Hank the Tank - Part 2
Hank the Tank is now getting way too boisterous for my liking, and as bold as brass, too. Nothing scares her. Last week she chased away a flock of sheep who dared to gather in the field next to the hen house!
Well, maybe a slight exaggeration there. I just happened to see the startled sheep running away from something, I don’t really know what exactly. I did see Hank pacing up and down, chest puffed out, like a drill sergeant. She seemed very pleased with herself. So I just put two and two together!
Most likely it was our neighbours’ new puppy, who likes nothing better than to chase sheep... and cats... and chickens. In fact anything that moves. Normally the hens shout at me because they want me to open the hen house door and let them out, but when this mischievous little pooch comes bounding along they start shouting at me to close the door and let them back in! “Make your mind up. What is it you want? In or out?!” I bark at them, exasperated. Sadly, there is one less chicken shouting at me, as Hester passed away yesterday after a very short illness.
The new sowing season is upon us and the chilli peppers are the first seeds to see compost. Recently I bought a proper almanac - a guide which tells you the phases of the moon, the length of daylight hours, the times of sunrises and sunsets and when to sow (and what to sow) following the biodynamic calendar. Biodynamic farming is a step up from growing things organically. Naturally you don’t use pesticides or artificial fertilisers, but with biodynamic farming you also sow and harvest following the phases of the moon and other planets.
I conducted an experiment a while back to see if this method made any difference to the plants I grew. My conclusion was that although I couldn’t see any difference in the number of plants I harvested, the plants seemed to me to be healthier than the others not grown biodynamically. So, this year I will have another go and we’ll wait and see what happens. By the way, proper biodynamic farming goes even further by filling a cow’s horn with minerals, I believe, but that is not something I am doing as I don’t have a spare cow’s horn lying around! I just check whether it’s a waning or waxing moon and check what the almanac recommends sowing on that particular day.
Regular readers will know how much of a weather-fanatic I am and so as a wee treat for my birthday, I treated myself to a brand new, all singing, all dancing weather station - one that would make even the Metoffice green with envy. Well, okay, maybe not quite. It measures the usual stuff like temperature and rain fall, but it also measures wind speeds and solar radiation; it even transmits the data to a website, which displays the daily readings as a graph. For me this is very exciting stuff! So be prepared for more weather related nonsense in future newsletters, for instance, did you know that the strongest wind gust in January in Glendevon was 47 mph (at the end of January)! Of course you don’t need a fancy weather station to tell you that January has been a pretty mild month, especially New Years’ Day which was the warmest ever in Scotland; I even enjoyed a nice cup of tea outside in the open air mid-January!
For part of my Environmental Science studies I recently had to look up information about the types of rock found in my local area. I was very excited to find out that I live on basalt and andesite, which are rocks formed from a volcanic eruption a long, long time ago. Digging a little deeper (online, not in the ground!) I discovered that one of the reservoirs in Glendevon is likely to have been the mouth of an extinct volcano, which I found particularly interesting! And, yes, I know, Stirling Castle was built on top of an extinct volcano, too. When you come from The Netherlands - which has only one extinct volcano to speak of - you do tend to get excited about this sort of thing! By the way, this also means we occasionally dig up a mega boulder, which can be used as a garden feature of as a headstone to mark Hester’s grave.
Oh, and don’t forget... to count the birds in your garden this weekend for the Big Garden Birdwatch!