I’m thinking about time again. It all started a week ago when I did something that I felt loathed to do; I signed up to a gym. I believe that exercise should not be an exercise; it should be a part of our natural interaction with the world. A gym is the reverse of this; it is isolation away from the world. There is no bird song to be heard on a running machine. That said I have failed to fit proper exercise into my life since the little man arrived and it has been a hard fact to face up to. So, the gym is part of my time now as it can be slotted in and allocated its portion of me.

I got hold of a copy of Earthlines and I was reminded of Jay Griffiths. I was reminded of her book; Pip Pip, a sideways look at time. This has prompted me to think about our interaction with time again. This morning I slowed myself down to bee time. The bees actually operate at a faster level to us but they are sensitive to our normal speed of motion. I moved slowly during the inspection in order to convince them that I mean no harm. My motions were smooth and sluggish. I removed the frames at a bee’s walking pace and I relaxed into a persona of calm without fear. To be honest, the sun was shinning and the air was warm, this meant the bees were quite calm and relaxed. In the second hive I spotted two play cups which had eggs in. Play cups are a normal part of the hive, they are the beginnings of queen cells which are part of the preparation to swarm. Play cups themselves are not a sign that a swarm is imminent, but eggs in two play cups are a hint in that direction. They are a sign that I must make preparations for swarming and the possibility of tricking them with an artificial swarm.

As it is swarm season now;

A swarm in May is worth a load of hay; a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon; but a swarm in July is not worth a fly.

This means that weekly inspections are part of the flow and pattern of chores here at the cottage. The chores have been increased too. Where we had a few hens to look after we now have a few hens, a few older chicks in a coup in the garage and a lot of new fluffy chicks in the brooder in the utility room.

The cats have slipped down on the list recently. In my mind I have made their welfare a priority in terms of their food, water and accommodation, but I have let their affections slip away from me. I have been so busy that I can’t remember when was the last time I sat down with one of the cats and scratched them under the chin or gave them any kind of attention. So it pleased me tonight when I scratched under Tillie’s chin. She just appeared serendipitously as the little man and I finished earthling up the potatoes. To be honest I did most of the earthing up as the little man sat and watched while occasionally thrusting his had into the dirt and muttering something that must seem comprehensible to him. Tillie approached and I scratched her under the chin as the little man sat down on my knee and looked at the sunset. Tillie was the first ever animal that the lovely Sharon and I took into our care. She was thrust upon us unexpectedly and we loved the challenge of looking after, and loving, an animal. As I scratched her under the chin I thought about how many animals we are caring for now.

A few days ago the little man and the lovely Sharon and I were walking down the lane and I jokingly asked when we were going to get the little man a puppy. The lovely Sharon’s response took me by surprise; she said it would be nice to have a few more animals around the place. With goldfish, cats, hens, chicks and about sixty thousand bees, I had to give her the look. The look that said, “really?”

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