Friday, 3 August 2018

Rats, Cats and Ruffians in Owl Wood

The hot summer has seen the jungley undergrowth which normally festoons the floor of Owl Wood die back much more quickly than normal.       The withered brown stalks are still there, but even they are collapsing in the unusually hot conditions.     The owl box is vacant once more because it seems that the noisy jackdaws have found somewhere else to live.     It seems strangely quiet in that part of the woodland.



The recent rain and high winds brought down quite a few branches, so when the weather cools down it will be time to begin the early autumn clean-up in there.     Firewood and kindling all there free for the collecting.   It just needs to be sawn, chopped, seasoned and stacked.


When the sun is beating down mercilessly Owl Wood is a great place to take a wander, it is always several degrees cooler than the gardens and far cooler than the golden barley fields.      Some farms have already done much of their harvesting, but our barley field remains a sea of gold.   That could change at any time now.     Farmer T will soon trundle into the field with his big old combine harvester machine and the fun will begin.

Often this heralds the arrival of some very unwelcome visitors, so we all have to be on high alert.   In really bad years it is possible to see whole families of rats and rodents run out of the field and straight into Owl Wood, this is when the cats suddenly begin to earn their sachets of luxury cat food and tins of tuna.    Old Sparky is especially good at rat catching, but we hope that ginger Millie will help a bit more this year.     



Don't be fooled by this relaxed pose, Sparky is a lean, mean, killing machine.   She was born feral and still has all the instincts and fears of a feral cat.    She is relaxed around the immediate family and is putty in the hands of my grandchildren, but that is all.



There are lean pickings for squirrels, this year.   I couldn't find many hazelnuts, but then again, I can't honestly say that we have many squirrels now, either.    Sparky has become adept at catching them, too.      I know that to many people they are simply tree rats with fluffy tails, but I enjoy watching them.



The tree house platform is beginning to look a lot more settled now.    The grandchildren and their friends play endless games on and around there.   The canopy of the trees make for a blissfully cool, sun-dappled escape from the heat of summer, or from the call of the mother for them to tidy their rooms.

It is not unusual to find a swashbuckling pirate in residence, but then again, quite often their games are based on LOTR or Star Wars.    It is a platform for their imagination, as well as an escape.   They put it to good use.


A walk to the far side of the wood shows me that the wild plums are plump and will soon be ready for picking.     Another wonderful seasonal treat.    These mouth-puckeringly tart plums will soon be gently cooked, turned into wild plum coulis, and eaten with bowls of cool and creamy Greek yogurt.  The year is moving on.


16 comments:

  1. The hazel in my garden is covered in nuts and I bet I don't get to eat a single one!
    No owls here this year either - there were kestrels in the big nest box instead.
    The plague here is of wasps - millions of them, there must be a nest somewhere close

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    1. Hi Sue, It does seem to be wasp season now - we have an, as yet unspotted, nest around here, too. The 'fly soup' bags and the chain door curtain seem to have greatly reduced the number of flies, thank goodness the trouble is that the ones left behind are huge and persistent!

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  2. I can't believe we are in August already I just don't know where this year has gone already. It only seems like five minutes ago that I was told I was to be a grandmother in November and I have been quietly making little bits and bobs then reality hit me last week that we will soon be in single figures of the amount of weeks left. Your wood looks wonderful. We don't have anything on our door step but we do have the Belvoir woods nearby. We did have a few long tails running about earlier in the year when the fields have been turned over ready for planting. The fields at the back are fallow this year so not seen so many this time around. Just as well you have good old sparky the wonder cat.

    Mitzi

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    1. Hello Mitzi, It seems to have wings on, doesn't it! I imagine you knitting needles are glowing red hot - and not from the heat of summer, either. Those weeks will fly by - though maybe not for the expectant mother. We have been so fortunate in having a real summer this year, so often Lincolnshire sits under an umbrella of dull and heavy cloud, but we have had heat and sunshine - and I, for one, feel so much better for it. Sparky had quite a bad accident (we don't know what happened) several months ago and has taken a long time to recover, so it is good to see her able to get back into her old routine again.

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  3. I have begun to realize, thanks to your very excellent narrative skills, that it is so much healthier to just embrace the seasons and live in them, than cursing them. It's not been a stellar summer in my neck of the woods, but there is nothing to do for it. Thank you for bringing me back down to earth.

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    1. The climate here (especially near the east coast of England) is often a bit unkind, big blankets of grey cloud or cold breezes, so this summer of sunshine and real warmth has been especially welcome, and definitely influences my mood, Susan. So much of my life has been spent living in towns, cities, abroad, or by the coast, when all I ever wanted was to live in the countryside. Fifteen or sixteen years ago I got the opportunity to do just that, I revel in it, most of the time.

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  4. I love the way you make use of the bounty surrounding you - now its the plums. and if I were a child that tree house would me my daily home. I used to climb a tree and sit and read. aw, the pleasures of childhood.

    I didn't get to comment on yesterday's post about those who claim your writing as their own. I too have seen spikes in page views, inexplicitly. the number of comments I get don't justify those views. and why are Russia and China a source? I have one very old post about crows that continues to get page views. that I can't explain either. all this mystery reinforces my daughters' request not to put their daughters faces and names on my posts.

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    1. I know what you mean about some posts receiving large numbers of hits - sometimes the most surprising ones! I wrote one (on one of my former blogs) about shoes and that seemed to go crazy and was still getting a huge number of hits until I closed the blog down, a short time ago. India seemed to be the source of the most recent spike, although Indonesia sometimes figures.

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  5. I could do with a wood to keep cool in, have to keep moving with the shade here

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    1. Old churches are often a good option! ;)

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  6. "Owl Wood"...one of my favorite topics here. The photo of Tree House Platform makes me smile. I can just imagine the fun those kiddos have there. And, yes, August marches on...time to gather in wood for the winter fires.

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    1. When I work in the vegetable garden I am screened from their view by the hedges; it is lovely to hear their voices, and the laughter. Old Sparky normally hangs around while they are playing there, I would like to think she is keeping an eye on them but I think that it is more to do with the fact that they are disturbing her hunting.

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  7. This is the way, to live the year!!!! According to the changes in Nature. Perfect!

    Glad the cats are good at catching rats. Oh mercy, that infestation must be rather scary. But how can 2 cats, keep up with all the rodents?

    A tree house. Every child should have one. :-) Our sons and their friends built one. It looked scary, but they never got hurt. :-) A childhood memory.

    Wild plums plumping... :-) Yummmm, to after they are made into delicious meals.

    Again, the perfect way to live the year, by the changes in Nature.

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    1. We have electronic protection for the house - and that generally keep rodents out, thank goodness. The cats are a necessary line of defence because I don't like my husband to use poison on them, we may not have owls in the owl box but they are round and about and they feast on the local rodents...

      The plums were not looking great - until we had the recent rains - now they are plump and tempting, so beautiful that I will feel bad about picking them. By the time I have got them cooked and stirred into my yogurt all guilt will have disappeared!

      The tree house is a success, I have given up worrying about the dangers, the grandchildren scramble up and down like little monkeys.

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  8. I must admit Elaine the rats are one thing I DO NOT miss about living in Lincolnshire. As the back field was harvested the rats used to scurry into our garden and take refuge in the outbuildings. What fun the tree house is...

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    1. The days that went into building the tree house have proven to be time well spent, they love it! It has been the ideal summer for enjoying it.

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