A Year in a Lane – Week 42

There is still an abundance of autumnal sunshine which helps stave off the depression of the darker nights (clocks going back soon !!). And the animals are certainly enjoying the benefits of the mild weather. Spooner is in his favourite late morning spot in front of the wood shed.


We saw the return of the sheep last week and they are certainly enjoying both the new grass and the sunshine. I asked the lady on the right if she would mind posing especially for the picture.


The days are sunny but occasionally a little chilly in the wind and certainly once the sun goes down, you realise that autumn is well upon us. The temperatures in the countryside at night are often a few degrees cooler than in the towns at this time of year. Flash, as a consequence, already has his blanket on to protect him from the lower feel.


There is still some colour in the garden, a few late roses and Cornish daisies, among others, providing some brightness.


We are getting some lovely sunsets currently and, as anyone who has followed this blog knows, I love a good sunset. Here are the dying embers of another lovely autumnal day just before darkness.


A Year in a Lane – Week 41

Final preparation of the field above the house is underway with the farmer touching up the grazing areas with some treatment – this time by hand. The mild weather has, he tells me, made this whole process much easier this year although a little more rain might have helped even more.


And…. finally they are back. Everything is ready and the grass is lush enough to welcome the sheep back to the field. They do make a marked difference to the landscape for sure. Initially they all group together before eventually becoming more scattered.


Unfortunately, this is the countryside and there is plenty of death as well as life – avert your eyes now if you don’t want to witness the remains of a pigeon which fell victim to one of the neighbourhood foxes.


The horses have more or less cleared the bottom field now and are suggesting, once again, that they could do with moving on – Tom likes to hint by approaching the gate every time you see him. Think they have another week or two yet however.


The yard halfway down the lane, opposite where the horses currently are, has a lot of liveries and is always busy with people coming to groom, ride, feed or even transport their horses off to the various shows which take place in neighbouring towns and villages.


Finally, back home, a sad job awaits for the winter. The goldfish pond once upon a time had seven fish in it. A couple of years back, the herons stole five of them and then, this year, the two remaining ones “disappeared”. So much for the fake one standing guard – he’s sacked! The pond will be emptied over the winter and I am hoping to turn it into a water feature.


A Year in a Lane – Week 40

So, unbelievably, we are into the last quarter of the year – where did that go? We have had a good run of late warm weather and although it is still pretty good for this time of year, signs of autumn are everywhere. The hanging baskets will need to be taken down soon as they are now looking rather sorry for themselves.


The leaves on the trees are starting to turn brown – some quicker than others – here’s a typically contrasting sight at the moment on the same tree and with others as well.


And many of the leaves are starting to fall from the trees, covering some areas of the lane almost completely.


There is the perennial problem of what to do with the house martins’ discarded nests – they look a mess but the problem is that, if you take them down, they rebuild them the following year and leave a trail of failed ones as they start again – see the muddy blobs in between the constructed ones below.


By way of a contrast, the horses’ winter field is lush and green and ready for what will hopefully be a drier winter than last year. They should be moving back there by the end of the month.


In the lane, we now have two different types of hens – a few newer black ones have joined the standard brown residents. Would like to say what “make” these new ones are but I’m afraid I am not technically competent to do that hens-wise. 🙂



A Year in a Lane – Week 39

Wood burners are very popular in the countryside as we do not suffer the same constrictions on smoke as in cities. This close-up of the fire brick at the back of my burner may look a bit bizarre but if you look closely you can see the tail and beak of a small bird which has somehow got down the chimney and become stuck and confused.



I spent ages trying to locate the noise that I could hear in the lounge before realising that it was this poor creature flapping about in panic. Every time I opened the door to see if he would fly out, he just hid behind the fire brick. It is only the second time in about 15 years that this has happened mainly because the chimney is capped and lined and makes it very difficult for birds to enter.


The field in the farm has now fully recovered to its former glory (or probably better) and is covered in lush grass ready for the return of the sheep in the coming weeks. I wish I knew the secret of growing lush grass this quickly – would save a lot of heartache with patches on the lawn!


The lane itself is still looking very green given the fact that late summer was far nicer than the early part and, so far, the warm weather has continued into autumn providing the opportunity for some lovely pictures with the sun at a different angle this time of year.


And here is the sun behind one of the weeping willows one afternoon this week.



A Year in a Lane – Week 38

The birds tend to flock round the nearby tower and many of them nest in the crannies and even inside. Here is a lone occupant returning back home.


The horses have been in the paddock for a few weeks now. Flash is obviously planning to go out partying as he has donned an earring especially for the occasion.


There have been some beautiful autumnal mornings this week – differing from their summer counterparts in the crisper feel to the mornings as the sun delivers less heat  early in the day. Here’s a shot of the horses enjoying the sunshine, stepping just outside the shadow of the house to feel the sun on their backs.


However the grass is beginning to run low in the paddock and a small deputation makes the point that it is time to move back down the road to more grass – which was duly noted at the end of the week.


The saddest time of the year for me is when we have to start closing the garden down for the late autumn and winter months. The “eastern” patio does not get a huge amount of sun now so the table and chairs have been stowed for the time being


There are still some lovely surprises left. These Guernsey Lilies are, I believe, biennials as I don’t recall seeing them last year – but here they are providing a late season burst of colour to the border.


A Year in a Lane – Week 37

The field in the farm continues to grow apace – glad my lawn doesn’t grow this fast! The clouds above show some of the changeable weather we have had of late as Autumn bears down on us.


There has still been plenty of sunshine however which is good news for those of us with solar panels – the offset of what is generated during the spring and summer makes the net electricity bill a lot cheaper. This is the side of the house with six panels on and there are another six on the flat roof facing south behind the house.


Rubbish, both garden and household, tends to pile up and it is about 6 miles to the local tip. Coupling that with occasional clear out of whatever has found its way into the shed means that every now and then it is almost cost effective (and certainly time effective) to get a skip in. It took myself and the head gardener a whole day to fill this up. No mean feat given that the skip has to be left at the end of the driveway because the lorry would never make it up to the house.


The most regular activity seems to be poo-picking by someone or other. We’ve touched on this before but here is a family effort by mother and daughter.


And, after all that hard work, it’s time to relax and catch some bubbles. It is not only the lane that changes over the year – Willow has gone from baby to all-grown-up toddler!


The late summer sunshine is there to be enjoyed by all – and if you can make it even more cosy by creating your very own summer house – what’s not to love?  Spooner is in cat heaven.



A Year in a Lane – Week 36

We’ve seen a number of the lane’s creatures but here is one we haven’t had before – this slug caught my attention as, although it’s not so obvious here, he must have been well over 6 inches long as he made his way along the path.

dsc00796The farm field has, as regular followers will know, been ploughed, rolled, seeded and fertilised and now the grass is starting to come through remarkably quickly. Here it is at the start of the week:

dsc00800 And here… just 3 days later!


The horses are still down the lane but should be back in the paddock shortly for another stay. Flash is either contemplating an escape or whether to have a drink of water – almost certainly the latter as he’s not the escaping type!


I found this fellow sitting on the gravel in the driveway and managed to snap him before he flew off. There are a lot of butterflies around at the moment and this fine looking Red Admiral is one of the prettiest.


Also prevalent of late are the Hawks – not sure if they are Kestrel or Sparrow. This one decided to perch on the nearby electricity pole, on the lookout for potential prey no doubt.


And here he is with his/her mate, swooping gracefully over the nearby fields in search of food.


No more House Martin photos I’m afraid – at some point early in the week they set off back to warmer climes for the winter. Unfortunately I wasn’t here to get a snap as it would have been quite a picture as they tend to fly en-masse.

A Year in a Lane – Week 35

It has been a bit murky of late with rain in the air but the temperature is still fairly warm. This combination quite often, at this time of year, produces a mist first thing in the morning.


As the sun comes up the mist tends to clear fairly quickly but can still leave an attractive early autumn view down the lane as the mist lingers below the willows, particularly at the bottom of the hill halfway .


The farm field next to the house has now been ploughed and rolled a few times and is completely flat again albeit a little muddy after the recent rain.


Subsequently it is being prepared for regrowth and a tractor covered the land with the first treatment. Unfortunately this is a form of silage which renders, shall we say, a different perfume to the atmosphere for a few hours!

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Earlier in the year I showed my outdoor “office” – the gazebo on the decking. Sadly we had some un-seasonally strong winds last month and the gazebo was blown from its “moorings” right across the garden. Although I have managed to re-site it to serve the rest of the summer and autumn it is, as you can see, somewhat bent out of shape. After 6+ years of good service, I think it will have to be retired this year.


Finally another sign of autumn underway as the horse buckets are back out in force as the grass starts to slow in its growth and needs to be supplemented with feed. The stables next door seen here collecting the buckets ready to be replenished from the stores.


A Year in a Lane – Week 34

The dappled light through the trees when the sun is strong creates good photo opportunities in the lane. Here is a departing tractor heading off towards the road and flattening the surface out as it goes – very helpful for the car suspension!

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The farm field continues to be worked on now being ploughed as part of the preparation for re-seeding. You wouldn’t want to be standing too close to some of the equipment in use.


And, having been churned up, our old friend the roller is back to flatten everything down again.


There is obviously a chain of communication in the bird world that is beyond our understanding. We are about 8 miles as the crow/seagull flies from the coast and only usually see the latter when conditions are windy and rough at sea. However, despite the rich pickings of dropped food and ice cream cones from tourists, the gulls have obviously found out that there is a sudden availability of worms created by all the ploughing going on.


Recently the horses’ hay was delivered in preparation for the autumn and winter seasons which are now just around the corner. This week another reminder was the delivery of logs for the wood burner. A nice man in a lorry drops them off just by the wood shed.

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And, some thirty minutes later – thanks to much help from the Head Gardener – it’s all stored and ready for the colder weather.


A Year in a Lane – Week 33

Not for the first time, a visitor has asked why there are some steps apparently in the middle of nowhere in the horses’ winter field.


The answer to this conundrum is that they are for boarding (not sure if that’s the correct technical term) the horse – i.e. to get a leg up in the absence of other humans around to help.

The late summer warmth has continued this week and encouraged sunbathing among many of us – what’s a black dog to do except enjoy the warmth in the shade?


The flowers are looking lovely still but I thought it would be good to capture the side patio before things start to wilt as autumn approaches. A good variety of colours this year!


Earlier on in the year we looked at the bottom end of the lane and the woods there. However, we haven’t really examined the opposite direction other than the farm. Crossing the adjacent field (that’s the big one awaiting ploughing) from the stile at the end of the driveway, you are presented with a lovely view across east Dorset countryside and down onto Cranborne Chase in the distance.

DSC00641Looking the other way and zooming in a little we can see the local pub. This appears, at first glance, to be on fire but there is a clue at the bottom left of the picture in the shape of a steam engine. Each weekend before the Great Dorset Steam Fair, which takes place a few miles away, a significant number of engines visit the car park of the local and a weekend of steam, live music and beer and cider is enjoyed by many visitors. It is a well-loved local tradition.

DSC00640And here is one of the visiting vehicles heading off on Sunday towards the Steam Fair itself.

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