I loved springtime on the farm. Early memories of the joys of spring are filled with instances of granddad Speakman. He loved daffodils, “Dafferdowndillies” as he called them to me.
I must have been about 7 or 8 years old when with a bottle of orange fizzy pop in hand, he’d take me around his daffodils. He loved to plant bulbs in his lawns making mowing the grass a nightmare but he’d also plant bulbs in the banks and the hedgerows around fields, and in fact any patch of land that he thought would be improved by a sea of yellow bobbing daffs. But they were not all standard yellow trumpeters; granddad would proudly show off his miniature daffs and special ones with frilly petals. He never liked the white ones much – it was yellow or nothing, except around white flowering shrubs when he would bend to a few white daffs. And from then on the sight of daffodils would remind me of granddad and thoughts of spring and the birds busy singing and making nests – birds in their fancy mating feathers iridescent in the sunlight.
Early mornings were the best times for seeing wildlife on the farm. Mum’s favourite was stoats with their young – they were so incredibly long with their tiny legs at each corner that made them funny to look at. I liked Vixens with their cubs, whenever I got to see them they were always playing and yet I would have to keep the sighting secret to ensure that the gamekeeper didn’t get tipped off about them. I have always been a lifelong anti-fox hunting supporter – especially so as I was scared of horses up close as well.
So my love of springtime started with granddad and the swathes of daffodils he planted all over the place that just made springtime smile. Then with mum taking me out for walks in the early mornings to see the wildlife and hear all the birds singing with their new nests and broods of eggs, our crops would be starting to grow, trees beginning to turn green, flowers on the apple and pear trees.
I miss it of course, but my memories of spring are etched into my mind so deeply that closing my eyes with the spring sun on my face I can still recall granddad chuckle at the ‘tutting’ he’d make knowing, with a smile on his lips, the mayhem he caused where he had planted all his daffs knowing the banks couldn’t be mown, lawns driven on etc.
What with that and listening to larks singing their beautiful songs high up in the sky during a break and tilling the spring soil ready for sowing. I loved the springtime.