Thursday, March 03, 2011

Signs of Spring

For those of you still under several feet or inches of snow, some green shoots, the first a delphinium which may live - or die - to regret this spurt of new growth.

 More promising are these buds on the espaliered pear, although the blossom needs to wait a while.  This, in a week when the temperature has fallen again, so that it is actually painful to be outdoors without mittens.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that I enjoy a bargain almost above anything.  Clothes for which I have paid the full price almost never become my favourites, while something picked up at Oxfam will be never off my back.

Here a little treasure trove of items acquired over the years in Essex, some three hundred and fifty miles from Cumbria.  First, the woven mohair scarf, in such wonderful deep-dyed colours.  Someone obviously found it too tickly to wear next to the skin.  It was brand-new when I found it in a charity shop.

Then, this little dish made in Borrowdale by Lakeland Rural Industries.  Once there was a thriving art metalwork industry based at Keaswick.  Even in the early Seventies, items made in stainless steel were on sale.  This is descibed as Hand-beaten and bears the characteristic markings of that process.

Finally, the larger bowl by John Harrison, a craftsman in metal based at Penrith.  Again, this was in a charity shop in Essex.  It has a mirror finish, so shiny that you can see our stained glass windows reflected in the surface.

This week's words: My younger sister gave us a Voucher for Christmas.  It's a voucher for meat from Heritage Meats at Yew Tree Farm, Coniston.  The web-site offers cuts of pork, beef and Herdwick lamb and mutton, using the word "Hogget".  My father kept a flock of sheep on our small fell-farm, but he chose Cheviots, on the grounds that they are  larger animals with light coloured wool.   No one ever suggested processing the wool at home; fleeces went into a large wool-sack and off to the Wool Board.  Even the daggets were bought by the travelling scrap metal merchants.
So there is a repertoire of words for sheep: hogg, gimmer, wether, twinter, yow, tip.  "Smit" was the red marking pigment, used to identify the sheep as ours: two pops on one side.  "Ratch" is a verb, meaning to go in search of forage.  In our house it was also used for looking in drawers or cupboards which were not one's own!


kristieinbc said...

I often buy hogget from a local sheep farmer. It is a bit cheaper than lamb and more tender and milder flavoured than mutton. Great finds at the thrift store!

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing yow means the same as it does here in the Borders (ewe) and tip is perhaps the same as our tup (ram). Good finds - my mother once gave me a Shetland wool scarf for Christmas, despite the fact that wool itches me terribly (fortunately it was from M&S so I exchanged it!!)

Raveller said...

Thanks for the signs of Spring. We just can't seem to get away from the winter in Western New York. It's lovely to see your green shoots.