An Early Spring!

Welcome to The Hedge Witch’s blog

In this first entry, I think a beginning is a good theme, and what better beginning to talk about than the early spring we are having.

Here in the rainy west of Ireland we’ve had a very mild winter. I only recall having seen two frosts, although that could be somewhat down to me rising late (blush). I think it snowed for five minutes on one day and more recently we had a couple of hail storms. I don’t remember any days when the house was really freezing. So all in all, yes a very mild winter, and this has led to the lovely early spring.

Back in mid February, my hubby and I took a wander through our village on a pleasant sunny day (yes there is occasional sunshine in Ireland), and decided to walk on further to the little harbour. We found a bench to sit on under a horse chestnut tree, which was actually in leaf. On the way home I spotted branches of hawthorn sticking through the hedgerow also in leaf. There were daffodils everywhere.

In March, we had a several sunny warm days, and this brought a sea of yellow. The celandine popped up, dandelions, more daffodils, and the primroses brightend the countryside. And dotted around the fields, our own garden, and around the lake, which we are lucky to have just a few metres away from our home, is the lovely, abundant, bright yellow blossom of the furze. The blackthorn is also now in bloom. I’ve seen ground ivy and I have it on good authority that the marsh marigold has made an early appearance. For all the early spring, I haven’t yet heard the cuckoo.

This morning I sat outside on our bench, looking at the early morning sunshine reflecting on the lake. A couple of cows were looking at me over the hedge. I remembered back to the variety of animals I’ve had running through my garden over the last few years, while living in different houses. Oh the joys of rural living. One garden has a herd of wild Galloway cattle run through it. They lived on the riverside and the high tide had forced them off their usual grazing land and they had panicked. Chasing behind them was a long string of people. My dogs were barking like hell. I was standing in the snow in my bathrobe calling the dogs. It was like being in a Benny Hill movie. Shortly after this incident, several ponies escaped from the next door farm and my hubby sent me to tell the farmer while he chased off down the lane after them.

Later in the year I’d planted up a circular flower bed with a dwarf weeping willow and lots of lovely purple and yellow pansies. People used to stand on top of the dijk (this was the Netherlands) and look at them. One morning I saw several people standing looking and I was immediately suspicious. I went out to find a tribe of goats eating through all my lovely plants, they had scoffed the lot, including the willow. At this same house, we often saw geese, ducks, herons and all manor of wild fowl as we were so close to the river.

While in Ireland living in Tipperary, we regularly had horses escaping into the garden. One time, trying to get them back into a field with a locked gate was a little difficult. The owner was at a funeral, which in Ireland can go on for a few days. Meantime we had shut our gate to prevent them escaping onto the road. The owner eventually turned up. Standing in the same garden looking down the back field I once saw two deer running along by the river. We often had hare, pheasant and red squirrel visit us too.

One of the things I really loved having the opportunity to do while living rural, was helping to feed orphaned lambs.

We had found the mother sheep and another little lamb lying dead in the field adjoining the house and we had alerted the farmer. He invited me to feed the poor one remaining orphaned lamb, and I was only too glad to help. It’s so easy to get attached to them. Snowdrop would run to me every time I came outside. She wagged her tail all the time while being fed. During this time, my hubby and young son went to the field to fetch Snowdrop and another sheep and her lamb panicked and ran off up the lane. My hubby ran to fetch his bike while my son dashed off after them. I grabbed Snowdrop before she followed. The sheep and lamb trotted on and the lamb fell or jumped off a little bridge into a shallow ditch and my son jumped in after it. Meanwhile my hubby peddled off after the sheep, which he lost sight of when it ran into someone’s garden. He came back and helped my son drag the lamb out of the ditch and they both arrived back soaking wet, covered in mud and red faced (but they looked really funny). Luckily the sheep was caught and returned pretty swiftly. Snowdrop survived my attempts at being her mum and thank the goddess grew up and eventually joined the rest of the flock.

Here though in Clare, it’s the cows we have. They have escaped several times and rampaged through the garden. They are now blocked off so just peer at me from over the hedge.

It’s lovely here in Ireland at the moment of writing this blog and a nice  respite from the stormy days right now. But I’m sure we will soon be back to stormy days with lots of wind and rain. Hopefully in between the April showers torrential rain, we will get enough dry days to enjoy our country walks more, especially in our lovely woods. I personally will be ever grateful that I am privileged to live in such a beautiful country.





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