It is with great pride that I announce the reception of 7mm of rain since we last corresponded! New flowers opened overnight – suddenly the woodshed is garnished with a heavy fringe of wisteria. Eliot's lilacs are blooming, both the white and the dark mauve, the heavy scented mock orange bushes are covered in flowers. Amongst the most attractive blossoms are those of the cherry and the blackthorn. But the welcome rain scattered their fragile petals which now lie like confetti on the ground.
The grass looks almost lush, though still short, and there are men around starting to mutter about mowing. Once let out the sheep don't know where to go first, dashing from one intensely green clump of grass to another, calling for their lambs with mouths full. The lambs ignore their mothers, being far too busy doing a group rush in one direction, a wheeled turn and a rush back. Eating grass is not one of their priorities.
The rain seems also to have encouraged the birds. The dawn chorus is livelier than ever, warbled squabbles continue sporadically throughout the day. The coucou occasionally makes its voice heard, as does the pigeon. The golden orioles might be back. One of the many varieties of wood-pecker drills in short, sharp bursts. Of course, we all know that this delightful bird song has a purpose. It is being used like so many theodolites to determine one bird's territory, establish this same in the mind of other, rival birds. Oh, and to attract the girls.
I seem to have inadvertently got involved in a territorial war myself. There is a shed in which various DIY and YDI tools are kept, also tins of paint, odds and sods of wood, things that might come in useful. It has boxes of screws, nails, bolts and piles of hammers and files, yards of wire, a wooden box labelled 'mamma's: keep out'. Fat chance. In short it is a country workshed. It used to be mine. Then the house-martins briefly colonised the beams with their nests but were chased away by the late lamented cats. It is now nearly two years since Buster, the last cat, left us and no cat has ventured from the woods to join us – dissuaded by the dogs Bianca and Elvis-Non!
So I should not have been surprised when I was attacked by a small, feathered fury as I went into the shed to rummage for something I thought was there. Instinctively, I ducked, as I would for a flying bat, my arm coming up to protect my hair and eyes.
Yes, I felt stupid, but instinct sometimes makes one do silly things. Bravely, dominating instinct, I continued to rummage, but an aggressive chittering was coming from the far corner. I was dive- bombed again. I left the shed, pursued by a robin. Two wings win over two legs any time.
But I can close with a second proud announcement: tonight is the first night that sheep and lambs will stay out all night!