A blog of logs…

The river is free to flood further downstream now, the fence is back to keep curious alpacas away from a long drop and there is a big pile of large and interesting shaped logs awaiting transport to the large shed. The alpacas like the fact that the grass has been flattened in this corner of the field as it is one of there overnight areas, under the overhanging trees by the riverbank.

I am just hoping that the Environment  Agency has forgotten this big, green tractor… ‘cos I want’s one, Precious… Yessss.

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Chirpie and Quackers are certainly impressed by it’s bigness and greenness.

It is going to be a warm and toasty winter…

Swift flows the river to the sea…

Day 2 of the River and the tree. The river is nearly clear and most of the trunk and branches of the tree are now in the field being cut up into manageable logs.

Also the sun is out today… which I am sure the Environment Agency is pleased about – especially the bloke I saw from the bridge taking, probably, a well earned piss in the river 🙂 I should have filmed it and plastered it all over Book of the Face but modesty forbade me…

Toodles, until later.

 

And a river runs through it

A posse of Environmental Agency workers, along with a beefy tractor and support vehicles,  arrived today to begin the task of getting about 8 tons of wood out of the river and up the bank. A fair amount of chinwaggery went on before the first cut was made (understandably – it looked, from the safety of the bridge, a fairly dangerous undertaking) and the first pieces of the black hearted trunk were hauled out.

Updates later…

That Calypso beat…

Today Calypso became the newest member of the River Field Herd. She is a beautiful black Alpaca. She was born at Mullacott Alpacas, on the north Devon coast, on 6th June 2015 making her  a year and a few months old. Though she has come from a large herd (40+) she seems to have settled in, straight out of the box, as it were.

Here are some initial pictures of her. The rest of the gang, especially Diego, were very interested in her.

The very nice and helpful people at Mullacott Alpacas can be found here:

http://www.mullacottalpacas.com

Thievin’ Orange Tit

It has puzzled me for quite a while now (and you can now tell I ponder the great questions of the Universe) as to why this particular bird is described and named as a ‘redbreast’.

I was forced into re-pondering this question when, yesterday, I was digging a few spuds for supper when this little chap flew down from the hedge and got quite close, within 2 feet I should think. Hopped about a bit, snaffling a gourmet selection of flying and crawling insects, posed for some photographs then flew onto the fence and watched me for 5 minutes before flying off to it’s future…

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Definitely an orange breast….

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Yup – A Robin OrangeBreast

We have had a good first crop of potatoes though the weeds have taken their toll, as well as a dry year so far (comparatively and anecdotally). The nematodes seem to have kept pest damage down. There has been the odd French Bean (even the French call it a Rouge Gorge…) plant with Blackfly but they have been caught early and dealt with by hand. The beans have done very well as have the courgettes. We are growing some old varieties from France and I can say that the yellow ones are very tasty – not a word I have normally associated with supermarket varieties.

I shall ask Isabelle their names and post a list later.

Toodles

 

Timber

A large Sycamore tree has fallen over very near the bridge and right across the river. It fell four weeks ago but we only realised a couple of days ago. From the field it is not visible and only the Alpacas regularly visit that corner by the bridge. The land dips away to the steep river bank at that point and, with the canopy of the trees, they have found they are well hidden.

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Just to the left of the red box, in that black hole is where it stood.

Needless to say, various kids from the village were soon swarming all over it, adding a walkway of old fenceposts. At the confluence of the Ludbrook and the river Erm, where a little island is formed below the bridge and that had now become accessible, they built a fire. A rope swing was another useful addition…

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It is a pity, but some blokes are coming next week to saw it up and haul it out of there. The river is very low at the moment but the weather has turned and there is more rain as I look out of the cottage window at a stormy sky. The tree would form the basis of a very effective dam and exacerbate the flooding problems we have down this stretch of the river.

Must be a few ton of wood there. I will ask the blokes next week…

Bunnies

While pottering around the other day, feeding the Weep Weeps (Guinea pigs), snacking up the ‘Pacas and chatting to the Perkies (Chickens) I came across a bunny eating his fill of corn and not really concerned at my presence…

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I cast my mind back to the spring and a few new friends popping out of mother earth, as it were…

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Black Bunnies, a mystery to me until I mentioned it to a friend, Jeff, who lives nearby the river, next to the playing fields. He said that their domestic rabbit, Brian, a big black, with white patches, male that would try and mate with cats and small dogs, often escaped and would be found down by the bridge or in the field… usually exhausted… This was about 10 years ago and I am wondering ‘do the genes of Brian the Bunny  still percolate through the local wild rabbit warrens?’

I often run an inventory in my head of the animals that live down here at the field… 4 alpacas, 14 chickens, 2 Running ducks, 12 female guinea pigs and 3 male guinea pigs. It is easy to forget, though, the amount of wildlife this 5 acres supports… there must be two or three hundred rabbits at the moment as all the hedges, as well as the river bank are riddled with rabbit holes. I counted 40 rabbits, in late spring, on a fifty foot section of hedge and field.

The rabbits support our valley’s buzzard population. There is usually a buzzard family wheeling around the sky, uttering their plaintive mewing calls  to each other, gazing earthwards. They are often mobbed by crows, jackdaws and magpies (these corvids will, and have, nabbed the odd chicken egg). The rabbits also support the odd fox passing through and there are weasels, stoats and polecats about that all like a juicy, organic rabbit.

Signs of other mammals are rare but grey squirrels are in the trees by the river. Rats and mice are about and the signs of their tunnelling are evident around the stables and raised beds but they appear to do little damage at the moment. We think they like the raised beds because they are warmer, underground, than the surroundings.

Swallows nest in the barn and stables, pheasants call in the long grass. Pigeons, they are many, are occasionally taken by a Sparrow hawk or Barn Owl. Ducks, Herons, Snowy Egrets, Kingfishers nest on the river and Cormorants, Terns and Seagulls all come up from the estuary looking for food and shelter from the strong south westerlies that strike this part of England. Great ‘V’s’ of Canada Geese fly up and down from roosting to feeding sites…

Then there are the insects…

Amazing really