|What do ochre skies mean? Trouble!|
Sometimes it just doesn't feel like summer. I think this is going to be one of those years again where I'm waiting for summer to happen but it never quite does. We've had days when it's been too hot and the sheep have been lying around in the sun like swooning maidens in too tight corsets and days when they've been smugly impervious in their huge woolly jumpers as the rain lashes down. Shearing can wait until until the isobars are less excitable.
|Parent arrives to stuff an insect into a hopeful beak.|
The swallows continue their summer routine whatever the weather. The farmyard is full of them swooping in and out of various open windows and doors. Stand in front of one of the (glassless) windows into our range of dilapidated outbuildings and they'll knife the air in front of you regardless, intent on feeding their greedy brood. This week the chicks have fledged and fly wonkily to the telephone wires where they sit in demanding rows awaiting the attention of their exhausted parents.
The parent rests briefly on the wires - it's easy to tell the difference at this age; the babies haven't yet grown the long tail streamers.
The parent heads off to find more food. I don't think these are all the chicks; there were three others on the wire at one stage.
The swallows' ever present chatter is one of the main sounds of summer, played against a background hum of tractors and mowers intent on bringing in the silage.
Gardening-wise it's been high summer in the polytunnel for ages with new potatoes, salad plants and strawberries all going strong. The tomatoes and cucumbers are in the borders now and are coming on well too. Outside things are rather more disastrous and demoralising. It seems I'm planting things purely for the slugs to eat and the couch grass is completely out of control. Every time I think I have cleared it, it invades again. I think murderous thoughts in its direction. And for some reason I can't get a single runner bean to germinate. Borlottis and broads, yes, runners (and peas too) no. Some years you just have to shrug and admit defeat!
At least this paeony has survived to flower this year. Last year the wind cruelly snapped it off when it was tightly in bud. This year, unperturbed, it has offered three buds and all have resisted the attentions of the wind (and I've staked it too, which might have helped.) You have to be a tough plant to survive at 600 feet up on the lower slopes of the Preselis. Last week I watched the wind punch my dogwoods flat. The plucky plants stood back up, only for the wind to knock them flat again.