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Friday, 1 March 2013

Beating the blues

My mood has been really up and down during this last week. I think it's a touch of the SAD syndrome after a week of sunshine then a return to the gloom. However it's been a cold gloom with a nasty wind making working outside rather unpleasant. At the same time I know that the antidote to the blues is to get outside, get some fresh air and do things, so I have been trying hard to do this. I will not be beaten!

Whilst the cold snap has meant that no daffodils have yet started to bloom, at least the Hellebores are still flowering and new flowers are opening up adding a little bit of cheer. 

Saturday we were surprised to see the lake had frozen over - the lowest temperature was (only) about -4C and it normally takes days of cold weather before this happens. My newest ducks were in for a shock as I had bought them last year after our last freeze so this was a first for them. As the day wore on they found plenty of patches under the trees which hadn't frozen solid so they still had water to play in, and by the next day it had all melted.

Whilst I was standing around taking photos here I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye in the conifer on my right, and noticed that there was a Goldcrest right close to me. Try as I might I could not get a decent photo of this tiny and not often seen bird. Goldcrests are about the smallest European bird, smaller even than a wren and really cute, but they are one of the most flitty of all birds and never stand still, so out of about 10 shots as the bird made its way higher and higher up the tree this was the best I could get. Many of my shots were either blurs, or the bird wasn't even in the photo at all as it had moved so fast! At least it (just) shows the stripy marking on the bird's head, although it looks a bit odd from this angle.

On Monday I was really pleased to spot these out of my bedroom window! I love seeing the newborn lambs and watching them gambol about in the paddock across the lane. These are twins and I expect there will be more to come as there are three ewes in the paddock.

They are still living in the same field as the new neighbour's renovation job, which is coming along well. We cannot get over the size of the spoil heap now which is just enormous. I wonder just how deep they dug down inside the house before the cement mixers moved in. I must go over and have another nosey!

They are rebuilding the chimney stack and I'm glad to see they are actually doing a nice job with real stone work. Thanks to my Powershot SX50 I can zoom right in and look at the work in close up!

The time came to let Hallie outside for the first time; that is, the first time since she came to us from outside as an abandoned kitten. I wondered how she would fare out there but she was just as I had imagined, a mix of curiosity coupled with wariness and fear. She has been getting the hang of the catflap through from the kitchen to the cellar/laundry but then there is another catflap to outside - and she's a small cat and this is a large cat/small dog size one which we needed for Smokey who was a huge cat.

You can see my daffodils almost ready to open up here! All my euphorbias are oblivious to the cold and are coming along nicely, opening up their flowers slowly and adding a bit of interest to what is still a very wintery looking garden.

On Monday my neighbour came around to collect eggs and she said she'd been digging her veg patch as the soil was just lovely now after a week of dry weather. I had been pathetically cowering indoors due to the evil wind but after she left I decided I had to brave the cold and out I went for a dig. That was really good therapy as I soon warmed up! The veg patch is a mess of weeds so it is a bit backbreaking from the constant bending over to pick up the weeds, but at least it means I've got lots of green stuff to add to all the straw and poo to mix into the compost bins. 

I didn't get very far! But I really don't want to stuff up my back. My OH usually does the digging but he's been having back problems lately so I thought I'd better get on with it. I've done a bit more since. Even the strawberries have shrivelled up and they need a good sorting out too. So much to do!

On the upside, the same neighbour who keeps horses offered us some half rotted horse poo so we went over and filled our trailer full giving us nearly 2 cubic metres worth. I'll be letting that rot down fully over the summer but a bit of it can be used mixed in with the soil where I plant hungry plants like pumpkins, squash and courgettes which should appreciate it.

Next to the Purple Sprouting Broccoli on the right is the patch of 'Wildflowers for pollinators' meadow that is left from last year which I'm leaving in place. These are the biennials and perennial plants. I had forgotten that I had bought another packet of similar seeds, this time flowers for butterflies, when I was in England, so I need to find some space to sow a patch of those too.

The blurb on the packet doesn't give me any indication as to the species of plants, only a photo. I see no Verbena bonariensis which is my butterfly magnet but that's probably a good thing as I have so much of it here already. The only flowers that are recognisable from the packet are some marigolds and possibly hollyhocks, which I shall be pleased if they are as I'd like some here as I know that bees love them!

There's one other thing I love to do, which is an indoor job. In previous years when I've had the blues I've knitted, but this year I haven't even picked up my knitting once. That's because I am far more into photography now. Sure, I can't wear a photo but at least I don't have to sow up the side seams of a photograph!

So I've had a a macro feather shoot. This is my 'studio'. My desk with few props. The feathers of course come free from the ducks - I use a mix of small feathers and pure down. It's hard to see but there is a tiny bit of duck down on the purple thing.

Sprinkle with drops of water and I can come up with fun shots like these. You can see how the props add the colour. The blue thing is just a cardboard file and the purple thing is a strange holder for a multicoloured pen with a magnet in it so the pen just looks like it's floating.... but it was handy for collecting all the excess water that tends to get flung about. :-)

This one I just lightened up a bit to brighten my mood. :-)

So, it's March now so hopefully spring won't be too long arriving. We have daffodils to look forward to, and towards the end of the month, the return of the Swallows, Chiff Chaffs and Black Caps. :-)


  1. Yes it's march and soon the anniversary of my elder son because it is Salon de l'Agriculture time.
    It's funny to see the difference of size between your surrounding and your studio....
    (The twins would need a coat...)

    1. Cergie - I remember you forgetting one of your poor children's birthdays and something on my blog reminding you about it. :-)
      Yes the 'studio' is just a joke, it's just a space in amongst the mess on my desk, other times it's the kitchen table ..... and the twins, well they always seem to cope OK with the weather and they have a barn to go inside at night.

  2. I sometimes get down in the winter, too. Getting out for a walk or working outside helps me as well. Your sweet cat is so beautiful. Those eyes get me every time. And your feather shots are spectacular! Wishing you a quick warm up to spring.

    1. Hi Michelle! Winter can sometimes seem very long but we have lots to look forward to so I try to keep that in mind. Thank you on Hallie's behalf for the lovely compliment :-) And thanks from me for the compliment about the feather shots - they are such fun to do. Right, off to do some digging! :-)