Lammas... the first harvest

As we move into August, we pass the half way point in the calendar between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox. The long days of Summer are drawing in and we are making our way towards Autumn. On the Wheel of the Year, this point is Lammas, a celebration of the first harvest, the Grain Harvest. The word 'Lammas' comes from 'loaf mass' and indicates how important and meaningful the first grain and the first baked loaf of the harvesting cycle are.

We are now at peak Summer when the harvest season begins in earnest. Growth of early Summer …

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Re-opening the shepherd's hut after lockdown: striking a balance

After a six months hiatus, we were delighted to welcome our first post-lockdown guests last weekend. We are usually quieter with bookings over the Winter but come April, bookings come in a steady flow. This year, however, when we said goodbye to our guests at the end of January, we could not anticipate that we would not be hosting for another six months!

We were away on holiday ourselves in February and come March, the country came to a standstill with an imposed lockdown because of the Covid pandemic. For the first time in three years, the shepherd's hut stood …

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The gamble of hatching chicks

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Who remembers the photo of the pretty basket of fluffy chicks I posted at Easter time! Twelve weeks on and I thought I would write about our experience.

This was our first venture into the world of incubating eggs to add to our flock of hens although not the first in having chicks. Two years ago, we gave some fertile eggs to our top hen Betty when she became broody and she did all the work from then on: incubating the eggs, turning them, talking to them (did you know hens do that?) and raising the chicks that hatched. She …

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Spring 2020, one to remember

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As we head into June and towards Summer, we look back at Spring 2020, which has proved to be very unusual in more ways than one!

Hit by the global Covid19 pandemic, the country went into lockdown at the Spring Equinox with the message to "Stay At Home". Peter worked from home for the first three weeks and then went on to be furloughed, which he continues to be until the end of June. That has been a great opportunity for us to tick things off our long to do list: we have re-done the roof of one of the …

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New life at Easter

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Our little flock of six hens is keeping us well stocked up with eggs at the moment and we sell our surplus via an honesty stall at the top of the drive. At the beginning of the year, though, we had to go and buy eggs because production had gone right down and that went on for several weeks. Out of our six hens, only two are young and productive, although last Winter, at the end of their first laying year, even they stopped laying after their big moults. The other four are getting rather old: Mother Hen Betty is …

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Finding balance

It's the Spring (or Vernal) Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere today and Spring is officially here. Astronomically, an equinox is the moment when the Earth's equator passes through the centre of the sun, momentarily creating an equilibrium between night and day because of the way the Earth tilts in relation to the Sun. The word equinox comes from the Latin word "aequinoctium" meaning 'equal night'.

Right now, the stabilising energy that this balance brings feels really important. The world, this Spring, has been plunged into a huge amount of vulnerability and uncertainty. The chaos and changes brought by the Covid-19 …

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Nurturing hope in the garden

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Spring is nearly here and the growing season is well under way on the smallholding by now. Every inch of windowsill space in the sunroom holds trays and propagators with seeds growing this year's harvest. When seedlings are big enough and in need of more light than they can get in the sunroom, they get moved to either the heat mat on the shelf in the potting shed, the greenhouse or the polytunnel.

This time of year is always very exciting, full of promise and wonder at the huge potential for growth and transformation held in a tiny seed. Right …

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Imbolc, a new dawn

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1st February and we are about half way between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. On the Wheel of the Year, this point is Imbolc, when the first signs of new life are beginning to show. Nature is stirring, influenced by the noticeable increase in daylight hours and the strengthening of the Sun's energy. There is a sense of hope, promise and potential as the Earth, awakening from its Winter sleep, is preparing to receive the seeds of future blooms and harvests. A new dawn.

One of the translations of the word "Imbolc" is "in the belly" which, for …

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The importance of Winter

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For the last few mornings, we have woken up to a hard frost and I noticed how much that pleased me. Winter has been mild up to now and the gardener in me has been yearning for a cold spell. Not only because I love these clear, cold days of Winter that I find so invigorating but also because I know the garden needs a period of cold weather to work its magic on bulbs, seeds and plants. It is a necessary phase in the growth cycle that ensures a good crop or flowering.

I notice in my social media …

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Yuletide, deep connection with an ancient tradition

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Today is the Winter Solstice, marking the shortest day of the year and the beginning of a new season. Darkness has now reached its peak and from this point on, we witness a gradual lengthening of days and shortening of nights. At Midwinter, I always feel within me a relief, a sense that we have turned a corner, a profound joy that comes from knowing the light is returning to us. A deep knowing that goes beyond me, a seemingly unexplainable connection that transcends my personal history and experience on this Earth. As the years go by, Yule speaks to …

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