Time to plough Buttercup Meadow using Mr Anderson’s little Fergie; no one there to drive the tractor except me so what to do to take a photo? Aha! A silhouette!!!!!
Another Wympole GW meeting and a few new members to boot. This time we were going to make one piece of treen for the Wimpole Craft Fair on the 15/16 November. Only have a few weeks to make a winning item.
Looks like reindeer were on the menu, mind you this one was going to be a bit woody! Joking apart, having been given the idea of making a reindeer, I became rather enthusiastic and a production line was soon in progress. Soup of the day was supplied by Alastair.
Note that the soup had to be eaten with your own treen ( in my case a turned bowl and handmade spoon); meanwhile Magnus and Matt were busy in the Forge and had a man’s meal- bacon and eggs fried on the forge. There are some advantages to getting black and sooty then!
So, last month’s challenge was to make two items the same. Well…not so many takers this time but the entries were very good quality- two types of pole lathe turned candlesticks, a pair of vases also turned on the pole lathe, two hand carved leaf bowls and a late entry of two meat bashers made of hornbeam. So who was going to judge? Why the women, children and new WGW members. I have to say I was rather pleased to win this month’s competition; David’s candlesticks came second and the second pair of tall candlesticks came third. Well done those who entered and don’t forget next month’s challenge of one piece of treen.
One piece of ash wood (once it was cleft) proved to have a defect. What was responsible for this tunnel that had been bored straight into the trunk? The following may provide the answer! Taken from the The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979).
(Zeuzera pyrina), a moth of the family Cossidae. The wings of the female spread to 55-70 mm (the male is somewhat smaller) and are satiny white with angular dark-blue spots. The leopard moth is found in southern and Central Europe, northern Africa, Asia Minor, and North America; in the USSR it occurs in the southern European part and in the Far East. The moth damages more than 70 varieties of deciduous trees (it prefers ash and apple trees).
Generation takes place in large forest tracts over a period of two years; the flying years are clearly defined. The female deposits groups of eggs in crevices in tree bark, in leaf scars, or other similar places. After hatching, the caterpillars descend on webs and are carried by the wind to the crown of trees; at first they sew themselves into leaf petioles and then into the shoots, where they hibernate. The following year they migrate inside the branches and trunk. They pupate during the summer after the second hibernation. Leopard moth infestation causes the trees to weaken and dry out, and the wood loses its marketable qualities.
Measures of protection against leopard moths include scientific felling and improvement cutting (in the flight years), removing and destroying shoots inhabited by the young caterpillars, and treating the trees with insecticides.”
These reindeer get everywhere and now this one seems to have found a friend in the form of the most notorious hornbeam headed elm snake- a rare and dangerous animal quite capable of inflicting severe headaches if handled badly (well sometimes). Talking of which… someone, namely Paul, had a wee accident while chopping some kindling wood. As it turned out, not so wee… unfortunately he managed to cut his thumb with a very sharp axe; the worst of it all though was that tendon he cut through so cleanly. Straight to hospital to get it looked at and yes, confirmation of a cut tendon and the news that it would have to be operated on to sew the tendon back together. Unfortunately (again) this meant that the hand had to be put in a cast so that the thumb and tendon were made unmovable. This means he can’t drive and it may take six weeks to heal. However I’m sure we can find him some paper work!
Some nights later Mr Anderson turned up at Cobbs Wood Farm; he liked the growing herd of reindeer but, upon asking if one was available, the retort was “make your own” … so he did! (Had big legs though.)
Was going to have a week off but, as poor Paul was going to have to stay at home until further notice, I had to forego the week off and look after the volunteers and get some more work done which included selling firewood (a few people had come on Monday to pick up their wood). Most of the wood I sell for the Wimpole Estate is in the form of cord wood as this has a lower cost per cubic metre and people seem to like to do the logging themselves. It works for me too as we have too many jobs on to do a lot of logging.
One job we had to do on Monday was to bring down some Longworth mouse traps to catch the little devils that were setting off the alarms in the Book Room at the Hall. At first the house staff were catching them alive and letting them go and, just to find out if they could find their way back, I cut a little bit of fur from their coats (a technique you use when doing mark and recapture surveys). As it turns out this little blighter was released in the churchyard and two days later turned up in the Book Room again. Val took him further away and he hasn’t been back yet! These are yellow necked mice so should be outside but I suspect they like the warmth. So far the house staff have caught quite a few ( very unusual indeed). Here is a bit about the mouse from Wiki:
“The yellow-necked mouse is native to Europe and western Asia. Its range includes the more mountainous parts of Western Europe with the exception of northern Scandinavia, southern Spain and western France. This mouse occurs in Great Britain but not in Ireland, and it is also absent from a number of Mediterranean islands. In Asia, its range extends eastward to the Ural Mountains and it is also found in Turkey, Armenia, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Israel. It is mostly a woodland species, often living near the forest verge, but in mountainous regions, it occupies any part of the forest. It is usually found in mature deciduous woodland is also found in scrubby areas, hedgerows, orchards and plantations. It favours areas where there are large, nut-bearing trees such as the oak and the hazel. It is also found in parks and gardens and beside alder-fringed streams.
The yellow-necked mouse is active all year round and does not hibernate. Sometimes several mice will huddle together during the winter to preserve heat. It is an excellent climber and scrambles around in trees and bushes. It lives in crevices, burrows at the base of trees, holes in tree trunks, hollow logs and bird nesting boxes and sometimes enters buildings. The burrows are often extensive with many entrances and complex layouts. It makes extensive stores of food such as acorns and beechmast in storage chambers and uses other chambers for nesting, bringing in dry plant material for this purpose. There are often mounds of earth outside the entrances to the burrow. It also makes larders of food in holes in trees away from the burrow. The shade is very dense under a beech tree in summer and it has been found that beech nuts hidden in caches by the yellow-necked mouse, and not subsequently eaten, can later germinate and help with dispersal of the parent tree.
The yellow-necked mouse is nocturnal. It is active on the ground and in the tree canopy and has a home range rather smaller than half a hectare. Besides nuts, it feeds on buds, shoots, fruit, seedling plants and sometimes small invertebrates. Breeding takes place at any time between February and October with successive pregnancies occurring at short intervals. The gestation period is about twenty-six days and females can remate while still feeding the previous litter. A litter of young is born in a nesting chamber lined with dry plant material and consists of two to eleven (usually five) altricial young born naked, blind and helpless. The eyes of the young open after about a fortnight and their yellow collars are visible by then as grey patches. They are weaned at about eighteen days old. If they are born early in the year, they may start breeding in the same year, but late-born young become sexually mature in the following spring.
The yellow-necked mouse is preyed on by owls, foxes, weasels and other predators. It can leap to evade attackers and the skin of its tail is readily detachable and slides off if grasped by a predator.”
This weekend was the Fungi Foray; were there going to be any toadstools to see? I did find a few and this year some extra fungi turned up- the impressive shaggy parasol- but, within about half an hour of taking this photo they had gone- picked for someone’s supper. This leads me to the perplexing problem of teaching people about fungi and making people aware of what is edible. The unfortunate consequence is that many inedible and edible fungi are picked without regard to the wildlife that depend on them or the fact that they need to spore. In Europe there are closed seasons/weeks when you can’t pick fungi to help safeguard biodiversity. It seems we may have to think quite carefully about this problem of over picking if it continues. Below is a piece from Wiki on shaggy parasols:
“The shaggy parasol is a large and conspicuous agaric, with thick brown scales and protuberances on its fleshy white cap. The gills and spore print are both white in colour. Its stipe is slender, but bulbous at the base, is coloured uniformly and bears no patterns. It is fleshy, and a reddish, or maroon discoloration occurs and a pungent odour is evolved when it is cut. The egg-shaped caps become wider and flatter as they mature.
The stipe of C. rhacodes grows to 10 to 20 cm (4 to 8 in) tall and has a diameter of 1 to 2 centimetres. The cap grows to 7.5 to 20 cm (3 to 8 in) across,
Furthermore, young shaggy parasols look identical to the poisonous Chlorophyllum molybdites (the mushroom that causes the most poisonings in North America yearly). Checking the spore print is essential as C. molybdites’ print is green (older specimens have slightly green gills). As a result, this mushroom is not recommended for inexperienced hunters. The shaggy parasol is similar in appearance to the similarly edible parasol mushroom, Macrolepiota procera. The latter grows considerably larger however, and is more likely to be found in the open than C. rhacodes which prefers more shade and dislikes open pastures and fields. Another distinguishing feature is that C. rhacodes lacks the brown bands that are on the stem of M. procera.”
One job we could get on with was to remove the elm timber from the coppice hedge at Valley Farm. It was a race against time as the Farm had to plough the fields up for the spring sowing. As you can see from the photo we have also left quite a few standing elm to see if they will survive and become the giants of the new millennium…
Another job was to get the binders from Foxcote Fencing so that we could bind the Rectory Farm hedge we have been laying and have some for the weekend’s hedgelaying course as well. Not only that, it was the Wimpole village fireworks on Saturday so we needed to fill the fire bin and get it down to the front of the Hall where the firework display was going to be.
I have received this year’s bird survey report undertaken by Louise Bacon- I had asked her to survey the South Avenue this year (we do a different area each year, last year was Cobbs Wood Farm). Click on Avenue survey 2014 to read Louise’s report .
One thing that has come to my notice is the campaign to help save the turtle dove – once a common bird in our countryside but now fast dwindling. I have been lucky enough to hear them on the Estate in the past but have not seen or heard one for over five years now. So, because their numbers have crashed by 95%, the RSPB, Fair to Nature, Pensthorpe Conservation Trust and Natural England have set up Operation Turtle Dove (follow this link to their site and look here for information on the turtle dove’s habitat Turtle-Dove-Advisory-Sheet-Farms). This is a bird that we on the Wimpole Estate can help to save. Below is an interesting piece about turtle doves from Wiki
“Because of Biblical references (especially the well-known verse from the Song of Songs), its mournful voice, and the fact that it forms strong pair bonds, European turtle doves have become emblems of devoted love. In the New Testament, two turtle doves are mentioned to have been sacrificed for the Birth of Jesus. In Renaissance Europe, the European turtle dove was envisaged as the devoted partner of the Phoenix. Robert Chester’s poem Love’s Martyr is a sustained exploration of this symbolism. It was published along with other poems on the subject, including William Shakespeare’s poem “The Phoenix and the Turtle” (where “turtle” refers to the turtle dove).
The turtle dove is featured in a number of folk songs about love and loss. One of these is a setting by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Turtle doves also are featured in the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, as the gift “my true love gives to me” on the second day of Christmas. If added cumulatively, by the end of the song, the recipient has been given 22.
Turtle doves appear in the title and lyrics of a spiritual from the Georgia Sea Islands.
In the Shaker hymn “In Yonder Valley”, it is seen as a good omen and sign of growth that “The turtledove is in our land”.”