Tag Archives: partridge

Tractors, Tribulations and Old Men

After dropping Julia off yesterday I went to see Men in Sheds on the farm. As you know, I don’t really like going, but I wanted to see them before Flintham Show to check on the Little Grey Fergie and to let them know Julia would be round with a group from the Mencap gardens.

There was a covey of four red-legged partridges in the lane, all taking different ways ape and avoid having their photo taken – flying through a gateway, flying over the top of the hedge, running through a hole in the hedge or running along the lane and diving into long grass. I prophesy that in the next few months one will be run over and at least one shot unless they work on their survival techniques.

The Men in Sheds were a bit thin on the ground, with just four of them, plus two women. Women? Whatever next? Two were in Llandudno, one at the doctor and nobody was sure about the others. I hope I’m still driving to Llandudno in my 80s.

The tractor is still in bits, but will be going to Flintham in bits as a display to show the sort of things they get up to. They were actually clearing out a barn today, in their role of cheap labour for the farm, though they have been making nest boxes for owls.

On the way I took some photos of the air crash memorial, which will be covered in another post soon, and while I was there (after having a nice cup of tea) I had a look round at the gardens.

It’s interesting to see things like the anenomes and osteospermum, which were donated as straggly transplants by neighbours, giving a big splash of colour to the garden. Same with the choisya (Mexican Orange Blossom). It was a straggly twig when we planted it (50 pence from a garden centre rescue bin) and now it’s a glossy bright green bush. Same goes for the dog roses – mere whips when we planted the four years ago – full of flowers and fruit now.

It may not be our garden anymore, but it still gives me a sense of achievement to see it, particularly when you think how cheaply we did it.

Things are pretty much as they were last time I visited. The only difference is that instead of merely being absent, the last tenant is now being referred to as having “done a runner”. The barn that is currently being cleared is being cleared of his property to defray costs.

Ironic, I said, that after evicting us to maximise income, there has been no income.

Greed does not pay.

 

 

 

Poppies and Partridges

Sorry it’s a blurred photo of the partridges, but they made off as soon as I stepped outside. After a season of being shot at they are a bit sensitive about people pointing things at them. They pottered across the yard, but were disappointed to find that we are now keeping the poultry food more secure – no more free feeds!

They are eating grit from the roadway to help with digestion. Because they don’t have teeth birds break their food down by using grit in a muscular stomach known as the gizzard. This grit eating behaviour is used in medicating red grouse.

As a result of that link I now know much more than I want to know about gizzards and their traditional culinary uses. Having only ever used them in making gravy I’m amazed at the variety of uses. I say “amazed” but maybe in the case of pickled turkey gizzards “appalled” may be a better word.

The grit used to grind (known as insoluble grit or flint grit when you feed it to poultry) is different from the grit fed to laying hens to help with egg shell production (known as soluble grit or oyster shell).

Yes, as I wrote that I too was wondering what sort of person knows these things.

And then there were the poppies. I’m trying to photograph poppies at the moment but wind and rain and poor light are all making it difficult.

 

A tale of two partridges

We had a red-legged partridge at the bird feeding station yesterday. They can tell when the shooting season is over and gradually begin to appear around the yard mooching for spilt grain and chicken food. We’ve not had one by the feeder before so it’s a first for the list.

The grey partridges they reared for the shoot all disappeared by last autumn and everyone thought they had wandered away or fallen prey to predators.

However, since the end of the shooting season we have started seeing them again.

They have a brain the size of a pea. They have no formal education. But they seem quite intelligent to me.

 

More food

It’s a shoot day on Saturday, though from the casual attitude of the pheasants we saw this morning they haven’t it’s clear they haven’t been told.

I’ve no strong feelings either way – I like birds but I also used to enjoy shooting. The lack of feeling is further intensified by the fact that I don’t find pheasants particularly enthralling. though I am quite fond of partridges in both their varieties. We have a number of red legs about. They potter down to the barns like middle-aged married couples in thee summer evenings to browse through the poultry food.  There were as many as three pairs at one time this summer,

We’ve also raised grey partridges this year. Also known as English partridges they have been going through a rough time over the last  few years with a 91% decline in numbers between 1967 and 2010. Hopefully we will be able to do something to stop the decline.The farm has spent a lot of effort on hedges and headlands and the gamekeepers have been working hard so there is a good chance of improving the population.

As we wait and see at least people won’t go hungry on Saturday as I’ve been cooking Honey and Treacle tarts for lunch. I don’t always get on with celebrity recipes, though I won’t go into it here, but this one worked well. I didn’t have any black treacle and I upped the ginger after my practice run, though that could be down to my powdered ginger being a bit old. I might tone down the orange and have a go with root ginger next time. And I cheated by using ready-made pastry cases. Life is too short to make pastry.

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Nearly forgot to say – the recipe makes a bit too much filling for a bought in pastry case – I’m going to cut it back by around 15% next time and see how it goes.