Updated: Apr 11, 2022
Ah! April is finally here! Spring! A few days of sunshine and warmth, and then snow, below freezing temperatures and hailstorms. In like a lion, out like a lamb, they say about March, but it’s been a zoo around here and no two days have been the same. It was a very changeable month, and while weather prediction is a fine art indeed, it’s the hope in these wee sayings that we should take with us more than the truth in them. Because April is a month full of hope – the promise of warmth, of sunny days, of food from the garden and flowers to rejoice in, of birth and rebirth.
We are expecting our first lambs at the end of the week, and April will disappear in a whirlwind of rounds and feeding and nursing and counting; cups of tea and marmalade toast before dawn. This is the busiest time of year for all the farmers on Lismore, and often a time for families to come together to take up some of the chores and get stuck in.
While we wait for the lambs to come, we prepare the shed: the calves which have been
overwintered there are now old enough to make their way in the great outdoors, and their pen is converted into smaller, individual pens in what will be an ‘ICU’ for the rest of the month. While most of the sheep lamb themselves with little need for interference, some struggle and will need to be monitored or given a little extra support. Every single animal and every single birth is a miracle, and each new lamb and its ewe are given attention and care. This is where we make our money, and a successful lambing can set the tone for the whole year.
In between preparing for lambing, I’ve been working in the garden – the few sunny days spurred me on to finally prepare the raised beds, make a plan for planting and start off some seeds. Most things start off in the house, on sills under the Velux windows, and will only go out towards the end of April. In the meantime, I’ll try and plant out some onions and resist the urge to buy more seeds than I can realistically use.
I’ve also been monitoring the growth of nettles in our garden, usually the bane of my existence, because this year I would like to start making my own nettle powder to use in the Island Nettle soap.
This green beauty is coloured with powdered nettle leaves and scented with rosemary and
peppermint essential oils. A bright, vibrant soap, it is good for a pick-me-up. The healing properties of nettles are well documented: said to be good for cleansing the body, nettle is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and the high levels of chlorophyll, which contribute the beautiful green colour to our soap, can accelerate detoxification and promote cell regeneration. Nettles are also said to contain histamine, which along with chlorophyll can relieve itchiness.
As well as myriad uses in skin and hair products, nettles can also be used as a super food, and the powder added to smoothies or with seasonings in meals. I’m looking forward to learning more about processing and using nettles, and I’ll let you know how I get on.