I know it's spring in Northumberland - not so much because of daffodils' blare, nor that the chill air is rinsed in gold before you breathe it in, then out, then in again. Nor even because a woodland close is carpetted blue in stars enough to wish for winter's end a thousand times and more.
How I know it's spring is that a friend made me lie on top of a sheep while she did squishy things at the business end, pulling out three long and slimey lambs. They lay there tumbled, bloody in the straw while their triumphant mother licked them clean and woolly, persuading them to breathe. Sprawled across the ewe, trousers wet with sheep pee and waters from the floor, I enquired: "Can I get up?", and glancing at my three-year-old just stopped myself from warning: "This - this here - is what happens if you ever kiss a boy."