Everywhere I look at the moment there are babies - it's that time of year. I'm not talking human babies although quite a lot of my friends seem to be having new grandchildren, yet another sign of our ageing. In the secret valley animals outnumber humans by dozens to one so it isn't surprising that all around us there are signs of new life.
Lambing starts later here than in many places, for the spring grass is also later, so it is with impatience that we wait to see them skipping in the fields and chasing one another up and down the river banks. Of course, that was some weeks ago - now they are grown quite large and, as I write this, very noisy as they call for their mothers who have been separated for shearing. It will be a few hours before they have all found one another and normality returns again; the sound of contented and playful bleating telling us that all is well.
here) and I would watch fascinated as the cream would rise in large clots to be skimmed off to be eaten with afternoon tea, that most traditional of West Country meals.
We don't keep duck but that doesn't stop us from seeing them in the garden. Usually one raises a brood of ducklings somewhere secluded: often under a large clump of oat grass or, before it rotted away completely, a few feet up on top of a rotten tree stump at the foot of a hedge. As soon as they hatch, she leads them away down the field to the river below the house.