Did you know that chickens actually have taste buds?

Trees come and sadly go too
December 2023

I’ve noticed that certain hens don’t seem to like apple, but others do and Harvey LOVES his red little berries. He normally makes sure that all girls have equal access to any treats I give them before he nibbles a few, but when I throw in the little red berries he scoffs them all first! I think it’s because when he was young I would feed him these berries from my hand, so maybe it brings back childhood memories.

Poor Harvey had a reputation of being a wimp; well he just proved he is not: when we came home after work one night, we noticed that one of the Black Punkers was sleeping on top of the coop. This is not the safest place and so we had to grab her and put her inside the coop. As soon as JP grabbed she literally screamed her lungs out upon which Harvey stormed out of the coop, puffed himself up, stood on the ramp protecting the entrance to the rest of the flock while making a piercing screech at the top of his voice. He was actually that scary looking that we had to wait until he had calmed down and went back inside by himself, because we felt he would attack us if we came too close. If we had been a fox he would have protected his girls, so well done Harvey! We knew you had it in you!

Sadly the damage to our trees done by last month’s storms didn’t stop; one of the very old beech trees lining our path must have taken a hit when the other one snapped because after the unnamed storm we had around 21st November I discovered that the tree is split in half and lost a major limb. We need to assess whether or not it has to be cut down as it may pose a risk of falling onto our path or if it falls to the other side the roots may uplift the tarmac of our only access road. I’m devastated by the destruction and I know this is what nature does sometimes, but it’s still awful. If it needs to come down we could perhaps plant a young beech sapling in its place by which the bloodline of the tree continues to live on.

On a brighter note: we have just received a delivery of 210 saplings from the Woodland Trust which will be planted in ‘Lothlorien’. It is a selection of hardy, native trees especially beneficial to pollinators. Hawthorn, blackthorn and goat willow for example all produce pollen at different times of the year, keeping our bees happy. For now the saplings are all temporarily planted in our greenhouse because the ground is frozen solid. We’re waiting for milder weather to come, but knowing what the winter can bring in Glendevon, this may not be until April! At least the saplings are all nice and cosy inside and this way we can also just plant 50 one day and leave the rest to plant another day.

I’m now in my penultimate year of studying for a degree in Natural Sciences and this year’s module is really quite interesting; I’ve got to measure how much protein my diet contains and also how sustainable this is. I also had to count how many species (how many plants/animals) I consumed on one day and surprisingly my diet consisted of a whopping 50 different species on average. The majority of other students consumed around 35. I have thought long and hard about this difference and I put it down to the time of year (autumn = harvesting season), berries, apple, banana, soya yogurt and seeds I have for breakfast and using lots of different spices for cooking. There is no right or wrong and by observing these difference new questions emerge and an investigation could be the next step to see why this is. If only I had time...

Another great thing about this module is that I have to count birds as part of an activity; what better way of studying by sitting outside with a cup of tea, counting birds? Mind you, the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch is back again next month too, so I’ll be sitting outside again with another cup of tea!


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