A Year in a Lane – Week 22

The first days of June brought some very weird weather with a sharp drop in temperature and a strong chilly wind. I managed to resist the temptation to put the heating back on in the evenings, but walking down the track wearing two sweatshirts on top of a T-shirt, it really felt and looked like Autumn – witness the fallen leaves to maintain that impression.


Last week we saw Tom and Flash relocate to their summer field and they are delighted with the amount of grass available! Equally happy to come and say Hello when we walk past their new home.


The other week I showed the farm field next to the house being allowed to grow in order for hay to be taken off. This week that process began with two tractors cutting the grass down – the “wake” of one visible here.


Following the tractor is an attractive pursuit, especially for the local rooks – always on the look-out for some unfortunate worm who has been exposed by the cutters.

DSC00423When the cutting is done the tractor returns to turn the grass over in preparation for the bailing in a few days. This process is always done twice over a couple of days to allow the cut grass to dry fully in the sun.


It is always encouraging to see this activity kick off as you can be fairly sure the farmer knows there is a dry spell coming – and so far he has been proved right.

A Year in a Lane – Week 21

I am always keen to show the different creatures that inhabit the lane but have had real difficulty capturing a squirrel – they move too quickly and almost seem to know if a camera is pointing at them. Finally managed to get one this week, who was too busy chewing on something to notice me hovering nearby.


Everything is in bloom beautifully now and this bush is no exception providing a sparkling display of white as you come down the track.


The horses have managed to chomp their way through the grass in the paddock attached to the house over the last four weeks and so now it is time to move them again. The field they normally live in suffered badly, as we saw earlier in the year, with the winter rains. Thus they are going down the lane to a new field for them, courtesy of the stable yard next door. This will allow their “normal” field more time to recover. This new field has loads of grass in it and is fairly sizeable so we will section it off and allow them access to about a third at a time. The first fencing line is now in place.


And here are the boys being led down the lane by Clare to their summer retreat – followed by Willow and the “nanny” .


Back to things in bloom and the wisteria at the back of the house continues to flower, although it is now nearly at its peak, and crawl across the trellis at the entrance to the garden.


A Year in a Lane – Week 20

Although the sun (particularly with occasional showery days) encourages growth this time of year, it is not always in the right places. Having a gravel driveway is very nice but weed killing and pulling is an essential process in spring and summer.


Some of the visiting birds can be remarkably tame – especially the robins, who like to hang around the horses hoping for titbits that remain once they have finished their buckets. This feathered friend is just whiling away the time between the farm and the verges of my driveway hoping for a worm or two no doubt!


Talking of birds, the house martins are busy examining the nests that remain on the house carrying out repairs where necessary and even building anew.


It’s not always as quiet as people imagine in the countryside, although standing outside on a summer’s evening listening to “nothing” can be quite amazing. Apart from the occasional night time squawks and occasional screams as something gets murdered by a fox (nice!). during the daytime there are occasional aircraft passing over to nearby airports. Normally these are lighter craft heading for Compton Abbas or, in this case, Bournemouth.

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As shown a little in the robin photograph above and more clearly below by the footpath style at the end of the driveway, following the departure of the sheep the farmer is allowing the big field next door to grow. This will now almost certainly be left and one or two lots of hay taken off later in the year.


Finally another lovely sunset to watch during the week.


A Year in a Lane – Week 19

The weather continues to be warm and largely dry which causes changes to the natural view and also how the animals behave and react to the heat – and yes it has actually been very warm. The weather men are predicting that the next two months could be very hot – although these are the same people that predicted a barbeque summer a couple of years ago when it rained pretty much every day. We wait and see. In the meantime the animals enjoy grazing (Tommy) and lazing (Lottie, who else) in the sun.

DSC00366The horses, as shown last week, have come up to the paddock for a few weeks. Their winter field is resting and will eventually be dragged. It is already noticeable how much more grass there is and how dry it has become compared to the mud bath it was earlier in the year.


The apple tree above has blossomed beautifully as well. Everything is growing at a rate of knots – including the weeds unfortunately. The view from the back of the house across the paddock, which used to show the fields beyond, is now a vista of green trees.


We have some more creatures in the lane now as the hens from the stable yard halfway down have decided to wander about a bit more and see what they can find to eat beyond the yard itself. Here they are almost at the top of the lane, just short of my driveway.

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At least they also help to slow any traffic down should any delivery drivers or visitors come up the lane a little quicker than they should. Talking of which, I encountered this mobile speed hump coming back during the week. Tommy was returning home from a ride with a local young lady who helps keep him fit by riding out occasionally.

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A Year in a Lane – Week 18

It’s all (well nearly all) about horses this week. The paddock has finally fully recovered from the monsoon season formally known as winter! And below you can see that it is looking pretty lush and ready for the horses to come home for a few weeks. (By the way, it is on a slope and it isn’t that I wasn’t holding the camera straight 🙂 ). Oh and look, there’s a posing dog in the corner.


Here comes Tom, led by Sonia who helps look after the boys, on his way back and thinking longingly about the feast of grass he is about to have.

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Every few months the horses’ feet need to be filed or washed or shoed or something (not really an expert on this sort of thing as you can tell!). Anyway, a nice farrier called Guy comes up and sorts them out. Here he is working on one of Tom’s front feet watched by Willow, who is looking fascinated by the whole process, and Clare. Oh and there’s Lottie again!


As you can see from the pictures, summer arrived at last this week and, even if the sun doesn’t last all the time, at least the temperature has risen to something quite normal for this time of year. The clue to the change in the weather actually came on Sunday when the first house martins appeared and by the middle of the week there were many more around. They have been starting to examine the old nests and repairing where necessary to prepare for the breeding season.


More of these little guys to come – however as they arrived the sheep in the field next door disappeared. Not sure where to – maybe another field or maybe …..

Here they are being herded off the field by a motorised buggy on one side and a sheep dog, just visible as a small black dot the horizon, on the other side.

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Bye Bye sheep!

A Year in a Lane – Week 17

I have previously mentioned the lovely sunsets that we get that are always helped by the open vista to the west from the house position on the hill. Here was another great example from this week.


A couple of weeks ago I showed the willow trees starting to leaf up as the weather warmed and in the fortnight it seems that everything has suddenly come on apace – the view down the lane has suddenly transformed into a beautiful array of green hues.


This next picture is a pile of poo – literally! The manure and sawdust from the racehorses is collected in this side yard and eventually taken away by a large lorry. Our boys add their own little contribution as we take the wheelbarrow over daily with the “pickings” from their field.


It is still chilly, especially at night, even ‘tho’ we are nearly in May – in fact we have had as many frosts at the end of April as in the whole of January and February, but at least it has been relatively dry. The next door horses are still wearing their coats to keep warm even during the day.


The field above the house is well managed by the farm and this week they have been flattening the ground down – the sheep are blissfully unmoved by the presence of the tractor and roller.


A Year in a Lane – Week 16

It is always quite flattering to live somewhere that people want to come for a holiday or a just a day out in the countryside. Although there are still some that complain about tourists, by far the majority are welcoming – I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been stopped and asked about the history of the tower in the field next door. So it’s not unusual to see ramblers up and down the lane – this is the back end of a large group of about 50 who were passing by.


On the other hand, some prefer a walk on their own, often drawn by the folly and this picture gives some idea of the scale and size of this locally iconic building. I don’t think this solo walker brought their own sheep however despite the photo.


Further along the field, there’s time for a bit of sunbathing. You can just see a number on the back of the sheep at the top of the picture – all the adult sheep are numbered presumably for identification purposes, they certainly all look alike to me and I guess the farmer has the same problem 🙂 .


Last week I showed some of the House Martins’ nests on the eaves of the house. Across the field, you can see the rooks nests high up in the trees – most of these seem to survive the winter winds and soon they will disappear out of sight as foliage continues to grow.


More blossom is appearing as Spring finally starts to change the appearance of the lane from green and brown to a plethora of differing colours -all of which to feature here now doubt!


A Year in a Lane – Week 15

April brings about a mix of weather, including some lovely misty mornings following chilly nights. The Sun gradually burns through (assuming we get some on any given day) but there is something rather haunting about a misty morning across the fields. This is a view across next door’s fields to the lane beyond.

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Blossom is starting to come out on the trees in many places and here is a cherry tree at the end of the driveway adjacent to bushes where the winter berries are beginning to drop off. A good example of the transition across the seasons. Oh and someone decided you might like a dog in the picture too!


The other stables in the lane are where locals (and some others from quite some way away including Bournemouth) keep their horses. They come out most days to feed and poo-pick and then ride at weekends or in the longer evenings which are already stretching out towards 9.00 pm.


Security round here tends to involve four-legged security alarms as much as more traditional ones. Lottie usually picks up on someone approaching from the end of the driveway and is most vocal if anyone should dare to use the footpath across the neighbouring farm :-). These two handsome chaps below do a similar job for the racehorse yard as well as acting as Lottie’s early warning system and vice-versa.


And having mentioned horse riding, here are some riders taking out their horses one pleasant spring evening, just heading off the end of the lane onto tarmac towards the village.

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A Year in a Lane – Week 14

Unbelievably we are just over a quarter of the year gone and we are moving rapidly into Spring proper. The lambs are now growing visibly which is probably not ideal for them as in a few weeks they will be off to Tesco – and not to do some shopping!! In the meantime they are enjoying the sunshine and obviously terrified of the hunter dog (not!) as you can see them happily grazing right alongside the fence that is between the farm and me.


Actually, it’s very good that Lottie isn’t interested in the sheep and they are not scared of her as sheep worrying is a rural problem and I’d be rather concerned if Lottie did bark at them.

The trees are starting to leaf now and things are turning green as this large willow in the lane shows.


Although we have had a couple of days with heavy rain showers, generally it has been a fairly dry period and the horses’ field, which I showed a few weeks back as a muddy bog, is gradually drying out and grass is starting to come through, much to enjoyment of Tommy who has now started to wander out further into the field for a bit of a munch.


Speaking of Tommy and munching, I have seen him give Flash very short shrift if the latter has tried to share his food and I certainly wouldn’t interrupt him mid-flow without very good reason. However, Mr. and Mrs. Pheasant have no such fears and joined in tea-time the other day. Tommy did not seem to object and they all ate peacefully together.


Some visitors who we haven’t seen yet but will undoubtedly show up in the next few weeks are the House Martins. We made the mistake once of taking down their nests in the winter, but the mess made when they rebuilt them was unbelievable -so their summer homes remain waiting for them to return from the southern hemisphere. Much more on these guys to come I am sure.


A Year in a Lane – Week 13

April showers are not uncommon of course, but getting two seasons in the same day is always a challenge. Having been out running in shorts and a running vest in the morning, a huge hail storm in the afternoon gave the impression that it might have been winter.


This even left a snowy effect on the thatched roof of the cottage next door:


Back in the sunshine, another one of our regular visitors braves a graze in the paddock – probably aware that the “fearsome” dog may be watching him but from behind a window.


More visitors in the field next door – not sure where they have come from although there are a number of these Canada Geese living on the lake on a golf course about 6 miles away. I suspect there is somewhere nearer where these two might inhabit.

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Sunsets are a feature of the open skies here as I mentioned before – here are two star-crossed lovers enjoying a bit of a kiss and a cuddle in an oak tree as the sun sets on a lovely spring evening.