Thursday 4 September 2008

Field Walking

One of the obligations of owning land is the need to really keep an eye on it and know what's happening on your patch. A brief gap in the clouds today let the sun through for an hour and made the imposition a pleasure.

top field

The main purpose of the jaunt today was to check on the progress of the cider apples but it's always necessary to watch out for boundary damage, pests and diseases and drainage issues.

I was also looking hard for edible fungus and did take a detour into the woods but didn't find much and although the woods are beautiful, they are shady and mushroom hunting necessarily involves keeping your eyes to the ground most of the time. I wanted to be in the light and air.

cider apples

The apples are looking good. Although the summer has been poor, cider apples aren't too fussy about sun and enjoy a good soaking several times a summer. All we need now is a couple of warm weeks to allow the fruit to mature and we'll have a fine crop. Most of the trees have fruit including some we've never seen in fruit before. I brought a pocketful of likely specimens home to make a pie with although cider apples aren't always the most palatable in the flesh.

Our first efforts at making cider didn't work too well for reasons that we're not entirely agreed on. Last year, we didn't even try as family issues intervened at harvest time. This year we're going to try again with some different equipment and see if we can work out a method that can be built on and scaled up for the future.

Naturally since I had only the little snapping camera with me, all sorts of wildlife put on a show. I stood for five minutes under one tree while a woodpecker, entirely oblivious of me and seemingly tame enough to perch on my shoulder, worked its way around some dead wood and flaky bark. Snaps were taken but they're hopeless. I don't suppose I'll get a chance like that again for a long while.

In the other field the buzzard wheeled and keened up and down in front of me, albeit at some distance, for quite a while. Even with the bigger camera I'd have been lucky to get anything usable from that, the wretched bird was just teasing me as so often they do.

peacock butterfly caterpillars

These ugly monsters finally had their mugs recorded though. Peacock butterfly caterpillars, one of several colonies I've found around the place this late summer. Hopefully they will all grow big and strong before making their chrysalis' and waiting out the winter. Let's hope for a beautiful spring for them.

No comments: