horse power

Waiting to start work, carrying her packed lunch


The last two weekends have seen us attending events organised by Shropshire Wildlife Trust, both on cold, wintry days. It is good to leave the old homestead from time to time to do something different, and we particularly chose to live in this part of the country because the walking is excellent and the landscape varied and interesting,

Last Sunday we spent a couple of hours on Stiperstones, a high ridge in South Shropshire, learning about the geology of that upland peak, and huddling from the biting wind. One of our expert guides from the Trust was a mine of information about the formation of the landscape and the way people have shaped the landscape since Roman times, and our other guide was a naturalist with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the wildlife of the area.

Yesterday, wet and foggy as it was, we spent several hours watching a man, an apprentice and horse working in Clunton Coppice, removing cut oak logs, and learning about the mammals that live in the woods. The use of horses on steep hillsides is an efficient way of removing timber from slopes that are too steep or too sensitive for  machinery. This horse, Elza, was a very willing animal and very experienced. I am a real soft touch for horses so spent ages watching how she was voice trained to commands and how effortlessly she pulled oak trees along the path. I made a video, but alas WordPress doesn’t support video unless I buy the upgrade, so it is posted on my Facebook  page, should you like to see a very happy working horse. I hope the link works.

As for today, it has been snow,sun,snow,wind,snow,sun,wind,snow…..more like January! But at least the mist has lifted! Hope you have a good week.

spring walks on frozen feet

We walked yesterday, just a short walk from the front door, to get some fresh air after a week of stuffiness. It has been so cold here and as I mentioned last time, the ice on the pond has been thick and prolonged, and snow has fallen too.

As we walked, we were treated to a glimpse of a Great Spotted woodpecker, hammering his breakfast hunting song from the top of an oak tree. I have had them in the garden on the feeders in the last week but it is always great to hear their characteristic drumming sound as they drill into wood. A little further we thrilled to the sound of water rushing and tumbling over the stones in the brook. Icicles hung from the banks, but drips of water were falling steadily from them into the headlong stream. A little further, we found clumps of snowdrops freed from their blanket of fallen snow, clean and crisp against the hedge.

In the garden I took these pictures before they vanished. It will be less cold this week-good news for the birds, but the cat who strolled across the pond will have to look out!

There is a painting on the other blog too. Just click here.