Spring is on the march here in Tipperary (excuse the pun, please) and everything is waking up, flying, walking and growing – oh how it can grow here. There’s been a warm few weeks (February) followed by several very wet weeks. Now it is sunny during the day though devilish cold at night. This has obviously encouraged nature to flourish, nest and breed – a lot of it in our wood. We’ve been hearing wood pigeons cooing away for a month now. Coming from the north east of England this was a sign summer was almost here but we are a good way further south and everything is much earlier.
The birds are gathering in large numbers, many of them nesting in what now must resemble a tenement at the back of the wood. The large, mature trees wear a coat of ivy that has woven itself into a thick hedge and Fergus, our tree man reports many nests in there already. Whilst not as indiscriminate as some nations there is a long-standing tradition of hunting in Ireland. We are in an area designated a sanctuary but often hear shots at night, never mind the dip-stick who came back twice to shoot more shells over the poor geese. The work on the wood has thinned it out considerably and there is some sign of illicit entry and woodcutting. As the boundaries are now less than secure we will have to install a fence along the road.
With material costs rising to ridiculous heights this is going to be very expensive but I think it is a necessary investment. Like everything else it needs several different people to do different jobs. First the land needs to be cleared and levelled – a job for a mini-digger. There’s been some fly-tipping of rubble and concrete too so they’ll have to dig a pit and bury it all. Then the man with the posts comes in and sets them and the rails, all 91 metres of them. Then Fergus comes back to put up the wire and make it secure.
We have always said we share our home with a lot of other creatures and we don’t want to cut off their access, just keep out occasional intruders and dogs. Fergus will be constructing small mammal doors in the fence, situated next to the little tracks running from the boundary, to make sure they can still get in and out. We hope this will be done in the next few weeks – fingers crossed! Mind you, something has its own way in. I found muddy paw prints on the lid of the compost bin. It could be a pine marten or perhaps a feral cat. I’m not keen on pine martens – vicious little beasts – but they do hunt rats. So the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
There was a bit of a problem with the water last week (no surprise there). It was getting very hard again and when I checked the water softener I found it unplugged. This could be a disaster for our appliances, not to mention our lovely new boiler. I ran another test on the water and found it was an eye-watering 410 ppm. 180, you may recall, is considered exceptionally hard. I couldn’t get the softener to work for several days and it looked as if some of our much-needed fence money would go on a new one. Then I remembered my father’s ultimate remedy – jiggle the wires and give it a kick. Thanks Dad!
As well as all the birds singing around us we have flowers springing up all over. The daffodils have pretty much been and gone already but some later bulbs are now coming through. We are hoping for irises but may have to wait a year for them. The little garden we planted for Betsy, a beloved friend’s dog, has sprung into life. Much to my surprise the chrysanthemums we put in last summer have survived and are flourishing. They’ve always died on me before. The aubrieta has spread and we will be adding more of them, and the little pansies are already flowering. In the lane we have daisies, dandelions, primrose and the first gorse blooms. Lots of yellow this early on!
So here we are, our second spring in the house and feeling well enough to enjoy it. I realised yesterday it is a year since my first “Tipperary” blog. Now there are 48 episodes – not bad as I only intended to write 12. Jacqui rolled her eyes and pointed out I’m a typical dyslexic over achiever – 48 episodes, not to mention 5 books in a trilogy. And we had 4 of our 2 dogs until recently. Though I can blame the dogs partly on Jacqui… And wouldn’t be without them.
After the bleakness of winter when everything is grey and mud coloured it is lovely to see spring is on the march here again.