A bright spring morning. As I feed the hens and ducks, woodpeckers are busy in the trees below the farm, the sharp sound echoing across the valley. Yesterday, skylarks, high above us, reminded us that winter is almost over- almost, but not quite. March can fool us. A stiletto frost caught us almost on the hop and we had to rush around, frantically covering camellias and other delicate buds. Yet there is definitely a buzz in the air. Steve found a newly fledged bird on the lawn at the weekend- it looked at him with surprise as he scooped it up out of harm’s way.
It isn’t just the promise of warmer weather that has led to excitement here. At the weekend Sadie, a beautiful three year old piebald mare, joined our family. We already love her and I am totally smitten. We have all sorts of plans for her but right now we just want her to make friends and settle down in her new home.
At last we can take a breather. This part of Wales has got off relatively lightly in the recent storms- when we watch footage of the coast or places like the Somerset Levels we know just how lucky we’ve been. Nevertheless, it’s wonderful to feel the sun warming everything up and daffodils are about to make an appearance.
Meanwhile, ducks and hens are laying like crazy and we are almost overrun with eggs. Our dogs enjoy the odd egg with their dinner- only trouble is, an egg seems to encourage the dogs to be jet propelled, so to speak…
We’ve had a flurry of bookings for The Byre in the last 4 days- eight in actual fact so we’re very pleased. We’ve been lucky during the atrocious weather- only one cancelation. We’ve had some great guests who have visited Hay and one walking no matter what the weather has thrown at them.
The hedges are full of birds just now; we counted 27 different varieties around the bird table last weekend! A cock pheasant and his four females are hoovering up the seed around the base so nothing gets wasted. His shrill call can be heard all over the farm.
I finally finished editing my book- over a hundred hours of work. I decided to enter it into a competition and although I probably don’t stand a chance of winning the first prize of £25,000 (or any prize come to that!) I feel I can say I am now officially a writer. It’s time to start work on the next one…if only the garden would take care of itself…
Jemima, Jackie and Jessie are looking for new nests. A bit premature, me thinks. Or do they know something we don’t? Anyway, Jacob is getting very amorous and it’s a case of “Take three girls…” Time for another song, I believe.
Is this the way to Duckerillo? Are there eggs right under my pillow? pill
It’s official. The wettest January on record- we didn’t need telling did we? So we’re all hoping that Spring will start early this year…
But before that, we’ve got to get through February, often a cold month, with the possibility of snow to come. We’ve had a cancellation and the weekend that includes Valentine’s Night is now available here at The Byre. What can you expect if you book with us? Champagne on arrival, red roses, the log burning stove lit and ready to warm you up- whatever the weather! Throughout February we offer a free night for every booking of two nights or more as well as our usual welcome pack- home made cake, home made bread, our own eggs, jam and marmalade, local bacon, butter, milk, muesli, tea, juice and coffee. We will give you the warmest of welcomes- we’ve had over 40 five star reviews on Trip Advisor in less than two years. Have a look and see what our guests think of us. We’ve even had proposals of marriage- no, not to Steve and I, we’ve been happily married for thirty years!!!
Clyro is on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, with its superb walking and dark sky status,and with the wonderful Hay on Wye just five minutes down the road, you will want to return again and again.
As we walked onto the sodden hill this morning with the dogs, we were amazed to catch sight of a hen harrier being chased by two angry crows; the harrier dipped and swooped and successfully escaped, only to then be mugged by a sparrow hawk- a fraction of the harrier in terms of size but more than a match for her speed. They disappeared into the gloom. Whilst we were chatting about what we’d just witnessed, a skylark began to sing above our heads. We though we were imagining things but no- minutes later we heard it again. A sound to gladden the heart in the depths of winter.
On Sunday, in glorious sunshine we spotted a pair of swans. Coots and moorhens have disappeared to warmer waters for the winter but this pair have been around most of the year now.
The night skies here are superb- the nearby Brecon Beacons received Dark Sky status recently and confirmed what we already knew. There is very little light pollution here making star gazing popular with our guests. We bought ourselves a telescope for Christmas so the recent “Star Gazing Live” series had us looking up to the skies all of last week. Unlike most of December, the skies have been fabulously clear and we’ve seen several shooting stars.
The frosty nights this weekend have also encouraged owls to hunt; I spotted a barn owl as I drove home and tawny owls are certainly making their presence known. There’s something about the hooting of owls that makes me feel incredibly happy.
And talking of star gazing- our fabulous “cinema in a bookshop” at Richard Booth’s in Hay has once again been showing some great films- Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, for example. It’s wonderful to be able to see films locally in such comfort. Why not treat yourself? We are offering three nights for two throughout February…
I always feel that today actually marks the beginning of the new year rather than 1st January. There’s something about removing Christmas trees, burning holly and putting away the baubles and fairies for another year that never fails to raise my spirits. It’s an opportunity to make plans, talk about fresh challenges- maybe even consider a holiday. The farm and house seem quiet, as they’re waiting for something to happen.
The weather has been atrocious, of course, and that’s made looking after the animals quite tricky, even though we only have a “hobby farm;” God help those near the coast or on the river who are struggling to rescue livestock from flooded plains. Here high up on the hill we watch in amazement as water pours down our yard into the fields far below before filling the stream that eventually joins the River Wye…we’ve lived here twenty two years. It must certainly rank as the wettest and stormiest Christmas we’ve seen.
After putting the last of the Christmas decorations away in the loft I wandered outside to check the hens. A blackbird was pecking at a left over sodden windfall in the veg garden and it quickly flew away as I climbed the stone steps towards the chicken run. A small bead of white caught my eye as I put my hand on the latch- a snowdrop! Partially covered by leaves and the remains of an apple, it looked tiny and vulnerable as the wind roared around me. There are hundreds of others nearby, all waiting for the right moment to show themselves. That was all it took to make me feel intensely happy. I made a quick wish and scurried back inside to make a cup of tea. Happy New Year!