At the Farm Shop

Richard Bell’s Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Thursday, 10th April, 2008


cockerelhensHERE'S THE WHOLE IDEA of keeping my art bag with me; when we call at Thorncliffe Farm Shop, Emley, while Barbara and her mum pop in to do a bit of shopping, I sit at a picnic table for 10 or 15 minutes and start drawing a sleeping duck which instantly wakes up and waddles under a container parked nearby. I switch to the cockerel and the hens which in turn start wandering off towards a shed from which a goat appears and starts eating slices of bread (nothing but the best of course, this is farm shop bread, just beyond its sell-by date).

You've got to work pretty quickly when you're drawing farm animals so it's just as well that my sketchers' watercolours and the Pilot Drawing Pen (described recently in this diary) prove to be a trouble-free combination to use.


I'm able to spend more time in the afternoon drawing a swede, while Barbara weeds around the onions and garlic that we put in last autumn. Last year wasn't a good one for root-crops and when Barbara cut into any of these swedes she found that they'd been eaten away inside. This particular raised veg bed was completed at the start of the season and it seemed a rush to get things in. The swedes and other crops got a cramped start in life because I had to cover them with makeshift protection against a rabbit that had made itself at home in the garden.

The tops of the swedes have been nibbled by wood pigeons and collared doves - I guess, because they're often down there. Let's hope we have better luck next year. These now need to be dug up and thrown on the compost heap,bee

This buff-tailed bumble-bee (right) was investigating corners - such as smaller earth banks and the habitat piles of sticks - at the bottom of the garden, apparently prospecting for nest-sites, rather than looking for flowers. Come to think of it, it could have been a cuckoo-bee, one that seeks out other bumble-bees' nests in which to lay its eggs.

sparrowThis male sparrow was chirping in the holly hedge. It's nice that spring is here and we can work outside with the sounds of blackbirds singing and, yes, even sparrows chirping. I like that too.