Dry at last, no rain here for several days so we are all drying out and although we have had out first frost, it is sunny too.

I have finally finished grading all the fleece and four and a half tons of the really lovely stuff has been loaded onto the lorry for its journey north to the scour, then blending and top making and spinning. That’s not the end of it though, still dyeing, finishing and balling to go. It will be many months before it gets back here as finished product.

I have been reading marine biologist’s Helen Scales book ‘Spirals in Time – THE Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells’. I have been collecting shells and fossils since I was a child, a very long time now!

I love the section on ammonites that were swimming in the sea 150 million years ago. In Europe ammonites were often called snakestones with accompanying legends such as saints turning snakes into stones and hurling them off cliffs. The Blackfoot people of North America thought they looked like sleeping bisons and called them buffalo stones.

Fossil Belemnite shells were known as thunderstones and were thought to have been created when thunderbolts struck the ground and in Swedish folklore they guarded against evil.

When large-scale farming took off it was realised that phosphate was a key ingredient to grow better crops and expensive guano (bird poo to you and me) was imported from Peru. But there was another source nearer to home, buried deposits of fossilised bones, droppings of extinct marine reptiles, shells, ammonites etc. that resulted in large-scale open-cast mining of some two million tonnes of the stuff. It was crushed in windmills, mixed with sulphuric acid and exported all over the world until a cheaper source of rock phosphate was found in the 1880’s.