I have pink shoulders. Oh, and I'm usually so careful in the sun. I have a pale complexion and freckle rather than brown. But today Class 3 (that's the 8- and 9-year-olds in the 3 class, 5 year-group, village school) came round to visit my wildlife garden. That is, of course, a euphamism for so many weeds that everything thrives except the expensive bought-in plants, and all wild creatures have somewhere to live.
They divided into three groups, one to look at the bantams and the trees, one for the vegetables and greenhouses and one for the pond and hot and sunny area. There was a teacher, a teaching assistant and me (have no fear, I have higher level CRB clearance, which proves I am to be trusted). I was, of course, given the pond etc, which meant I was an hour and a half in the full sun and far too intent on making sure the children a. did not fall in and b. were learning something useful, to notice I was reddening.
The wildlife came up trumps. I caught a water boatman and children caught pond skaters and a diving beetle larva, as well as a good many snails and all the other little pond creatures you would expect. We saw a frog but, try as Josh did, he couldn't catch it. There were beautiful little vivid blue damsel flies whizzing around, some of them paired up, which gave rise to some knowledgeable comments (without embarrassment) about mating, likewise with some rapturous snails. None of them, this year, knew that snails are hermaphrodite, although they had all heard of both Hermes and Aphrodite. I made them think about why a pond needs greenery and how a water spider breathes.
The most exciting thing, to most of them and to me, was the discovery of the empty shell of the dragonfly that I wrote about the other day. The first group saw it on an iris leaf, so we left it there until the end when I reached perilously to the middle of the pond, picked the leaf and gave it to them to take back to school. It was a good one too, in perfect condition. And I didn't take a picture, d'oh.
I'll email them the photos of the dragonfly, anyway.
And the Sage picked up one of the 5-day-old chicks for them to stroke. I can't remember if I mentioned them (and too lazy to look), but two broody girls were each sitting on an old egg to keep them happy - and then both eggs unexpectedly hatched, on the same day, too. We have made up for the depletions of the fox, which has not made a return visit since the hayfield next door was cut. Soon all the chickens will be moving house, as I need an area cleared to enlarge the kitchen garden and it will give the grass a chance to grow in their normal roaming area (far too big to be called a run). Since I don't want them getting out into the vegetables, they will be properly fenced in. Unfortunately, it means that a chicken run will be the first thing you see as you arrive in our garden, but it is there for a reason and so I am resolutely unembarrassed.