Monday 15 February 2010

February 14th ?

February 14th is a date Shep had pencilled into my diary; very important date, one which I wanted to take note of and find out what the outcome would be in due course.

Here we are on the 15th and I can share my news with you all.

I can almost hear you waiting with bated breath, what next. February 14th - Valentines day, what could that possibly have held in store for good ol' Shep? Well, you call all forget about that mushy stuff, I learnt that a few years ago, I don't even bother dropping the hints anymore!!

No you silly lot, February 14th saw the new moon arrive again. I'm still trying to work out if there is any truth in that saying which suggests the new moon has an affect on the weather we are to receive over the following month.

A good friend, and sound shepherd was quizzed on such matters the other night over the telephone, he did indeed say there would have to be a let up by the new moon if we were to see any change in the weather, so I've waited patiently to see what the new moon would bring.

The past month has thrown most of everything at us. Snow which lay for a day or two then passed until the next time. Many frosty mornings, some followed by bright days, others dull and overcast. A limited number of damp days. There have been a number of raw days, chilling to the bone days even though the temperature and wind haven't been too severe - lack of sunlight possibly causing the effect, or easterly winds, or else I'm getting old - Don't even go there!!

The moon and the weather my last (and first) posting regarding the new moon tells me the new moon brought in a bit of everything, which you could say we have had over the past month. So! This new moon? Well last night it was a fine rain, this morning it was a pea souper (fog) and mild, the wind rose during the morning from a westerly direction, there were one or two sunny blinks before the clouds thickened and it rained this afternoon - proper rain, y'know that wetting stuff. The rain brought a drop in temperature or was that coz Shep got soaked and was riding a quad? On darkening we had snow - great big flakes which came dancing out of the sky.

So, where does this moon leave us? Again I really don't know but truly hope it ain't gonna rain 'til the next one.

There is still snow lying, including odd bits left over from the snow we had last week when it kindly plopped down another fresh covering which was slow to shift due to frost and can only be found now in the most sheltered of areas. The remainder of lying snow is on the highest ground only and is bound to shift if this rain continues.

Why the fascination with the weather? Farming and the weather work hand in hand, the weather calls the shots and the farmers work around it, simple as that! It is a subject guaranteed to crop up in conversation between farmers and the like minded. There are times for some, other than the collie dog it is the only company they have - the weather!

On a brighter note, let me share with you the fact that I saw a peewit (lapwing) last week, unfortunately not quite in Tarset but close enough to almost count. I was driving along following the North Tyne river when I noticed a flock of seagulls, in their midst was one lonely Peewit and I thought "Oh, there's a Peewit", followed almost instantaneously by "OH! that's a peewit!" the first I had seen this year, not a matter to be overlooked and a glimmer of hope that Spring really is on the way - exciting or what?

Followed by a handful of minutes spent watching a fox, or in actual fact being watched by a fox. Likelies a youngster or vixen as it was slightly built and a light sandy colour with distinct black legs and lug (ear) tips. I'd passed it's tracks in the snow and thought they seemed quite fresh when a movement in the corner of my eye took my attention and there it was, watching me, and so I watched it.

After a while it lumbered off over the hill top and out of sight. I lumbered in the same direction. As I had both dogs with me and they were gooning (fooling) around like a couple of badly behaved pups I didn't think I'd see the fox again. However, I came onto the hill top and there it was, yards away, watching me, so I watched it. It then trotted onto some rocks and sat, tail outstretched behind it and again watched me. Now I do believe this fox has probably seen me and the dogs more than I have seen it, either that or it was a foolish fox as it showed little sign of trepidation only being moved on eventually by the crows which turned up to mob it and even then it just trotted off to the next hill top to turn, sit and watch me - I was beginning to get a complex!

Today I found myself herding (shepherding) a lump of hill ground which I have never shepherded before. There is a forecast for snow and therefore I deemed it sensible to go to the hill and acquaint myself with the ground as the farmer is laid up due to an operation. I had to laugh as I set off with directions on board, the farmers parting words were "there's a spade on the front of the bike if you get stuck (bogged)" I couldn't help but think my reputation went before me.........

The ground which neighbours this particular farm I know only too well. I was looking across onto this neighbouring ground reminiscing about the good ol' days, the many years spent there held a lot of happy memories but unfortunately the parting was a painful one and somehow these memories came to the fore. It was pouring with rain, Shep was wet and getting cold and somehow managing to feel gloomy when a bird took to the air from the burn (stream) in the bottom - A goosander! As it took to the air I knew it wasn't a mallard, it very kindly flew at eye level and gave me a good view, the rusty red neck being a sure give away as to what I believed it to be, definitely a goosander. My heart lifted immediately, some of the simplest of things in life can give you so much pleasure. However, had I been an angler/fisherman my reaction would undoubtedly have been totally different as goosanders are very good fishermen themselves.

And guess what? I didn't need the spade !!

For all the snowdrops are struggling to bloom in all their finery at the moment they are out and the daffodils are busy pushing their leaves through the ground. The days are lengthening with both the mornings and nights cutting out dramatically and for all we have been having many hard frosty mornings of late Shep is already scrutinising puddles, drains and any wet spots in the quest for frogspawn, wishful thinking no doubt under the present conditions but there is no doubt about it, spring is around the corner I just don't know whether it is a long corner or a short one!