This winter has been very odd, to say the least.
Very cold, very warm, extremely wet and now cold again. Ebba's play area is partly under water and her diving has made her shiny and clean. Our dog seems to be a creature from the sea, she will now have to take up ice skating.
Our dear hens have started to notice that they are not allowed out wandering as they used to. Partly because it's still cold but the main reason is that the migrating birds have started to arrive. The bird influensa scare is real, so now the hens must be careful. How to keep them in the outdoor cage until June will be a bit of a conundrum. It is too cold just now for them to stay in one place so they stay indoors, under protest. Monty is happy though, as all his ladies are in one place. He still loves our three guest hens dearly, so having to leave their side would be hard for him. The three serenading hens will move home as soon as the weather turns warmer, so until then he might as well follow them around. I think our guests will revel in the peace and quiet at home after our lot of hens, plus four doting sheep. I'm certain that they will miss Monty for a while, as he is a charming but very loud cockerel. His morning calls are now almost in tune with the rest of the cockerel world.
Friends give us leftover bread that we then dry in the sauna for the sheep. This makes the shower area smell like an upmarket bakery and Ebba finds the whole thing most intriguing. My brain works in mysterious ways which means that when I go into a shop that smells of fresh bread, I remember that we are out of soap or shampoo. More than once I've come home without the bread I went in to buy in the first place. It's good that we have a freezer, otherwise we would be living on dry bread meant for our kind sheep.
Speaking of kindness; our sheep are the best. As it's been raining on and off for days now, the cleaning of the stable has been a bit of a puzzle. As I don't want our sheep to get wet or even damp, I try to let them out in between showers. Sometimes it's started to rain soon after they've gone outside and I have had to call them indoors once more. It fascinates me that they are such polite animals that they walk back and forth, in and out, probably wishing that I could make up my mind. Few dogs I know would be that well behaved. I think that they understand that I'm trying to keep them dry, as they come in so quickly, when the rain starts. Still, they are the kindest animals on the planet.
Ebba's next door neighbors are coming to the village this weekend. They are two dogs that live in the city and here in the country. They have not yet officially met, just said hello on the road but now we might have time to let them play. At least Ebba and the small Staffordshire terrier could meet up. Her friend and partner is a small fellow, a mix between a Chihuahua and a terrier, we think. He arrived on a plane some years ago, and completely stole our hearts. His legs are like small sticks but he is fast and can out walk us all. He loves his girl dearly and he finds life a bit frightening, at times. I worry that the two bigger dogs will run him over, so we will see how it goes.
The Staffy is funny, as she rolls over as soon as she meets another dog. This always confused dear Mr. Chip, who could not understand why she fell down all the time. I did try to explain about it being nicer than her attacking him but he never stopped looking confused. She is not the most dominating dog in the village but there is none with a glossier coat than hers.
We have some completely white hares in our yard, in the evenings. They pop in for some hay and bird seeds, mostly the oats, I put out each evening so that the birds can start eating early in the morning. Our brilliant dog finds these hares to be slightly ghost like and makes sure to do her business quickly and then we rush indoors, once more. We must look like an odd lot, gliding out quietly, madly staring into the forest and then the mad dash back into safety. Anyone could get frightened of the dark, spending time with dear Ebba. If she sees a hare in daylight, she would gladly chase it, if allowed. "It's that floaty, whiteness with big eyes staring at her in the dark!", she tells me.
So, between swimming lessons with the dog, exercising sheep and listening to complaining hens, we try to get something else done. (Now we can start gritting again, oh joy!).
Dear husband has started on the wood chopping, when the weather is a bit dryer. I spend my time in the hay barn sorting out good hay from bad. With this humid winter the hay gets moldy, so buying hay is a complete lottery this year. My dear husband has the patience of a saint so he drives, buying new stuff when I have another meltdown amongst the dust. I sometimes think that there might be more to life than sorting hay, but I'm sure I'm wrong.
I'm also darning wooly socks and mending mittens and some woolly jumpers. It's my new passion and I'm getting better at it. The way we go through socks you would think that we don't lift our feet at all, just skating about the place! Jumper sleeves get caught in Ebba's sharp teeth, when we play and mittens are just a lost cause. So, when I'm not in the hay barn I'm sitting like a little old lady in the woods, needle in hand, contemplating getting a cat. It's a shame my hair is not gray, yet.
Enjoy the birds singing again and remember to feed them as some of them has come from afar and beyond.
Life's little ironies; the following morning, after writing this, we had paw prints from a cat on our step. They say cats can read minds... Maybe I should go disco dancing or something or maybe not. Be well.
A blog about a small holding in Southern Finland. Each original story is accompanied by a stunning watercolour illustration or resplendent photographs.