Harvey's story, Dutch pears glut and a monster in the garden.

Monster Caterpillar
November 2022

Harvey is now 8 weeks old and when he turned 6 weeks we decided it was time to meet the rest of the flock. They have been able to see each other from the moment he hatched. Chickens study each other’s behaviour to assess where they are in the pecking order and adjust their own behaviour accordingly. So, I knew that everything should go smoothly, but of course, I was still super worried that the flock would gang up on Harvey. Good news is it all went fine as you can see in the picture with Harvey in the middle.

Funny thing is that when the existing flock was able to get into the enclosed run again, they all went straightaway for the dry area to take a dust bath. The enclosed run has drier soil and chickens naturally look after themselves by dust bathing regularly as this keeps parasites at bay. So, that afternoon the run resembled a Roman bath house with 6 chickens lined up next to each other, covering themselves with dust (while the other 4 were waiting for their turn). It was very cute to watch.

For the first time we got masses of (Dutch) stewing pears; a whopping 16kg (2 st 7.3 lbs)! When we just moved to this house, we ordered a Gieser Wildeman pear tree from the garden centre in Tillicoultry which was then owned by Dutch people. And despite summers being much hotter in the Netherlands then in Scotland, this tree is doing really well and has produced some pears, but never as much as this year. We simply can’t eat that many stewed pears, so we gave Gregor and our neighbours both a bag full of pears. It’s always better to give away food then to throw it in the bin and this is how I was brought up. Thankfully many people think like this as we too were given lots of apples and hops from various customers and friends. So, instead of cider we made 17 bottles (!) of a 13% apple wine and stewed lots of apples too to store for winter. With the hops we will make our own beer and share these with the customer who gave us the hops. We grow hops ourselves, but our crop failed, so it was really nice to get different Scottish grown hops.

All received some nice homemade goodies in return of course.
I believe that’s what life should be about: communicating and sharing ideas while enjoying each other’s foods and drinks!

Sometimes nature can be weird and little bit scary too; the other day my husband came in saying he found a monster caterpillar in the garden! And he was right! This ‘monster’ caterpillar is really large and has a ‘face with eyes’. We looked it up and it appears to be the caterpillar of the Elephant Hawkmoth and is totally harmless. The eyes are just a decoy to make other species, including us, think it is a dangerous animal. We put it back in leaf litter where it will pupate and spend winter as a pupa before it transforms again into a beautiful, pink Elephant Hawkmoth.

That’s one of the reasons it is so important to leave leaf litter!

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