Monday, 23 January 2012

Spring is in the Air?

Posted by Rosie

Despite only being January 23rd there is a definite air of Spring about things here in Calvados. Out walking with the dogs today I saw a lot of plants gearing up for Spring. There were the first of the wild garlic leaves peeping through, although maybe not enough as yet for my wild garlic and leek risotto, as well as bluebell and early purple orchid  leaves and lots on impossible to identify seedlings.  A couple of weeks ago I counted 13 different flowers in bloom. Some of these were hangers on from last year but more and more, like the primroses (and even a solitary cowslip) and beacons of Spring 2012. And it's not just the ground plants; on the trees there are buds-a-plenty swelling and I saw both elder and hawthorn sporting new leaves this afternoon.

It's not just me and the plants who are feeling a bit Springlike, the birds are too. There were 2 male chaffinches have a right shindig in the hedge today vying no doubt for the attention of the local females. I couldn't see any around but I'm sure there was at least one nearby, taking notes on the performance of each male. Our chickens have been happily laying all winter and the ducks came back into lay recently. One Muscovy, Hilda, even decided to go broody. That would mean mid February ducklings. Sorry Hilda but that is just too early so I removed the eggs and after a day of extreme huffiness she became "unbroody". However, I was talking to my neighbour today and she announced that one of her Muscovies hatched out 10 ducklings today. Ducklings? In January? Remind me again what the date is? Oh and Simon has just added that he saw tadpoles on Friday. TADPOLES??!!

Other than a short cold snap last week it has been a very mild Winter here in Calvados, following on the back of a very warm and dry Autumn. Admittedly the last few weeks have been very wet and at times extremely windy but all in all 2011/12 has been the winter that so far hasn't really happened. When I was a child, Dad was however always the first to remind anyone who felt vaguely springlike in January the that harsh winter of either '47 or '63 (I can never remember which one) didn't start until mid February. Will that be the case with this winter? My neighbour with the ducklings who has lived in Lénault for many years told me that 2 cold winters in a row like the last 2 winters is unusual and she reckons this winter will continue pretty much as it is now, with maybe a couple of short cold spells before Spring proper arrives.

Only time will tell if she is right. Only time will tell if the ducklings, tadpoles, spring plants and chaffinches are right or completely mad getting things going so early in the year. Me? I don't know but I did start a few seeds off today (Summer Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Lettuce and Summer Cabbage) because I am of the opinion that if you sow and the weather is kind you get the joys of an early harvest but if you don't sow it doesn't matter what the weather is, your vegetables won't be any earlier.

Piglets Feb 2011
Finally, and with nothing to do with Spring in January here is a picture of some of our piglets from last year. This is specially for Chez-Hippo who I "met" on Twitter last night and who has a bit of a soft spot for pigs.  

"Oink, Oink!!"


  1. they are so cute!! thank you from the Hippos x

  2. Ooooh...... gorgeous piggies, I miss my Kunes soooo much. There were some tiny piglet Kunes on tele the other night on Countryfile and my heart just melted. I have at least 3 years to wait until I can get some more.

    On another note, could you take a photo of the Wild Garlic in situ for me, I have no idea what it looks like, I tried to find some here last year and failed, hopefully there will be some where we are moving to, but I don't want to accidently be feeding Lovely Hubby with just any random weed!! (Although knowing him he wouldn't object.)

    Sue xx

  3. Sue - my picture on an earlier blog has disappeared for some reason but if you google "wild garlic" images there are lots of good pictures. The give-away that you have garlic and not something somewhat similar such as Arum Lily, Lily of the Valley or Bluebell is the unmistakeable garlic smell when you break a leaf. No garlic smell then it isn't wild garlic and is best not fed to lovely Hubby!

    I saw those KK's on Countryfile as well. Altogether now - ahhhhhhh!!

    Hippos and Timmy - I'm glad you liked the pigs and the post :-)


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