Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Hail and snow.

The high winds banging the barn door and hailstones hitting the windows got me up at 3.30am. Sat downstairs with a cup of coffee listening to the mice running around in the walls and gnawing away at the expandable foam we used to block the hole they made to get into the kitchen. I hoped the duck and her ducklings were safely tucked away in a hedge bottom somewhere, but she's now down to six ducklings. They are getting more independent, finding food for themselves and chasing chaffinches. The baby rabbit got very giddy running at and away from them and jinking up in the air. Mummy duck keeps up a constant low call to the ducklings and when a large pigeon flew in she gave a loud quack of alarm and all the ducklings ran under her. The ducklings are also using the bird bath as an infant swimming pool to the annoyance of the pheasants.

Monday, 27 April 2015


Over late winter and early spring we enjoyed visits from a pair of Mallard ducks. The visits tailed off over recent weeks only for a very nervy female to occasionally return alone at nightfall to be fed. We were delighted when she turned up yesterday afternoon with eight tiny ducklings. She was so hungry I started to think I was going to have to start lobbing pork pies at her, but a couple of handfuls of wheat and two slices of bread managed it. We had a very heavy frost overnight and worried she would lose some to the cold or the feral cat that lurks around here but shes been back with all eight. The rabbits in the garden have lost all but one one of a recent litter but its getting quite tame and enjoys eating leftover veggies, especially very spicy Chinese Cabbage. I love its furry feet!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

New wildflower bed

We decide to make another bed on the opposite side of the path to the moth border and as an experiment we have sown it with a packet of wildflower seed from Lidl - £1.69 for 100g. We are also going to put cane wigwams in to grow scarlet runner beans on. We covered the area with fleece after sowing just for a bit of extra warmth to help with germination.

Preparing the bed

Sowing the seed

Pegging the fleece down

Monday, 20 April 2015

I needed a dress makers dummy but just couldn't afford one so.....

.....out came an old t-shirt and some duct tape.

Not really how anyone wants to see themselves.

Getting stuffed.

Worked way better than expected.

Frosy mornings have led on to sunny warm days and the pollinating insects, bees, butterflies, hover flies and wasps have been hard at work enjoying the bounty provided by the early flowering ribes, gooseberries, primula denticulata, primroses and cowslips. The bee flies adore the pom pom heads of the primula denticulata - I've never seen so many. In the greenhouse, the radishes are ready to eat, the broad beans have been planted out and even though the oriental salad we have been enjoying all winter has bolted it's still edible and the flowers attract beneficial insects.

Comma butterfly out of hibernation and feeding on gooseberry nectar

Yummy radishes

Radishes, broad beans and strawberry plants

Peacock butterfly on primroses

Oriental salad leaves

Bee on gooseberry flower

Friday, 17 April 2015

Butterflies and Beeflies

The garden has burst into life over the last couple of weeks. On April 9th saw our first Bee flies of the year feeding on Primula denticulata flowers and in the evening we watched our first bat probably a Pipistrelle feeding at dusk over the garden. The Peacock butterflies that spent the winter on the kitchen beams came to on a sunny day and had to be released to stop them bashing themselves to bits on the windows - lucky we were home. The male pheasants are looking splendid especially in the bright sunshine all metallic bronzes with bright red wattles. We had a trip over to Bleasdale and watched a Barn owl watching the sunset before swooping off to hunt.

Bee fly feeding on Primula Denticulata

Peacock Butterfly

Male pheasant in all his finery

Bleasdale Barn owl

Monday, 6 April 2015

Easter Bunny

Over Easter

The Easter Bunny made a nest,

Barrie made a moth border

and I made a blouse

with tadpoles.

Happy Easter!

Friday, 3 April 2015

March winds and April drizzle

It's true what they say about Britain, everyone else has climate, we have weather. Over the last week (sometimes the same day) we have had gales, hale,sleet, bright sunshine and now drizzle. Yesterday was T shirt weather and warm enough to eat out in the garden. Our garden is home to a male pheasant and his harem of up to 11 females. He stands sentry over them as they feed, though he does seem to have an hour or so off in the afternoon and this is when other males chance their luck. We also have a pair of ducks who have moved in, paddling in the bird bath. The lambs are all out in the fields now and were enjoying the sunshine yesterday after the dreadful weather of the last few days. The woodland bottoms are greening up with the leaves of wild garlic and bluebells and the dogs mercury flowers brighten up hedge bottoms. Sadly Bramble our pet ferret had to be put to sleep as she had heart failure that didn't respond to treatment - very much missed.

Bramble, pet ferret

Male pheasants squaring up

Male pheasants fighting

Mallards at bird bath

Male pheasant standing sentry

Young lambs sunbathing