Befriending the darkness

Today has been a misty day up in the hills and it went dark just after 4pm. When out for a little walk earlier, I noticed how the landscape has now transitioned out of Autumn with all the gorgeous colours now more or less all gone. Winter is on the threshold, ready to come in. I am aware that my energy levels are low and my gaze focuses inwards. I personally feel ready to surrender to the whisper of Winter.

At this time of year, when days are short, cold and gloomy, it is easy to pine for the long, …

Read more…

Calan Gaeaf Hapus!

Tonight is Noson Galan Gaeaf in Wales. This translates from the Welsh as Winter's Eve: Nos(on) is the night (before), Calan (or Galan when the spelling of the word has a mutation applied to it) means the first day and Gaeaf is Winter. It originates from the ancient celtic festival of Samhain, celebrating the end of autumn and harvest season and the beginning of Winter.

If we divide the year into light and dark, we are now about to enter the darkest segment, between Samhain and the Winter Solstice, when the light returns to us once more. For me, this …

Read more…

The importance of Winter

Posted on

Written by

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 …

Read more…

I wish I were a hedgehog!

Posted on

Written by

As I get out of bed, look out of the window and see another dark, cold and wet morning, I feel like going back under the warm duvet and curl up for more sleep. But the hens are calling to be let out of their coop and my day on the smallholding must begin… there are chores to be done, log baskets to be filled, kindling to be fetched and woodburners to light for a start. A hundred and one other things too, or so it seems when my motivation and energy levels are as low and weak as the …

Read more…

A very chilly St David's Day!

Posted on

Written by

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus! Happy St David's Day! The only daffodils around are those bought at the market last week and now in the vase on the dining table. They brighten the house with their vibrant colour and scent. The ones growing outside are a few weeks off yet - and may have suffered a setback with this week's snow, freezing temperatures and wind aka The Beast from the East and Storm Emma!

With extreme weather, life on the smallholding becomes stressful because it is tough to keep basic needs met. It's a struggle to keep sheep and hens with …

Read more…

Happy Winter Solstice!

Posted on

Written by

Today is the Winter Solstice, an important point in the calendar as it marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. It is a celebration of the returning light that goes on gaining strength until the Summer Solstice in June. The Winter Solstice also marks the start of a new season: Winter, when nature is dormant, wildlife hibernates and the trees that have shed their leaves now put all their energy into their roots deep underground.

Very appropriately, I spent this morning at a Winter Solstice Mindfulness event in woodland at Erddig Hall near Wrexham. Our group …

Read more…

Snowed in!

Posted on

Written by

After a weekend of heavy snow fall, we are snowed in! Peter stayed at home today as there was no way he would attempt to drive down the hill to work. Getting out of our drive alone would have been a challenge with 18 cm of snow and a fair amount of ice too!

Once the sheep were fed with plenty of fresh bedding in their shelters and hay in the racks and once we had broken the ice off the drinkers and water troughs, we enjoyed walks to take photos. Especially today as the sun was out and the …

Read more…

Home is where the hearth is

Posted on

Written by

At this time of year, governed by the decreasing hours of sunlight, we spend much more time indoors. Days are short and we begin to retreat inside from just after 4pm. The hens take themselves back into their coop from around that time and I pack away their food in the shed for the night. I do a final check on the sheep too and then begin to prepare the house for the evening and the night: topping up the log baskets, drawing the curtains and preparing dinner.

One thing that I notice at this time of year is how …

Read more…

Samhain, gateway to Winter

Celebrated by the Celts, Samhain is the festival that marks the end of the harvest and the beginning of the darkening months of the year. At mid-point between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice, we are now entering darker times as we journey through the last quadrant on the Wheel of the Year before the Winter Solstice when the light returns. The clocks went back at the weekend and I have noticed how the energy of the sun is now much weakened, like it is getting tired and ready for its last breath.

While I was out gardening yesterday …

Read more…

Autumn gatherings

Posted on

Written by

This time of year always reminds me of the Brambly Hedge stories by Jill Barklem that I used to read to our children when they were little. Particularly, Autumn Story with its evocative descriptions of harvest time and the beautiful illustrations of delightful mice gathering berries, seeds and roots to be stored away for Winter.

In that story, old Mrs Eyebright says: “Bad weather’s on its way, I can feel it in my bones. We must finish our harvesting before the rain begins”. Right now, it feels just like that at Upper Cefn-y-Pwll… we are preparing ourselves for Winter! The …

Read more…