Lost in Breugel and the long wait for Spring

Mother's Ruin went to the far reaches of her Northern territories searching for signs of sloe and damson blossom, or the first traces of spring. Walking through the birch woods was like being in one of my favourite paintings Hunters in the Snow by Breugel the Elder.

The sloes held their blossom tightly budded and close, with no hint of unfurling too early only to be sharply bitten. But the hard ground was good fortune for me, as Brian was able to drive his tractor over the fields with the last four tonnes of bark mulch for the soft fruit beds. It saved me and my brother hours of work transporting it in small loads to the orchard. I went down to Park End farm to thank him and found him and Eunice sitting in the kitchen drinking tea and listening to Johnny Cash singing San Quentin whilst taking a break from lambing. They'd had an unplanned arrival of new lambs having put their elderly ram in with some ewes all planned to be taken to market last autumn. The old tup, not realising his working days were over continued to do what he always did best, with the result of some fine fat lambs this spring.

On the western slopes of the orchard the snow didn't settle, so we were finally able to finish mulching the gooseberry beds. So now we wait for some warmth and a bit of sunshine...