The Seasons Outside My Back Door: Week 9 March 2016


Our makeshift duck pond. We've had all sorts of weather this week. A cold, breath-removing northerly wind. Thunder; well, two loud rumbles during the snow storm. Hail. Frost. Rain. Low cloud. Sunshine. Freezing cold temperatures. And lovely warmth.

This is what I love about the British weather. One day is never the same as another.

The makeshift duck pond was empty of water last weekend, the frost having sucked out the last remaining drops. And then, overnight for a couple of nights, we had torrential rain. (Not that I heard it.) But in the morning the pond was full to the brim once more. Happy ducks, tails shaking, ducking their heads underwater, flicking water onto their backs, flapping their wings. Joyous.

I walked around the field and it reminded me of royal icing that hadn't quite set. Crispy on the top, then once that had cracked through it was soft and squelchy. We must have had an enormous amount of rain. Then the frost came, freezing it, in the early hours of the morning.

A goat willow with yellow catkins (male)

The goat willow is changing again. The catkins are ripening to yellow which I understand is a male tree. I'll be looking at the other trees we have (we have many goat willows) to see if we have any females. I haven't seen any bees on them as yet.

Yesterday I took the chance of just sitting and watching the animals. I've not done this for a while, not just because it was too cold, but because I've been rushing from one job to another. But yesterday, in just one cardigan rather than two, I relaxed.

Last week, one of my chickens, Polly, looked completely bedraggled as she always likes to moult when the weather is coldest. But in the space of just a few days she is looking fluffy and brand new again. It doesn't take them long to regrow their feathers.

As I sat, enjoying the bird song, I saw the younger chickens bullying the ducks. Not allowing the ducks to get to the food. So I provided the ducks with another feeder. And the same chicken followed them and pecked at them there too. Gosh, they can be real bullies.

But the ducks don't care. They just escape to their pond. And the chicken doesn't follow them into there.