Not a promising morning but the weather forecast was threatening a few sunny hours in the afternoon so I took the opportunity to drive out to Castle Howard and walk over towards Hovingham through farmland and woods.
I noticed and old log being used as a seat that was being attacked by fungus, I was surprised that they had not been finished off by the frosts.
Next I was amazed by what I took to be a green lichen encrusting the branches and the twigs making up the hedge. Why I have I not noticed this before? It's a path I walk regularly in winter.
The hedge was affected for several hundred yards. I think it's down to the position near the ridge of a hill and damp air must hit this hedge because usually on this side of the country it would be too dry in the hedge for this amount of lichen.
But then another fungus on a tree trunk still looking fresh, but surrounded again by the green lichen.
So a lot more green in the countryside in early January than I expected even if I did need to look carefully to find it.
I then walked through a farm that keeps several different breeds of sheep, but these were the ones nearest to the path.
From the sign at the farm I see these are the Flitwick Flock. Having looked them up on the internet I am fairly confident that these are Castlemilk Moorit Sheep.
the early years of the twentieth century the late Sir Jock
Buchanan-Jardine began a breeding programme on his Castlemilk Estate in
Dumfriesshire. Using Manx Loghtan, moorit Shetland and wild Mouflon, he
developed a breed to beautify his parkland and provide fine, kemp free
moorit coloured wool.
On the death of Sir John Buchanan-Jardine
in 1970 the majority of the flock was culled and a few dispersed,
including six ewes and a ram which were bought by Joe Henson at the
Cotswold Farm Park. All today’s Castlemilk Moorits are descended from
these few dispersed sheep." - Castlemilk Moorit Sheep Society Website
Certainly they are attractive and quite small sheep. They have a bad habit of scratching their noses on dead stems which you can see I have failed to avoid in two of these photos.
But the land round here is so wet, it feels as though it will never dry
In the woods this is having its own effects, after some clear felling at Hovingham the forester has chosen to leave an edge of mature trees next to the tracks. Unfortunatley the combination of wind and wet ground has resulted in a large number of these trees being flattened.
Now on my way back to the car the sun was beginning to set and the colours were being reddened by the changing quality of the light.
Definitely worth getting out there when its both dry and the light is improved by some sun!