Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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The Further Adventures of Spud the Dog 6th April 2014

 

Have you missed Spud? Here he is, his leg is much better, but not quite right yet.

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He got a bit excited today, Jimmy the farmer turned up in his big red tractor, with blade harrow in tow, to do a bit of remedial work on the field, where the pipes for the ground source heat pump were laid*.

big red tractor

 

Jimmy  jumped out of the cab for a natter, leaving the engine running. Time passed we carried on, nattering , putting the world, and the meadow to rights. When somewhat startlingly, the big red tractors engine went ‘Vrooooom, vrooom as only the engines of big red (and possibly green) tractors can.

‘Ahhh’, said Jimmy, knowingly,without missing a beat, ‘the dog will be ready for off then’.

big red tractor dog

Just as well, that as bright as they are, border collies can’t quite mange the clutch and the handbrake as well as the accelerator. A working dog has no time for idle chat and needs to put his paw down firmly from time to time.

 

* I will eventually get around to telling the full story of our magical heating system


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Buttercup Syrup

There can’t be a more  soothing linctus than sitting in a field of buttercups on a sunny afternoon.

Buttercups 2-1

This springs bizarre weather seems to have bothered the buttercups little. Our field is swathed with them.

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We do little to our meadow, it gets cut for hay* (or haylage) depending on the weather by a neighbouring farmer, he ‘mucks’ and harrows it as required. And puts sheep on it to graze it for a few weeks each year. We pull out a few docks and clumps of nettles each year; but other than that, nature takes its course.

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If it were a commercially farmed field I’m sure it would have been ploughed and re-sown by now, the luxury of lolling around in the buttercups I suspect is not a financial option. In the photo below you can see another field across the valley that would appear to be managed in a similar way to ours, if the  yellow haze of buttercups are an indicator that is.

Buttercups 6-1

I suppose we have a wild flower meadow, although in my head I think that would mean more diversity and less buttercups, I don’t know. I need to do a little research. 

This year is the 150th anniversary of Manchester to Buxton railway line, look I’ve managed a shot of a train trundling up the valley (I was lolling around for quite awhile, as whilst it is a vital line, that  fortunately escaped Beeching’s axe, its not a busy one)

Buttercups 9-1

I wonder what the fields looked like 150 years ago, Freddy the farmer told me there were corncrakes here. Not now. I suppose now there is no way of knowing just how it was.

* Hay from this field smells sweeter than anything Penhaligon’s could sell you.


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Hare Today

The snow keeps coming and going, this morning we woke to delicate confection,  a butter cream topping of snow upon a squelchy sponge of a soggy muddy field (I despair of keeping the mud out of the house) the light was  diffused and sort of floury for want of a better word, I rather liked it.

Floury light 3-1

Spud the dog, Jammy and Dodger the kitten-cats  all came with me for my turn around the field, but I’ll save the resulting mayhem for tomorrow.

Floury light 2-1

We’ve more snow forecast for tomorrow, how much remains to be seen.  Here earlier drifts lie under today’s ‘top dressing’.

Floury light -1

I was just about to go back indoors to toast my cold toes when I spotted a brown hare in the next field.

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I do like hares, but I never get very close. Maybe I need a longer lens…

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He lolloped over by the sheep, before exiting over the ridge.

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Derbyshire Harrier has some lovely shots of mountain hares, over on his Flickr page


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Woolly Winter Tales

What I can I tell you, we have snow. Is there any part of the UK that doesn’t have snow? I wonder.

The sheep in the next field seem quite unperturbed

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They are fed daily, which seems to make them happy.

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It took a wee while to find a sheep that would look me in the eye, as most had their backs to the wind (and wind chill).

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I can vaguely remember a farmer telling me this is how sheep end up stuck in snow drifts, they keep working their way along, keeping the wind behind them, scratting for grass until they run out of field and the snow piles in behind them.

heading out of the wind-1

He also told me in the winter of 1963 that whilst many of his flock perished in snow drifts, some were able to survive by eating their own fleece.

But there are people better qualified to comment of sheep and snow, have a look at herdy’s blog, up in Cumbria.

cold nose sheep-1

We’ve just watched a cracking little programme on BBC2 about the winter of ‘63 (flighty, it is worth watching on iplayer (Winterwatch)


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A Fine Winter Coat

I should be carful what I wish for, after the relentless rain, this morning dawned dry and bright, but the light came with a high wind-chill price tag.

I took a trip out to the recycling centre (formerly known as the tip, goodness, I’m a girl that knows how to have a good time!) en-route I paused to admire some fine winter coats.

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There was a camouflage version

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One of the problems of pulling into  field gateways when driving a Land Rover is that, as they are still the farmers vehicle of choice around here, every beast around thinks you bring food*.  I attracted some attention; coming down the hill at speed was the leader of the herd, if it were summer you’d  have described him as gadding.

Highland bull-1

You may notice this photo is not that sharp, sorry, but never mind fiddling with the camera, I wasn’t going to stand the other side of a pile of loosely assembled rocks  with that hurtling towards me, all beef and horns, a steep hill and a muddy field under hoof, I stepped swiftly behind the Landi as he skidded to a halt. 

I don’t think there was any malice in him.  See he is rather sweet (I do want to liberate him from under that fringe though maybe he has to run fast to see where he’s going).

Highland bull 2-1

Then there was the horse, equally well wrapped up.

Horse coat -1

It’s a beautiful spot, but one that gathers the wind, by this time I’d lost, sensation in my fingers, and my hat.

* This has happened before, I once pulled over into a gateway in our old Land Rover  (a Defender 110) to take an important business call. I was immediately surrounded by about thirty heifers all mooing loudly, demanding to be fed. Fortunately the client had a sense of humour and was tolerant of my country ways


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The Lightning Tree

I’ve been intending to post photos of the lightning tree since Spring, you may have thought it dead. But it was not.

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Life forced its way back out into the world

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Clever eh?

I’ve been searching for this poem since Spring,  following a bit of a banter with Gerry,  it was something about trees and seasons, I can’t now remember what. It would have helped if I could have remembered who wrote the poem, it was Roger McGough.

It is National poetry Day, so it seems fitting to have finally got my act together.

Trees Cannot Name the Seasons
Trees cannot name the seasons
Nor flowers tell the time.
But when the sun shines
And they are charged with light,
They take a day-long breath.
What we call "night"
Is their soft exhalation.

And when joints creak yet again
And the dead skin of leaves falls,
Trees don’t complain
Nor mourn the passing of hours.
What we call "winter"
Is simply hibernation.

And as continuation
comes to them as no surprise
They feel no need
To divide and itemize.
Nature has never needed reasons
For flowers to tell the time
Or trees put a name to the seasons.

~by Roger McGough
[This poem can be found in McGough's
book Melting into the Foreground, 1986]


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Spud on Sunday Part LXIXII

Spud the dog has been in high glee today, its a dream come true*

Man and digger has arrived to sort our drains… Oh joy!

digger digger-1

For Spud the dog this means the biggest mole hill to dig in that a dog could wish for.

Spud and the giant mole hills -1

It is going to mean mud everywhere, of that I’m sure.

Spud and the giant mole hills 2-1

Mind you, you may notice sheep in the field at moment, if the pile of top soil distracts Spud from rolling in sheep poo, it’s no bad thing, top soil smell sweeter.

*It’s a dream come true for us too, we’ve been expecting arrival of  man and digger since spring!


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Seaside Rock

How quickly our seaside holiday is becoming a distant memory. How quickly the real world piles in to the vacated mind.

How heavy it has rained today! Just as well I have some holiday snaps to look back at.

On the coast path there were some fine lumps of rock (you know I’m fond of them) ancient gate posts, long since disused girded with hand forged iron.

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The remnants of old walls

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The bizarre weather we’ve had in UK this summer seems at least to have pleased the costal flowers, or just made them flower later than usual. I can’t ever recall  ever seeing quite so many as this year.

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The insect world seemed appreciative

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Just delightful really, *sigh*

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Whatever the Weather

It has been a very odd mix this week, lashing rain, sultry heat, high winds that have dumped a fine layer of sand over the car (and even the lily pads in the pond) goodness know from whence it came.

Yesterday evening I was pottering around the hills south of Buxton, it was warm and rather pleasant. I don’t know who this little bird is (answers on a postcard please) but they were rather sweet and willing to pose briefly.

bird on fence -1 

Tom has been in the Lake District completing the expedition  section of the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. I’m much relived  that he is safely off the hill, given the storms and flash flood there have been (he tells me the thunder and lightening they experienced was ‘awesome’ I’m sure we will get the finer detail on his return this afternoon).

I’ve a stack of posts in mind, some of them about quarrying, some about the limestone and gritstone landscape around here.

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For starters, the lay of the land. Quarrying is big,  it’s a big employer, it has a big impact on the landscape, lumps of rock on an industrial scale..

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Half a hill, near Harpur Hill

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(and if you are looking for the so called ‘Blue Lagoon’ don’t) go to Iceland please.

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