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It has been something of a roller coaster at Home Farm House recently. We said some farewells to some much loved companions.
Goodbye to Milly, our 13 year old working cocker spaniel. Her time had come. So now we are down to Aggie, a 'normal' cocker (aged 12 and a half), and Chuck, something of a Heinz 57. Aged 6, possibly. He is a rescue.
Goodbye to two of our ducks, Dooby and Doo (previously of Messrs Scooby, Dooby and Doo). Doo, the lady duck, was taken by a fox. And Dooby went off on a little flight with Scooby, but Dooby never returned. But Scooby is a Mallard, a natural flyer and good at finding his way home. Dooby was a Khaki Campbell, not noted for being flyers at all. He was also a little, shall we say, Tim Nice But Dim. He could never find his way home and we often had to listen to him calling for Scooby after a foray away, until Scooby went back to get him. One night, they went out on a lads' night. Scooby returned. Dooby didn't. And this being the village that it is, neighbours kept an eye out for him every day until, on the third day, his feathers were found in a neighbours' field. She broke the news to us so sweetly. This is the village where the local pub landlord once walked Scooby down the street and let him in through our front gate when it was clear that Scooby was lost. Ducks, hens, dogs, cats, horses - all are looked after one way or the other by everyone in this village, regardless of original owner!
And in the land of the Bee Hives, the male drones die off (or are killed by the lady worker bees) as Winter approaches and the Hive decreases in size considerably as it needs to conserve energy and hunker down for Winter.
There are always new beginnings.
We are unlikely to replace Milly with another dog, as Chuck is awful with other dogs. When we got him, Milly and Aggie were already in situ and were feisty middle aged bitches (frankly, a title I aspire to one day, although I have already arrived at the middle aged bit...) who kept him at the bottom of the pecking order. We have to think very carefully about bringing another one into the mix. But we are hopeful of cats! We are planning a couple of rescue feral ones who would keep the rat and mice population down. Chuck seems okay with the neighbours' cats so that may be an option.
As for the ducks... Well Scooby the Mallard became lonely and often came into the house for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea... He cried for Dooby, his bachelor pal. So off we went and got two more Kakhi Campbells - ladies! Scooby is transfixed by them. Obsessed with protecting Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble. Who are much bigger than he is. My little mate of a Scooby who followed me everywhere when he was lonely has forsaken me and now has a go at me if I go too near to his ladies! I do miss my little shadow but I am happy he has much more appropriate companions.
As for the bees, well the Queen Bee will be considering laying new eggs soon. The Queen Bees are excellent at reading the weather. Amazing really. And when they think the temperatures are right for good forage, then they will lay. And they will lay more male bees (to make more bees) and more lady bees (to do the work...). My beekeeping partner and I are making plans, writing our check lists of things to buy, people to see about the placing of new hives, etc. And, occasionally, we see bees out on sunnier days doing a 'cleansing flight' which is when they start doing a bit of spring cleaning to their hives.
But.. have I forgotten the herbs, I hear you say. No. Never. Some herbs that die back over winter are popping up! Mints, Tarragon, Wild Rocket. New leaves are developing on Oregano, Marjoram, Rosemary, Sage. And cuttings I take throughout the Winter and pop into water until the roots develop are suddenly rooting all over the place. And the flowers on the Rosemary - just that first little flower on a plant. How the soul soars when something so pretty comes through the stormy weather. Delicate little flowers with feisty flavours.
Yes. Things die. But other things come in their place. That is nature. That is life. And, right now, new beginnings are everywhere. So much excitement to come.