waiting for spring

I thought it was strange that Bill volunteered to go with me to the farmers market on Saturday morning as he’s not known for being a keen food shopper (his main food purchases being extra strong mints and bags of liquorice) but as it was close to one of his fields of oilseed rape, he thought he could kill two birds with one stone. So, instead of the few things on my list, we came away with the addition of samosas, smoked tenderloin and steak and then stopped to move the bird scarers on the way home. The pigeons have decimated the oilseed rape crop so that there are brown and yellowed fields with scarecrows, waving flags and hovering hawk lookalikes to deter them from settling on what’s left of the crop.

oilseed rape plant October

In the autumn the plants were green and leafy.

oilseed rape March 2013

Now there are just bare stalks where the pigeons have pecked away the leaves.

While Bill moved the gas operated bangers, I had to light the end of the rope burners, which was not an easy job in a cold wind; the idea is that the rope acts as a slow fuse setting off the bangers over a period of time though several this year have got wet and not worked. When there’s a bang, the field becomes a mass of fluttering pigeons that rise up and wheel away in the sky looking for another crop to descend on where they’ll feast until they get moved along again.

As the plants are just starting to revive after winter with little green leaves starting to shoot from the top of the plants, we still need to keep the pigeons moving. A wet autumn meant that UK farmers were unable to sow large areas of winter wheat, so there’s lots of land being prepared now for spring sown crops. As soon as that seed is sown the pigeons will switch to that for easier and more nutritious feeding and with luck the oilseed rape, helped by the warm weather, will recover and by the summer we’ll have fields ablaze with yellow flowers.

snowdrops crocus

Last week we had a few warm, bright days; we were even working outside without coats and it seemed that with the sun, the flowers and the birds singing that spring was on its way.

dovecote in snow

But over the weekend we had a little sprinkling of snow and this morning another little flurry of snow. All is not all gloom though. Much to my delight, I discovered that one of the packets of Tim Tams that my sister brought over from Australia had slipped behind a tin where nobody else ever looks. I think a day in the office beckons with the heater switched on, a cup of coffee and a Tim Tam slam.

13 thoughts on “waiting for spring

  1. Jane says:

    You know much as I have enjoyed many a Tim Tam, I have never done the Tim Tam slam. Can barely call myself Australian, can I? Enjoy 🙂

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  2. rusty duck says:

    I’m not a pigeon fan as a rule but this afternoon I spotted a pair of them high in a tree, huddled up together to keep warm. Quite the little love birds!

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  3. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial says:

    You should try a Tim Tam slam with vintage port one of these days. Actually, I take that back, the one and only time I did that, I remember lying on the floor the next day, wishing I was dead. 🙂

    Pretty post, Anne, I’m sorry the pigeons and the wet weather have made farming life tricky over the last season! Hopefully spring will sort it all out, and you will indeed have a pretty field of yellow rapeseed (they grow it extensively here too, and the fields are so pretty and golden!).

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  4. Sarah @bluewaterdreaming says:

    What pretty flowers! Makes me miss having a garden. Sorry to see the damage done to your crop, must be heartbreaking to see so much hard work being eaten. Not knowing anything about farming it was interesting to read about your different methods of deterring the hungry buggers.
    I have tried a tim tam slam but wasn’t a big fan, although I may try it again with vintage port as Celia suggested.

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  5. csamom says:

    I was studying in China when an Australian taught us how to drink coffee through a Tim Tam straw- I never heard it called a “slam” before. That is a perfect description though.

    Our local Albertsons gets Tim Tams in as a Christmas specialty item, so I bought 3 boxes and immediately taught my children how to do it. :).

    Good times!

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