April and May are the best months of the year for me, full of optimism and promise. The world re-generates in beautiful colours, and produces in abundance for the future. In Devon, that has meant a profusion of wild flowers and blossom, unspoiled by mowing or spraying; myriad shades of green in delicate early-day fronds adorn the hedgerows and hillsides. The lanes are lined in the red, white and blue of campion, stichwort and bluebells, while the hawthorn, wild pear and apple explode in balloons of cotton-wool.
Gussie, our broodmare, travelled to Newmarket, where she duly produced a lovely filly foal.The foal’s sister ran at Epsom on Derby Day, sadly unplaced. Unfortunately Gussie suffered a twisted gut post foaling, and following abdominal surgery to save her, is not able to be covered this season.
The clement weather of last year gave rise to an unusually high number of large calves, which has made for a several difficult calvings this spring. Only five more to go now, with the early ones away to grass or on the moor, where keep has been sparse, unlike last year. The bull has been banished to the village with Annie, his old companion, until wanted in July to start the round again (bovine gestation is normally 9 ½ months).
The meadows have now been harrowed and rolled, to scatter the mole-hills and dung, and to level the bumps and poaching of winter feet. Not only does this stimulate growth, but also flattens the sward for smooth mowing later on. It is peaceful work, giving rise to reflection and appreciation of the natural world.
If you have missed me at Broadway market recently, I will promise you will soon see more of me again now that most calves are born!