Saturday, 31 January 2015


Tonight we had a rare evening out and went to Doveridge to see their performance of Aladdin. We certainly got to see some of our neighbours in a new light!

Snow on the hills

Our snow is now mainly gone with just a thin covering in the shady areas of our garden and fields, but as I work in the study I look north and can see that the Weaver Hills are still white. The wind has returned though and it feels bitter outside. I'm glad I'm not part of the trip to watch Burton Albion play.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Cleaning up

The menfolk prepare to pressure wash the barn floor and walls. Fortunately most of the snow has gone and so Joe can get on with the task using a borrowed pressure washer. It's good that the evenings are staying lighter now as it made the job easier to complete.

A white world

The snow is thick on the branches of the elder and also on our telephone line which still waits for Open Reach to make the connections and allow us to start using the system that now lies underground.

Puss (and the paw print)

I decide puss deserves a second meal today to keep the cold at bay - she doesn't object and wolfs it down in seconds. At the front of the house our brick with the paw print on it stands out brightly as it is caught in the sunshine.

Bird song

As I walk along the lane taking my photographs the air is full of bird song - I expect they are wondering where most of their hedge has gone and why the ground beneath them is white.

Man at work

Dave hard at work stripping one of the six living room doors - he is on a deadline as Joe finishes work early on a Friday and is coming home with a borrowed pressure washer to clean this space which he emptied out last week.

A snowy plot

My vegetable garden is thick with snow which highlights the tripods that I made to support my sweet peas and hope to train squash up this year. Poking their heads into the cold are my brave winter vegetables like the cabbage and leeks.

Snow drops

My snow drops are really living up to their name! Just the tops of the flowers are left visible above the snow.

A snowbow

This winter has seen the media come up with a variety of strange words to describe our weather, there have been 'weather bombs' and 'thundersnow' but now I need to coin another. Looking out from the upstairs window I spot that the snow is just starting to fall again and it's made a 'snowbow' in the sky. It's only feint and hard to photograph but an amazing and magical sight.
I can see the bottom parts of the arc but the section in the middle isn't visible. By the time I fetch Dave it's a struggle to see that there is anything there.

Sheep rescue

I could hear a sheep making a lot of noise in the field opposite. She kept calling and didn't move from the hedge at the bottom so I assumed she was stuck and climbed over the gate to rescue her. The sight of me approaching with my secateurs was obviously enough of a shock for her to finally manage to pull free and she set off to join the rest of the small flock trailing most of the hedge with her!

Patterns in the landscape

I love the way the snow brings out the structure of our landscape here in the Derbyshire Dales. We are surrounded by a network of small fields with the boundaries marked mainly by hawthorn hedging which is punctuated by mature oaks.

The only tracks on the lane

By 8.30 Joe's car tracks are still the only ones on the lane, but after lunch we are amazed to find a tractor with a snow plough clearing the way! The schools have been shut and our postman doesn't come.

Sunrise at Hill Farm

After Joe left for work I stayed outside to take photographs (I seem to have taken 133 in the last three days!) The sun, as it came up, bathed the landscape in a wonderful pinkish light and as there was no wind it felt remarkably warm. Everywhere looked so beautiful I couldn't bare to come indoors in case I missed something,


We must have had around four inches of snow here overnight. I woke at 5.30 and the sky was full of stars. Joe managed to set off to work in his Corsa - the first vehicle down the lane. I was glad to hear that he'd safely arrived despite encountering a lot of stranded lorries en route. Tom also was one of few in his office by 9 o'clock.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Hedge cutting

I guess hedge cutting seemed like a good task on a cold day with snow in the fields but by the time the hedge opposite us had been cut conditions resembled the Arctic in a white out! We watched from the warmth of our living room!

Hare bonanza

It was hard to stop photographing them!


I can't describe the pleasure seeing the hares gives me. Watching the snow start to fall I spotted two hares running around in the field. One darted to the gate, hesitated for a second and then squeezed under it oblivious of my presence inside the farm house.

These wonderful creatures sum up everything I hoped living here would bring and it's definitely strong motivation for keeping our hay meadow and our hedgerows.

Lunch time

I make carrot soup and home made rolls for our lunch. We light the fire and stay indoors taking what I think is our first day off whilst being at the farm since we started our project.

Snow flurries

Snow is forecast for today but by late morning we have only had a few flurries although the wind is bitter outside. Definitely not a day for gardening.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Windy weather

It's extremely windy again this afternoon so I am finalising my seed order. More relaxing than yesterday's timber task. Poor Dave though is still in the barn scraping paint off the living room doors (unless of course he's blown away). I did provide him with home made soup and rolls for lunch!

Now as I look out the window we have snow and sleet carried on the 'breeze'!

Early morning

The wind is very strong today and the temperature dropped 4 degrees in the matter of a few hours. The clouds high up are barely moving, whilst those lower down are racing across the sky ... as are the poor birds. Some buzzards were circling high, high up but elsewhere the crows looked as if they had little say about where they were going. The blackbirds continued to fly just a few feet from the ground and were making the most of our areas of bare soil to find breakfast.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A pile free lawn

Today I have moved (by hand) two big piles of timber taking them from the lawn (where they were waiting for the purchase of a chain saw) and putting them in the cart barn. The small picture shows the pile at an early stage of its construction - it got significantly larger! At least under cover the wood can continue to dry out and if as looks probable the barn collapses at least it will have something to fall on! Our daffodils are just starting to peep through and so I'm anxious to do the task now to prevent their being trampled.

Dave is doing the soul and arm destroying task of scraping old paint off the doors. He now needs a new scraper blade (and probably a new elbow too).

Monday, 26 January 2015

Not true!

The weather forecast on my phone tells me that it's 7 degrees and mainly sunny. Well that isn't true ... we have a strong cold wind which carries the trace of rain and it's grey and miserable. Fairly standard January weather but after hearing we were in for sunshine all day I'd hoped to garden, and instead was driven indoors by lunchtime.

The fruit plot

I took delivery of two 'Invicta' gooseberry plants and 10 'Albion' strawberry runners today. I'd prepared the soil yesterday but annoyingly it must have rained quite a bit overnight and it was very 'claggy' and quite difficult to plant into. However (apart from a row of alpine strawberries which are on order) my fruit plot is now complete with raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, blackcurrants, redcurrants and gooseberries. Next to this is the small orchard with five varieties of apple and the crab apple 'John Downie'. Our own fruit was something we really missed last summer.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

A few logs

Just a few logs for me to move and store! This relatively modest pile takes a surprising number of barrow trips but it's nice wood and we plan on using it next winter. It makes such a difference laying our fires with well seasoned timber - even I can get them to light first go!

Hedge maintenance

It's almost a year now since we planted our hedge and it's time to give it some attention. The tree guards were necessary to protect the plants from chewing (possibly by the hares) but they have acted as mini greenhouses and most are sporting  punk grass hairdo's. My task is to work along the row, unwinding the plastic spirals, removing grass and dead leaves, replacing them, straightening (where necessary) and firming the plants back in. The soil has settled quite a bit and some have worked themselves loose. It's a nice job working in the sunshine and pleasing to see new buds forming ready for the spring. When I walked down to church this morning the bottom part of the village was very frosty, but up at the farm, for once, we have the best of the weather.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Our restored floor

This is the project that Dave has worked so long and hard on (and it's also what has made the house so smelly over the last week or so). Many of the red tiles had black paint and old glue on and this all had to be laboriously removed. The floor is now clean and protected, he has done an excellent job and I am glad we invested in the reclaimed quarry tiles (even if choosing a red and black floor probably wouldn't have occurred to us if the tiles hadn't already been used here)!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Poles and wires (and a kestrel)

We still have our electricity/telephone poles in place with their cut wires and today while I was washing up my eye was drawn to a light brown bird which circled and landed at the end of the garden. Having checked my photo I can see it's definitely a kestrel and according to the RSPB website: "they can often be seen perched on a high tree branch, or on a telephone post or wire, on the look out for prey." Exactly so!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Cyclamen Spectacular

Last year I gave my inherited cyclamen some fresh compost, at first it seemed to sulk as a result of my care but now it's rewarded me with a spectacular number of blooms. It is gracing my kitchen window at the moment and is obviously happy here (I've counted over 30 flowers so far). My mother would be pleased to see it flourishing in it's new surroundings.

The first snowdrops

Working outside this afternoon I noticed that there were a few snowdrops coming into flower from the ones I'd planted a year ago at the base of the hazels. They were supposed to have been supplied 'in the green' but the first lot were a disgusting brown mush, having rotted in the post and the replacements weren't much better but I planted them anyway. It's lovely to see something has survived from such unpromising beginnings. The farm was so devoid of flowers when we came here that each time I plant something and it's successful I feel I am contributing to what's here for the future.

I'm getting chilly bits

Puss was very unamused by the fact that there was a film of frost on the garden seat where she normally sits and sunbathe's (and of course keeps us under surveillance)! She compromised by squeezing herself right onto the very edge thus ensuring minimal contact between body parts on the cold. We had a few snow flurries last night and a little wet snow but little has settled.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

More projects!

This is another potential 2015 project. We have a very boggy bit of field that we are considering making into a small pond. We reconnoitre by viewing our neighbour's pond and disturb a pair of ducks as we walk over. It would increase the number of habitats that we can provide here.