Single female looking for love

Independent young female, GSOH, good income (mostly field voles and mice), has own spacious home, looking for similar-minded partner for mutual preening on moon-lit nights. If he brings the food, she’ll lay the eggs. Offer open to single male barn owls only: no pigeons, jackdaws or squirrels please.

Frisky Frogs

The first sighting of mating frogs: this pair of common frogs appeared this evening and are enjoying themselves in the rain. There are likely to be many more appearing over the next few days. Spring can’t be far away!

Sloe Gin

We have lots of blackthorn bushes in the hedgerows around the field, so of course make our own sloe gin. The thorny bushes have wonderful white blossom in the spring and as the sloes develop over the summer they turn from green to a dusky purple. We usually pick the ripe fruit in September, though local lore advises waiting until after the first frosts.

Our recipe

Gin. Any London Dry gin will do.
Sloes. Best picked in October.
Sugar. Plain granulated sugar.

To fill a 4.5 litre (1 gallon) glass demijohn: 1.2 kilogram sloes, 3.6 litres gin, 300 grams sugar.

Wash the sloes and remove any stems and leaves. Freeze them overnight then pour hot water over them to split the skins. Add the sloes and sugar to the gin, seal the container, give it a good shake to mix the ingredients. Store in it a cool dark place for at least six months, taking it out from time to time to give it another shake.

A blank canvas

The pond is recovering from some work we did in the autumn and is now wider, deeper and has a proper island for our ducks. The recent rain has filled it to the brim and the field around it is slowly turning from mud to grass again. Things are looking a little bare at the moment (it is December after all) but we’re already planning for a spring of planting around the bank and by the summer it should be full of wildlife again.

Waiting for the wildlife to return

Back together

The two barn owls have now settled into the old barn owl box, having decided the other box isn’t quite up to their standards. The nights are long and we don’t see much of them but occasionally they come out together at dawn or dusk to survey their territory.

The two owls in the dim light of a winter dawn.

Second home?

The pair of barn owls aren’t out hunting all night: we’ve found that they’re also spending a lot of time in another nest box which until now was empty. They may be checking it out as as an alternative nesting site, or hopefully they will use it as a daytime roost and keep the first nest box as their nesting site: that way we will see a lot more of them in the spring.

The female gives the male some attention, preening his flight feathers for him.

Happy Halloween!

We’ve had a good crop of pumpkins this year, way too much to us or the chickens to eat so have donated most of them to local schools and they’ve proved very popular on account of being somewhat larger than typical ones from the supermarket.

The evil-looking black creature is real!