There is no accounting for daffodils: there has been a sudden rush to flower with the majority of the plants either appearing in the rose hedge or the brambles. I believe roses and brambles are related plants – think of the thorns - but no time to check that out now. Of course, some of the 'daffodils' will be narcissi when they condescend to open but they open later than the standard daff. What I do not understand is why/how the daffodil developed a flower that is too heavy for its stem. Many of the flowers, when fully opened, are virtually touching the ground. Then, unlike most wild flowers, put them in a vase and they start to stand up straight. They cannot be lacking water – the rain, it raineth every day.
It is also encouraging to note that the orchids are back under the ash trees that form such a welcoming clump of shade for the sheep in summer. Every year I worry that the weight of sheep settling down will destroy the plants. They certainly destroy the flowers. As always it looks as though it is the purple spotted orchid (dactylorhiza maculata) that has returned, flat circles of large, dark green, black spotted leaves are easily visible. It will be a race between self and the sheep to get at the flowers first.
Meanwhile we are going to let the former horse fields just grow naturally for the coming year and see what comes up. There used to be some serapia orchids, Aphrodite's own flower, behind where the horse boxes were built but I think their big feet may have killed the plants. We shall wait and see. For the rest, there still seems to be clover of various colours, wild chicory which seems indestructible but, sadly because it is a lovely colour, dies promptly when cut for ornamental purposes. With any luck the wild sage in its three colours of white, pink and blue, will come back also. I have recovered all the golf balls that the horses stamped into the ground.
It seems that the deer that used to jump the fence so they could share the horses' hay have damaged the grove of parasol pines. Some of the bark has been eaten, probably during this last snowy winter (the horses may have refused to share their meals) but not so badly that the trees are likely to die. We buried our last labrador, Edward the Black Prince, in that grove of trees, so the site is important to us. Audrey says she will protect the trees against deer for the coming winter – just this Sunday I heard the strangled bark of a male deer establishing his territory. Terrine de chevreuil aux pistaches, I mused.
One lucky or clever ewe has manipulated, bullied – I am not quite sure what word to use – the triple A team into bottle feeding her twins four times a day. And she still gets breakfast, lunch and dinner brought to her. There are seven ewes who have not delivered, with luck at least four of them should do so around the full moon on the 27th of this month. The ones who do not look remotely pregnant are quite likely (loi d'emmerdement maximum = French for sod's law) to deliver lambs in the fields in the course or April or May. Oh, joy! And more joy today, Monday 18th - the ewe who had a prolapse last year and this year has just successfully delivered very small twins. The twins are so small one wonders if there is not a third lurking....