The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Responding to Comments

Well, the weather today is as predicted. Very strong winds. Wicker Pig made another dash for freedom, despite his ground pegs, as I was looking out the window. By the time I got my boots on to catch him he had scarpered down the bank and across the road...

I didn't actually lose too much available gardening time yesterday as we had decided to take the dogs to Duns castle grounds for their morning walk. There would have little point in starting in the garden prior to taking them. The later blog was written after I came back in when it was dark...

The size of our plot including house, garden, cowshed and back barn is about half an acre - small in comparison with most of the houses around here, but enormous compared to Sandhurst. It does not take into account the slope though, which adds quite a lot to the banks' surface area.

Responding to anonymous regarding rose pruning and insects in the garden. At the start of the year I went on a half-day course on pruning fruit trees at Floors castle, but they also covered roses and other plants. I have forgotten a lot of it. The thing I do remember re rose bushes is that they didn't have time to prune in summer/autumn, and only pruned hard in Spring after St. Georges day. I must say that your gardener seems wildly overqualified for the job - maybe that is why he charges so much :)

Fauna in and around Todheugh

I am by no means an expert on such matters, and the lists may not be complete. They only cover what we or neighbours have actually seen/heard/recognised.

Badgers - there was a dead one on the road to Allanton. My friend Allan at Coldingham, about 9 miles away, had some living in a waste pipe in the bank of the stream over the road from his house.
Bats - saw lots at dusk in the summer
Deer - Roe deer are becoming more common around here, and we see them quite often on our walks
Foxes - Surprisingly, considering the number of rabbits, I have only seen one early one morning up the hill from Margaret's farm
Hares - fairly common
Mice - we started the traps again in the loft last week. Count so far is 11
Moles - common. Had one in our lawn last year. Mole hills in the high bank this year.
Rabbits - ubiquitous
Rats - roadkill again
Voles - caught some this spring. Can see the holes in the lawn and in the long bank

Toads - lots. See earlier post re Poncho and the toad
Probably frogs too, but I would find it hard to tell the difference.

We have a good variety of birds around here as we have farmland, woodland and the river. We are also not far from the North Sea coast, can see the Cheviot hills to the south and are fairly close to the Lammermuir hills in the north. This list will definitely be missing some, despite me having my book of Scottish birds...
There are several birds of prey - buzzards, sparrowhawks, kestrels
Owls - I have only actually seen one, but you can hear them in the daytime as well as at night
Pheasants - the dumbest bird ever
Various tits (although I find it difficult to tell the difference between some of them) all come to my bird feeders -there is a definite pecking order amongst them
Robins also come to the feeders, and have been following me around as I have been digging
Swallows, swifts and house-martins - all very similar
Sparrows - food for the sparrowhawks
Blackbirds, green finches, crows/rooks, thrushes, wagtails, woodpeckers (heard)
At the river kingfishers (seen by neighbours), ducks and herons

Bees - various. Iona and Hedley keep bee hives. They were feasting on the clover in our lawn this summer
Beetles - various unknowns
Butterflies - glorious year for them. Cannot identify them all but orange-tips, common white, tortoise-shell and red admirals
Centipedes - don't know what they actually are, but black and squiggly ones all over the blackberries at the end of September
Earthworms - enormous great big juicy ones
Flies - various. Plagued by them on our walks on still warm days this summer. Was enthralling watching the swallows catching them.
Midges - but not as bad as further north
Moths - lots. Probably why so many bats...
Slugs - all 3 British natives: white, brown and black
Snails - but not as bad as Sandhurst
Spiders - seen more in the house than outside, but when there was a heavy dew the whole of the high-bank was covered in webs. A lot of small white ones on the elderberries.
Wasps - had a nest in the lawn

What has been more of note is what we haven't got that plagued me down south.
Roses are amazingly bug-free. May account for not having ants too. In Sandhurst my roses where covered in aphids/greenfly, and ants nests underneath farming them.
Lupins - not a woolly-aphid in sight
Lilies - apparently lily-beetles not made it here yet either


Anonymous said...

I have heard about Scottish migdges but have never actually encountered them.One is never sure if they are perhaps an urban/ rural myth from the stories I have listened to from friends who have visited various Scottish locations they try to infer that they are worse than mosquitoes . I note that you have a wayward pig .Try pointing it into the prevailing wind and secure it with ground pegs at least 150mm long at each trotter set in at about 45deg. and a transverse belly band to stop it swaying.Better still take it inside for the winter. Surprised that they use St.George as the datum line for pruning in Scotland but then one refers to an English rose.

Anonymous said...

Hello Helen. My computer monitor and computer have been acting up for a few weeks now and I will probably end up replacing them in the not too distant future. It is now going again with the help of my next door neighbour. I have just been reading through a number of your letters on this site and can see that you have been very busy.The photographs are also of a high standard. Mo. has been collecting jam jars for you.
Regards, Colin.

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