Monday, 19 March 2012

It's official! Spring has arrived!

Last Monday
Friday - ground starting to appear
 
This Monday: I do believe I see grass!!!

The swans flew in this week, I heard them after Ian beckoned me outside the greenhouse to listen, he actually saw them flying. Heralds of spring! Stupid birds! They should have listened to the weather forecast first before flying in. The snow certainly has been melting quite fast and there are, or I should say were, definite patches of green appearing, unfortunately they have just all been covered up by some rather heavy snow showers this evening. The melting snow, however, means that the Spring time ritual has ensued of channeling water to where we don't mind it ending up and away from where it will create havoc. Our greenhouse is doing okay as the drainage system is now working properly, although Ian has had to use a mattock and spade to chip away the ice as the ground is still frozen but at least it is all flowing in the right direction. The question we ask though is, where is it all flowing to? The channel of water runs neatly to our top pond from which we draw water for the greenhouse in the warmer months, but ....... it isn't building up in that pond, it is building up in the pond below it and we don't know how. Sometimes we have had a structural failure on the side of the top pond, but that would mean the water runs straight down to the bottom where it makes a quagmire, not so this time - well not at the weekend anyway. Somehow the water is going straight through into the second pond and so there must be a different breach of our defences. Ian tried to relieve the pressure on the top pond by breaking through the ice so the water has somewhere to flow and preferably not through any holes created by animals earlier on in the year. After breaking through a spades depth of ice i.e. about 20cm there was still no build up of water in the top pond, now all we can do is wait for the ice to melt and try to see where the breach is.

The new attachment for the two wheeled tractor
You know why Spring has arrived though don't you? It is because Ian got a new toy, a snow blower!!!! So of course the snow started melting. Having said that it has still been useful as Ian cut a path down past our orchard which means we can get in there quicker when it all goes, he also cut channels down hills to give the snow melt somewhere to run rather than where we don't want it to go. It has also been useful to get rid of the snow from the side of the barn to try and reduce the water seepage, unfortunately that hasn't worked. We or rather Ian has managed to keep the area relatively clear of snow, but still the water is pooling badly in the barn and so that means we (or do I mean Ian?) will have a big job later on in the year digging major drain works down the side of the barn to prevent a reoccurrence next year. The snow blower was bought mainly because we know that next year it will be a lot harder to clear the amount of snow we will need to for the alpacas, to allow them plenty of opportunity to be outside. It will be a lot easier to take the snow blower than using the brute force of the tractor again, useful though that is. Ian has been happier though that the preparation he put into last year making sure that surfaces were as flat and clear of logs, stones etc. as possible has paid off as clearing snow this year has been a far easier job - well that and the fact there hasn't been as much. We have felt a lot more prepared though this year and I am sure that if we can get the barn drainage sorted then we will have an even better chance of keeping on top of winter and early spring duties next season.
  
A path to encourage water to move past
the barn and into the forest. 

Path past the orchard

A path down to the pond. That looks like a lot of fun
Something else I have been working on, is a memory quilt
for my parents. I am not sure who did the background but
 the pieces added are all from pieces of cloth and embroidery
that came from  my grandparents or pieces I did when I was
younger. The crinoline lady was a very typical piece of
embroidery and I am fairly sure both my grandmothers
sewed some. I have added the grass at the bottom with
 the dandelions and the blue sky to anchor it to the cloth.
The lace is a piece of tatting that my granny did many pieces of. .
I have spent the whole week working on my thesis for my project and it has been flowing along nicely, until today that is. My inspiration has got up and gone after taking the weekend off, but by the afternoon it was starting to come back. I am really pleased with the questionnaire I sent out, to date I have 207 back, which out of a population of 3486 for the whole district is not bad at all. Although it is around 6% of the population it is skewed to mainly the village I live in and not the rest of the district, also to the younger end of the population - not that that is a bad thing in itself. Knowing what the most active members of the community think is perhaps more important for the type of questionnaire I had as I wanted to know if people broadly speaking supported the farmers in their battle with the wild boar, and if they were supportive of hunting to do that and it is was fairly clear that people do. To date 74% or people don't think the wild boar should be allowed to dig up the farmers' fields and 70% agree with hunting the boar. Now before any of you get upset with me about advocating hunting, there are a few facts that maybe you should know. The first is that populations around here could be around 2-3 times higher than the point where academic papers say wild boar feeding should stop because numbers are too high. The second is that studies have shown that capturing animals and relocating them is likely to end up in either their death or them moving back, it also disrupts social family groups, hunting is actually kinder because it is quicker, with the result of possibly more ethically raised meat than in your local supermarket. Thirdly, fences don't keep out the wild boar and makes travelling around difficult for other animals. Lastly and not least before I boar you all to death, the ecosystem maybe suffering because of the high numbers of wild boar, with some farmers talking of reduced ground nesting birds, even the absence of ants and so they are not good for biodiversity at all - although that does need more research of course because I am not an ecologist, botanist or a zoologist.

The flowery piece top left is a piece I started many years
ago and never finished and so that is one of two pieces to
adorn this quilt. The triangular piece has lots of french knots
underneath, some of my favourite stitches. The white flower
is crocheted - hard to believe some of the fine crocheting that
my granny in particular did. The piece in the corner is some
cutwork, again both my grandmothers did many pieces of
cutwork so not sure who is responsible for it, but it was
never finished as it still has the blue outlines from the pattern.
Talking of ethical meat there was a report in the press this week and would you believe it they find that red meat is harmful, surprise, surprise! Is that really news at all? That statistic has been bandied around for ages. The one thing I do find is sadly missing is the details from differently raised kinds of meat. Is the meat from corn/soya fed cattle as detrimental as meat from those allowed to range freely on good quality grass? Feed animals well and they will feed you well! And it seems that the Soil Association were listening to me as they posted a report too later on in the week stating that most meat in the UK is grass fed beef and that is different to the report from an American university. Well that's a relief, but it means that vigilance is still required, as companies try to introduce, so called efficient forms of producing meat and milk. But do tell me, how is it more efficient to have someone feeding animals and tending to them because they get sick when they are all cooped up together, when they could be out in the fresh air, gathering their own feed? Saves tractor time too in cutting all that hay etc. when they can gather their own feed. Anyway when we get some eggs and hence chickens I shall be eating a lot more chicken, as I don't really fancy raising a cow just yet and although they will not be free range, they will be allowed good access to the outside in their movable ark, hopefully safe from predators.

6 comments:

Mavis said...

Ian's new 'toy' has certainly proved useful this week!

And I love the idea of your memory quilt. That is such a personal thing with so many memories.

Joanna said...

It has proved useful indeed and may even get another run tomorrow if this snow keeps up.

Glad you like the idea of the memory quilt, unfortunately it is taking me a little longer than I thought it would. Or rather I am not getting down to working on it as much as I should

ju-north said...

Love the quilts! Nice to add memories of family

Joanna said...

I'm debating whether to add photos printed onto cloth but I'm not sure yet. Maybe names or maybe not! I will get the pieces fastened on that I have so far and then see where I go from there. It is an evolving project as you can tell, so glad I'm not producing this piece for a course where I have to explain each step and plan it all out first.

karen said...

it's great to come here and see embroidery!! I am aware of the problems snow can cause too. My brother who lives in Sweden went on holiday last year. Whilst he was away the snow was horrendous, built up around the sides of his (wooden) house then melted and flooded his beautiful home...
now where's my cake?

Joanna said...

I'm glad you like it Karen, you inspired me to get on and do it. Been going to do something like this for a long, long time.

Kettle's on and the cake is made, just waiting now :o)