Archive for the ‘Nature and Wildlife’ Category

Hanging on for dear life

While we all go about our busy lives the rest of the world goes on all around us. All things happening at the same time. Little did I realise on October 24th that this flower was still there. Outside my window, and walking past it a few times every day, I had stopped noticing it. To me it’s interesting to think that as I sit here in my own little microcosm, that there’s nearly 7 billion people out there doing their own thing, and many many trillions of insects and other life forms. Yet here we were together. One bee, one flower, one me.

Afterthought: You know the flower here is surprisingly similar to the one that I posted weeks ago: https://cowdunghands.wordpress.com/2007/10/10/ive-arrived/. I wonder if they are of the same type?

What happened to all the Mushrooms?

We normally have an abundance of wild mushrooms every autumn. Well when I mention mushrooms, I mean the white table mushroom (Agaricus Bisporus) that most have eaten or cooked with at one stage or other.

This year, because the weather was so strange, there was hardly a sight of a mushroom all autumn. They occur naturally in August or September when it is still warm and humid, and when the nighttime temperatures drop near freezing. Then they spring out of the ground, and you can find them especially where cattle have been trampling because there’s no grass to cover them there!

With our buckets and buckets of mushrooms, we take enough for ourselves and use the remainder to give to friends and family, who in turn give us things like tomatoes and gooseberries and other nice things they have too much of. So we all gain. So this year, there is none, and we are all disappointed. Trading for us is made a little more difficult, because others bring us their goodies while we don’t have much to give. Hmmm, well we gave away a lot of apples so I suppose we’re not too badly off.

The mushrooms taste wild, and have a strong taste, and are much nicer than those you buy in the shop. Neither are they button mushrooms, they’ve generally opened by the time we find them, so we must check that maggots have not gotten in by cutting the stem and checking for holes.

Mushroom soup made with full milk is something we all love through the winter. They would go into stews, or when fresh would be fried on their backs with a little salt in the cup for extra flavour, or they might just go into a stir-fry, or be roasted with some meat. We eat lots of them when they are fresh … and of course at times we have just too much of them. So they are washed, chopped and frozen in bags. They keep very well in the freezer. I know there are still some there since last year … but they don’t compare to those that are freshly plucked from the ground.

  • In the picture above are not white mushrooms, but some other type of mushrooms that we don’t eat that were growing behind our house a few weeks ago. We have lots of different types of fungi growing mostly in wooded areas here. Of course there are loads of typess that are edible. I think fifty seven in Ireland grow naturally, and many many more around the world.
  • Mushrooms purchased in the shops are invariable grown in climate controlled tunnels. It’s a labour intensive process, where compost is worn out quickly. They’re not grown here much any more, but there used to be lots of mushroom farms around. They mostly come from Eastern Europe or Asia now, because it’s cheaper for the consumer.
  • Below is a nice time-lapse video of a mushroom opening. I had been looking for a video on white mushrooms, but most of them seemed to be of magic mushrooms. It’s to be expected I suppose.

Bite your lip and smile for the camera

He’s definitely a strange one. Born on the 2nd March 2006 11pm, he’s a half twin to a lovely heifer calf to a cow called Curious that I used to adore. I looked at him when he was born and my first thoughts were that he’s not going to make it. A tiny calf, half the size of his twin, he looked an albino, with very little hair colour, and there was a strange texture to his skin … kind of elastic skin… i can’t describe it properly because I’d never come across it before. And there was this funny thing with his mouth, he had no lip on one side.

He straightened up after a couple of minutes and all seemed just fine … except for the lip.after quarter of an hour I took some colostrum from mum, and attempted to five it to this lad.every time I put the nipple into his mouth, his tongue hung out the side, so if he got any milk, it was only a dribble. This continued every few hours through the night, and the following day too (helped thankfully by my mum and dad). (any farmer reading this would say to use a stomach tube and be done with it. I didn’t own one at that stage. I do now!

After about a week he started to drink on his own. That was some dose, but we got over it, and he started to grow, develop some colour, and you know he actually looked like he was going to make it … though the tongue still hung out the side of his mouth.

So here he is now pictured last April (he’s still the same now, only bigger and fatter). Healthy and carefree, happy to do bovine things all day long.

Another defect that I noticed as time has gone on is that the cartlidge in his ear doesn’t seem to be of very good quality.They usually have an ear tag on each ear. But the hole in his ear has stretched and it’s not very good any more for tags. I could make another hole, but I’m sure it would only have the same problem. I’m sure it’s affected to the lack of colour on his hair. Maybe he’s partly albino or something.

I used to love the mum ‘Curious’. She was always coming over smelling me, giving me big licks, gently horning me, looking for something nice, generally being a curious creature and sometimes being a nuisance too. Even when she was young and growing up, she was always the first one in the group over to me. In every group there’s always your favourites … and she was one of mine all the time. Alas only two weeks after having her twin calves (which she had no problem with), I found her one morning unable to rise. She had broken a hip during the night, probably in some shimmozle as she nudged her way through the crowd. We took her out, and gave her a dry bed, but she was dead by the afternoon. Either the shock got to her … or there was some major internal problem that wasn’t diagnosed. One way or the other, she was gone and I had lost a comrade.

But you know, he’s different from all the rest, and it’s a good thing because it’s interesting. Like us, if we were all the same, the world would be a very boring place.

Autumn II

It’s the second week in November, since last August we haven’t seen any rain, wind or frost. The delicate plants are still surviving, and some might say flourishing.

The red one at the front is a Begonia. For a flower that us usually there for a few weeks in the late summer, this one has outlasted all the others. It’s nested in a nice sheltered spot, if a little dark to be honest cos it’s under some big trees. Well maybe it’s flowering well now because the leaves have come off the trees and it’s getting some much needed sunlight. I can’t say to be sure. The Kaffir Lillies in the background are flying too. This is their time of year. My aunt says that for most of the year, you think it’s a big ugly weed, but when they come out at this time of the year, they add wonderful colour to any garden. They can be got in lots of different colours, not just pink!

All this good weather in November comes at a price. The grass in the front garden has grown long and thick. My mum says she would like to put some sheep in there to keep it trimmed.  I would love to … but I fear she’s not serious. Tut tut, sheep in the front garden … what next, dogs in the house!!!

Barking up the wrong tree

Following on yesterdays series of pictures, as I had the camera out, I was able to take some shots and video of Shep and Buttons, as they barked up a tree searching for a cat to scare out of its skin all day long. They have a bad habit of sitting under a tree all day and night, and barking their hearts out. This particular tree is difficult for them, There is fencing on one side, and then there is a wall on the near side. So they stand up on the wall and jump up onto the tree. Shep’s balance is excellent, but buttons isn’t the best to be honest. You should also notice the lack of ivy on one side of the poor tree. Yes, that’s from Shep’s constant pawing. It’s often that he tears off the bark of the tree, which isn’t the best to be honest. Have to take preventative action when that happens. It is more likely to happen on evergreens rather than hardwoods.

This time around, I think they were just giddy from running around in circles playing chase. They seem to just like barking for the sake of it. I pointed up the tree ad off they went barking at nothing. Of course it’s great fun … unless it’s 2am and people are trying to go to sleep. When this happens, we have to lock them into their house for the night and let them out in the morning.

My niece tried to get into the action too, but her balance isn’t the best on top of a wall like that … but all the same, she didn’t fall and had lots of smiles too.

Finally there’s a short video here of some of the ‘action’. just barking and whining. Apologies in advance for the video below which is sidewards at the start but it’s better than nothing.

Hare yesterday, Gone today

I was away all day yesterday and on returning returning this morning, I found this poor girl on the road outside our front gate. It is a horrible sight to see, but it happens from time to time. She’s obviously one of the herd of rabbits that nibble on the grass in front of our house in the dead of the night and early in the morning. Sometimes, early on a crisp spring morning, when on opening the shutters of the windows in front of the house, there could be anything up to a dozen rabbits nibbling away to their hearts content.
So this one wandered out onto the road this morning, and because rabbits do not know the safe cross code (pictured below), this girl had a fate like many of her furry friends before. I suppose we’re lucky it’s not a person or a child these days. Such is the way that our road has gone since it was re-tared and widened a few years back. In the evenings, the cars come hurdling down the hill over 60mph, with a reckless disregard for anyone or anything else on the road.

We like the rabbits around our house, so it made me sad this morning to see her prone on the ground. My next instinct was to remove up the poor bunny. It may sound heartless, but the bunny went to shep … who was not going to say no. so out of some bad, there is good as he now has a full belly. Such is the way of life and death.

Autumn Hydranges

With a shrill blow of the breeze, one knows that the autumn is here with a vengeance. Until last Sunday the temperatures were good, the air was calm and the sun was shining. While most other flowers on the plant have faded and withered and faded, this Hydrangea flower survives and sticks out like a sore thumb. It is not very colourful, maybe that is a reason why.

In the background the beech and sycamore leaves build up on the drive to the front gate. It is a lovely sight, but when it comes to cleaning up the whole mess … oh, someone help me please me. When that golden wet mush that sticks to the ground, it’s so hard to move.

That Lucky Thistle

I don’t really like to see weeds grow up under the feet of the cows, so this is one lucky thistle. It’s under the electric fence wire, and beside one of the stakes, so when I was clipping that pasture in July, I obviously missed it or just couldn’t reach into it.

So there it was yesterday, and I was trying to get a picture of some autumn flowers, and this even though it’s a weed, is still a flower. At the time I hadn’t noticed that there were half a dozen winged insects on it until I went a little closer, and then the spiders web too.

Even though it is a weed, it’s supporting some other form of life at this time of year when food is getting scarce for these bees. These flowers are a precious resource, and of course a spider has realised this and set up it’s web around the best parts to claim it’s prize also.

Note: The detail of the picture is best seen if you click on the above picture, which will take you through to a larger size.

Note 2: I don’t use any sprays to kill thistles, I wait until a wet day in July, until they have become big and strong, and cut the stem so the hole inside the stem is exposed to the sky. If the rainwater manages to get in there, it will rot the plant to the roots, and kill it properly. It is a nice trick, and works well here, such that we have very few thistles … except this one and a few more hiding out in the shadows.

Blonde Bombshell

He’s lovely isn’t he. A young virile, chubby, handsome bull. He’s got a lovely back-line with good hind quarters. The type of animal whose offspring would grow you plenty of meat. And here he is happy with loads of grass under his feet, enjoying the sunshine. There is one problem though: he’s not mine, and he’s with my friesian heifers. AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH!

He’s the neighbours bull who felled the wall between our place and his. He’s the kind of bull that could throw awful big calves and destroy our poor heifers at their first calvings *sob*.

It’s not his first time coming in this year. The neighbour said that he would put a ring and a chain on him, but that never happened. The guy is in his eighties, and cannot manage the place because he is getting old, so the rest of us neighbours suffer 😦 I may spend the day tomorrow in his place fixing up the fencing again. I’ve done it lots of times before.

I was angry when i saw him there first off, but you know, it’s only a small thing, even though an annoying thing that i‘m going to loose a few hours of my time because of someone else’s negligence.

Anyway the main thing is that we found him and got him out of there before he had done too much damage. I’m hoping that all my heifers are in calf since last April/May and that it was an old cull cow bulling that was the thing that drew him in the first place.

The picture below is where he came in. He obviously wasn’t happy about just coming in a nice small corner. he needed to knock the wall down to a foot and a half for a width of ten feet before he was happy to go over. Grrrrrrrr!

The Midnight Raider

My aunt was woken in the middle of the night last weekend by a banging at the back of the house. Only visiting for the weekend, she was frightened by the noise, but she has a strong will, and opened the shudders and peered out to see who was there and what their business was. She waited and waited, looking out on that piece of ground that was well lit by the moonlight. The wind was blowing strongly, making a racket too, but she kept hearing the noises, but saw nothing moving. Then she realised what it was. The horse chestnuts were falling from the tree beside the house and landing on the lean-to roof (galvanize) at the back of the house. She returned to bed and slept soundly after that. In the morning, we all had a good laugh at her adventure.

But, what a crop of horse chestnuts there are this year, and example of which can be seen below. Of course they’re no good to anyone because they’re very poisonous which is unlike the sweet chestnut you can eat. They probably won’t kill you, unless you eat a lot of them, but they will make you very very sick … and i’m sure you’d never want to eat one after that.

I can’t say that I like the Horse Chestnut too much. It’s so good at spreading it’s leaves that everything underneath just dies from getting no sunlight. It is mean … so I will be mean to it in the future.

A bountiful supply of horse chestnuts and big leaves.