The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Wind and wood

broken poplarI used to love a windy day. The prospect of picking up kindling and the occasional sturdy branch for the inglenook fireplace stir the scavenger within.

I’ve always stopped and shovelled road kill timber into Jalopy’s back seat. Now that we are smoking our home cured bacon, finding the right type of wood keeps me alert. Apparently pine wood makes the meat taste nasty so I avoid those windfalls.

The recent high winds had small hands clapping with glee until Jalopy and I narrowly missed disaster on the Debden Road.

An enormous oak crashed a few yards in front of us without warning. The ancient tree stopped our progress with an enormous crack and whoosh. Despite being well into her second century (dog years) Jalopy’s reactions are as razor sharp as teenage gamer. She can stop on a sixpence. After a short breathless pause we found a gap on the broad grass verge and swiftly left the scene.

Although Jalopy continued unruffled, I was rattled by the experience. We could have been killed or maimed. Having nursed Jalopy though the aftermath of a crash that had my insurance company muttering “knacker’s yard”. I couldn’t have saved her from this fate if she had been squashed flat. As I would be paper thin too. And probably finally filed away.

Last weekend the wind was so strong that D or I had to hold the gate if the other wanted to drive out of the cottage. At one stage the fixings were ripped out of the gate post.

Now my eyes are watching the trees rather than the ground in high winds. I noticed that the rooks in the rookery, near the village school, were having a hard time in the strong winds. Take off was fine as they were swept up in the generous gusts. They might not have been sent where they actually wanted to go but they were afloat, buffeting the air drifts to get onto the right stream.

Landing was a totally different matter. For a while they’d fight the wind and then raise their wings horizontally to act as wind breaks. Sometimes this worked and they’d drop immediately into the nest. Often they’d circle the nest, wings beating like mad, to find a gust to blow them home.

But it’s the female rooks that concern me. Left in the nests, as vulnerable as teeny currachs on a stormy sea. How many are blown away? Do rooks suffer from sea sickness? Lying low in the nests, there are no heads to count.

Two weeks ago, part of a tall Poplar tree snapped and dropped from Anne Mary’s garden onto our old apple tree. Our dilapidated fence was spared. We are now the proud owners of twenty feet of Poplar wood. We need a chain saw to remove the trunk. We do have one but it has gone AWOL in the barn. Meanwhile, we have a new garden feature.

I love Anne Mary’s trees. On a summers evening we open the back door and listen to the breeze drift through the leaves. Just like the gentlest surf breaking on a sleepy, sandy beach. Over the past two weeks, Anne Mary’s leaves have evoked a stormy sea.

The wind is up again tonight. So it’s ‘Goodnight from Cheveley On Sea.’


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7 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Anne

    What a shame about the rooks.

    Oh it would be great to have a hot summer for once!

  2. anne waller

    the rooks and crows have been suffering in the wind in my area too. the dogs have found 2 dead ones, just lying on the ground by the trees. not injured in any visable way – just dead. i am guessing that they have been blown out of the trees by the night wind and been unable to get into flight-mode before hitting the ground.
    did i hear that all this wind predicts a sizzling summer? i do so very hope so………………

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Magic Cochin

    I think the combination of wet ground and high winds is lethal as regards trees being uprooted.

    We live in a ‘hilly’ area and the winds circle within the pockets having built up speed on the run up. There are always trees down in the village when we have strong winds.

    Hi Kate(uk)

    What a wonderful description of your house and the different winds.

    I don’t know how the birds manage, it must be a nightmare for them.

    Hi Plumsource

    The falling tree was scary!

    I love hearing the wind around the cottage at night but I always worry about trees crashing through our fences and Min Pins escaping.

    Hi Rosemary

    How lovely to be only eight miles from the coast. I love the sea and we treasure our visits to the seaside.

    Like you, I loved the snow. So soft and light. It made Easter Day for me.

  4. Rosemary

    We have had some very strong N.E winds here,as we are only 8 miles as the crow flies (or tries to) away from the coast it has been very severe.Our shed where we keep the poultry food has had all the roofing felt ripped off ! But Hooray !! we had 3 inches of snow for Easter,I love snow and had been feeling very deprived, as we had not had any this winter.Does this prove that everything comes to she who waits.

  5. plumsource

    Yes, glad you’re OK – what a shock it must have been. Our house is on a ridge and makes similar sounds to yours Kate. I sometimes think we’re at sea with all the creaking and rattling! I was amazed too to see the big kites getting blown off course. Scarey!

  6. Kate(uk)

    We’ve had some ferocious winds here this past two weeks, we’re on a hill slope above the river valley and in the middle of the night the wind buffets around the house, sometimes it just thuds and roars against one side, other nights it swirls and growls all round, making the telephone wires sing. In the early summer when the southern wind blows it is bliss to sit on the front doorstep in the sunshine with the warm wind lapping around but the North Easterlies this past week have been bitter and even our huge Red Kites have had trouble flying. The pigeons have been hilarious.

  7. magic cochin

    What a lucky escape for you and Jalopy! We’ve seen lots of branches and trees down recently.
    I sometimes stand in our garden and listen to the sound of the wind – just like standing on a beach and hearing the waves, after all Suffolk is a coastal county. Do you think it’s an East Anglian thing? – our winds get a long ‘run-up’ with no big hills to get in the way!

    Celia

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