a kick to the shin when playing with the Connemara, he goes straight to the willow tree, where he strips off the bark and leaves. Willow contains salicin, the raw material of acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin), painkiller and anti-inflammatory. Then again, the pony might just eat willow because he’s called Willow. Last week, all three of our horses attacked the elm in the hedge, tearing off the bark to expose the white wood underneath, whiter than their teeth. I don’t know why they dosed on the elm, but I do know the de-skinned elms now have the appearance of a boneyard. After four hours of cutting, I have a trailer heaped with glossy holly leaves and drive across to the cow field. By now, the weather has changed and the afternoon sky has lowered to place a muffling misty lid on the valley. Our Red Poll cattle stay outside all winter, with a pole barn for cover from the rain and the snow. They have ‘rugged up’ nicely, meaning they’ve grown thick winter coats to grace a buffalo.
‘There’s always a certain amount of comedy in cutting holly with pruners. Sure enough, a bough catches my forehead