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An itinerant observer and thinker about life in general, sharing some moments of wandering and wonderment.

Friday, 30 November 2012


Well today has been quite a remarkable one as Dafad's Days has now had over 10.000 views in what has been little over a year. When I started this little project as a way of sharing our local farming year and other things that might be of interest, I would never have believed if someone had told me that a year on, this blog would be so widely read.
<<< there is a reason for using this photograph taken a year ago today. It is of a young Parasol Mushroom pushing up through the long grasses on commons land grazed by sheep.  At this time of year they are all safely gathered in and hopefully the ewes will have become pregnant over the last weeks when the tups (rams) have been busy. The reason for showing you one of our edible fungi is that the post that has received the greatest number of views is "A FUNGAL FORAY" posted on Oct 24th, it was written as a tribute to Ray Cowell a great mycological artist who sadly died two years ago. I have been delighted to hear just today, that this particular post is being used by tutors and students, for those who cannot yet get to Kew where nearly all her original artworks are now safely stored in the Kew collection.

She painted specimens as they were, complete with    evidence of "slug munching". Much like these Blewits I  found exactly a year ago, found in an area of old beech trees on part of the commons land. Sheep love to shelter under these lovely old  beeches. I love to find edible fungi to take home and eat. Unable to get there today, I doubt with the severe frosts we have had over the last few days would have seen anything worth taking home to add to the pan with buttery eggs to make a simple, delicious, blewit omelette. Sigh ...
Here I am stuck indoors again , the weather too cold, the car not yet fixed, the daft dog obviously bored ... but I have a secret that will cheer me up ... in the freezer today I found "Ceps" (Boletus, gathered last year) to add to my homemade chicken soup. I'm off to cook. Just two reminders of last year that I love ... lichens on some on old weather beaten stone
and another more conspicuous  lichen, the small cups amongst the much longer grass,
I'm off to eat last years, free gathered feast!
But before I go, thank you to all my regular viewers or those who "googled" something, found Dafad's Days and wanted to revisit this rather odd blog again.

Thursday, 29 November 2012


I've just been looking back to a year ago today, my post then was entitled "Before Moor Rain." but looking at the photo folder for that day, I noticed a couple of things, the first being that it had snowed that morning. Funnily enough my car was in the garage that day,
the difference being that I was able to drive it back (unlike today). Also strangely enough. later in the day I witnessed this ... a whole load of fly tipped tyres ...
not an attractive sight (they eventually got burnt by someone) but just notice the sky. A brooding, rain fermenting load of cloud. Later on that day it just poured down. Today, here different in the fact that it din't rain but it was  quite cold, though with no snow. I checked the U.K weather online  this morning and it seems that nowhere was due temperatures over 5 degrees C.
And yes it seemed cold despite the bright sunshine, in shady areas frost still didn't melt. We didn't venture out until sunset
And what a dark clouded event it turned out to be. The above looks almost like a minor tornado that was sweeping across the sky, on the other side of the valley to us. 
It was nearing dusk and already the ground had started to re-freeze. Pockets of shade that had not seen the light of day were still crispy underfoot and as you can imagine at half four this afternoon (U.K time) there was little chance that the temperature was going to rise. Last night trogging the dog along the back lane, a beautiful full moon seemed suspended in the evening sky, a low horizon hugging bank of cloud beautifully illuminated.
No sign of the moon tonight and with the temperatures quickly dropping we're not going out now. But ... at least we got out in the fresh (very fresh) air and the daft dog had a fairly decent run around.
As we headed back into the warmth of home ... 
the sunset was beginning to show just slight traces of gold only just above the horizon.All too quickly it was over and with the temperature quickly dropping, time to stay indoors.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


Well what a day, I waited in for my garage to come and finally tow my recalcitrant car away. I've had her five years now, she cost me £100 and apart from a (rather expensive) head gasket problem, has sailed through every MOT. This last problem of not starting for the past two weeks has been complicated. At first it was thought to be the battery but that charged up, then wobbly connections on the exciter lead (yes you read that right) to the starter motor and then ... bless ... the anti theft immobiliser kicked in big time. I was not trying to steal my own car! Is it over for the Rover? Well I guess the next few days will answer that question. Just as it was being loaded onto the recovery vehicle, a rather beautiful sunset started to happen, but not having my camera on me ... no photographs!
So ... I've gone back to a sunset five years ago, a few months before I got the Rover ...
It was an amazing evening of quite astonishing skies and I took loads of shots, I only had my mobile phone at the time, so was quite pleased with the quality.
But when I had uploaded them onto the computer I flipped a few around and the effect as you will see ... was quite amazing.
It looks as though one was flying above the earth from a very great height.
One could almost be orbiting above another planet, like the moon.
But my all time favourite of the whole collection of many photographs
was this ... 
Wow ... what a sky!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


You may be wondering why a photo of blackberry flowers so late in November because I saw some in full flower yesterday, though the photo wasn't taken then, I didn't have my camera with me and any way it was raining. We've been lucky here, much as I written about the rain this year all over the U.K at the moment rivers are flooding their banks and causing devastation to so many towns and villages, the scenes on the news have been very dramatic and so many people have had their homes or businesses flooded more than once on the last few weeks. Everyone is talking about what an unusual year this has been.
So I thought I would post something that is slightly more cheery to look at than things watery in whatever form that may be around here, there's been enough to cope with.
There have been a few friends died in the last week and one family was told it would be two months before they could have a service at the local crematorium so they had to find one absolutely miles away, were the waiting list was only two weeks. Great sadness.
Anyway to end with something once again a little more cheery to look at ... 
Where ever you are ... take care.

Saturday, 24 November 2012


Now ... before you start thinking that I'm going to write about one of the big controversial debates of this past year ... relax. Yes the culling of badgers in trial areas to try and combat Bovine T.B has been a topic of much discussion with the split between for and against being hotly debated by the for and against side of the topic. One thing is for sure, the cost to our bovine farming community is annually horrendous, let alone the stress caused by constant veterinary testing of cattle and the fact that each "reactor" in the herd means that is the end for that beast and ... the farmer then has to wait until the next test, all the while unable to move or sell any of his stock from the farm. Some of the farmers around here gave up especially after the horrific, countrywide devastation of herds due to B.S.E some years go and now this perpetual concern about the possibility of T.B in current stock. Thank goodness there are still some locally who battle on and keep the breeds of cattle going. They are hard working, weather beaten, tough mountain farmers who also are out in all types of weather tending to their ovine and bovine stock.
Relax ... the badger face I'm going to share with you, is to do with sheep!
There is actually a Badger Faced Welsh Mountain Sheep Society for the pure breeds.  If you are interested in seeing the pure bred Badger Face, google them, but the throwback genes can creep in to mark out some of our standard Welsh Mountain breed and softy as I am ... I just love their unique and colourful markings.
Put it this way, when the ewes are on the mountain, they stand out in a crowd.
Look carefully at the ears of the on above and you will notice that the ears are clipped.
Long before the days of tagging, each farmer had a way of clipping the ears that was unique to that particular farm and that still holds good today. It is easier to be able to associate a different farm by the clip pattern in the ears from a distance where one could not read the minute details in modern tags. Each farm has it's own numerical prefix, followed by numbers that are unique to each sheep. But with the ear marks, one can tell instantly which sheep belongs to which farm, even without being able to read the tags.
With the proposed electronic tagging system, instant recognition would be impossible.
As I write this, I have half an ear on the Wales v New Zealand rugby match. I'm not a happy hector, we are getting thrashed! And to think that in 1972 a club team. Llanelli Scarlet's beat the  All blacks 9-3! Now who is feeing badger faced.
...... a while later having watched the remains of the match, Dafad is not happy with the 33-10 final score and to think we won the Triple Crown last year. Ah well at least Ireland beat Argentina 46-24 so there is still some celtic pride left.
Back to sheep and ... weather.
A farmer friend I spoke to this morning was due to gather in some of the few stray ewes left on the mountain but the weather was too bad. It has rained for most of the day, local roads are running with water and just a small walk along the very puddled back lane with the dog was enough for both of us and tomorrow seems to be no better. Our farmers are having a hard time of it at the moment, both arable and animal are finding the conditions hard to work in and for the arable after the early drought months of the year, their fields are now getting flooded. At least our mountain sheep are fairly hardy creatures. and as for the cattle they are being kept in the barns, but that means extra feed needed and the harshness of winter frozen ground is not as yet ... a problem but if as forecast the temperature is due to drop quite dramatically that means extra feed needed for both cattle and sheep, including my few favourite badger faced ewes. The tups have been busy, both Texel and Welsh Mountain, and on one local farm the fairly rare and also unusual looking Balwens (another hardy Welsh Mountain breed)  Personally I hope to see a few more throw backs in next years generation of lambs.

Friday, 23 November 2012


It's been another day of looking back to this time last year and here is an old favourite ...
The post "Limbering Down" has been a favourite amongst blog viewers, though I pity those that maybe google "limbering down" thinking perhaps they may find some info on such exercise as Pilates and all they find is a rather handsome Welsh Mountain ram!
Now this year I've gone on about the lack of berries on all sorts of trees like hawthorn.
well as you will see in the next photo from last years file, just a year has passed, but ...
just look at these wonderfully ripe red fruits on a hawthorn bush not far from this gate ...
or, more accurately, an old gate recycled as part of a fence between field and road.
Today, started sunny, bright ... yes even dry! How that situation changed this afternoon.
So. in looking back a year ago and given the fact that this is now mid November ...
it seems that the 23rd November 2011 was also a very mixed weather day.
Bands of heavy cloud seemed to linger on the horizon, heavy with the rain that was soon due in over where we live and if, I remember correctly that afternoon the rain came in hard and fast as I headed for home.
Strangely enough the very same happened today, what seemed a lovely sunny morning soon turned to grey, fast moving clouds that all too soon had the landscape running with a heavy fall of rainwater. But ... there was one bright splash of colour last year, that I know is not flowering so profusely this year, in fact I've seen very few blossoms throughout all the last months and I have missed the bright colour of this normally heavy headed fuscia.
But, no doubt whatever the weather, the rams will be making the most of this once in a year chance to ensure that their genes carry on into the next generation. meanwhile Dafad here is in a state of semi hibernation as the last stages of the dratted pneumonia clear.

Thursday, 22 November 2012


The photo below, is a cropped version of one I took a year ago today. Blewits!
Reading back to the post "Strange Skies" written on that evening, I noticed that I had omitted to post any photo of this delicately hued and very edible species. 
<<< These were a little slug munched but their natural composition was fun. In fact I took several more edible specimens  home with me and had very tasty blewit omelettes  over the following days.
The ground was indeed very wet around beech tree bases and human & canine feet, but at least there were edible fungi. I doubt very much I would find any today had I been able to go over and see. As I have written before about this years fungal culinary delights, only one golf ball sized puff ball all year. Last year I was picking them almost daily over a few consecutive months. Not even a single Parasol mushroom (except for some very slug consumed leftovers and that also goes for the few boletus and lactarius I've found. I never thought I would ever ... be envious of slugs!
That day, a year ago, was fairly mild but as the post title states, the skies were indeed strange. Very layered at times almost oppressive cloud formations and looking eastwards what began to look more like a sunset than a midday solar lightening in areas of sky.
Now ... I will freely admit to having "auto corrected the last two photographs, simply to show you the contrast in the contours of the land ... had the day been sunnier than it was.
The next shot is of a view looking across the valley. A very deep, steep sided, long valley that used to have two working collieries, a quarry and a brick works on the valley floor.
More about the Llanerch and Blaenserchan collieries sometime next year. It is a valley that has not been regenerated artificially and the deep and long lasting scarring is slowly succumbing to nature slowly re-seeding and year by year it becomes a more pleasant place to explore. Something I have not done this year, so I look forward to noticing the changes when we venture down there in the forthcoming year, camera as ever, ready!
Even in this brightened photograph one can see what may seem here, small slag heaps, but walk down along the valley floor and they just tower above you. I first explored this area when Ffin was a young pup and was quite dismayed (yet also intrigued) by the amount of rubbish that has just been left where buildings were knocked down and left as heaps of rubble. Remains of piping, wire, parts of machinery and yet interestingly the old washery (a strangely shaped concrete structure) has been left standing, an oddity left all by itself.
Not a great photo I know, it was taken from on top of the valley a year ago, so given zoom, plus photo edit, it's not very clear here but it stands out like some huge funnel, the concrete slowly weathering having been blasted by the elements for some thirty or more years. It is now "guarded" (ha-ha) by "Keep Clear" signs and also new, shiny aluminium barriers! What is almost laughable is the fact that, there is no-one to enforce these restrictions. For me, they just spoil a photographic opportunity. I'd rather take photo's of how it was just after the mine closures. But there was another photo taken that day, which at first for me didn't seem worth putting on my blog, an auto corrected, almost rejected ...
mid  November  ... swirl of brightly coloured oak leaves.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


Derek Brockway , our Welsh News weatherman has the genial ability to deliver bad news with a charming smile. It seems after tonight's broadcast we are due quite a bit of rain or to be more precise lots of it! Having not been out today (apart from an unsuccessful attempt to start the car) Dafad here was reminiscing again, going back to old photo folders to see how skies used to be, back around this time of year in 2007. Unfortunately the years in between are stuck in the memory of my old computer, which crashed (badly) and apparently are now irretrievable.

But looking back in my memory, there were lovely days exploring with the dog, a mere pup then. I was somewhat fitter then, so was he. Now we both suffer with crepitus of the joints so life is a slower, which is quite fitting because we now both have to slow down rather a lot. This recent bout of pneumonia has meant far less chance of getting out and about, plus the fact that the car is currently defunct has meant little opportunity to get out and about.  With the rather dire weather forecast ahead, we will be out even less. But, I remember clearly, the evening I took these when walking along an old, local dram road. 
( a dram road is where trucks of coal were once transported track laid ways).
The evening skies five years ago, were just wonderful and very photographical ...
Here's hoping that in the few weeks left of this year, there are new exciting skies.

Monday, 19 November 2012


 Yesterday after a fairly restful night, the daft but patient dog needed some sort of short walk, so we ventured out into a frost rimmed, yet surprisingly warm ... sunny morning.
The scenery was just lovely, all the hedges and grasses sparkling in the morning sunshine.
A path that leads between some Cupressus Leylandii, (the remains of an old boundary hedge) on what is now just dormant scrub land. There was planning permission here for several new houses but nothing as yet has reached building stage. The tracks are well worn from various local dog troggers, so Ffin was happily reading the latest news on "dog blog". I was concentrating more on what made a good photo opportunity. I was just glad to be out even if only for a very short while. I have got so fed up of being a sneezy, wheezy, snuffly pig stuck indoors.

Our local rugby pitch looked just wonderful, though I bet the lads will be hoping it hasn't got these ground hard conditions come the next Saturday match.
There was no-one else about, so we had all this lovely scenery just to ourselves. Only one thing tends to spoil photability around the village ... lots of overhead wires for telephone lines and electricity. Luckily up here there are just a well tended, frosty pitch and sky.
There two areas, the rugby fields and a pratice area below it, so the the carefully kept turf is kept in good condition for matches. When it snows, this bank >>> sees kids whizzing down it on sleds having a great time.
And beneath the tree, there were all the frost edged fallen leaves ...
Today, all that had melted away and was soggy again after a night of ... yes ... rain again.
Today was mizzly. misty and very much wet. Now, you may remember that over the weekend the battery got recharged for my poor old motor, but recharged battery, did it start? No! It's a good thing I get on well with my garage. Out came the recovery vehicle tonight (in the mizzly rain, after dark) to tow the old dear away. It turns out luckily that the only problem was a corroded connection on the earthing lead to the bodywork.
Phew! I had visualised some other, much more expensive cure like a new starter motor.
Anyway ... with all that's been going on I've been remiss in welcoming two new members to Dafad's Days. So ... hello to  Claire Ward ( a fascinating and verasatile   artist) and Colin Cheesman (an enthusiastic naturalist) who it seems is now Chief Executive of Herefordshire Nature Trust and also from what I can gather knows my local area well.
I have been so amazed by the response to my blog. It is viewed literally world wide and I know some look at it daily to see the latest wafflings and photography. So thank you all.

Saturday, 17 November 2012


Today, Dafad here has been mostly stuck indoors once again with a case of the pneumonics (sounds more like a musical problem to me) it has been tiring to say the least. But ... there have been small improvements, with a cough like a rather sick ewe and the snuffles normally associated with hedgehogs ... I have almost been hibernating. Luckily I've been feeling better today. This morning a kindly farmer friend took my car battery away for recharging. The old Rover refused to start on the day I needed an emergency appointment, so I had to bus it to the docs and taxi back via the pharmacy for much needed medication  before returning indoors to hibernate rather like the proverbial hedgehog! Meanwhile despite going through (my third) box of tissues and have lost count of the loo rolls used, Dafad was feeling somewhat better today. Not great but getting there slowly. Today saw me trying to do household chores, which I managed bit by bit but in between I was searching amongst old files held on C.D  file for "blogworthy" photographs and found some that are worth sharing.
<<< I found this, a lovely sunset view of a hawthorn tree in an area known locally as Grannies, normally heavily berried at this time of year. Now ... not in this hawthorn tree but close by, a local bird observer has put out several bird feeders, he has yet to give me a comprehensive list but the number of bird species that visit here is quite amazing. Everything from, finches to tits and quite a few of the hawk and other predatory birds have become regular visits to this "human fed" site. I've not been up there over the last week but I look forward to hearing what the latest  visitors have been. I've loved sitting quietly watching the trees that have been full of numerous, eager to feed birds.
Meanwhile I am going back to 2007 and dramatic foliage on beech trees ... now this particular  favourite beech has appeared on my blog several times but never like this.
In all her autumnal glory, five years ago she shone our in a blaze of colour. But there were other beech trees later on in the same year , in November,  bare of leaves but wow!
Just look at that leaf barren beauty of the autumnal, leaf stripped, skeletal, beech trees.
Isn't that just beautiful in it's simplicity ... yet intricacy.
Let us just hope, that with all the dire news of organisms that effect Japanese Larch, Dutch Elm tree disease. our ancient oaks have been suffering too and now more recently Ash Die Back disease. let us hope that our most elderly and more mature Beech trees don't suffer too.  I love them dearly. This year has seen a severe lack of winter berrying fruit, not just for our own human larders but for the many bird and insect species too.
Just think about it for a while ...  you and I are lucky in the fact that ... we can make intelligently formed choices. But ... in this sophisticated, interdependent eco system
 are we going to be victims of natures way of winning soon. 
Now there is  pause for thought.

Friday, 16 November 2012


Hello folks, Dafad is still stuck indoors with Pneumonics and no that is not the name of some new hip and trendy music group. However, the anti-idiotics are working and the chest is clearing. What amazes me is just how much "stuff" a body can produce. I've lost count of the number of tissues and ... sheets of loo roll used, enough to say, quite a lot!
Anyway, today I went back five years, photographically, when all I had was a mobile phone that could take photographs too. Now, the standard may not be of the quality that we are now used to today, but in a photo file that I named "Rust and Hay" I found these.
<<<  Now, when I revisit this small door that leads from the old sheep pens onto the commons, the rushes almost obscure this carefully, stone crafted "door" that once enabled sheep to travel through it. No longer used but at one time it would have seen sorted  out sheep  pass through it, one way or another. What I find fascinating is the way this small gate, door whatever one wants to call it, was originally  designed. At the time, when it was used, it was quite obviously adequate for purpose. Now this mixture of old stone wall and wood, with modern wire fence placed above, is now defunct.
This was another small detail that caught my eye >>>
back in 2007. Part of some rusted cog, laid atop an old lichen marked stone wall and yet somehow the two seem quietly united as part of a history of memories.
Ah but who holds these memories of times long  past and  recently present?
I was very much aware when I photographed this, that times were gradually changing. These, long built, old, stone walls have seen so many years of changing times in farming.
Ffin was a mere pup then and if you look very carefully you can just see him beneath the head of this dinosaur type piece of antiquated farm machinery, now long gone for scrap.
I took these photographs at hay making time when the large cylindrical bales were harvested in and the young, less than a year old pup was dwarfed by almost everything!
The old sheep pens, were disused then but the good news is that the next generation of farming has regenerated this land and has begun to restock with sheep. Yes that old rusting machinery has been sold for scrap, the once field renting farmers large , round bales have now been replaced by the seemingly old fashioned mini bales, but the great new is that this area of sheep grazing land is once again becoming a viable concern.
So ... maybe for at one farm at least there is a future of the new regenerating from the old. And I know that this particular farmer and his hard working wife there are plans to use a mixture of the old fashioned ways combined with the new. It is great to look back at old photographs and realise that in at least one small area of Wales, farming in at least two local farms is changing for the better. But having stated that, I also realise  that in what remains of my lifetime, there will be others less fortunate and for them ... they will be the last in long history of Welsh hill farming. So many here have no-one to follow on be it sheep or cattle. Sad days of "rusted" history with so very few left in the future ... to make hay.
A small P.S to this post. I found a few other photo's that really belong more to these comments than any new ones ...
This was another view of the "farming dinosaur scene >>>
Just look at the background, across the green pastured in-bye fields to the moorland beyond where the November heather seems as rust red as the now antiquated (and scrapped farm machinery). It all seems to just blend, rust bright and sky bright scenes, now ... just a photographic memory of how things were a mere five years ago! How things have changed within a mere five years? I am so glad I captured these moments when I did. But ... there are still those old requisitioned gates that remain the details of which stand out ...