Monday, 26 January 2015

The snow has been with us for several days and its amazing how busy the garden is with wildlife coming in to feed. The first to come and the last to leave are always the robins and a party of Long Tailed Tits. The pheasants, rabbits and deer leave plenty of tracks and are getting very tame. I've got some new pastel pencils and had a go doing a quick pastel portrait of one of the Texel tups that are up here.

I used Derwent Pastel Pencils on Daler- Rowney Pastel Paper

Pheasant and Rabbit tracks

Ewes enjoying their extra winter rations

Saturday, 24 January 2015

We put wire baskets round some plants to protect them from rabbits and have been putting food in some for voles (so the pheasants don't eat it). They leave little muddy trails as they come and go in the snow. In the morning there are always fresh deer tracks in the snow, especially by the allotment.

Deer tracks

Vole run

Friday, 9 January 2015

The high winds woke us up at 5am this morning, though we seem to have got off lightly as we can't see any fresh tree casualties. It's wet and dreary so stuck inside, but at least finished off a sheep painting. I also collected some owl pellets to pull apart and see what they have been eating. I think they must be from two species as one is mush larger than the others and was found separately.

Winter sheep

Owl pellets

Thursday, 8 January 2015

So happy that the days are lengthening even if it is just a few minutes each evening. I have the sunset and sunset times pinned up on the wall in the kitchen to cheer me up. It's that time of year again to start browsing seed catalogues and manuring the garden. The farmer very kindly dropped me off an enormous pile of manure - keeps your feet warm when you're shifting it. My lovely friend Jan made me the Panda hat for Christmas (along with a delicious bottle of Blackcurrant gin that's very welcome when I head back indoors). May we all have a happy, healthy and peaceful 2015.

Smells wonderful!

Monday, 8 December 2014

Over the last day and night we have had high winds, sleet, snow and hail and now we have bright sunshine. The mice have moved back in for the winter, it wouldn't be so bad if they kept the same hours as us, but they sound like they are doing re-modelling work in the attic at night. The jays have started visiting the bird feeders so wild food must be getting low. I stayed in doors and did some paintings of sheep one of which is below.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

I have spent the last couple of days excavating a hare skeleton, cleaning it up and attempting to put  it back together. We found the dead hare during the summer and buried it in a container of sawdust with drainage holes in the bottom and a mesh lid. The bones are beautifully clean and there is no smell. The hard part is putting it together, especially the feet which have some tiny little bones more like flinty stones. It's a crash course in anatomy but fascinating. There are some photos at  the bottom of this post. I noticed this queen wasp in a log I was just about to put on the fire, it has been saved and placed in an outbuilding log and all. Every year the wasps pollinate my gooseberries so it was nice to do them a favour in return. Our pet ferret Bramble looks amazingly fluffy in her new winter coat, hope it doesn't mean bad weather ahead!

Fluffy Ferret (not fat).

Queen wasp hibernating in log.

Excavating hare skeleton.

Cleaned up skeleton.

Friday, 5 September 2014

It's dusk  when we walk Bramble in the evening now and dark by the time we get home, seranaded by the Tawny Owls in the woods. It's harder to get up in the mornings too, dark and chilly with mist curling down the hill. The leaves are turning yellow on the trees, I can hear them falling as I'm weeding the vegetable bed. We have a mouse, a vole and a shrew using the same hole in the wall of the house; they are very fond of spaghetti, we put a little in the entrance last night when we made the most of the late evening sun to eat our tea outside. We could hear them squeaking inside the wall.
The hawthorns and rowans are covered in berries and colourful fungi are sprouting in woods, fields and hedgebottoms, welcome food for our wildlife. The young pheasants have all been released  and look comical sprinting around the fields after insects, like big chickens as they haven't got their tails yet. On Tuesday we went for a walk in Gisburn Forest and the paths were covered in flying ants. .