Monday, 29 September 2008

We are still working in the garden, honest!

This weekend Husband and I tackled logs and piles of garden rubbish; the joy of using a chainsaw with a sharp chain and the safety of having acquired a decent Stihl sawhorse to steady the branches whilst we render them into stove-sized logs. In preparation for more tree felling we have cleaned up the bottom of five Leylandii ready for John and his team and are moving/consolidating all the remaining brush and rubbish into one area in preparation for a big Autumn bonfire. Trying to shred and/or comppost this stuff has proved inneffective and whilst it is not my favourite way of clearing up we're resigned to the idea that a fire is the way to go.

There is still much to do but I don't feel like putting any "progress report pictures" on the blog because although I know I'm moving stuff around a lot it won't really look like that to anyone else.

If I get a chance to have a couple of sessions in the garden this week then I might be at a point where we can say "finally, turned a corner" and then you'll see photos!

Bird Food? Yuk . . .

I don't think this youngster had ever come across Sunflower Seed hearts before. The fall-out from the bird feeder is caught on a bit of plastic until I install green slate slabs from Honister. After a thorough investigation this little one returned to the hazelnuts.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Sunday, 28th September 2008


Breakfast visitor

Maybe the old camera isn't completely dead yet - but the real credit has to go to this young squirrel who was either unafraid and not bothered by my shuffling across very wet early morning grass to get to within 15 feet of him, or he was too scared and stupid to run away. Jill is right - at some point in the future it would be great to get a proper hide and take the time to sit outside and watch these wonderful creatures from much closer!

No edits, SOOC and no more because the d*mn batteries died just as he moved to the hazelnut feeder!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Saturday, 27th September 2008

Another lovely start to the day.


Half an hour later:

Red Squirrel

Taking photos of these darling garden visitors is getting harder and more frustrating. The current group of young squirrel who visit Bag End seem to move even faster than the ones earlier in the year and my little Olympus camera cannot cope. Much time (ie: a significant number of hours) is being spent researching a D-SLR.

This picture is cr*p, the tail and paws are out of focus because the Oly. can't function any better in the low light levels that have existed recently, but it is included to show the difference between this squirrel and Blondie who was such a regular visitor earlier in the summer.

At present we THINK we have five different youngsters visiting, all have very dark tails like the one above, plus a really small kitten who arrived this week and is hidden amongst these leaves:

Rubbish photo - lousy focus, full of noise, I've done nothing in Photoshop to try and clean it up - the original image just isn't worth the time and effort. This youngster is much, much lighter than all the others, her ears are really pale and the tail (which looks dark in the photo) is actually only dark at the edges.

We have not seen Blondie and Newbie for weeks, wonder where they have moved on to?

Friday, 26 September 2008

Welcome Back

After a summer-long absence, our Ring Neck Pheasant wandered timidly around the shrubbery yesterday. Great to see him back again, I was concerned that he had fallen victim to a fox or local shotgun.

Friday, 26th September 2008

September is nearly over and can be noted as the month when I was absolutely useless at keeping these diaries up to date.

06.55 - beautiful start to the day.

Saturday, 20 September 2008


According to one of our neighbours we do not get Nuthatches this far north. So now you know - the pretty little bird in these photos is not a Nuthatch, Mr Know-It-All says so.

It is about 20% larger than a Hampshire nuthatch, and the breast is paler in colour and it is, very definitely, a Nuthatch and a most welcome visitor to Bag End.

On one occasion I saw two which bodes well for baby Nuthatches next spring. This particular bird adores peanuts but is not averse to raiding the Soft-Billed Mix when the Robbins and Blackbirds have left some.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Still here, honest!

Just not much happening in the garden this week.

John has been round to make pronouncements on the trees we are most worried about and agrees we'll have the five worst down within the next month. My job is to clear up the base of the trunks in readiness for judgement day. Additionally, I need to move various piles of brush that have been (for good reasons at the time) dumped in what is now the wrong place . . .

Have decided I am no longer going to admit to any future plans online because whenever I do, things change. Back in August I had this great idea that "one more session removing cherry roots and I'd be able to import soil and plant daffodil bulbs along the front hedge". Yeah right, haven't touched that area for five weeks now . . . sigh.

And the Grand Plan for a log store which involved clearing an area at the top of the garden last week? Silly me, Husband has had a rethink and suggested another location for the logs, and of course, he's right!

Thursday, 18th September 2008

Good grief - where have the last 10 days gone. That must have been them making a speedy whooshing sound as they whistled past without me . . .

The field opposite Bag End has a nice stock-proof Hawthorn hedge. I don't particularly care for the long-term effect of cutting a hedge with a flail on a tractor but these days farmers have no choice, it is not economic to do it any other way.

Yesterday afternoon "before":


See all that indistinct greyness at the top of the photo? At least it is not raining but we've had this murky haze for the last couple of days, the light is really weird, little camera really doesn't like it!

Friday, 12 September 2008

Wednesday and Thursday

Wednesday - dodging showers but managed to get a front onto the compost bin so that I can fill it more evenly.

Ordered more slab from Patersons to make a second bin for all the leaves that are going to fall off the trees in the next few weeks, and timber to make a log store.

Started to clear ivy from top right-hand corner where we plan to put all the garden buildings. Rain stopped play.

Thursday: After one of the windiest nights since we've been here no surprises to find a Leylandii branch down this morning, thankfully only a small one and laying in the garden. Am living in fear of one of the remaining huge trees falling into the road before John can get here and fell them. Removed most of branch from tree and rendered it down into logs.

Nearly finished clearing the area where our log store will be built. Decided not to try to remove the roots of a lilac bush single-handed, that can wait until Husband is available to provide additional muscle.

After our lack of success with the shredder we're reconciled to having to have another huge bonfire to finally clear all this brush and rubbish. Making a start on piling things in the right place to make it easy when we do have a big burn.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Thank you

Thank you to my friends, our squirels and to the weather.

This afternoon we were joined by a small group of friends from the Online Fellwalking Club who came over to Bag End for tea and buns. Big thank you to Angela for exceedingly wonderful home-made muffins! Thank you to all our friends who came over to sit around and chat when they could have been out on the fells. It was wonderful to just sit around for a few hours to talk and laugh.

Thank you to the weather - unbelievably it did not rain all day and to my surprise we were able to sit outside all afternoon.

Thank you to our resident squirrels who were completely undeterred by our presence (and the noise we were making) and visited on and off for the whole afternoon, chasing each other up and down trees and working hard at emptying the hazelnut feeder. I'd hoped that our friends would get a glimpse of them, we got rather more than that! I only took one photo all day and with luck I'll be forgiven for sharing it.

This is Jill who was probably less than 20 feet from two squirrel and able to take a series of pictures. I do hope a few of them will make it to her lovely website at some point in the future.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Monday, 8th September 2008

it feels like a very long time since the morning sky has held so much promise.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Squirrel breakfast

First thing this morning one of our dark coated squirrel decided that a hazelnut breakfast was in order. Remember these silly young things do not like pushing up the feeder lid so I propped it open with a stick?

We do not fill the feeder every day, if we did so the uneaten food at the bottom would go mouldy so this squirrel had to climb completely inside to get some breakfast,

and dislodged the stick so was shut inside,

and could not work out how to escape and was very ticked off for a few seconds, and then managed to climb out but left its tail behind - which got squashed as the lid fell. Ever seen a really pissed off squirrel? It sat on the plinth angrily swishing the aforementioned tail around obviously very unhappy, didn't stop us laughing though!

This little episode kicked us into action and we got round to modifying a new feeder bought last week. We cut away part of the acrylic front so that there will always be a gap for the squirrel. This means that rain might get in but we'll worry about that when it becomes a problem. The new feeder is deliberately smaller so that food does not sit around outside for too long, it is no hardship to refill it every day if necessary.

We were rewarded for our efforts by the almost immediate visitation of THREE red squirrel. They were funny as two climbed over the rowan tree looking for the feeder we'd just removed but it only took the bravest 12 minutes from us coming inside to him/her taking a hazelnut.

Do you realise how difficult it is to get anything done around here? Numerous birds, and now squirrel antics galore - it would be a crime not to stop and watch them!

And finally, have you ever seen anything more undignified?

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Tuesday visitors

More fabulous wildlife watching moments - and all from the kitchen window.

First, the male Sparrowhawk who was initially seen on a log pile, he then spent 5 minutes or more sitting in the Sugar Maple looking to see if lunch was silly enough to be flying about. He left through the Coppice and into the churchyard.

At various times during the day we've been visited by three different Red Squirrel, possibly Newbie, definitely "Dark Tail" (he's the new kid on the block who you've not met before) and another, much smaller than the others and quite dark, however we don't appear to have seen Blondie recently. They have something in common with the Hare - they are all much faster than the shutter lag on my camera . . .

These youngsters are not at all happy about pushing up the lid on the hazelnut feeder so we've propped it open for the time being, the Blue Tits think this is great and happily hop in and out to steal peanuts.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Monday afternoon visitors

Actually three visitors, first our lovely young Hare but I didn't realise she was on the front grass until The Canine One found her scent and disturbed her - she really can move fast! Then a lovely Red Admiral who was blown off the Buddleja before I could take a picture and ended up half obscured in the Spotted Laurel

and finally this rather splendid Peacock butterfly.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Monday, 1st September 2008


Skiddaw, Ullock Pike, Dodd

Grisedale Pike, Hopegill Head, Grasmoor

The best laid plans

and all that . . .

My good friend Sewali commented: You need to hire one of those industrial shredders that come on a trailer, the type the tree surgeons use. Anything you can fit in the car is going to be useless for the amount of brush you've built up. Ask me how I know this!

I wish she'd told me on Friday before we collected the dratted thing. Saturday did not go according to plan. It didn't take us long to give up on the shredder and write it off to experience and wishful thinking. The amount of additional work we had to do in order to get the brush and stuff to go through the damn thing, which then did not shred quite as small as I'd hoped was, according to Husband, something to do with the Law of Diminishing Returns, so we stopped and I made coffee.

The restorative powers of a strong cup of Santos and Java . . .

We psychologically needed to "make progress" so spent the rest of the day working hard with the chain saw and turned all remaining fallen trees into piles of logs and brush (except for some very large trunks, they can wait). The logs are all stacked under the eaves waiting for us to make a nice Log Store for them to live in, most of the brush piles are ready to be moved straight onto the next bonfire we light with just a couple of piles containing large items that need to be rendered down into logs and brush. (Deliberately not mentioning the huge quantity of wood that has previously been cut into large bits and waiting to be sawn into wood burning stove sized pieces, but there isn't too much hurry for that.)

Not quite what we planned for Saturday but satisfying and a huge amount was achieved even if the garden does still look like the aftermath of Ennerdale deforestation! No photos because I'm a bit glum about not getting rid of the brush, my fault for having unreasonable expectations (apparently, so I have been told {grin}).

There was no gardening on Sunday. It rained. All day. No surprises then, this is Summer 2008.