Pizza, fleeces, bees and a tree

I mentioned gluten-free pizza. Finding the perfect flour for a gluten-free pizza dough has taken a long time. But the company we buy our pizza flour from also produces a gluten-free flour. It is, albeit eye-wateringly expensive, amazing.

The youngest and largest sheep, Gwilym, has been getting bossier. When sheep nut treats arrive there’s great excitement, followed by a little tussle with Gwyneth. Gwilym wants the lion’s share. However, he’s usually very respectful of the old lady, Blackberry. Not so today and yesterday. Despite his size and greed, he’s more cautious than the girls, less interested in being petted. Though he will now eat from my hand.

We have the beginnings of a plan for their fleeces.  I’m not a spinner or knitter, weaver or felter, so insulation is the answer. We’re going to wash the fleeces and then incorporate them into the insulation of the upcycled hot water tank for the new showers.

Today, the men worked between and during downpours. It was cats and dogs. Stair rods. When the donkeys finally made it out to their field, I told them to be sensible, take cover in their purpose-built shelter or hide under the trees. I didn’t want to find them standing in the rain, at the gate, looking mournful and accusing. Did they listen?

The bus roof repair is completed. Two yurts have been put up and waterproofed. One more to go, as we will only have three bookable this season. We going to have to leave out some of the frills and the non-essentials this year to minimise the risk of infection.

Cleaning materials, PPE and essential pieces of kit arrive almost daily. I’m trying to find the greenest way of complying with all current advice and recommendations. A package which arrived today contained a note saying my order had funded the planting of a tree.

We love trees. Bees too. My daughter, a novice beekeeper, has a surfeit. Her mentor is currently advising her on the setting up of a second hive. There’s also a new swarm which arrived a couple of weeks ago and seems to have settled next door. They must like it here. Long may this continue.

What’s in a name?

Sister Rosalie -(must have been Mary Rosalie but we missed out the Holy Virgin)- used to take us on a nature walk at least once a week in the Summer Term, but regularly throughout the year whenever the weather permitted. We always followed the same route, wore our hats and walked two-by-two. It was a real treat. Afterwards we emptied the trove of finds onto the nature table, where it was arranged, identified and labelled. Sometimes we’d do leaf rubbings with wax crayons while the lovely sister read to us.

Between then and now, I’ve forgotten many of the names of trees, wild flowers and all the finds I was so familiar with as a young child. So it was a real pleasure when we had a foraging walk and workshop here last year. We love hosting workshops here, whether for a couple of hours, a whole day or a few days. They don’t make us much money, but it is a joy to witness the pleasure they bring to people! By providing the venue and the refreshments, we are sharing, in some small way, the enjoyment felt by the students.

One of the plants we identified with the foraging tutor was very small, bright green, growing in dusty cracks in the yard and on paths. You could easily miss it. Apparently, it can be used to make a pleasant tea. It’s growing everywhere right now. For such an inconspicuous plant it packs an aromatic punch. The name is pretty good too!  

Pineapple mayweed,
pinch between fingers; release
the scent which names you.

Low unshowy plant,
an explosion of sweet scent,
pineapple mayweed.

pineapple mayweed in the farmyard