|A sleepy Grass Snake|
After weeks of rain, murk and sunless skies, and while we were complaining vociferously about the injustices, unfairness and vagaries of the British weather, nature has followed its unstoppable inevitability and has provided us with an unchanging, unfailing certainty, exuberantly displayed in the flowers and wildlife around us in the woods. Ladies smock, dog violet, bluebell, ragged robin and the first showings of speedwell are everywhere now. The Hawthorn is a white blaze along roadsides and hedgerows and the blossom of wild damson, crab apple and rowan are strewn through the woodland paths surrounding our cottage like downy gossamer on the wind. Chestnut spikes and Sweet Chestnut flowers mingle with the purple Rhododendron goblets which top the sprawling limbs of spider growth through the network of honeysuckle, yet to reach its glory, and young eponymous birch, green in livid lime. Beech is resplendant in its bursting life, oak leaves unfurl like long, lazy cats and the palmate pads of the horse chestnut stroke us as we push our way through its fronds on our daily walks along ever changing pathways, mysterious with new life, inexplicably altered almost hourly by the accelerated growth of plant and tree.
|Perfectly chitted potatoes|
At home there are many jobs that crave our attention; potatoes, perfectly chitted need to be planted and then earthed up as new growth nudges through the soil. The polytunnel is in constant need of ministration, a few days neglect can lead to hours of catching up. And, of course, the veggies need water, weeding, re-potting, thinning out and pricking out. All this for a few beans, peas, tomatoes, herbs, carrots, beetroot, salads and brassicas - one wonders if the effort is worth the produce. But only until the first carrot is snapped, the first broad bean pod opened and the duvet nestled bean removed, or the fresh peppery rocket tasted with local ham between two slices of home made bread, then the endeavour is rewarded ten fold.
|Broad beans finally in flower|
To say that these rascally rodents are tenacious would be to vastly understate their aptitude to seek, discover and consume the buried seeds, beans and peas – all of them. I had to re-start the entire programme and this seriously delayed the advent of broad beans, borlottis, peas, runner beans and green beans in the Kelly Household by weeks in the case of most, but by months as far as the broad beans are concerned, which were initially planted in October last year.
|Early Purple Orchid|
I’m all for the concept of sharing, the consideration of others and the spreading of surplus wealth in the community, but have I failed to appreciate the exiguous existence of the prolific and fecund mouse? Have I inadvertently overlooked the gift of mouse poo as a valid, if somewhat scant, composting material or am I being a little trenchant in my attitude to the influx of field mice in my polytunnel? I would have thought that the abundance of “proper” mouse produce in the locale would justify my vexation at having said neighbours in my vegetable plot – especially as the rabbits have eaten my Horseradish!.