It certainly did not happen on the 21st March as the calendar dictates it should, but I do believe that we are crawling out from under the cloak of winter. I believe this for four reasons:
~We saw the first swallows perched on the telephone wires last weekend – about two weeks later than normal for our farmyard.
~The willow in the hedgerows is in bud; lovely furry, yellow-tinged bud.
~I have cut the lawn for the first time this year. So ok it probably needed tidying up a few weeks ago but there has been minimal growth until now and what is there is yellow.
~Whilst mucking out the bullpen I had to remove two layers of clothing, finishing the job in a positively balmy heat!
It makes such a difference not having to light the fire first thing. At least though the tons of wood we have burnt are free. I feel rather sorry for all those enslaved to the dispassionate energy companies for all their heating. Our wood is from the hedgerows: either dead elm (from the second round of Dutch elm disease when it hit all the next generation of young trees) or from the extensive programme of hedge-laying we have conducted on the farm over the last few winters. This is all part of an environmental stewardship programme that we signed into: an agri-environment government-funded scheme to enhance the countryside by encouraging farmers to adopt wildlife-friendly management strategies.
Rob says burning wood keeps him warm three times: cutting it out of the hedges; hauling it back to the barns to chop up; and then finally the cosy glow from the woodburner that we all enjoy.