Another day of frost and sunshine so Lyra and I were off and out early to make the most of it. In the shade of the trees the grass is wearing frost prickles and I stumbled over one frozen clump of leaves and mud that looked for all the world like an albino hedgehog. Much slithering on frozen puddles in the field ensued. Lyra is quite fascinated by the ice and walked the length of one frozen water filled furrow, cracking the inch thick ice as she went then licking the shards for good order. There was nothing to chase in the stubble field for once so we pressed on to the cross road then turned down. Rather than follow the road all the way, it is surprisingly busy for a road going nowhere much, we turned in through a field gate and meandered back along the bottom margin of the fields. This took us past a nice little stand of oak trees with a stream running through which feels ripe for exploration when the new shoots start to emerge. We passed on for now, though ( I had a soup making commitment to honour) and had just reached the bottom corner of a field of spring wheat when a fawn stepped out of the shelter belt and into our field. It watched us for a bit and then, rather than running off, started coming towards us. Lyra was such a good dog and sat quietly whilst I fumbled for my phone and my specs and miraculously we managed a few shots before it all became just too exciting. Lyra let off a low whine of utter joy, the fawn started and then bounced off up the hill. Rest assured, the photographer’s assistant was rewarded with many gravy bones and much praise. As we clambered through a gap into the next field we saw a larger deer silhouetted on the rise of the hill for a moment before prancing off in a 100% Disney gold moment.
After making the long promised soup (spicy lentil – recipe loaded), I spent the afternoon in the garden weeding and mulching under the red witch hazel in the hot bed. It is in bud and it would be a shame if the backdrop to the flowers was a giant tangle of buttercups. I have been using the pruning shreddings from the orchard, which I think have some Christmas tree mixed in, as mulch. It is a violently orange mix and slightly startling to look at, but I am hoping it will mellow. My regular weeding companions, a bold robin and very puffed up lady blackbird, were hovering nearby as I grovelled in the soil and I appreciated the friendly rustling. By four the light was failing and it was bitterly cold so I started to pack up when Dobby shot past, something long and wiggly and squeaking loudly, much in the manner of the dog’s squeaky bone, in his mouth. The poor mouse was taken up to the washing green, dropped then recaptured a couple of times, then it went ominously quiet. Rather apt, given it’s Burns Night, to have a live reenactment of “poor wee timorous beastie”, though I think Dobby was a bit low on the regret and fellow feeling… Rather than investigate further, Keith and I went to feed the cows in the last of the light. He persists in patiently explaining to Catriona and Snouty that things would work better if they took turns. You can see from the photo what Catriona thinks of this….