Springtime is yellow time

Unfortunately the photos from this old post have been lost
We have had a wonderful week of sunshine and the wildness around us is bursting into life again. Everywhere I look there are beautiful yellow flowers and seeds.

Yellow flowerhead

 

 

 

Open Willow Seed Head
Open Willow Seed Head
Closed Willow Seed Head
Closed Willow Seed Head

 

Daffodils
Yellow Daffodill and Narcissus
Narcissus
Narcissus
A Host of Golden Daffodils

There are a few amazingly large bumble bees flying around our heads from time to time, however I have not yet been able to get a good photo so apologies for the bad quality of the shot below.

 

Irish Bumble Bee
Irish Bumble Bee

Apparently there used to be 18 species of bumble bee in Ireland at one time, sadly there are not many to be seen these days. When I do get a good photo I will hopefully be able to identify which species of bumble bee it is.

Spring Is Here

Unfortunately the photos from this old post have been lost
It is so wonderful to look about these days and see life bursting forth everywhere. There are buds on the trees, birds are singing to attract partners, frogs are singing and have already found their partners.

We have been tending to our hedges here over the last week. We are lucky enough to have inherited some great Whitethorn (Hawthorn) hedges on our land, some of which have not been trimmed in perhaps sixty or seventy years. They had become very stringy and were looking a bit top-heavy, especially when they were covered in snow over the winter.

In order to prevent breakages due to snow or wind damage but mainly to encourage new growth we cut our top hedge down to about eight foot tall. I am looking forward to seeing the new growth over the next few years as the trees regenerate.

Right now we have a lot of thorny branches and trunks to trim, chip, cut and stack. The thinest pieces we are trimming and chipping, leaving cleaner bigger pieces of wood to deal with.

We have an electric hand-saw and an electric wood-chipper which have been given lots of use over the last week. Luckily we had plenty of power to run the tools and we only used one at a time which was also the most efficient way for us to work.

I trimmed the smaller pieces whilst himself cut the bigger pieces down to workable sizes for me to work with and we created a few different piles of brushwood for chipping which we then both fed into the chipper. The chips are then wheelbarrowed to the gooseberry bed for use as mulch.

Once we have a good size stack of timber we start chopping and stacking. The branches are cut to a size that fits our wee stove and stacked to dry for burning next year. We’ve heard that Whitethorn wood burns with a high heat so if next winter is like the one just past then we will be glad of the warmth.

When the tree trunks are left for a day or two you can see the moisture dripping out of the cuts. It’s a little sad to be cutting such lovely trees however it helps to know that the wood is all going to good use, firewood and mulch.

It’s also both comforting and promising to be building a wood pile for use over next winter and we are hopeful that we will be burning it in our new home, warm and cosy within the walls which we are soon to build.

Whitethorn, hawthorn, cut wood. firewood chopping

Settling in for the duration

Unfortunately the photos from this old post have been lost

We are getting used to this new way of living, going to town one day a week, working outside when the sun is shining then coming in to work on our computers and read beside the stove in the late afternoon.

Snowy Scenes in North West Ireland
Afternoon Snow

Looking through the food stores to see what’s for dinner tonight and wondering how many more dinners the fresh vegetables will do.

Writing shopping lists that take the long view rather than the assumption that we will be in town again the day after tomorrow.

Putting on boots, a warm jacket and hat before going out the door, even for the quickest of tasks, has become the norm.

Freezing snow crystals
Snow Flakes Freezing

On Saturday we had fresh falls of snow and enjoyed a ramble around the forestry lanes and our land.

On Sunday we retraced our steps, we saw fox tracks and enjoyed watching where the tracks lead, where the fox followed in our footsteps and where he (or she, hard to tell from tracks) walked carefully in his own tracks.

Fox tracks on forest lane, Leitrim, Ireland North West
Fox Tracks

He puts up quite a mileage each night, we can see fresh tracks each morning now that we are on the lookout for them. He criss crosses the fields quite methodically and often walks back in his own tracks.

It’s fun watching the trails left behind by him. We don’t keep poultry or fowl so we have no reason to dislike his visits. At one stage as we walked we were wondering what he finds to eat in this weather and then we spotted hare tracks. I am guessing that hare wants to avoid that fox at all costs!

We don’t know much about this business of tracking animals however we are having lots of fun. Usually we can’t see the animal tracks in the rainy weather 🙂

frozen snow, sparkles, snowy Leitrim
Snow Crystals

Yesterday, Sunday, we had lots of sunshine and the snow started to melt a little. It began to freeze quite seriously again in the afternoon which made for a beautiful effect, the snow chrystalised and flattened out into amazing spikes.

Snowy Leitrim, Ireland north west, freezing weather
Snowy Wonders

Last night we walked about with head torches and the snow sparkled like fairy lights, everywhere we looked, it was the most wonderful sight. On Saturday night as we walked to bed we saw four shooting stars in the night sky and last night the fields were filled with starlight.

Stay warm, stay safe and if you have elderly neighbours please chat with them and see if there is anything they need – or indeed anything they can help you with……

Beautiful Aliens

There is a large number of aliens plants growing wild in Ireland. I guess that really the definition of alien plant depends on far back you wish to go – if you go back far enough even Ash trees are alien.

In recent years there has been an increase in alien plants growing wild due to garden escapees and seeds that travel to the country in the transport of fruit and veg from abroad.

Around where I live there is a lovely little alien, called Indian Balsalm, which apparently has made it’s way across the country from Belfast according to Flora Hibernica, The wild flowers, plants and trees of Ireland by Jonathan Pilcher & Valerie Hall.

Indian_Balsam_7.jpg

Last year I noticed this plant on the lower reaches of the hill that we live on and this year the plant has moved further up the hill.

Indian_Balsam.jpg

Indian_Balsam_4.jpgLittle_Bug.jpg

There is a lovely little hoverfly on one of the flowers, quite undisturbed by my attention.  Next year I expect to see the plants much further up the hill and closer to our home.

Indian_Balsam_6.jpg

Indian_Balsam_8.jpgIndian_Balsam_5.jpg

There is nothing that can be done really in rural Ireland to prevent the spread of these new plants, at least the Indian Balsalm is a pleasing looking plant to my eye, compared to the Japanese knotweed.