. I can now see out of my fringe and while I don’t feel exactly like a new woman, I feel like less of an old one. We ate cakes again and the conversation moved from giraffes to incubating chicks to the easing of lockdown – the hows, whens and whats.

We’re planning to emerge briefly from ‘quarantine chic’ later today and have tea in honour of VE Day. I’ll bring out assorted vintage tea sets after lunch. Some of us may even put a dress on.

The season advances daily. Jasmine is opening against the wall in the farmyard, joining the clematis and the potato tree ‘Glasnevin’. There’s not a strong scent yet, but yesterday evening I went right up close to inhale the perfume. Sunset was staggeringly beautiful.