Forest of “Weeds”

As it turns out, a “weed” is a very relative term.  While most of us see a foxglove as a beautiful flower to admire and enjoy, there are others, particularly those who ride or care for horses, who see them as weeds.  These anti-foxglovers, if you will, in fact, yank them out of the ground when they see them!  I learned this from my friend Jenny, an avid equestrian, who saw my “The Gloaming” post and mentioned to me how she was surprised that I liked the foxgloves since she pulled them whenever she saw them.  “Why in the world would she do that?” I asked.  She informed me that they are poisonous to horses and she has always seem them as weeds.  Who knew?  I certainly did not.

Well, anyway, I think most of us can agree that they are indeed a beautiful flower and these photos below are something out of a wonderful dream.  An entire forest of foxgloves!!!!  Beatrix Potter wasn’t exaggerating when she included them all through her stories and illustrations.  They are just gorgeous!  (Sorry, Jenny. ;)

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Summer Chicks

While Joel was out mowing the lawn a couple of weeks ago, our kind neighbor Ken invited us all over to see some freshly hatched baby chicks.  Of course, we jumped at the chance and scurried over.  What a delightful surprise to see a beautiful mother hen, protectively and proudly showing off her day-old chicks.  Ken knew she had been sitting on eggs since she would be gone one day and back the next, but he could never find her nest.  Clever girl, she was determined to be a proper mama and now she gets to care for all seven of these chicks.  Ken tells us he’ll keep all the hens and sell the cockerels (he already has two of those).  The Sprout was able to hold two of the chicks and then we stayed and watched them all until the mama hen put them to bed, as you will see.  I love living in the country!!!

Ken has a special food for the chicks to eat starting on the day they hatched.

The Sprout LOVED holding two of them. They were squirmy little things and one even jumped out of her hands.

She’s so proud and she should be. They are beautiful!

The mother hen then went and sat close to the fence.  Watch how the chicks know just what to do. I’ve never seen this before…

One by one, with a lot of pushing and shoving, each chick dove underneath her feathers for a spot underneath Mama’s wings.

There they go. I didn’t believe that they would all fit!

All warm, safe and snug now. How they knew what to do, just by instinct is so amazing and beautiful. Ken now has the chicks with their mama in an area that is fenced in from top to bottom so they can grow safely in a protected area. The Sprout and I check in on them every other day to watch them grow.

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The Gloaming

Now I get it.  After reading all of Liz Curtis Higgs’ novels and always trying to imagine “the gloaming” she would describe…well, I get it now.  And I love it!  Wikipedia defines gloaming as “the time after sunset and before dark” or “twilight”.  In the States, I’m used to this period lasting an hour or so on a typical summer evening.  However, where we are located so far up north, the gloaming can last up to 3 hours!  It makes it very difficult to settle down and feel like going to bed at a decent hour, but it sure does make it the perfect time to get out and go for long walks while Joel is at home with the little ones sleeping.  Here are some photos of a recent walk.  They were taken on June 25th, so that was 4 days after the longest day of the year. I’ve included the times that I took them in the captions.  Enjoy the walk with me!

20:50 (8:50 pm) I’ve had to learn to tell 24-hour time here.

An extra friendly cow. He was HUGE!!!

21:00-Flowers grow EVERYWHERE here. These, I can assure you, were not planted. They came up by seed.

21:25-Thank you God for this incredible sunset.

21:35–Fox Gloves. Again, a wild flower and I have learned recently that they only bloom every other year. They were glowing in the gloaming!

21:55–Almost 10:00 pm and back home.  The laundry was dry. I still had over an hour before the stars would emerge.   I found two itty bitty spiders spinning webs on the clothesline.

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With so many “obliging fields” filled with all sorts of wildflowers, we couldn’t help but pick a small bouquet on our walk to Pateley Bridge today.

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Seven Bridges Walk on a Perfect Day

“The rain has moved on
And left a new day
Nothing seems to move everything is still
It’s just a perfect day.”
~Miriam Stockley

The lyrics to that song by Miriam Stockely (from the Tales of Beatrix Potter) basically sum it up.  Click on this link to play the song while you read my post (you’ll have to reopen my blog) and then you’ll know what I was singing in my head all day long and while I wrote this post…

The forecast for last Saturday was dry and mostly sunny; the only dry day at the end of a very wet and soggy week.  Much to my delight, the skies were all blue when I awoke with only a gentle wind.  It felt wonderfully warm even though it was only in the fifties all day.  I jumped out of bed (no I didn’t, but I willed my eyes to open faster than normal) and we all rushed around to get out the door so as not to miss out on the perfect day.  My mother-in-law Gayle is here visiting us and she loves the outdoors so she was just as eager as I to get out and enjoy the sunshine and nature.  We decided to do the Seven Bridges Walk at Studley Royal, a popular walk recommended to me by a friend.  We’re so glad we did it as it was the perfect morning: a lovely walk along the river in the sun, then sandwiches and tea in the garden at the lakeside tea room, and finished off with ice cream from the Dales ice cream truck in the car park.  A perfect day.

Bridges #3 &4

A closer look at one of the bridges.

Bridge #5. The water was extremely high due to all the rain last week.

Bridge #7


A view of Ripon with the Ripon Cathedral rising from the center.

A lovely cottage we passed. It had a well-kept garden on the left side, a small apple orchard on the right, and a couple of barns in the back. So beautifully typical.

The fields of these wildflowers are just breathtaking and can be seen from miles away as bright yellow bands on the countryside.

Gayle insisted on pushing the girls AND carrying the diaper bag so I could take photos. I didn’t argue.

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Lambing Season

I saw a mama sheep give birth today!!! It’s lambing season here and I can easily say I am fixated on all the adorable little lambs I see scampering about the countryside, resting, or nursing their mamas.  You can imagine my delight today when I waited for and watched the birth of a new little one.

The mama ewe with her first born.

My friend Jenny lives on a lovely property that sits next to her uncle’s fields.  Each field is divided by a stone wall, of course.  She invited the Sprout and me over this morning to come see the lambs and then our girls could play together afterwards.  We were there last Friday as well and I had just missed a birth that day, so I had my hopes up I might be lucky this morning.  I think my chances were actually quite high being that there are at least 100 mama sheep in that field, all pregnant, just waiting to give birth.

As we approached the neighboring field, both Jenny and I noticed a lamb with a yellowish coating–a newborn.  Jenny said I should stay and wait for the second to be born.  Yeah baby!  Camera in hand, I crouched behind the wall and waited.  Five, ten minutes went by and just when I thought it wasn’t going to happen, I saw the mama’s stomach contract!  She stumbled, then stood and another contraction came.

You'll see the sack of waters in this photo.

I was only a tad bit disappointed when the mama ewe turned to face me–perhaps she wanted her privacy or something–to lay down for 10 seconds while she pushed out her second lamb.

Giving birth.

She didn’t make a sound and I thought for a moment that she was just resting after the birth of her first.  Then she stood and there it was–very still and very slimy and for a second my heart stopped as I was afraid it wouldn’t move.

But after the mama nudged her a couple of times, the little head popped up and the baby started to perk right up. 

Eight minutes later (I timed it), after constant prodding and nudging from mama, the lamb was standing and looking for milk.  Unbelievable and so incredibly beautiful. It was constant contact with the mama after birth with both lambs stumbling around in between their mama’s legs, bumping into one another and trying to suck on anything that slightly resembled a nipple.  Actually, when I first arrived, the first born was trying to nurse the sack of waters that was hanging out of the mama!

You'll notice the first born has a mustard yellow color. That's how you can tell they are newborns.

I’ve posted quite a few photos today so you can get the play-by-play and share in the experience with me!!  Happy lambing!

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Town and Village Walk #4

When Joel has any days off, we both just want to get out “there” and go for a good walk.  Where else in the world can you walk through almost any pasture or farmland in such breath-taking countryside and still be on a public footpath?  The guide book by Elizabeth Fowler that I mentioned in a previous post has been perfect for us.  The walks are all shorter than 3 miles and most are just a half mile walk through a village.  Joel carries the 30 lb. Sprout on his back while I carry the 10 lb Jr. Sprout in my sling.  No need to go any further than 3 miles just yet.  The walk this day was 2 1/2 miles through the countryside, beginning at the Linton (water) Falls, next taking us along the road to the village of Linton, before bringing us back on a public footpath through a pasture.  It was another lovely sunny day.  We see more sunshine than I ever imagined here.  Sunny England. Go figure.