These huge woolly bottoms returned looking significantly smaller after shearing! Although today it's been windy with drizzle so I think they may have felt they'd quite like to have their winter coats back on please.
I've watched the partridge enjoy our dandelions once they set seed but today I noticed they were eating the seeds from my forget me nots (which I've yet to find time to pull up). They seem to like very labour intensive snacks as the seeds are really tiny!
I had to smile, the lane managed to host two separate sets of farming activity this afternoon. The last of the sheep were being driven up the lane when the tractors and trailers came to collect our cut grass. Everything had to proceed at 'lamb pace' despite much tractor engine revving to speed things along.
The time has come for the sheep to be sheared and they set off up the lane, stopping for a little hedgerow snack en-route. It was such fun to watch them and hard to believe how big the lambs have already grown.
When I grabbed the camera there were three birds having a bath but it was rather a squash and so they've decided to take turns, on such a hot, sunny day who can blame them. I resorted, post digging, to sitting with my feet in a bucket of water!
The first year of living here was the anniversary of the start of WW1 and we had a mass of poppies appear on our freshly dug soil which seemed very appropriate so I left them to flower and of course to seed themselves profusely. I love the bright splashes of colour that they create and so they remain woven through my other planting. I took this photo early in the morning - I'd got up at 5.30 and took my cup of tea out into the garden before I started digging (hoping to avoid the heat and also to complete the task before forecast storms).
Before leaving Tissington we popped into the plant nursery. These ducks were helping themselves to food put out by the owner for the birds, the drake was in such a hurry to get to the seeds that he actually fell into the box! Not the most dignified arrival and he had an audience to witness his embarrassment.
We arrived on the first day of the Tissington Well Dressing which is always on Ascension Day (but like Easter this moves and so is late this year). We went to the church service and then to the 'blessing of the wells'. Do put the date for next year in your diary and don't forget to sample the excellent sandwiches and scones served in the village hall.
It is a treat to sit out as darkness falls. Some nights the sky has been full of vapour trails from aircraft travelling high above us. Nearer by the swallows dart in and out of the field enjoying the mass of small insects above the long grass.
Looking out I saw that the pheasants were having a fabulous time on my newly dug soil. They dust bathed to their hearts content and later in the day Mr Pheasant returned only to find me back there digging, he shouted at me very loudly and I imagine quite rudely. He'll be even less impressed once I put plants in his way.
Tonight the sun is shining on my newly planted bargain dolly tub. I bought it from the Uttoxeter Vintage Fair - it's rather battered and has a few holes in it but at just £5 it is exactly what I wanted .... Dave should be glad that this, rather than shoes or bags, counts as my dream purchase!
Our grass is all in flower at least a month earlier than in previous years. It's a lovely sight, woven through with buttercups and there is a wonderful range of species present in this long established permanent pasture.
Last year I never managed to finish digging the rest of my flower bed but now I am determined to get on with the task. I have tickets for the RHS Show at Chatsworth and want to have space to put any plants that might just want to come back home with me! The digging is back breaking work though as the soils consists of masses of ivy roots interspersed with plenty of household rubbish, dumped here and burned over the years. I've unearthed (literally) plenty of metal, miles of orange baler twine, broken glass and finally something intact - a 1oz metal weight.
There are plenty of swallows busy swooping around the farm (and us!) This morning I sat out early and watched as they darted in and out of our dairy building where they've decided to make a new nest above the light fitting. I have to keep watering the puddle of mud out by the lane that they are using as their building material.
This is my new border that I planted out last year. The only mystery though is why my lovely mauve lupin has produced these pink spikes (closer inspection shows purple ones just forming so I must have got a second seedling in my pot).
Our partridge decided to balance on the back of the garden seat, just next to the kitchen window and announce his presence very loudly and repetitively (I love them but they certainly aren't noted for their tuneful song!)
Not exactly the activity you think of doing in May, but when you own a Bed and Breakfast needs must! Actually it was wet today with much needed rain so it was the perfect time to be in the kitchen slicing up primofiori lemons, large juicy sweet oranges and a ruby grapefruit ready to make my three fruit marmalade (I say mine, but the recipe comes from Pam Corbin and the inspiration was eating it first at my brothers).
We've both gardened hard all day and as I creak my way to bed it's still just about light enough to view our progress. I've done a huge amount of weeding as when you turn your back on one area the next starts to look in urgent need of attention. Now however it is looking good, aided by Dave trimming the edges and having a go at strimming the dandelion stalks from the lawn. Now we just have to hope the forecast rain will arrive as despite our occasional watering, and the drizzle that came last Friday, things are very dry.
This morning I listened to the blackbird high on the damson singing and singing and it reminded me of the hymn 'Morning has broken, like the first morning, blackbird has spoken, like the first word'. The rest of the verse continues 'Praise for the singing, praise for the morning, praise for them springing fresh from the world'. I love my early mornings while most people are still asleep and to walk around the garden or across the field listening to the birds here is a huge privilege. Elsewhere I know people around us are up milking their cows and beginning busy, farming days.
I woke to the sound of heavy rain on the bedroom window. After weeks of dry weather I was delighted but when I went downstairs I laughed to see that the partridge had decided they better take shelter under our car. I also marvelled at how well their feather markings camouflage them against the stony surface.
This morning while I was drinking my tea I was aware of a strange noise, not quite barking, but not really a sheep noise either. Looking out into the field across the lane I saw this Canada goose. The noise was him calling and then when he heard the echo (as it came back across from the bottom of the village) he called again. This went on for about an hour, him and his imaginary friend (or foe). The next day I was pleased to see two of them flying over.
Today a bullfinch decided to join the goldfinches eating the dandelion seeds, quite honestly we have enough for bird banquet! Of all the things they could be eating I'm delighted with their chosen menu.
The front garden is still looking good and now my alliums have decided to come out and add to the purple splendour. Normally they flower at the end of the month and I always associate them with the RHS Chelsea flower show. I have to say this has been such a strange year that everything seems to have decided to bloom at once: tulips, iris, alliums, marigolds, borage and even the roses are starting to form buds.
We looked at the forecast and reckoned we'd be safe from a frost here, but I woke at 5 and looked out to see we'd got one anyway. Previously the frost had caught the tops of the potato foliage, despite Dave's work covering them with fleece so this time we'll just have to see how things have coped.
This weekend our guests were cycling from Stoke to Llangollen in Wales, (and back) taking part in the Dougie Mac bike ride to raise money for the Douglas Macmillian Hospice in Stoke. After their 110 miles, the plan was for me to cook a celebration roast lamb supper complete with all the trimmings and then they'd transport it to our friends house (who also did the cycle) where they were dining! I've never cooked such a large (8lb) piece of meat in the oven before (apart from our Christmas turkey!) Fortunately I can report that the cooking went well and our guests still had room for their 'full Derbyshire' breakfasts the next day.
Tonight the setting sun looked truly amazing, so much so that I had to run downstairs from the study and grab the camera to capture it before it disappeared below the horizon. Now there is mist rising up in the valley.