Saturday, 28 March 2015

Lords and Ladies

Did you know it's illegal to die in the houses of Parliament? Neither did I till yesterday. My daughter has been on a school trip to London this week to see The Lion King and the group were taken on a tour of the houses of Parliament. It's a very different world from the one we live here but I think that .as with everything. you learn more when it's something you don't do every day! It's always lovely to come home though!

She is currently sitting round a camp fire up at Torver on a dark and rainy night tucking into her tea ,having walked from Lowick this afternoon as part of a survivorship expedition. Her text message to me (warm and cosy in our cottage on a cold ,wet Saturday night) sounded upbeat and cheerful- she's pretty hardy my daughter!

Meanwhile at home I've been watching a Fieldfare as it has been building its nest in our pear tree. I thought it was a cuckoo at first.Its light markings made it very obvious as it flew backwards and forwards across the garden. You can see its nest, in the forked branch of a tree, exposed as the tree has not yet come into leaf although it won't be long as the buds will be in flower in the next few days!

I love this time of year. The clocks move forward tonight and we will have light evenings once more.My vases are full of daffodils,catkins and pussy willows and I've been planting up floral mugs with pansies and primroses to sell at our National Autistic society coffee morning next week.

I also have to visit our village churchyard. I'm told it hosts the dogtooth violet I was really surprised when I saw it's picture as I normally pride myself on my knowledge of wild flowers. This time though I was wrong. What I thought was the dog tooth violet is actually the sweet or common violet . You live and learn!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Donkeys ,Woodpeckers and Rhubarb jam

It's the time of year when I'm out walking the foot paths and fells in training for the C2B walk on 11th May. This year I'm practising with a friend who's going to join me and the conversation makes the miles go faster.

I've discovered she is a whizz with the ordnance survey map whilst I just make it up as I go along. She has a very precise weather app too. I now know exactly when and where a rain drop is going to fall on my head whereas before I would turn my eyes to the heavens and ask myself whether it was going to rain and whether to take sunglasses or wellies!

My friend told me that we had a chance of showers this morning. I replied that there would be no little black cloud over my head, although I took my waterproof trousers just in case.
We set off up the Woodland valley from Broughton up the disused railway line which used to go to Coniston and into a wood.It was too early for bluebells but we came across my neighbour coppicing wood for forest school and an instructor and student being assessed for tree surgery.We offered to give him points out of ten but he preferred a donation in his hat on the ground!

Once through the wood we came onto the road and ambled down the middle (there's not a vehicle to be seen out there) and I stopped at High Rosthwaite farm to buy some home made jam. I have a penchant for blackberry jam but 'spicy blackberry' didn't really appeal. (They don't come spiced from the bushes in our village) so I chose rhubarb instead.This time I had learned to be prepared and had brought my rucksack to carry it in.

At woodland rooms (no more than a little green corrugated shack which serves as a place for locals from miles around to congregate) we turned right into a farm yard and stopped to speak to a lady farmer who pointed us on her way.Her farm was a characteristic lakeland farmhouse,  reminiscent of the farm used to film Beatrix Potter .We followed a little 'green lane' between dry stone walls into a field.Here the path somewhat disappeared amoungst hedges but as we made our way in roughly the right direction we stumbled across a big brown horse with its back to us, staring into a pond, and a scruffy old donkey which obviously decided that we were the most exciting thing to happen all day so it ambled over and looked through the other side of my camera lense as I tried to take its photo! It then decided to follow us part of the way and I had visions of me sprawled in the mud as it nudged my bottom as we walked along the path like Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem.
It gave up at the deer fence and we found our selves in decidous woodland which hasn't yet quite come into bud.Following the path down the valley we came out into a wide expanse of rough farmland covered in reeds and separated by a meandering river which on the map seemed to disappear into nowhere then into the sea. We crossed a little wooden bridge then followed the path through fields and over a stile to the road where we then followed a track through woods up to Wall end near Broughton and I was back on the path I'd taken in the other direction several weeks ago but been stopped due to a very muddy stretch of path which had been unnavigable then. We saw our first wild daffodils and then my friend pointed out the sound of a woodpecker . It sounded like someone banging on large bamboo canes and once I'd heard it would be easy to recognise again.
We were soon back in Broughton and reckoned we had walked about 5-6 miles, and I was right, there wasn't a raindrop in sight!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Little Bo Peep and Education about Sheep!

As I walked down the track with the dogs yesterday I rounded the corner and noticed three sheep ahead.Having lived in the country for about ten years now I've become proud of my shepherding skills and my ability to identify which sheep belongs to which farmer.In this case it was the shaggy curly haired sheep that gave them away.It was Blossom, a rare breed sheep that lives with one of my neighbours and which could only really be described as a pet.

On further inspection I discovered that there were in fact , five sheep, closely followed by my neighbour, her husband, daughter and pet labradoodle. They were , explained my neighbour matter of factly, going for a walk as she had run out of hay and was taking the sheep along the track so they could graze on the grass verges.

As the dogs and I looked on, the motley crew ambled past, taking no more than a cursory glance at the dogs as they strained on their leads to get a better look. You see some very strange sights in the country!

It's been a funny sheep week generally.These sheep  followed my friend and I through a field last week and one even came for a pat! I think they must have thought we must have looked like  dinner ladies!

Then yesterday there was a knock on the door. Our neighbouring farmer sent a message to say that one of his ewes was lambing if
 we wanted to run down to the farm.We were lucky. It was late on a sunny afternoon rather than a cold wet night in the lambing shed!

The ewe (a mule) which is a cross between a texel and a fell sheep for hardiness (they require strong teeth to graze the sea washed turf on the estuary) was lying in the field.Her waters had broken and Paul told us that it was often quite quick although one sheep had take forty minutes the previous day. The field was full of sheep having triplets. The mule would strain and lift her head upwards, then would get up and wander around eating grass.

This went on for quite some time and after about half an hour she seemed to be starting to tire. After 45 minutes, we novices were quite concerned, she didn't look well at all but then neither would we if we were giving birth to three babies. Paul came out and said it was taking longer than it should and decided to intervene.He invited us to watch as he put his hand into the Ewe's uterus and pulled out one very yellow lamb.The second to come out was lodged in a difficult position and wasn't breathing so Paul shook it and cleaned the mucus from its nose with straw.It was very small and weak and didn't look fit and healthy like its brother.Paul said only time would tell.He would leave it in the field for half an hour then bring it into the barn under a heat light over night.The final lamb popped out fit and healthy and, within minutes ,mum was licking both healthy lambs and they were up on their feet feeding from her colostrum. 

The weaker lamb was still on its side and hadn't tried to stand.Sadly we learned the next day that it hadn't made it.Perhaps nature knew it would have struggled to survive. Nature can be cruel sometimes.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Critical cleaning for Autistic children!

My conversation with Google tonight went as follows, "Are you having a bath tonight?"

"Is it critical?" He asked.

"About as critical as you can get" I replied. "In emergency speak you would be on red alert!"

"Can't you smell yourself?

"No I've got a blocked nose" he answered!

"Well you're lucky" I said, "I wish I had."

We regularly have conversations about baths.I've learned that when you have an oppositional autistic teenager it pays to take a laid back approach.

The more you push the less you achieve.You have to let them think it's their idea, and boy is that hard!

It's natural to worry about what people will think of you when they see your sweaty, spotty, greasy haired teenager, oh and did I mention bad breath?

What I have learned on our autism journey however is that I'm not alone.I've also learned that I can be totally upfront with my son and he doesn't take offence.It's a bit like Temple Grandin in the film Temple Grandin when she was told by her boss that she perspired and needed anti perspirant. She accepted it as a fact rather than a criticism.

Anyway, Google had his bath and the battle was over.But I still have a long way to go before I win the war!