Caryn Hibbert

Spring Thyme

by Caryn Hibbert The Land 1 Mar 16

The land, the farm and its water meadows, flower and vegetable gardens are at the heart of Thyme.

Seeing them every day you notice the smallest things, nature’s story of the changing seasons and how, as the earth moves its orbital axis, tilting towards the sun, the days lengthen rapidly and spring bursts forth.

There is nothing subtle about spring, it is noisy and busy, lots of yellow, birdsong, everyone and everything are exceedingly industrious, expectant and excited about the prospect of new life. The gardeners are planning, planting, sowing seeds and all around them, the birds are gathering twigs and more, the woodpeckers start their drumming, the blackbirds are noisily and bravely defending their territory and the bees are venturing forth for the early pollen of the catkins and pussy willow.

Spring-time varies in its definition.  For us, March, April and May are the months of spring, but perhaps it is no coincidence that from the 21st March to the 20th April, the sun moves into its first 30 degrees of celestial longitude and we enter the first sign of the zodiac, Aries.

The symbol of the Aries is based on the Chrysomallus, the flying ram that provided the Golden Fleece. Our sheep are not golden, but certainly one of the most iconic images of both spring and Easter, are the arrival of the lambs. As I write, our two flocks are due to start lambing today, the 15th March and one small Cotswold lamb made its appearance last night. 

The first flock consists of the big and beautiful rare breed Cotswold with their flamboyantly extravagant curly fleece and glamorous shaggy forelocks. They contrast sharply with the second flock, hardy compact black Welsh mountain sheep, shy, skittish and wild. We lamb indoors, they are in large barns with deep beds of straw where they are safe, dry and warm and we can keep a close and watchful eye. We hope that all will arrive within the space of about 2 weeks. A teaser ram is used to bring the ewes into season together and thus shorten the lambing season so that the chaos, hard and sleep depriving work of the shepherd is concentrated into as small a time frame as possible.

Soon we will have our little lambs skipping through the meadows, heart-warming, uplifting and always entertaining I will be keeping my eye out for the cool gang, the naughty and braver lambs that all stick together, leaping with the joys of spring and escaping through the fences.

So sheep are very close to our heart. No coincidence then that in our beautifully restored barns we have The Baa in their honour, a relaxed and supremely comfortable drawing room that transforms into a glamorous cocktail bar in the evening, it is one of my favourite spaces at Thyme.

We have made a celebratory cocktail in the honour of Spring and all things Ovis Aries. It has a fluffy white top, contains our beautiful white leghorn egg whites and is decorated with a little catkin to make you smile and think of those little lambs.