Tag Archives: Painted Lady

Just Seconds Away…

I can now press buttons when I’m posting and expect that the desired result will be just seconds away instead of the 8-10 minutes it too with the netbook I just opened WordPress, clicked a few buttons and found myself, twelve seconds later, ready to write a new post.

Or, more accurately, staring at a blank screen.

It’s debatable whether this represents a world of possibilities or fear of the unknown.

I’m similarly poised in haibun terms. After a spell which featured a rejection and an acceptance that required so much work I might as well have walked away and written something new, I began to struggle. I was also finding it difficult to write with the netbook.

Fortunately I was able to keep writing using pen and paper, even if I couldn’t prepare it for submission. Finally, editing in my email programme, I managed to get two submissions prepared and send them off. I’m waiting now, but the result doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that I’m back in the game.

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Gull on Llandudno Pier

We had a Painted Lady in the garden again when I returned home, though it’s painful to watch them as I can see the way the red valerian is dying back as summer progresses. Three sightings is a pitiful result compared to the counts we used to get on the farm, but then we are working with a small paved area with red valerian a small buddleia and a few other odds and ends.

It looked like the valerian was colonising a few inhospitable cracks in the garden next door, but their normal zero-tolerance policy for wildlfe cut in after a few exciting weeks and they have returned to formal wasteland status. And there I was, thinking that I might be helping to establish a wildlife habitat.

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Arnot Hill

A Packed Day

I am writing this on a computer that has, according to the date of the last file I saved, not run since 2012. It has been switched off so long that we had to reset the clock before Google would allow us access. And, to even get to that point, we had to find the yellow cable that connects it to the router, as it has no wireless capability.

It runs on Vista and Microsoft Word 2010 and is a pleasure to use after so many weeks on the netbook.

The netbook was a mixed blessing, but it kept me going and I have been very grateful for it, despite my more than occasional criticism of its lack of speed.

All I need to do is wipe away six year’s supply of dust and spider webs, and it will be almost as good as new.

I say “almost” because there is the question of the On/Off switch.

There isn’t one. It broke and for the last six months of its active life I had to start the computer by hotwiring it, or, for those of you unaccustomed to the vernacular of the street (well, the 1970s street) touching two bare wires together.

It works, and more important, it cost nothing to do. These are two factors that are close to my heart.

That’s probably the biggest news of the day, though my three-centre medical excursion seemed big until we got the computer running.

It started with a visit to the doctor at 8.00 to discuss the pain in my little finger. At this point I’d like to say, because I have difficulty getting this point over to the medical profession, that although I don’t like to complain it is very difficult having an arthritic little finger. It doesn’t seem like much but it can be remarkably painful and it makes everyday life (like tucking my shirt in, packing parcels or washing up) painful and difficult, though the washing up water is very soothing.

So far it’s taken me a week to get the X-ray appointment, ten days to get the results and ten days to get this appointment (that could have been a week, but it would have meant missing work, and I don’t want that).

So are they going to give me anti-inflammatories, you ask, or an injection, or even a new wonder drug?

No.

The X-ray, I’m told is not typical of osteo-artritis so they need to find out exactly what is happening. Two arthritic fingers, two different types of arthritis. What are the chances of that? I can’t win a lottery, but when it comes to medical curiosities I lead the field. Having said that, I just looked up the different sorts of arthritis and am feeling slightly less blase about it now.

They sent me for blood tests. Eight blood tests. That’s nearly an armful. (I put that bit in for you Derrick).

After the blood tests I went for my 9.30 chest X-ray appointment.

In a week or so the results will be in.

At that point, you ask, will they give me anti-inflammatories, or an injection, or even a new wonder drug?

No.

At that point they are going to get me an appointment with a specialist.

If this carries on much longer I may have to resort to drastic measures.

We went for a drive in Derbyshire after the excitement of the morning and ended up buying raw milk from a farm. I’ve been meaning to get some for a while to see if it has any effect on my health.

When we got home we found a Painted Lady on the front garden, which gives me an opportunity to re-use the pictures I took earlier in the year.

We had more poppies too.

 

WordPress is a lot easier on a proper computer.

A Painted Lady Comes to Call

I’ve had a few problems with WordPress today, including the complete loss of a post. This was annoying as I’d spent a significant amount of time looking for links and photos.

Julia picked plums in the early afternoon and saw a Painted Lady in the garden – another first for the garden. Added to the Small Copper and Hummingbird Hawk Moth we saw earlier in the year it’s all coming together nicely.


When we left home to do some errands this afternoon we spent a few minutes watching the front garden and were rewarded by two small brown butterflies hustling past in the swirling wind, then a larger one, which proved to be a Painted Lady. It took some photographing, as it was quite skittish and there was a stiffish breeze once it left cover.

We’re not doing too badly for butterflies in the garden, partly due to looking a bit more than usual and partly due to a good showing of Red Valerian. We’ve also had Mint Moths on the marigolds, which is a first, as I’ve always seen them on mint or oregano before.

As for the plums, Julia has picked over 200. As usual, it’s a case of picking them when ripe and then using them quickly before they start to go over. We’ve given some to Angela Across the Road, who gave us figs and tomatoes in return. We’ve also given some to the Young Couple Next Door, because they give us cake.

I’m going to make sure we feed the tree properly next year, and ensure the pruning is done properly. I’ve been a bit slapdash with pruning recently and it’s turning into a biennial bearer. This is my fault, not the tree’s. If the feeding works it should fruit moderately next year, which will take some of the vigour out of it for the year after. If not, it looks like I’ll have to remove fruit buds two years from now.

I think this all started about six years ago when we had a bad spring that killed all the blossom. The next year was a bumper year due to all the stored energy and the one after that we didn’t harvest any fruit at all. I should have got on top of it when we had the first bumper year, instead I added neglect to the problem by letting the pruning slip by.

We are having Plum and Apple Crumble for tea.

All in all this has been a good day.

The Care Farm Experience

 

It’s been a lazy day today. I’ve tried to be enthusiastic but I didn’t get back from Leeds until 1am this morning and when I tried to go to sleep all I could see was motorway traffic on the back of my eyelids. It was around 3am before I got to sleep, then I woke up at 5…

It wasn’t the best of starts.

At least I know I have done my duty as a father (the one that involves passing cash across and acting as a taxi driver, rather than the bit where you impart moral education and the Laws of Rugby).To make things worse I didn’t write a list of jobs to do, which always leads to wasted time.

It was a strange day for butterflies. We had the usual suspects (whites and small tortoiseshells) but managed a Painted Lady, Red Admiral and Comma. We haven’t seen a Comma or Red Admiral for months.

Julia has been industrious, trying out crafts for Flintham Ploughing Match. She has decided, after a somewhat fraught session, that straw weaving won’t make the cut – it just takes too much time and concentration. We will just take some corn dollies and information sheets.

We have had to revert to using paper art straws because modern wheat straw just isn’t long enough. In 1815 the Brigade of Guards concealed themselves in a field of wheat before leaping out to rout the advancing French. If they’d tried that in 2015 it would not have been so much of a surprise.

 

I’ve finished the McDonald’s Breakfast post on Pies and Prejudice, got the recipes together for the scone post I’m planning and sorted the cutters ready for making the saltdough poppies (part of the Big Autumn Project).

Finally we had home made blackberry jam and, after washing the outside of the jars (which seemed to have got very sticky in the filling process), divided last week’s jam between the group. It was a microwavable recipe – very quick and easy. It produces a slightly soft jam that tastes very fruity.

We spread it on some crackers left over from butter making. Everyone seemed to like it, including a few late summer wasps that were cruising around up to no good.

Currently we are waiting for the taxi. It’s twenty five minutes late already and we’ve been told it will be at least another 20 minutes. The original car, it seems, has broken down and they have been having trouble with the phones, because they always lose reception out here (though strangely enough, I don’t.)

They have several breakdowns every year and never seem to have phones that work.

I detect a slightly unlikely excuse.

I also detect the sort of service you get when the council puts a service out to the lowest bidder.

 

 

A mystery solved!

Gemma and I were looking at pictures of the peacock this morning when a lady called and asked who was in charge. I pointed to Gemma because I try not to admit to things like that. It seems that a local painting group would like to pop in tomorrow to paint the Ecocentre and surrounding area.

She was surprised to see the pictures. It seems the bird roosts in one of her trees and belongs to her neighbour, who bought it at auction some months ago. They wondered what it did with itself during the day so we were able to solve all our mysteries in one go.

They were happy to learn that the peacock walks with the guinea fowl as they think it may be lonely from the way it keeps approaching other birds. At last, with the guineas, it seems to have met some suitable companions. I use the word in terms of eating and browsing habits. In moral terms I feel that guinea fowl, with their disregard for private property and road safety, are probably very unsuitable. In literary terms it’s a bit like Oliver Twist falling in with Fagin’s gang of street urchins.

 

As we spoke, a Painted Lady fluttered round the buddleia and the gentle whirring of the incubator’s humidifier could be heard working in the background.

As yet there is no sign of hatching. Only five hours to go, and if there is no sign of hatching by then my name will be mud.

 

 

Peacocks, birds and Painted Ladies

I could have added Red Admirals to the title, to make it a tale of Communist Naval Commanders dressing up to attract women of a certain sort. Bit I didn’t, so it’s just about butterflies. And a bit about birds.

A week, they say, is a long time in politics. Five minutes, as I was to discover this morning, is a long time in butterfly counting.

It was a glorious day this morning and I would have taken some photographs but I got caught up with something else, we had chickens to look after, then a visitor called and we didn’t get on with the count until lunch.

As I stepped out onto the decking I knew we had a problem. It was cool, overcast, and the numerous butterflies I’d seen in the morning had all gone. I suppose the totals were more typical of the actual activity of butterflies, as we tend to count on good days, when there are plenty of butterflies about, thus manipulating the figures by accident.

Count 1

12.30 – 12.45 Monday 1st August.

Temperature: 19 degrees C

Wind: 6 kph from the SSE

Red Admiral – 1

Peacock – 2

Small White – 2

No sooner had we finished than the sun started to break through, the temperature rose noticeably and, though the wind remained gusty, the butterflies emerged.

It was like one of the those Old Testament moments in a black and white film. There was no pointing finger and no portentous music, but there was a definite change in the sky and things started to happen.

Count 2

12.45 – 01.00 Monday 1st August.

Temperature: 21 degrees C (may have been more at one point, but that’s what it was by the time I got back to the weather station display.

Wind: 3 – 9 kph from the SSE (that’s a guess, but it was both weaker and stronger than during the original count).

Red Admiral – 3

Peacock – 6

Small White – 2

Large White – 5

Gatekeeper – 1

Small Tortoiseshell – 1

Painted Lady – 1

That’s quite a difference, in numbers and variety. If it had been a more gradual change I’d have missed it by going inside for dinner before the activity started.

Birds have been gradually coming back with goldfinches and blue tits on the feeders and pied wagtails on the grass. There are wrens and Green Woodpeckers in the trees. I have a picture of an immature bird that I thought was a dunnock, then a robin, then…

The immature ones can be tricky.

I’m going to take a chance and say it’s a dunnock.

An embarrassment of riches

Despite what I said yesterday I sometimes have far too much to cover in a single post. Today is one of those days.

We arrived early at the farm to set up for the session and I skived off for a moment to look at the buddleia. I’m glad I did, because I spotted my first Painted Lady of the year and got some great shots. Julia saw one a couple of months ago but only managed a blurred shot before it got away. Last year I saw two but didn’t have my camera with me either time.

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Painted Lady

At that point the kids started to arrive. First of all they made cheese straws then spent the afternoon making a variety of things from plastic milk containers. I say variety – elephants, baskets and scoops.

 

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Cheesy biscuity goodness

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Elephant

 

Meanwhile I had to make plastic bottle wasp traps as several of the visitors weren’t keen on wasps. I’m not sure I achieved much but it showed willing, and because it was only wasps none of the veggies complained. Would have been different if I’d built a kitten trap…

The scoops, which I had thought were a bit boring,  were surprisingly popular, thanks to Julia making a sandpit on the new patio/BBQ area.  Just goes to show what I know.

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Sandpit and Scoop. Kids have such strange name these days.

Finally it was time for a meeting…