Its that time of year again:
when summer grass is stored for winter forage.
In some ways, the farming next to us follows the same simple system it always has
Sheep and cattle graze the growing grass and then during the summer some fields are allowed to grow so the grass can be cut
and stored for when the cattle are inside later in the year
and brought back out to the fields to supplement what the sheep can graze when the temperature drops.
Compared to much agricultural technology these days the machinery used next to us is fairly basic
However there are two changes to this cycle which have drastically changed the diversity of life in this landscape. The switch from hay to silage with its earlier cut and high level of fertiliser used has greatly reduced the variety of species and habitats.
In addition, the field next to us was ploughed up a couple of years ago and sown with a commercial grass seed – something that happens to all silage fields every few years – eridicating any native species trying to get a foothold.
So, today the Kites come low
looking for small mammal casualties and the cattle wait in the wings
– they will come in to graze the uncut edges and then the mucking out from their winter quarters will be returned to the field.
We have one less Woodpecker tonight, thanks to the Sparrowhawk, although human intervention might have meant it lived to see another day minus some of its feathers.
Dry for the harvesting but a light dampness a couple of days ago brought out a welcome visitor
One way of judging goings on at Gribin Isaf is the “how mad do our neighbouring farmers think we are?” index. Keeping rabbits comes fairly high up when there are already plenty in the surrounding fields. However we are looking for something meatier.
Although deciding on the delightful Silver Fox breed for our new project may make that a challenge.
Our breeding stock so far consists of one rabbit – Rory the Buck
Choosing this comparatively less popular breed might be providing an additional challenge in that tracking down some does to which he is not related may mean travelling a long way.
Meanwhile he is in temporary solitary accommodation
and although he shows no concern at all about inquisitive dogs
he can trigger Jessie’s barking-at-small-furry-things response to the extent where she gets quite hoarse, so we quickly had to make a bit of a buffer zone
Before long this was extended
so that, when Jessie is not looking, Rory can come out to play
He is very happy being handled
enjoys a variety of challenges
and a range of tastes
So, if you know of any Silver Fox does near you…
…do let him know.
A quick round of some recent sensual stimuli…
Tastes – now and coming soon:
The visual delights of flowering blooms
and when the light fades the scents swell – Honeysuckle, Wisteria, the Mock Orange
and the thousand blooms
of the rambling rose
And no more satisfying sight than a large fresh hedgehog dropping
Rabbit Picture of the Day
Rory upends his salad bowl to find the tasty bits.
Another first for us today
with a female Emperor Dragonfly
coming to lay eggs
The Wide-bodied Chaser
Another first was the Small Skipper
to join our butterfly list which includes, among others, the Ringlets, currently out in good numbers
the Painted Ladies
and the Red Admiral
which is always to be found on the same small beat around a bare path and a shed roof
the same spot that has been occupied by one of his species each year.
Also a wide variety of small moths around. These were inside the house
Rabbit Picture of the Day
Rory enjoys a mixed salad selected from here
New arrival at Gribin Isaf
Quickly at home in his temporary quarters
Happy to receive visitors
But some quick construction
to give him a bit more…
Not just one
Male Broad-bodied Chasers competing for our territory. Having two is a first for us this year.
Meanwhile, apart from the Ringlets
who have been around in numbers on sunny days
other butterflies such as the Red Admiral
and Painted Lady
have only been here as individuals.
Some other small residents: