On the farm in June 2017

 

bee orchid

A bee orchid (looking remarkably bee-like) nestling in the grass by the horse paddocks. Having lain on the grass to take the photo, much to the amusement no doubt of passing motorists, I got up and thought I could see something moving on the earth bund behind. I banged my head on an oak branch as I tried to work out what it was and then had to scramble through the fence, hoping that the electric fencing wasn’t switched on and crept along the field edge.

I managed to get a good photo of the stinging nettles …

deer behind stinging nettles

and just behind them, rather out of focus, you can see a deer.

deer

The deer soon bounded off, though we’ve seen it a few times since. Last time, he was in the garden so I expect he will have worked out that there are roses and other delicacies to be nibbled and I may be less thrilled to spot him.

 

 

There hasn’t been much activity here on Life in Mud Spattered Boots as I’ve been gallivanting about the country with my sister and niece who were visiting from Australia. Normal service will soon be resumed.

 

 

On The Farm in April 2017

It’s a beautiful spring day so come with me on a quick walk around part of the farm.

sun sparkling on water

Past the pond where the sun catches the ripples made by the wind.

ephemeral art

Inspired by The Textile Ranger’s writing about Impermanent Art, I made my own ephemeral art pieces by tying together daffodils and attaching them to trees. Oh, how funny I thought I was putting a post on Instagram of a holly bush that appeared to have bright yellow flowers on April 1st. Looking at my ‘installations’ today, they look rather more like a roadside accident shrine. This old tree has a large gash down one side with a rabbit burrow in the base.

primroses growing on the the banks of a ditch

Let’s carry on through the yard, down the track and jump into the bottom of the ditch so we can see the primroses are flowering on the banks.

 

paigles

Further down the track, the paigles (or cowslips) are just coming into flower. Unlike the primroses, the paigles grow alongside the track.

blackthorn blossom

Around the farm, the field boundary hedges are filled with a froth of white blackthorn blossom, which we hope will develop into sloes this autumn. I’m not sure how we’re going to reach the sloes so high up in this hedge around Gardeners Field.

spring growth on Christmas trees

Dropping in at the Christmas Tree plantation we can see the new growth on the Norway Spruce trees. I’ve read that these spruce tips can be eaten in a multitude of ways but have never been sufficiently tempted to try any of the recipes. One year I made Christmas Tree Gin that smelt just like pine scented disinfectant, which was rather off-putting. We still have half a bottle left, which doesn’t appear to be improving with age.

Bees and honeycomb in fallen branch

Before we head home, there’s just time to check the bees in the fallen tree branch.  There have been some fairly cold and miserable days since it fell and as the bees were very exposed, we were worried they might perish but I’m pleased to report that there are still lots of live bees in situ. This is the top layer of the honeycomb, which you can see is open to the elements. Underneath this top layer are more bees but I wasn’t going to get any closer to see if I could get a photo.

Another beautiful spring day on the farm in Essex.

 

Little Forest Field in March

On the Farm in March

spring growth

Around the farm, there are signs of new growth. We have nothing in flower yet but the banks of the ditches are filling with bright green primrose leaves and the tiny fern like leaves of cow parsley.

honey bees and honeycomb

When Storm Doris blew through at the end of last month, the limb of an ash tree crashed to the ground. When Bill went to clear the debris and cut up the branch, he noticed a few bees buzzing around. Further investigation revealed a honeycomb in the hollow of the branch and an awful lot of bees. The chainsaw was quickly put back in the shed and the branch was been left in situ as we waited to see what happened to the bees. After a few days of wind and rain there were several dead bees scattered about but the main mass was sheltering under the honeycomb. We were told that if the queen bee is still there, the workers will huddle around her to keep her warm and if they’re left too exposed and cold they will gradually die off. There are still several bees in the branch today (you can just about make them out in the darkness on the right*), so for the time being we’ll leave them and the branch alone.

Hay barn at slamseys

Slamseys Hay Barn

Every time the fields start to dry out there is talk of starting the spring land work but then it rains and makes them wet again so there has been a great deal of building work and maintenance. Most recently some of the twentieth century repairs to the old Essex barn have been stripped out, which has completely changed the look of the barn.

The sun is shining today, so with luck the primroses will soon be flowering and the tractors will be able to get onto the fields.

 

 

*This was the best shot I could get without disturbing the bees