Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas 2010

Yesterday went very well, greatly enhanced by these two!

Presents were saved until after the wonderful meal prepared by three Mrs Hinsons and a Miss Hinson assisted by master carver Mr J whilst the children did their best to entertain me and Mr R.

They (the presents) were then distributed by Tom at lightening speed and opened with great efficiency.

There was a short expedition to put the hens to bed which resulted in a small amount of sledging. I think it is the first true white Christmas in my lifetime....well I can't remember one. I don't think I want any more though as temperatures of -10 C don't entertain me and it is getting really difficult to get water to the hens even though they have started laying and we have 3 baby Jesus eggs!

Happy New Year.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Cold Fox and no Dancing

Yesterday we were jubilant as the hens presented us with the first two eggs after their Autumn moult. The hens now have full sets of feathers and look very healthy and happy. They are especially heart warming to see when they are set free to run and hunt in the garden.
But not today!
This morning when Jan went to feed them there was a large Dog Fox in the yard looking for breakfast.
So poor hens have to stay in without human supervision. Boredom and hunger may make them into egg eaters so it could be really bad.
Last evening as Strictly was just starting we lost all electricity. We were great Scouts and Guides! Found the candles, candle lamps, torches, had the gas hob glowing and found the wind -up radio. Unfortunately Vic found a bottle of wine so she was happy. We even managed to find the phone that works during power cuts and found out that it was a big underground fault that took a large area out - so not going to be a quick repair. We found a battery powered DVD machine lent to me for my trip to Hospital and watched a chic flic (?) until the battery was flat and then finished it off in Mum's lap top.
By then the power had come back on  ........ but you have to see the end don't you?

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Home again

I am now home, a little confused and a little sore but otherwise fine.


If you were on Facebook you would have seen little updates as I had minimal internet access from my bed, until I broke it.

All went extremely well so far and they encountered none of the possible problems they had warned me, and frightened me, about.

Avoided the bed bath as the lusty nurses lined up the doctor told them to take my pipes out and send me off for a shower.....twice in one week....what a waste of water.

Stitches should come out next Wednesday and in about 6 weeks they will check to see if they got all the bits of stone out ok. By then they may have analysed the ones they got out and I might be told more about how to stop them coming back.


Thanks for all your comments and good wishes.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Fly away to Spring!

It is one of those bright, damp, misty Autumn mornings.
The farmer has finished ploughing, harrowing and seeding the field, will it be winter wheat again or maybe Barley. I'll let you know as soon as I do. Anyway the deer appear to have moved on to find less muddy haunts.
The garden is pretty well ready for winter and the water supply is turned off and drained. We have many extra patio plants staying with us as their owners are homeless and have flown off to (and arrived in) Perth Australia to enjoy a little down under Spring. Here is the plane that took them from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpa
We tracked them over Felixstowe and on to Amsterdam on "Flightradar24" until we had to leave to look after Imogen but were disappointed later when Tom searched and found that they had left the available tracking system over Poland and did not find them again.
Currently sitting in the Garden playing with Martha as I write.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Halloween Ghost bread!

Above is a photograph of our loaf of Tesco crusty bread looking straight at it as we went to cut a slice for breakfast toast this morning 31 October 2010!!!!

SPOOKY 

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Crazy morning

Well not very crazy.
Just a little strange as the temperature went down to -4 C the night before last and I have been enjoying being in my new, incredibly cheap EBay winter garden coat and this morning just after 9am it was 15 C and a Sky lark was singing and souring as only Skylarks can.
If this is Spring it was a jolly short Winter.
I hope!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Minus 4!

It is only mid October plus a little bit and the temperature fell to -4deg C last night on the patio by the swimming pool and the blue star light solar led's amongst the grape vine leaves adjacent to the house were so shocked they somehow switched themselves into manic Christmas flashing mode.
It looked like a 70's disco in my bedroom at 3am this morning.
I just snuggled into my 15 tog duvet!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Jack Frost arrives

Yesterday was a good day for picking the Dahlia flowers and moving all the Geraniums and other fragile plants into the conservatory. For once in our lives we got the day right as Jack Frost visited last night and killed all the Dahlia plants and would have had the others if they had not been in. This is a bit early I think. I usually recon on the end of October for his first visit....but then I often loose some plants.

I think the Shepherd is cruel....he sheered all his sheep last week. They were a little cold this morning but apparently it stimulates them into eating and preparing their bodies for the winter.....he says.

Where do Moles go in the summer?    Well where ever, they are back! Four new Mole hills in the wild life area. Lot of Fox poo too....right down by the house.

One large rat caught in the feed shed too!

Lots of Pheasants about too. They are so neurotic they give warning to anything else that is about so it is difficult to catch sight of the more exotic although I did get a glimpse of a couple of Roe Does this week. Not so many rabbits about although there is a new hole in the lawn.

Farmer has sprayed the field....wonder what we will have next year. I hope it is Linseed....so pretty but more likely rotten old Rape.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Visit

I've just been hiding under a tree.

Hiding by the pond whilst 3 ducks flew round and round trying to decide if they would or would not land on or near our wild life ponds. Eventually the female flew off but the 2 males landed in the sheep field and started fighting, but not with much enthusiasm.

One of our itinerant Call Duck Drakes has returned and tried to bring a Mallard wife with him but just got a ticking off from Mr Mallard who soon flew off again after his mate. I have left our Call Duck up there still in the field. If I get the chance I will clip his wings to try to reduce his wanderings.

Strange Autumnal weather has been with us for a few days now. You shouldn't get Wind, mist and heat at this time of year, well not all at once.

There is still a lot to do to put the garden to bed for the winter but the pool is done and the solar panel removed for storage. Most of the garden seats are away and lots of dead plants from pots have been cleared. But it is difficult to find the energy and drive needed.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Oh! I say!

Picture the scene....

It is late and time to put the house to rest and go to bed.

I collect the empty milk bottles and open the front door.

Jan shouts down the hall to Vicky "I just made Lionel jump. I opened the door and he was laying on the sofa washing his willy!"

The neighbours walking their dog before retiring hurry on.

Perhaps they don't know Lionel is a cat!



A Clean Cat


Sunday, 3 October 2010

Turf & Surf?

I hear that scientists have discovered that there is no such thing as a fish. or is it more that all fish are different and that one type of fish is not related in any way to another type of fish but may be related to a pig or a giraffe?

No need for Surf and Turf menus then.

What else can we say?

So flying fish are nothing special and whales and dolphins just happen to breathe air.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Jim Jams!

The surgeons have written to say they have had a good laugh over the pictures of my insides and are ready to go in and see for real just as soon as they have made the bed.
Great
I'm really glad
I'm looking forward to it!!!
But I have not got any pyjamas!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Thank You


Thank you for removing the flies from my bedroom but I like it up here now.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Damp Foxes

Continuous drizzle means it is extremely damp here. The Duck is happy but the Hens are fed-up. I found a rat hole in their house and sealed it with a metal plate with the result that they still had food available this morning.

As dusk came last night we saw 2 foxes playing on the lawn. I think that is a bit close but if they would catch the rabbits and rats it would be a help and I might forgive them.

Just leave my birds alone!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Do you speak cat?

Sunday Morning and the first bleary eyed visit to the loo.
I was joined by a very noisy and active cat called Lionel. We live in his house you know. He very rarely has anything to do with me and almost never makes early morning visits to my bathroom.
He was shouting, purring, trying to knock me over and generally doing the "Skippy" thing.

You know.....".....what's that Skippy....yeh...children stuck down a mine shaft?.....really....well we better go...." etc etc.

I took little notice, assisted him to take the stairs back down ..... well gently....I did not have my shoes on!

When we eventually got round to visiting his bedroom.....well we think of it as the spare room but he occupies it more than anyone (thing) else it was full of hundreds of newly hatched house flies. Obviously (now) he came to tell me (as landlord) that the situation in his room was not satisfactory and I better do something about it.

They have almost all gone now....just a few stragglers.

The cause? Well James is selling his flat and has de-cluttered several boxes of cd's, books etc to Lionel's room during the viewings. Amongst the boxes was one containing half the top tier of his wedding cake. (Being kept for the Christening of the first child as per tradition I guess).

The trouble is that that Tradition is meant to have a shelf life of 9 months (or less) and 2 years is just pushing it too far. Also the top Tier is not meant to be eaten at all until the Christening thus preserving the integrity of the sugar sealed cake.

The chickens have enjoyed a feast and Lionel went back to a nice clean room last night.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Coat of Arms


Thought you might like to see my family Coat of Arms.
Smart isn't it?

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Sat Nav Hell

So Vic borrowed my Sat Nav when she was being taken to a "Training Day" by one of her new work mates.

She has just joined a new company and she and a few other recent recruits were required to go off to Head Office for some company introduction day. No one was sure of the way so she offered to navigate using my trusty (not) Sat Nav. Off they went.

After quite a while Vic began to feel a little hot as she realised that the route they were travelling was identical to the one we had used to get to the Golden Wedding Anniversary party on Saturday.

Had she set the new route properly? Yes of course she had. Say nothing just look for road signs to Bracknel.....none.....not mentioned....where is Bracknell?

Gosh! Vic now getting very hot casually checks the Sat Nav by zooming out to see how close to the party location they are.....very! In fact there is even a photograph of Dave & Terri superimposed on the map as the Sat Nav illustrates saved favourite locations this way.

Oh My! She is about to take her new work mates to visit her relatives. They are now leaving the motorway AT THE JUNCTION FOR DAVE & TERRI. Their house is just off to the right.

"At the roundabout take the first exit" says the sweet bitch in the machine!

What!

Dave & Terri live off to the right........we are going left!!!


Vic's new Head Office is just so close to Dave & Terri! Vic is cooling....cooling....cooling.


Aren't Sat Navs wonderful?

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Summer ends after 50 years?


I always find it very sad when I finally give up hoping for a warm day and reluctantly put the Swimming Pool to bed for the long winter. Over Friday and Saturday that is what I did. It seems far too early as there are still strong rays in the sun but the cool August has meant that the pool lost a lot of heat which it is just not realistic to put back just for a few minutes swim. Friday was a good drying day and the pool was down to 18 deg C (which I understand is the temperature at which normal people should wear a wet suit) the end was here. It takes quite an effort to get the pool reasonably clean and drained down to a level that will allow the winter rain to refresh and re fill it for next Spring but all went well. The strong winter cover is now in place and the underwater light isolated.




HURRY_UP SPRING!








Saturday was also My little sister's Golden Wedding party.


50 years ! Wow!

Where do they go.
More Photos on Facebook

Saturday, 18 September 2010

There has been a murder!

Hens and cocks establish a strong pecking order such that there is a top male and a top female. (The alphas). Below these each individual learns his / her place. When new chicks begin to become independent of their guardian mother there is often a bit of fighting and occasionally injury. This is especially noticeable with the young cocks. When two individuals feel strongly equal the fighting can be very bad and serious injury can occur. Fighting to the death is very rare (unless man interferes as in cock fighting).

Normally chicks soon learn their place and a few pecks from the adults sort them out.
Last night it went wrong for one of Snowflake's 2 remaining chicks. A single peck to the top of the head and life was extinguished.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Over Foxy

I was a little earlier to the top of the garden this morning.
Why?
Well it was the first day this autumn that the central heating had come on. So the bedroom was warm and welcoming...so I guess I got up earlier.
The sun shone, the grass glistened with dew and all was well with the World....until
Horror......but delight too.
In the corner of the sun drenched field were FOUR full grown foxes.
They were having a wonderful game jumping and pouncing all over the old giant hay bales that form the boundary of the airfield, and then onto a fallen tree that sticks into the woods.
Gradually they moved towards and into the woods and were joined by a Muntjaq who used the fallen tree as a bridge over the brook.
I gave up watching and came back for my breakfast.
How can I cope with 4 foxes and all these rats and rabbits?

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

That Darn'd Rabbit

I'm turning into Mr McGregor.

Every time I go near my veg patch there are new earthworks created by invisible rabbits.

I fill 'em in and check the perimeter fence, patch up the holes but next time there they are again.

This morning I saw her.

She hops UP a foot or so an instantly squeezes through the gate!!!

I'm off to buy new wire netting.
BYE!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Madonna Bantum

Maron (green ring) raised 4 chicks and looked after them very well but now she has gone back to work laying eggs and eating worms.

She has however made excellent child care arrangements with the very old little black bantam hen. This little hen is very independent and only lays half a dozen eggs a year and has never been broody. For a long time she has been the alpha female and I was quite wary that she might bully the new youngsters. She was obviously interested and started hanging out with them. Soon they had grown to about her size and she started taking them out on exciting adventures as she, like the youngsters can walk through the wire stock garden fence (Mum is too big).

It is now quite clear that she has totally adopted the 4 multi coloured youngsters. Last night all five were cuddled up in a nest box together. Her new name is now "Madonna".

Monday, 6 September 2010

FOUL FAWN FOAL

Sorry.

In the excitement of the moment and the proximity of Sunday Dinner I made several mistakes in my Blog yesterday

A Roe deer female is a DOE.

Her Baby is a FAWN not a FOAL or a FOUL.

Did you know Bambi was a FAWN ROE?

But was it a STAG or DOE?

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Oh Deer!



At last!


Luck and a rapid half mile walk to fetch the camera and I got them without the wheat crop in the way.


About 1720hrs this evening I went to tidy up my bonfire and just spotted the Roe Deer Doe and her foal emerging from the woods. Of course I did not have the camera but decided that, as the wind was blowing quite strongly from the airfield, there was a chance they would still be there when I got back with it.


They were and they were getting closer. The above photo is about as close as they got before Mum was spooked.Here is a video of the flight back to the woods and there are more photos on my Facebook page.


videoSorry about the typo in the title....The Foal was not Foul at all.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Harvest Day

We woke to find ourselves and a few neighbours in one of those perfect September mist bubbles.



Nothing existed beyond a few tens of yards from where ever you stood but as you moved the mist bubble moved too.





Trainee spiders had been busy with their homework over night as you can see here.




Six moorhens appeared looking for breakfast. Maybe the seventh is still about but that was the first time for a very long time that I have seen so many together.

As you can see the chicks are as big as the parents now.





Soon the sun burned off the mist and as the corn dried the harvesters appeared about 11 o'clock.
Well harvester actually. Once his friends had helped ferry the vehicles to the field one man started to harvest the wheat field on his own.

It was all in and some of the straw was bailed by 9 o'clock that evening.

There are more photos on facebook of a really pretty September day.

We look forward to some clearer shots of the deer across the now harvested field so long as they are not too frightened without the cover of the wheat.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Reservoir Dogs !


So a brilliant idea!
Lets take the cameras and the bat detector to Wilstone reservoir at sunset and watch all the birds collecting for the night, enjoy the evening noises, watch the sunset and listen to the bats as they come out to hunt.
Umm! The field adjacent to the car park was being harvested. Have you ever noticed how noisy farm equipment is? The distances were just so vast that even with binoculars and video zoom we could hardly make any details of the birds out. We walked off round to the viewing hide and met a constant steam of joggers, joggers with dogs and walkers with dogs, all coming towards us and the car park. There may even have been a few dogs out on their own.
The hide is a long way into the wooded bank and obviously it gets darker in the woods earlier but by the time we got to the hide we had to use the video camera light to read the notice on the hide warning of the 2 wasps nest inside.
The wasps were asleep and did not bother us but by the time we worked out how to open the viewing hatches it was pretty dark and the main viewing experience was of the pretty orange lights on all the farm vehicles. The one picture I took that came out shows the orange vehicle hazard light clearly reflected in the reservoir. On the little island are Coots and Lapwings....they are mainly black so show up in silhouette on the grey stone beach .... but not well on the water.
We gave up and made our way back through the dark.
Not a single Bat heard through the detector.
First time out in the Nissan in the dark. The dashboard lights are very pretty and the automatic headlight turning on computer thingy works.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Skydiving Rooks?

Clear so so blue sky!

So you search the heights for Kites don't you?

There they are!

Wow so many.....20.....30...50+

No .

They are not Kites. Even my rat catching ability could not feed that many.

They are Rooks.


The residents of the Rookery on the edge of Splash Covert have discovered how to climb to amazing heights in thermal currents. Then the fling themselves into the adjacent down draft current and hurtle towards their neighbours in the rookery at breakneck speed. They shout and call in excitement.


They are quite obviously playing....and thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Super Rat Breeder

I have had a thought! Yes , honest!
I'm worried and here is why....

Having written here in my Blog that I have killed 9 rats in 7 days this morning there are no dead rats although one of the traps has been sprung.

Now does this mean that the rats have the Internet and are secretly following my Blog?

Or am I killing the thick off spring from each new generation so that only the super intelligent ones survive. You know the ones that work out that they can get the food out of the trap without setting it off or the even more clever ones that would actually go hungry rather than risk it?

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Slightly Quackers


Both rat traps made kills last night again. That is 9 rats in 7 nights. You would think they would be seen all the time but it is very rare that I get a glimpse. When I do it is of very healthy, bright eyed and clean furred animals. A pity that all they want is to kill and eat my chicks and / or pinch their food.
To cope all hens and their chicks (except Blondie) are securely locked into the hen house each night and their "pop" door is screwed shut. The human access door is wedged shut with wood and steel barriers against the floor. Still each morning there are fresh gnawings where the rats are attempting to eat their way through the wooden doors.
As for poor Quakers and Blondie they now have a high level guinea pig house inside the duck house and each evening they are lifted by me into this house and locked in. Then I have to lift them out each morning. Meanwhile the only remaining adult Drake refuses to come home to the Duck house preferring to take his chances with the Moorhens out on the ponds each night. Evidence (poo) shows that the fox(es) visit most nights but so far he has avoided them.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Jackdaw Jamboree

What a row this morning coming from the home made owl box 15ft up our telegraph pole at the very bottom of our garden!


The cause was 5 Jackdaws shouting and flapping on, in and around same. It would appear that many natural things are confused by the similarities between Spring and Autumn and the Jackdaw family who hatched in the box last Spring have returned and are having a re-union.





Over night both rat traps operated correctly!! Last evening, just as dusk fell, I secured the fowl against rat attacks and noticed a gigantic reddy orange moon rising almost due East over the Church. I moved onto our bank to get the best view and whilst there carefully scanned the wheat field (still not harvested and probably ruined) for Barny. A small noise and flutter in my far left peripheral vision drew my attention. Barny was perched on a sheep hurdle not 60 feet away watching ME!

Further news:- The rams have returned...presumably their work is done for another year and the lambs will be with us come Christmas.

The Fox (es) still visit nightly and leave messages to let me know they still lust for my hens.

Roe and Muntjaq deer are almost common place and we see at least one nearly every day.

The Moorhens (all survive) are now full size and indistinguishable from Mum & Dad.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Barny Pops in!

Settleing down to relax infront of the TV after dinner last evening my attention was drawn to the garden, viewed through the Patio Doors, as Barny swooped down, apparently from our roof, flew inches above Lionel (our Tom cat) and landed on my new bargain "end of season" glass garden dining table. We have not seen him since late June. I guess he has been on his holidays and just wanted us to know he was back and check out the state of the garden.

The three remaining young chicks moved in to the main flock hen house yesterday with there adopted Mum (Snowflake no-ring). I don't know what triggers that action but both broods this year have decided themselves, apparently at random, to not return to their secure brooding pen and just move back in with the other hens. It makes life simpler for me but I do have to take extra care to make the house rat proof (well as much as possible). I am slowly catching and killing the latest rat brood (one each day for the last 3 days) but no chance of catching the adults who are just too clever and too fit and, actually quite beautiful. Well they have a good healthy diet! LOL! I just wish they would stop eating my babies.

Meanwhile the foxes are still about although i only see the evidence left marking what they believe is their territory. And the Roe and Muntjaq Deer are still about most days. Rabbits everywhere!! The Kites are still about but they are much quieter and the swallows are still here although they can be seen shivering most days.LOL!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

5Star NHS

Yesterday Jan's quarterly visit to the Specialist was booked for 1500hrs so I dropped her off in the purpose made "drop off" zone right outside the clinic and went to park the car. When I arrived she was already in the "nearly" ready seating area and she was in and out in record time with a thumbs up from the consultant and an extension to 4monthly visits.
My CT scan session was booked for 1600hrs so we took a leisurely stroll through the Spinal Injuries wing to find that there was a designer clothes sale on......one dress and an amazing coat later we were off to the CT.
The staff told us straight away that there would be a delay as they had an emergency from ITU so we knew we were to be there for the long haul. So we sat back with our books to be entertained by the sheer efficiency of the whole operation as the waiting area filled up and the patients were processed with care and attention but incredible efficiency. What team work! The ITU patient had a large amount of equipment, seven nurses and two porters...all of which was fed into and out of the CT room.
Well done Stoke Mandeville!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Ruby Wedding Day!

Today marks the 40th anniversary of my marriage to Jan.
The Bridesmaid's car broke down, the Best man forgot the rings, and several other things were not as planned.
It rained....
It was cold that evening.


We made it through and Jim took us out to dinner on Friday and there are a few pictures on Facebook

Looking back to our early years together



Fred the computer and Jan in my flat in Wembley.









And what have we done with those brief 40 years?


Three amazing children


And lots of fun in London,
the Maldives

India
Jan has been a post office counter clerk, dinner lady, a cub leader, and a group Scout leader. She has gained a Mathematics / Science based degree with the OU.


Together we have re-built our bungalow and built a sports car from a kit. We have raised countless chickens, rabbits, ducks, tropical, cold water and marine fish and kept a pony, several dogs and countless cats.

We had a boat on the canal and built a heated in ground swimming pool.

No wonder we feel a bit tired now and then.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Rat attack

Blondie has not been brooding the ducklings for some time so yesterday evening I sent her back to the main hen flock with disastrous results.
The Ducklings were attacked (by rats I guess) and one has been killed and the little one appears to be very worried.
I let Blondie back but have no idea how I can protect them from further attacks.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Fawn quacker!

Yesterday I investigated a strange noise to find one of the ducklings practicing quacking! He has not got it quite right yet but keep trying I am sure you will get the idea soon.

Our neighbouring wheat field has not yet been harvested and today it had two extra ears...which moved.

Of course I did not have my camera so have resorted to the wonderful interwebby thingy again to bring you a likeness of "Saville" the new member of the Roe family!
After a short while I noticed Mother Roe and the two of them made their leisurely way along the path formed by the tractor wheels through the wheat towards the woods. Every so often baby jumped over some clump of wheat so I could see that he is about half adult size. Then they were joined by Dad who had apparently been walking down the hedge on the airfield side. I stood so still that a rabbit walked past my feet and went on about his business without noticing me. Dad Roe dawdled a bit and Mum got to the edge of the wood turned and gave him a look....he scampered up and all three dissolved into the trees.
A pretty good way to start the day.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Fowl Day



Picture to the left shows the latest batch of chicks in the top right hand corner out for their first walk yesterday between heavy rain showers. Meanwhile the flock inspect the nursery area for left over food.

The older chicks now are fully integrated and sleep on the top perch, but still under Mum's wings.


Why are Green Woodpeckers so neurotic?Hens from my Phone; Internet photo of woodpecker

Friday, 13 August 2010

Noisy Kite!


No not gone, or at least back this morning sitting in a tree close to the nest and calling.

I also saw the Buck Roe deer in the distance yesterday but he saw me so did not stick around.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Quiet Kites


I am pretty sure the Kites have left their nest. There had been a lot of noise and activity recently and I guess they were encouraging the second chick to fledge.
Anyway a day or so ago I saw 4 kites very high up above the village, way above the Luton flight path so I guess they are enjoying the freedom that wings give you! All quiet across the wheat field this morning.
A few days ago Vic found a destroyed wasps nest. It had been dug up out of the ground and the only animal we have heard of that does that is a badger so we may have them wandering about too. Never seen any hereabouts though.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Wet sunny morning

Yesterday it poured with rain all day despite the weather forecast for a few showers.
This morning everything glistens with a thousand tiny jewels of water in the bright sunshine.
So there I was scanning the wheat field from the end of my garden, searching out every bush for a sign of my wild neighbours and listening to the recorded distress calls of various birds, that the RAF broadcast to try to clear their runways, when I realised that one of the young foxes was standing beside me, not 40 feet away, doing much the same thing.
He nodded "Good Morning" and trotted off into the field!

My poor fowl!

I just can't let them roam free so they have to stay shut in until I can supervise their exercise.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

A Good Night's sleep

Delighted to report that Snowflake (No Ring) has got the message and took her brood off to bed without any intervention from myself last evening. I was able to shut her and her family in with maximum security available from the foxes.
Maron (green ring) also got the idea and took her teenagers into the main hen house for the first time so I guess that group are fully integrated back into the main flock. How long before she re-starts laying?
Meanwhile Blondie still has the 3 remaining call ducklings who show no sign of interest in our one remaining adult Drake. Yesterday, whilst I supervised their afternoon walk, they all made a break for the wheat field....but I was quick enough and got them back without incident.
Autumn approaches....we swept the chimney, re-fire cemented the cracked bits and heated the old girl up to operating temperature. Now just need the modern equivalent of "Zebo" to make her look good.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Survived the night.


All 4 baby chicks are present and correct and eating this morning.

I had a real fight, - injury visible but no actual blood!

Snowflake (no ring) does not like me telling her to go to bed and take her chicks. It took me over 30 minutes to get her and her chicks into the bed chamber last evening and I don't think it did any of us any good. I will have to try a new method this evening.

Apart from Snowflake's excessive aggression the chicks are so little and timid that they make no effort to climb into the bed chamber. Have you ever tried lifting chicks on the end of a garden cane which is passing through chicken wire and dropping them into a slightly open doorway whilst holding the door closed to prevent a raging beast from battering down said door?

I have.


Viewed from the lounge late yesterday afternoon:-

Mother Green Woodpecker feeding 2 almost full grown youngsters whilst Moorhens and Rabbits graze.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Still Going Strong

All 4 new chicks have survived their first night out of the cardboard box in which they were brooded. They are so small that they have real difficulties getting back into the bedroom after playing in the run but I see that Mum has taken them out to play again this morning. I can see I am going to have fun getting them back tonight.

Meanwhile the Red Kites are very active and making a lot of noise so perhaps another of their chicks is about to fly.

A small Muntjac deer scuttled past me as I watched the Kites this morning and there are still rabbits everywhere.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

More Chicks

Snowflake (no ring) has successfully hatched all 4 eggs although it was touch and go with the last one which I was about to throw away this morning as it was all dried up. However it managed to give a healthy chirp of protest so I managed to damp it a bit to soften the membrane and help the little thing out.


I did not hold out much hope as Snowflake (no ring) is very aggressive / protective and I thought she might attack the late arrival.


All well this evening and all 4 doing well.



Tom's Solar Powered boat 's glue has set and it worked when the sun came out!!!

video

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Many returns

I collected Vic from her delayed flight from Ibiza to Birmingham last night and fell into bed about half past one so was a little late releasing the chicks and feeding all the birds this morning.

My trip to the far end of the garden coincided with the two fox cubs arrival. They are half grown and there was no sign of an adult so hopefully they will fail to find their way through life. The last thing I need is hungry fox cubs in the neighbourhood....Horrid things.

If only they would eat all the rabbits.....but they don't.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Not Turkey, Ibiza

Vic lost her flights to Bodrum in the Goldtrail collapse so, instead, I drove her to Birmingham for a flight to Ibiza.
Back in time to recover for Tom's Summer Concert...and that was my day gone.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Hen Lock-in



Depending on your point of view I have just seen a wonderful sight or a terrible sight!




Our local Fox's "teenage" (ie almost full grown) cubs were making a right row and play fighting on the farmer's old rusty field roller, jumping on and off it and each other. That roller is only a couple of hundred yards from my garden and my fowl!!!




Lock-in time chaps! Supervised walks only for the foreseeable future.


And here are
the newest members enjoying yesterday's....


Friday, 16 July 2010

Spoke too soon!

Maron family have gained amazing jumping skills overnight!
I swear I had to catch 8 of the little beasts, but there were still only 4 in the bucket.

I allowed both the Maron and the Blondie families access to the outside World yesterday afternoon (under strict supervision). The main flock were about and took very little interest except for Buffy (Buff Orpington thoroughbred Cock) who inspected the chicks shelter in great detail before I got alarmed and shushed him away.

The youngsters were not impressed and the ducklings actually failed to leave their run at all but the Mums were delighted. It is the first time for some 6 weeks that they have been out of cramped conditions. They Jumped, stretched, scratched the ground and luxuriated in any dust they could find, flapped their wings and yelped for joy. All without moving more than 4 feet from their babies. Then after about 20 minutes they walked slowly back to their respective groups and I shut the doors and that was that.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Got one - Lost one

I had a medium sized rat in one of the traps this morning so that is more food for the Kites and one less pest.
Unfortunately the little yellow duckling dropped dead yesterday morning. Maybe had a stroke. Life is very precarious when you are that small. And it always seems to be the cutest that are the least robust.
Otherwise all is well. The chopping saw is repaired but I can't use it as the Maron's family night residence is on the saw bench. The family were extremely well behaved last evening and this morning so perhaps they have got the idea of the routine for moving between night and day accommodation and have accepted it. I think the secret is to make sure the hen can see the chicks at all times. Quite a neat move sticking her under my right arm whilst catching 4 chicks and popping them into a bucket with my left hand whilst keeping the hen pointing the right way! Then walk to the next pen , empty the chicks into it and just let the hen go as she will go straight to the chicks.....well so far she has.
The Moorhen chicks have started to wander near and far. They grow up so fast. maybe another lot is on the way as Mum has built at least 3 more nests.
I gave up with Snowflake (no ring). I have given her 4 eggs (selected by Jan). So we might have more chicks at the beginning of August. Her identical twin (Snowflake (with ring) now has a very smart ring round one leg. Maron Mummy has a ring and her twin doesn't. The two ring bearers were as good as gold whilst they were fitted and just sat on my lap and watched.
Girls and Rings Eh?

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Not more chicks?

One of the two White Sussex hens has gone broody.
I have coaxed her off other hen's eggs, taken her favourite box away and generally been horrid to her for a couple of weeks now....but she won't give up.
This morning she was sitting on the floor where the box used to be on some sawdust....and defending it from all comers!
I have put her box back and given her 4 snooker balls. Wait and see what happens.
If she does sit she will be a monster to manage as her first reaction is to peck and peck hard. My other broodies have been real ladies and have never pecked me.
I can't leave the chicks / ducklings in the adult runs yet as there is still evidence of Rats about, although I have not seen or caught any recently. So that will have to wait until they are big enough to stand a chance against Ratty!
I do push the limit as the run I have for hens with chicks is occupied by Blondie with the Ducklings and the Maron with her 4 chicks has to move between the old Guinea Pig Hutch where she overnights in safety to The Guinea Pig lawn run during the day. This involves catching each chick from well within striking range of the mother's beak, popping them in a bucket and then picking up the hen and carrying all between locations.
So far so good, but today the first chick managed to jump back into the hutch whilst I was catching the second. This could become quite a game!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Red Currants etc!

Pounds of red currants off our one bush!
Jan is fed up with prepping them for freezing.
Strawberries continue but blackcurrants are very poor due to that late frost.
All those hours in the Spring putting up my fruit cage and now i could take it all down again.....or shall I just trust that there won't be any snow this winter?

Monday, 12 July 2010

Summer Fun

What a wonderful, if exhausting , afternoon in the garden!

Tom and I made a video entitled "Tom's Game Show" whilst the rest of the family got in the way.
Stills and Video are on my facebook page.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Progress


The Old AC drake was still here this morning and enjoyed his breakfast in the yard.








The maron hen has hatched 4 bright chicks. Mother and babies doing well.








The blond hen has her 4 ducklings rushing around and eating well. She appears to be resigned if a little confused as to why they all sit in the water trough.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Welcome back!

Several years ago a brighter than your average female Mallard Duck realised that our pet ducks had a good thing going. As winter set in she joined our ducks on the ponds during the day and when we called them in and they set off down the path for food and shelter from the perils of the night she flew away.

After a week or two she started to leave the pond and walk with the other ducks but as buildings, dog and humans came into view she would fly off. Gradually she got closer before she fled and one night she came in fed and spent the night in warmth and safety.

She did this for 2 or 3 years. Like all our ducks she was free to leave and fly away every day but secure every night. She mated with the male (Drake) Call Ducks and hatched 8 special AC crossbreeds.

Over the years the flock has reduced, by natural wastage, from a maximum of 15 ducks ....mainly due to foxes. At the beginning of last winter we were left with just 4 ACs drakes. After the moult they became stronger flyers and as Spring began they began to fly further looking for mates.

Unlike previous years they eventually all left and have not returned.

Last night one was back.

And he was still here for breakfast which he demanded in his bowl in the yard!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Goodbye and Hello





Owen has gone as it was not good to keep him suffering any longer with no chance of a cure. He only weighed 17 Kg in the end but he did get to see the new Ducklings hatch this morning.









The 4 ducklings are all different colours and confusing Blondie, their surrogate Mum, who is a bit concerned that they keep sitting in the drinking water. At some stages all 4 manage to squeeze in.
One Hen chick has almost got out of its egg too so it and up to 5 other chicks should be running around in a day or two.


More Mud

Second smaller pond cleaned. The mud at the bottom was over a foot deep and it was very hard work and very messy removing it. Only a few fish were found including a pair of Goldfish.
Moorhens enjoyed searching through the new garden feature of wet mud banks!

Owen has now completed his medication and has sunk back to not eating and being sick. Back to the vet this coming afternoon.

Although we still look most nights around 2200hrs we have not seen any owls for some time. In fact the only visible wild life at dusk has been endless rabbits.

Our little Gooseberry bush has produced a considerable crop and Norfolk Gooseberry Tarts have been enjoyed with syrup and cream. Yesterday Jan produced a Strawberry version. Mid Bucks Strawberry Tarts....very nice too!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Mud, mud, mud

As the largest pond only appeared to be about 6 inches deep before becoming black mud we decided to have clear out.
Mud everywhere but we also found in the region of 30 fish happily living in the mud until we took the water away. Mainly Roach and maybe Rudd. We also found Pea Mussels.
Owen picked up as the day went on and is eating quite well.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Still Eating

Drugged-up steroid junky Owen appears to be quite interested in food, especially Tesco Oxtail Soup.
Vic had a young Tawny (probably) Owl land in the hedge right by her last evening..........I go months , years without seeing such things and she just strolls out there and the wild life throws itself at her!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Oxtail soup & milk!

Owen has drunk some of the above.
We have spent a long time out in the garden but it ain't come back yet!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Fish?

Got organised and went fishing for those baby fish we had seen. Set a reception tank up in my shed......Never saw a single baby fish!
Owen continues to fade. The vet has him on a last chance anti biotic and steroids. No progress so far.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Still 5!

Accounted for all 5 moorhen chicks this morning. Two living alone in the big pond and 3 with Mum & Dad in the smallest.
Picanto has had its recall modification.
Mum off to have a blood test.
No owls seen last evening
Dag still going down hill.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Skylark

Morning walk gave me the Skylark singing his little heart out high above the airfield after a shower had refreshed everything.
I do hope they return to nest in "our" field next year. They were there in late winter / early spring but I think the building work on the new factory (replaces the dairy) drove them away.
Barny "no showed" last night.
Moorhen parents were going mad attacking the heron this morning. He left when I arrived but I only saw one chick. I hope the others were just hiding. They can dive instantly and "fly" under water so that they come up long distances away. The adults can instantly expel all air from their feathers and then they can stand under water with just the tip of their beak above the surface for air supply. Once it really freaked Vicky out when she saw this bird staring at her from the bottom of the pond!
There are baby (1inch long) fish in the bottom wild life pond. They should not be there as this pond is the reservoir and reed bed filter for the system and the level varies a great deal as water is pumped up to the top. I need a jam jar and a small net and some children to assist in removing them to a safer home........
Dog recovered last afternoon and ate a little food but he is poorly again this morning and appears to have lost all he ate.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Heron!

Those pesky herons are still about. Not content with killing fish far too big for them to eat they are now showing far too much interest in the Moorhen Chicks. I am glad to say there were still 5 alive and well this morning.
Barny was seen very briefly last evening and a deer bolted for the woods as he flew past but I think that was because of us not the owl. Tawny sat outside my bedroom window and complained about the noise my snoring made.
Owen actually ate a little.
Parties both sides to watch the football fiasco did not appear to upset any wildlife at all.
Actually saw the Red Kites in the distance briefly...don't know why they have moved off....perhaps the hot weather has encouraged them to fly higher than I have been looking.
NO EGGS yesterday for the first time since the new hens arrived in early Spring.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Saturday

Airfield and Luton flightpath in full swing all day with full sunshine and heat plus all the grass mowings and DIY....it really isn't quiet in the country!

Took some video of the garden wildlife including a baby rabbit, the Moorhen Chicks, mating common Coenagrion and a male Banded Demoiselle (Damselflies) as well as some not quite wild flowers. The flight of the Demoiselle was almost impossible to capture and what I got is slowed to half speed (The noise is a plane taxiing to take off...LOL).
The Editing is very rough as I don't want to spend all day indoors in this lovely weather.
Extra time in the USA Ghana match delayed our Owl watch and they were not seen although we heard Tawny calling from the woods and the RAF police dogs were having a real good bark to compete with the Muntjac that had barked for a while the night before.

Dog still won't eat but enjoys his night walk trying to find rats and finding lots of frogs and toads.
videoHappy Birthday James!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Being Watched

Set off to watch Barny as usual last night but he only made a brief circuit of the main wheat field before disappearing into the gloom towards the village and Mark Webber's house. Possible gone to feed on his Peacocks if they have any chicks.

Meanwhile as we waited I became aware that we were being watched by a large dark coloured owl sitting on a dead branch jutting out of the top of the Airfield perimeter hedge. After a while Tawny flew off into the aerodrome to be replaced, a few moments later by a very small owl. A small skirmish ensued when Tawny returned to reclaim his perch and Eddy (Little Owl) fled.

Lamb is still calling for his mum although mum no longer replies. (Can you have a lamb that is a little horse? We Have!)

Saw all 5 Moorhen chicks again fleetingly. I will try to get some pictures as they are now so much bolder.

Owen still very poorly. We have difficulty getting him to swallow the 8 tablets a day and he won't eat so we can't start him on the steroids but he still follows me around outside and he cleared all his balls out of the way of the mower yesterday.

Pool crystal clear and up to 25 deg C
Hens still sitting, others still laying, no rats caught.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Disappointed?

Disappointed...well how silly!
After the football we all returned to watch the Barn Owl and I had coaxed my old Infra Red Cam corder to life to get some better shots but "Barny" came later and it was darker and the camcorder was on autofocus and ........ well I got virtually nothing.
But "HEY"! How many people ever see a Barn Owl that close?
Meanwhile the Mock Orange and the Mallow are in flower. The Moorhen family still have 5 healthy chicks and I have not caught any rats in traps for 2 nights.....have I got them all yet????
Rabits everywhere and the last lamb was taken away from his Mum yesterday so they both bleeted to each other all night......still going this morning!
Fresh peas and a strawberry for tea.


video

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Slowed down Video of last night's Owl display

videoThis was shot in HD with a Canon Vixia HV 30. Unfortunately the machine does not have "Night Vision" but I think you can get the idea. Action has been slowed to half speed

Barn Owl display

Well ! What a display from our Barn Owl last night.







The Program will not let me move the pictures to the right order (or I don't know how to do it ) and I know the quality is not so good but it was a heart lifting experience which I wanted to share.



Here he is turning ready to pounce on some poor rodent!




Quite a long way off gliding about 2 foot above the wheat.
The evening sky just before he appeared









Well what can I say!

We went up to the field again last evening as the twilight was beginning but this time armed with my video camera. I was beginning to get cold and was about to give up when Jan gave a shout from her Bat Listening vantage point and there he was!
Might try to get my old (Non HD) night vision camera working if he comes back again tonight.
Meanwhile Owen is no better and has to go back to the Vet this afternoon.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Barn Owl

After the footie Jan, Vicky, Owen (border collie), Lionel (ginger tom cat) and I went for a stroll up the garden with the bat detector. No Bats but hawk eyed Vicky spotted the Barn Owl patrolling the wheat field and we were able to watch him searching along the hedgerows until he spotted and fell on a tasty snack.
What a wonderful hot sunny day it had been!
The ponds have been buzzing with all sorts of Damselflies including a Banded Demise and the dominant dragonfly currently is the Broad Bodied (blue male) Chaser which is angrily patrolling as much of the water as he can.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Lost the water due to a burst down the road but it is back now.
Owen slightly better.
Made some hay. Enough to fill one of those 1 tonne bags the sand came in.
Sat for a while and watched the swallows scooping a drink out of one of the ponds in flight.
3 strawberries and lettuce for tea.

Downhill to Christmas

Summer has hardly started but already the nights will imperceptibly start to draw in.
Status at Start:
Moorhens have at least 5 chicks but are all very careful to stay hidden if possible.
One Maron Hen is sitting on 6 hens eggs and Blondy (the Buff Orpinton type hen is into her second week on 6 duck eggs.
No rats caught last night so nothing for the Red Kites to have for breakfast.
Dog "Owen" is still poorly but has had a little boiled chicken for breakfast.