A Re-post of some Lambs from Last Year

I haven't shown you many photos of this year's lambs, and for just now, I'm going to re-post a post from last year's lambing time. 

Big Brother asked me to go feeding with him the other night. The conversation went something like this:

BB: Anne, would you please coming feeding with me? I would appreciate your help so much, and I know the sheep love to see you from time to time.

Me: Well, of course, dear. Just let me get my wellies, my oilskins and my disposable gloves.

BB: Your disposable gloves? What are you gonna take gloves for?

Me: Well, in case any of the sheep need my help in giving birth.

BB: silence. He simply gave me The Look. If you've never heard before, The Look is that expression which basically says, 'Woman, go find a town to live in. You are way out your depth here'.

I am very unappreciated.

.... but they seemed happy to see me. 

Doesn't that expression say, 'Hi, Anne! Lovely to see you again.'...?

(Or does it say: 'Get out my way, woman, and let me get my food.' ...?)

None of the sheep flocked towards me. However, once BB began whispering his sweet nothings, they flocked around him like there was no one on earth quite like him.

Well, there actually isn't, but they don't know that.

When the Mamas are feeding, the lambs congregate for their playtime. It is delightful watching them jump and skip and chase each other around the shelter. They are soooo cute.

Round and round they go.

After they'd been fed, BB went to the bottom of the croft with food for this sheep.

"Why is she getting special treatment?", I ask.

She had, apparently, given birth just a few short hours before this. At this stage, Mama likes spending some quality time with her lamb, and Big Brother obligingly takes dinner to her.

When I'd jumped into his pick-up and announced I was coming with him to get some photos, the sun was shining. By the time we'd reached here (400 yards from the house), it was very dreich indeed.

I wanted to prove you to folks out there that we do have blue skies from time to time. Sadly, more grey is all you'll be seeing from this post...


Another Blether with Patrice

Wow, Patrice, you're getting close to hosting your hundredth chat. It's been great joining you over the past year (or more). Thank you so much for your questions, your hosting, and the willingness with which you open your porch to all and sundry each week. 

And a huge cheer for Wendell, who has had to put up with a gaggle of gaggling women week after week after week. He really is a brave fella.

1. Do you prefer to drive or be driven?

I love driving. I've loved being behind the wheel of a car - of any vehicle, for that matter - since I was knee high to a grasshopper. My dad taught me (and all my siblings) to drive when I was very young, and I'd sit with a cushion or two under me! I would also have to sit as far forward as I could so my feet would reach the peddles.

Hang on ... isn't this still the case?

Well, not quite, but I do still love driving. Unless the Builder is driving, my choice would always be to be driving myself, but I do love to sit and be driven by him. 

2. What's your favorite kind of jam, jelly, or preserve?

I think raspberry jam is my favourite. I love a thin spread of it on Katie's Victoria Sponge;


I like a dollop of it on my 6-2-6-2 biscuits

and I love a rather large dollop of it on fresh Griddle Scones

Definitely time for some baking, and I think the scones will be today's choice. Yum!

3. Do you have any special plans for this spring or summer?

I don't think so. Our vegetable garden is not going to keep us as busy this summer, but we are planning on a few jobs around the house. I think our first task is going to be the Wee Guy's bedroom. We painted the room white when we moved into the house, shoved a bed, a wardrobe and some drawers into it, and that was that. I am hoping to get a wall-to-wall fitted wardrobe in there, and make his room more like what he would like.

All I need now is a willing builder ...

4. Lots of folks are becoming aware of issues with food. There are many articles, books, and movies on topics like allergies, GMO, pesticide use, bad or no labeling, over processed foods, foods from other countries that may not have high standards, and many more topics. What concerns you the most? If nothing concerns you, have a cookie and skip to the next question.

I'm tempted to say nothing concerns me if it means I can have a cookie ...

But that wouldn't be true. I am convinced that we are putting a lot of stuff into our bodies that is bad, bad, bad. On a very basic level, I've never trusted Low-fat foods, or Sugar-free foods for the simple reason that I don't think natural sugar is bad, and neither do I think natural fats are bad. The problem with these foods is what they are putting into them to make up for the fat and sugar. We need the flavour, and so natural sugar and fat is replaced by chemicals.

No thanks.

I don't know enough about GM foods to comment, but I do know that when we take the gifts God has given us and change the way He wished for His creation to be used, we are usually on a path that is not good. 

Look at all the wonderful animals he gave us for meat ... a great gift to be used, but horrid when misused.

There's nothing quite like sitting at a meal with meat that has come from home grown animals. Knowing the treatment Big Brother's sheep get, seeing how they're cared for, and knowing they only get good food to eat, makes that lamb joint a whole lot tastier when it's on the plate.

Do they look like happy chappy sheep to you?

Yep, to me too.

And if I'm able to add our own vegetables to the plate, well ... all the better.

5. Do you use nail polish often? Finger nails, piggies, or both?

Pigs?? People put nail polish on their PIGS?? Well, you learn something new every day.

As for me, I put some clear nail polish on my finger nails last week because I was going to a wedding. I guess I'll repaint them whenever I'm going to another wedding. As for my toe nails, I've never painted them. This has nothing to do with not being able to reach them - after all, they are rather close to the upper part of my body. Rather it has to do with ... erm, well, I guess a couple of things:

1. My toe nails are so tiny, I really don't think I could do them neatly.

2. Why? I just don't get the whole painting-toe-nails thing. I guess I was born in the wrong era, in the wrong part of the world, or a combination of both of these.

(Can you see my daughters rolling their eyes as they read this? Any of you who have teenage daughters will know exactly what I mean ... Right?)

When to Begin Full Time Education ... With our Youngest

Our youngest child is already bilingual.

Whether we say "Cuairt", or "Walk";

whether we say "Mach" or "Out";

we get the same level of understanding and excitement.

We are gonna be in real trouble when he learns to spell.

We will not get off with 'M-A-C-H'

or 'O-U-T'.

Maybe because we're homeschooling, 

and don't have to have our kids sit standardized tests, 

we can leave this fella's education for a few years yet. 

After all, many educationalists believe in the Better Late than Early philosophy. 

We've decided to go with it for this guy, cos

frankly, something tells me he's just not ready for it yet.

What do you lot reckon?


He Lived ... and He Died

I blogged last week about our visit to the Houses of Parliament. What we didn't know while we wandered around the corridors of power was that the news of Lady Thatcher's death had just been announced. 

We were on Whitehall when a friend texted me with the news, and almost immediately we saw the flags on the Scottish Office building being lowered. You can see the man, just below the Scottish flag, lowering it.

The flag on Admiralty Arch soon followed,

as did the flag at Wesminster itself.

All these events served only to cement the thought that had been in my mind for the whole trip to London:

And he died.

When we visited Hampton Court Palace, the home of King Henry VIII, I was constantly reminded of this: 

... and he died.

The additions to that beautiful palace were made for William and Mary. What can be said of them? Yes - they died.

Our visit to the wonderful Churchill War Rooms (of which more later) reminded us again and again that the good and the bad, the old and the young, the great and the small all live and then .... they die.

All these amazing buildings, the wonderful monuments, the aptly named streets, and the stunning historical sites: they are wonderful to visit and I loved being right there where the history of this nation has been forged.  But this is true of each person of whom I read; each person's home I visited; each person's footsteps in which I walked: 

they died.

What is it if we gain the whole world, then, and lose our soul? But, being safe in Christ, surely these visits serve to remind us all that we have only one life, and so we ought to take every opportunity afforded us to make a difference in this life.

There's nothing quite as inspiring as visiting where the famous once were, and are no more. 

And so, let us all seek Christ, and then seek to use our precious gift of life to live to His glory, and to make a real difference in this wonderful world.


My Baby is Ten. TEN! Guest Posting Today ...

Today, my baby - yes, my baby - reaches double figures. My friend, at The Joyful Keeper, asked me to Guest Post today, and re-tell some of the events that accompanied the birth of the Wee Guy, our youngest child. Head over to Caroline's blog, to read more of my experience on the day this baby was born ...


Our Visit to the Houses of Parliament

The day we were able to visit the Houses of Parliament  ... Oh, and while I remember, could you all give a bit shout-out to Javier, please. Thank you, Javier! - Javier was our guide, and patiently put up with my ooh-ing, ahh-ing, my meditating, my slowness, my looking, my dreaming.

He and the Builder allowed me to stand and "just imagine ....". Often. 

There was, after all, a lot to 'just imagine'.

I stood at the Dispatch Box, where we see our Prime Minister standing each week to answer Prime Minister's Questions. I stood and quietly said, 

"Just imagine .... Winston Churchill stood here. Right here where I'm standing, he stood and spoke to his fellow MPs of the dire situation our nation was facing. In previous years, he'd spoken of the dreadful threat of fascism, of Britain's love of liberty and of the need to fight for it - to the death, if necessary. Some wished he'd stop rambling on about dangers from without, and dangers from within, and live and let live and let everyone get on with their lives in peace. Yes, some wished that. I'm guessing he wished he could too, but the truth had to be spoken, and right there where I stood - on that very spot, at that very table - Churchill had stood."

"Just imagine," I said to the Builder, "I am standing exactly where he stood. Right here."

And after the imagining, my mind went to times I remembered.

"Maggie stood right here when she proclaimed, 'I'm enjoying this!' ". Javier was too young to have remembered, and I'm not sure Maggie's last stand against socialism is too often talked about in his office! The Builder smiled indulgently. 

"Yes, darling. I've seen that ... Yep, she stood right there."

It is strange to stand in the very place where history has been made, and where it continues to be made. I wished I could have stayed for as long as I wished. On my own. I'm sure I'd have felt ready to leave at some stage - maybe sometime before dark .... Well, we will never know how long I'd have wished to stay, because we had to move on to see other parts of this strikingly beautiful building.

First, its sense of history strikes you.

Then, its beauty strikes you.

Finally, the size strikes you. The Chamber of the House of Commons is so small. The politicians that shout at each other across the chamber are only yards from each other. How can they be so rude!

I could see in my mind's eye Sir Geoffrey giving his resignation speech. 'Right there,' I pointed. 'That's where he was when he stood to speak'. 

I could see Dennis Skinner, in his own seat. In my mind's eye, he was still on the Government side of the House. 

I could see our own MP, Angus Brendon McNeill, and where he sits. 

I could see the House of Commons when it's 'standing room only', and hear the commotion of PMQs.

Can you tell I loved being there? Yes, I thought you probably could!

And the distance between the House of Commons and the House of Lords is so short. The door to the Commons, with its damage, caused by the Mace knocking to call the 'Commoners' to hear the Queen's speech.

When the Monarch speaks at the State Opening of Parliament each year, all are called to attend His, or Her Majesty. To  make a point, the House of Commons closes its doors to say, in effect, 'Nobody tells us what to do'. Parliament is supreme you see. The members of the House of Commons then come through to the Lords' Chamber to hear the Queen's Speech. You may have seen them on television, dawdling in - again making the point that 'we will come in our time. No monarch will tell us what to do.'

Silly traditions?? Some say so, but each element is there for a reason. I don't think the fact of the supremacy of parliament is 'silly'. There is no harm, then, in keeping the quaint ways of showing it.

And there it all is, wrapped together in that wonderful building. No wonder our politicians are in danger of living 'in a bubble'. It really is another world in there. A world I was happy to visit. A world I'd visit again and again if I had the opportunity. Indeed, it's a world in which I'd love to get lost ... If only the Builder and Javier would wander off somewhere and leave me.

Oh well, that wasn't to be, so it's back to reality.

The only part of the building in which we were allowed to take photos was Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster. Westminster Hall dates back to the time of William II.

Our Queen has addressed the members of both Houses here - the House of Commons and the House of Lords - a number of times, including at the time of her Silver Anniversary, her Golden Anniversary and, most recently, at her Diamond Anniversary.

President Obama has also stood where I stood to take the photo and addressed the two Houses, as has Nelson Mandela.

I think the latest person to be given this honour is Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader.

Monarchs and the queens of monarchs have lain in state here, and Sir Winston Churchill's body lay here in state before his funeral.

So much has happened right here. The trials of Charles I took place here, and of William Wallace who was, interestingly, charged with being a Scottish Patriot. He was not charged with treason as others were.

As I say, so much history; so much to interest, but more on this day of our holiday in the next post.

(Are you tempted yet to visit London?!)


On Patrice's Porch Again

Hiya, Patrice! Here's me just back from London and now sitting on a Virginian porch, enjoying some warmer weather than we could even dream of at home and wondering why anyone, once they've been in Virginia, would ever wish to leave....

Okay, now back to reality, and to this week's questions:

1. From Suzanne at  p.s. Annie!: Are you part of the back to nature/ecological group or are you more of the mindset of "I'll do what I want and everything will work out in the end"?

I think we may be allowed to choose some options in between these two points. What d'ya reckon, Patrice? I am much less concerned about the environment than many people, I think. I know this much to be true:

"While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." (Genesis 8:21).

But I will always be in the camp of those who worship the Creator rather than the creation; and who are willing to use (though I hope not abuse) the soil and plants and the peat and the oil and the minerals and the herbs and the wildlife - all its benefits - to God's glory and for the good of mankind. God prepared this earth for mankind .... that's always good to remember. It makes us appreciate it all much more because it's hard not to want to care for something that is such a gift from such a God! 

2. From Stacey at Happy Bride to be: What's a favorite dinner dish to make?

To make, of course, is different from To eat. My favourite to make would be something that has had a lot of the preparation done earlier in the day. In fact, the cooking too - so that lends itself to a slow cooker meal. The last time I used the slow cooker was a couple of weeks ago to cook lamb shanks. You will see them in this post (scroll down a wee bit). They were delicious, and because the prep work is done so much earlier in the day, it leaves meal time much less cluttered. 

You've put me in the notion for these lamb shanks now. Methinks they'll be on the menu again soon.

3. From Melanie at at A Year of Jubilee Reviews: What animals have you seen give live birth?

Only sheep. Did y'all not know I live in a constant state of anxiety at this time of year. Click here for a post from last year, but there is a pretty constant stream of Sheep posts on this blog.

4. From Anne at  Homeschool on the Croft: If you had the opportunity to teach something, what would you teach?

Did I really ask this? Well, I'd have to choose something I wanted to learn more of myself, because I'm not sure I know enough about anything to teach others. So, I would choose some aspect of History.

I find British History around the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries fascinating. So I could choose this.

The history of England around the time of this man is amazing. 

Or I would choose the time in American history from when the Pilgrims arrived until the last state became part of the USA. Can you imagine how much amazing history this would cover?! 

We'd have the War of Independence and the amazing lives of the first American presidents. Then the dreadful years of Civil War. And the history of the Native Americans during the late 18th and early 19th centuries holds such a fascination for me too. In fact, last week, whilst in London, I spent a couple of hours fascinated by an exhibition of George Catlin's Native American paintings, at the National Portrait Gallery. This was the first time these paintings have all been exhibited on this side of the Atlantic since George Catlin himself took his paintings to some European cities before the 1850s.

Yes, I think I'd go with this ... plenty there to keep teacher and students interested, I think!

5. From Madonna at Butterfly Acres: What did you love most about school?

Oh, this is difficult to answer. I don't have particularly dreadful memories of my school life, but neither do I have wonderfully happy memories of my time of school. I think my primary school years were happy, but my secondary years were more of a waste than anything else.

Ummm .... may I jump to University, where my favourite class was Moral Philosophy. I hadn't expected to enjoy it as much as I did, but it was the highlight of my Uni years. My first year of Scottish History was the low-light of my Uni years. I was glad I stuck at it, because once the first couple of terms passed, I enjoyed the class so much more, but it can't compare with my Philosophy classes. In general terms too, I loved my time at Glasgow University. I loved the buildings, I loved the company I had, and I loved my daily 30-minute snooze in the Reading Room after lunch.

Yes, it's true. And that siesta set me up nicely for my afternoon of studying.


The Natural History Museum

A visit to the Natural History Museum in London ought to have been a great day out, but strangely, for me, it just wasn't. 

There were some exceptions to the general dullness of the visit: one was a butterfly exhibition which happened to be on when we visited. These wonders of the insect world are so beautiful .

The colours, 

and the symmetry of their patterns - magical. 

Their joyful fluttering around and gentle alighting on folks' arms would lift the mood of anyone.

See this fella? 

Here he is from another angle. Would you look at the detail in his antennae ... This is ah-maz-ing! 

I like this guy. He seems to my like the kind of fella a kids' movie could be based on. He is full of personality.

I realized whilst there, that although there were some things of interest at the Natural History Museum, I seem to enjoy reading or learning about people more than things.... or at least things that are connected with people. (More on this when we visit Hampton Court Palace in another post.) This lady here, Mary Anning, collected many fossils during the first half of the 19th century from the English coastline near her home.

Another highlight from the trip was the building itself.

It was so beautiful,

and was opened in 1881. The building was built specifically to house the Natural History Museum collection. 


There are some wonderful stuffed birds in the museum too.

Seriously cute ones.

Cute? Or dopey? Or ugly? Couldn't quite figure with this one, 

... but there were some extremely handsome specimens to be found too.

I'm not sure what it is with this fella: 

Is it white marble statues?

Or men who sit cross-legged?

Of men who've lived, and died, and whose legacy I count as less than helpful?

Or a combination of these?

Having said all that, would I recommend a visit to the Natural History Museum? 

Yes, I probably would. After all, it's free to get in! And the building itself is marvellous, and the Dodos and other stuffed birds look so beautiful / funny / odd / dopey.

I think I missed the Wow! factor, because nature, to me, is full of wonder and awesomeness and beauty and magnificence. 

I guess that's what happens when you leave the Wonderful and Awesome and altogether Lovely and Magnificent Creator at the door of the building.

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