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Tuesday
May092017

08 May 2017

Those of you have been paying attention will have noticed that International Dawn Chorus Day was yesterday and may even have been aware that Ballylagan Farm was hosting an event. 23 people turned up for our walk which set off at exactly at 0530 as dawn broke. Points of interest:
 
We attracted more walkers than The Archers did on radio 4 despite the multi-billion pound resources of the BBC.
We had a perfect (and I mean perfect) morning for the walk. As my mother would have said: I have never seen weather like it.
The birdsong was magical, plentiful and various and our 3 RSPB guides were astonishing in their knowledge and enthusiasm – many thanks to Brenda, Paul and Kate. A total of 25 species were either seen or heard during the course of the walk – which to my mind ain’t bad.
The breakfast bar-b-q was a great success and my thanks to Patricia, Sarah and Ilse for putting on such a great spread.
We will be presenting the RSPB with a cheque for the £100 raised on the day.
 
Which brings me to a rather curious bird happening on the dam a week ago. As I drove up our drive towards the Ballylagan Road at about 0745 last Tuesday, I was forced to a halt by a procession of moorhens exiting the dam in single file, crossing the drive and popping through the hedge into the front field to join Murphy the horse. I wasn’t until I returned home that the explanation for this rather odd behaviour became apparent – two large geese were on the dam.
Clearly moorhen have their standards. As do pigs:
 
'Twas an evening in November, as I very well remember,
I was walking down the street in drunken pride.
But my knees went all a-flutter, so I rested in a gutter,
And a pig came round to lay down by my side.
Yes, I lay there in the gutter, thinking thoughts I could not utter,
When a colleen passing by did softly say:
"You can tell a man that boozes by the company he chooses."
And at that, the pig got up and walked away!

See you soon
Tom

Sunday
May072017

24 April 2017

Those of you familiar with my weekly email will know that from time to time I vent my spleen concerning the amount of rubbish that is strewn about our roads mainly by consumers of fast foods, cigarettes and sugary drinks. The picture above is four of the volunteers who gave of their time on Saturday past to do something about it. Organised by the Straid Village and District Community Group over twenty people young and old participated and approximately six miles of road plus the village itself were subjected to a thorough clean up. We collected in the region of 40 sacks of rubbish.  Similar groups  are doing similar things throughout the province. Hitherto I’ve tended to confine myself to being an old grump complaining about the dark. You’d be amazed how pleased with myself I now feel, having, as it were, helped to light a candle.
 
It turned a bit colder today yet it still remains stubbornly dry - which weather allows us to be reasonably up to date with all our vegetable sowing and planting out – there is however very little in the way of any home grown vegetables ready for harvesting. We’re in the hungry gap, at the very end of all last season’s vegetables (our own kale, leeks, swedes, parsnips, etc. are all now finished) with still some months to go before we start to harvest this season’s outdoor vegetables. Even tunnel produced crops are thin on the ground at the moment. Mercifully we can supplement our meagre diet with imports – this week the first of the asparagus crop should be with us and last week it gave me pleasure to see the first of the year’s nectarines coming in from Spain.
 
The Spring 2017 edition of Freckle magazine has just arrived with as usual its thought provoking articles, poems and wonderful photography. All beautifully presented and only £6.
    
See you soon
Tom

Saturday
Apr152017

10 APRIL 2017

How can you tell  crow from a rook? The answer is that if you see two or more crows together, then they are rooks. If you see a rook on its own, it’s a crow.  To add further complication, the bird in the picture is, I am reliably informed, a jackdaw. Frankly they all look and sound the same to me. Whatever they are, they provide an entertaining aerial floor show for customers sitting in the garden room as they try to build their nests underneath our solar panels. (That is the jackdaws, not the customers.) Most of their building material ends up on the ground below and so far as we can tell, any twig that fails quality control once, doesn’t get a second chance. Thus we have an enormous stack of kindling piling up which we will use for lighting the Tea Room fire next winter.

The older I get, the more endearing I find these birds, and I’m fairly sure it would be easy enough to train them to eat out of your hand. (Less difficult perhaps, than to train them not to dump on our windscreens.)

See you soon

Tom

Tuesday
Apr042017

03 APRIL 2017

We keep trying to augment our wildflower population – behold Patricia planting out some primrose on the farm walk. We have also planted cowslip and oxeye daisy. It is disappointing how paltry a hundred plants appear when in the ground. We plan to do more next year and no doubt each year thereafter.

See you soon.

Tom