Tag Archives: wind

First World Problems

The were piles of leaves in the sheltered streets of The Meadows this morning, but apart from that there was not much seen of the 100 mph death storm promised by the tabloids.

“How and when deadly Ophelia will affect your area today” is how the Daily Mirror puts it in the website headline, though it tones this down to “blustery” in its forecast for the Midlands.

It has been bad for some people, with three deaths in Ireland already, and high winds in Scotland, though I can’t help wondering what a resident of the Caribbean would make of our “problems”. It’s difficult to know, because there seem to be no recent reports on the situation. Newspapers can only give so much space to disasters and the Caribbean is so last week. After all, they have a blustery day in the Midlands to report.

I think the term “First World Problems” sums up the situation.

 

 

Where have all the Buzzards gone?

I didn’t see a single Buzzard today on the way to Peterborough, just three Kestrels and a Red Kite.  My first thought on seeing an increase in Kestrels and a decrease in Buzzards is that the Kestrels must have eaten the Buzzards.

According to point 4 in this document I couldn’t be more wrong: it looks like Buzzards may actually be eating Kestrels. As the ones I see are mainly lurking round roadsides waiting for a car to kill something, or even walking the floor looking for worms, I’m amazed they have the energy, or the speed to take a Kestrel.

This sounds wrong to me, as I don’t really think of birds of prey eating each other. I tend to think of them eating less well-armed prey. A quick look at the diet of the Eagle Owl demonstrates that birds of prey do eat other birds of prey – one record of a nesting pair in Scandinavia tool 13 other raptors in a single breeding season. Their favoured prey is the Buzzard. If we ever start a reintroduction process for the Eagle Owl they won’t be short of food for while.

In the end I’ve been forced to conclude the Buzzards were just somewhere else, possibly sheltering from the wind. On cold, wet days I’ve often noticed that they tend to hunch down at lower levels, and are more inclined to take to the fields looking for worms. On previous windy days I’ve also noted a lack of birds. I suspect that, like me, they look for shelter when it’s windy.

After seeing my father and being soundly beaten at dominoes I went to the services on the A1 for a bean burger (for research purposes only, you understand). I took some photographs of the Roman antiquities they found whilst excavating the foundations. I’ll load them tomorrow as I can’t get them off my phone.

 

 

Wind!

I knew it was going to be windy today because it was windy all last night. I know this because  the wind was coming from the north and my bedroom faces north.

This week last year one of the tents blew down as we prepared for Open Farm Sunday and our runner beans were ravaged by the Arctic blast. This year we have paced ourselves better and won’t be putting the big marquee up until Thursday. We have put the awning up in front of the kitchen, and that is firmly tied to the verandah of the centre and variously weighted down with breeze blocks and gas bottles. Despite this it’s still showing ambitions to fly.

As for the beans, I haven’t even put one out this year.

As you can see from the main picture, the bird feeders have been swinging at some strange angles and feeding birds have been clinging rather than perching. Even they had it easy compared to one of the farmyard poultry, though I didn’t mange to get a picture, so you’ll have to imagine the picture.

Think of a chicken making its way across the yard as a gust of wind catches it. Then think of tumble-weed. Put the two images together and you are close to what happened. Fortunately nothing was injured except for a little avian dignity.

As for other matters, we had a visit from a teacher (who seemed to like us), we have four new pigs, a tail on our pigsaw and I have just completed an internet training course on COSHH in a Food Environment. That’s Control of Substances Hazardous to Health in case you were wondering, and no, it doesn’t include my cooking.

 

 

Bird feeder blues

It’s bank Holiday Monday, and as there is nobody in today we are taking the opportunity to catch up.

Julia is planting the new vertical planters (also known as adapted pallets) and I am doing a few odd jobs, including fixing a broken bird feeder, answering emails and writing this.

I have the  better of it, as the wind is playing havoc with the planting. The planned row of lettuces is looking particularly floppy after an hour of being battered by the wind. We will have to see how it goes.

 

Over the years I’ve accumulated a number of bird feeders of various designs, including a number of cheap ones that feature a plastic hanging loop.  I suppose it’s obvious, when you think about it, that continued exposure to the elements would eventually cause the loop to deteriorate and break.

It’s a nuisance rather than a problem, but as luck would have it, I cannot find any wire or any binder twine in my drawers to make the repair.  That is the trouble with being tidy.

Whilst writing this I’ve also been Googling “bird feeders”. I was immediately attracted to this site. I will include the link  because it’s interesting, though I’m not sure how practical many of them are. The shoe feeder looks interesting, but I’m not sure that my neighbours “are sure to think that you are the most creative person ever”. They would probably think I’m an idiot who nails shoes to trees.

Meanwhile, the jackdaws have discovered the feeder with the suet pellets in it. Is there nothing that they can’t do?

 

It’s an example of how man interferes with nature. It isn’t such an obvious example as some, but it is a fact that before we brought the pigs to the allotment we didn’t have jackdaws round the centre. Though there were jackdaws about the village they didn’t interfere with our bird feeding and we were able to feed a variety of birds in feeders and on the floor. At the time we fed a lot of fat pellets, because we’d been given several buckets of them, and had no trouble with jackdaws.

Now, after drawing them to the area of the centre with pig food, they won’t leave the bird feeders alone. They are birds, but we don’t need so many large, disruptive birds at the feeder. it seems that anything with fat in it is like a magnet to the jackdaws and that as a result of trying to limit jackdaw activity we have fewer chaffinches, hardly any dunnocks and no wrens. There is very little for robins and blackbirds to eat either, as they like to feed off the floor.

It isn’t just the amount they eat, but that they scare other birds away. They even mobbed the woodpecker when it came for its second visit of the day, though it stood its ground and gave as good as it got.

I’m onto Plan D now, I think. All will be revealed after Open Farm Sunday. I am

Meanwhile, for a discussion on whether we should even be feeding birds, have a look at this.

 

 

 

 

 

Time passes, things change

Returned to work today, to find that the view has changed slightly after the high wind at the weekend. The Neighbours are now Man leaning on fence and Woman lying down.

 

That’s a job for later, as it’s all about lambing on the farm at the moment.

If we put her back up all will return to normal, but if not you will be able to date pictures of the farm to pre- and post- Easter 2016 depending on the number of statues you can see.

Imogen comes to call

Things are looking up. We actually had a pause in the wind from Storm Imogen and the sun came out for ten minutes. After that it was back to normal.

The Farmland Bird Count has got off to a bad start despite the new feeders, with hardly a bird seen today. The ones we did see were clearly struggling in the wind. A long-tailed tit went past so quickly it looked like it had been fired from a bow and several crows have been seen flying sideways. Apart from that we’ve seen a blackbird, a pied wagtail and er…nothing else.

It was all looking so promising too. In the last two weeks we’ve seen a great-spotted woodpecker, a sparrowhawk and some good flocks of redwings and fieldfares. We thought we might be on for some good sightings. Plan B is now in operation – do the count on Wednesday.

We’ve also had pancakes, put new bedding down for the chickens (I think most of the old stuff has blown away!), finished the Chinese New Year masks and completed a grant application form.

We are applying for money to support a community arts project based on bread and baking, and the application contains more waffle than an American breakfast.

It’s not that it’s a bad project, just that the way they ask questions encourages a less than precise style of writing. Half the time I want to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but they’re expecting 250 words so suddenly I’m peppering it with things like inclusivity, diversity and mindfulness. George Orwell would have been ashamed of me, though Big Brother would have been proud.

 

 

A day of sound and fury

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Macbeth – William Shakespeare

 

We arrived today to find that we now have a sheep dog on the farm. Well, in theory at least. What we actually have is a nine-week-old Border Collie pup, which might turn out to be a sheepdog. It’s doing well so far, showing clear signs of intelligence and an inbuilt need to round people up. However, she’s being treated like a pet by members of the group, and I hope it doesn’t spoil her as a working dog.

It was clear that neither the proud owner, or the group, are interested in the nitty-gritty of dog ownership as they all ignored the inconvenient puddle she left on the floor after her visit. Isn’t that always the way?

Outside, Storm Henry is giving us some stick. It sound like a raging storm, though the weather station has shown a maximum of 60 kph (40 mph) and is currently showing just 35 kph despite the noise.

The polytunnel covering isn’t doing too well, and we can’t get the clips back on in this wind. We’ve weighted it down as much as we can and are now crossing our fingers. We can’t complain as we’ve used this cover for four years and we haven’t maintained it as much as we should have done.

It did better than the outdoor chicken coop, as you can see in the photos.

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A result of Storm Henry

Sixteen eggs today, so production is looking up. I suspect it may be down in a day or two due to wind and temperature, but that’s what happens when you produce your own.

In preparation for the birdwatch next week we’ve been reading bird books and making birds to hang on the “tree”.

No more lambs at the moment, though we did have the main flock scanned last week. 195 ewes in lamb, including 120 with twins and 33 with triplets. Sounds good, but in the words of the old song there may be trouble ahead. The trouble with sheep is that they can only feed two lambs, so triplets are a mixed blessing. That is one of the reasons I prefer pigs. sausages and bacon being the others…

 

 

Back to school

Last night, when we double-checked everything ready for the school breakfast presentation this morning, we found we’d miscalculated. It wasn’t 300 children, it was 600. As a result we had to go through all the breakfast samples we had and divide them in half. We were still able to feed a multitude without recourse to loaves and fishes, and our outputs are going to look immense this year.

We left 600 happy children behind us, most of whom (according to their answers) have either cereal or waffles for breakfast. It’s a lot  better than a class we asked a couple of years ago who all seemed to have Nutella on toast.

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It could have been worse, I once turned up with a lesson designed for 11-year-olds and gave it to a class of 7-year-olds. According to the teachers, it makes a difference. In my own defence, I didn’t realise they were that young, I just thought they were smaller than usual. Or possibly far away.

Short post today – I’m feeling lazy. We’re on the farm now but after the school stuff, lunch, admin and blog it’s time to weight the polytunnel down again (we have the end of Storm Jonas passing by at the moment) and go home while it’s still light.

I’m using a stock photo because we forgot to organise photographic permission for the school this morning – oh for the simple days when all you needed was a camera.

 

 

 

Storm Clodagh comes to call

So Storm Clodagh came and, according to the news, will continue today.

Yesterday it showed as an hour of high winds and a a twenty minute belt of rain, so no great problem, even though I did get caught in the middle of the rain without a coat. Today it looks like it may miss us completely.

However, it did manage to pop the rails on the polytunnel again. They are a mixed blessing – simpler and easier than digging a trench and burying the edges of the plastic, and giving us the ability to adjust the tension on the plastic (which we did a couple of times in the first year) – but they have popped off a few times and left the plastic flapping.

There has been some damage in other areas of the country, but I used to live in the Cambridgeshire Fens, which is quite a windy place and I remember high winds that made telegraph poles bend. We just used to nail stuff down firmly and nobody, as far as I’m aware, felt the need to name the weather.

I’ve just been looking up how they name storms, particularly as I wasn’t sure that 70 mph was really a high wind by world standards. It was more complicated than I had thought – with six different bodies classifying and naming weather systems depending on where they originate. However, they do classify winds a lot slower than 70 mph.

The record for the highest wind speed on land (235 mph during Typhoon Paka on Guam in 1997) can’t be confirmed because it was so fast it broke the anemometer. Personally I think that breaking the anemometer was good enough as confirmation.

I also learnt that storm names, like American sport shirt numbers, can be retired.

That’s something I’ll bear in mind next time I’m caught by the rain in a supermarket car park.

 

 

72 hours

In theory I have 114 hours left before we begin Open Farm Sunday. However, as I need to sleep, eat, cook, shop, collect one of the kids from Sheffield and break off to answer queries from members of the public and farm staff  it’s likely that I have only 72 hours, or even less, to produce a stunningly informative display on modern farming. I have a broken printer and a laminator that regularly pleats the paper and things are not looking good.

To add to my general feeling of forthcoming disaster we’ve just had a meeting (and you know what I feel about them) and we’re now doing the Health and Safety stuff. That’s like a meeting but with the additional point that plants become hazards (poison and thorns), animals can give you nasty diseases and even the ground we walk on can leap up and break your ankle. It’s a dangerous old world out there. I hate to think what it would be like if we ever reintroduced wild boar or bears.

You may of course be asking yourself why I’m writing this instead of getting on with work, but the question contains it’s own answer. Most things are better than work, and blogging certainly beats typing up notes on growing wheat. If you ploughed up Wembley Stadium, which wouldn’t be a bad thing in my opinion, you could grow enough wheat to make a sandwich for every member of a capacity crowd. The only problem there is that if you grew wheat on the field you wouldn’t get a capacity crowd. Nobody has spotted that so far.

Now, this is possibly an interesting fact when you first hear it, but I’ve heard it more than once now. I’ve also told them that one of our fields will produce wheat to make two pancakes for every inhabitant of Nottingham and made various other calculations based on the towns and schools that people come from. Using information off the internet I even calculated that the woodland we are planting would absorb the emissions from several thousand cars.

Yes, I did say “using information off the internet”. Some of you will have spotted the flaw there. Garbage in, garbage out, as they say. I repeated an error found in several internet articles and produced a calculation that suggested we could solve the problem of global warming by all planting window boxes. This sounded a bit extreme so I did more research.

It seems I was wrong by a factor of several thousand.

I now have 71 hours left and Tim has just come in to tell me that one of the tents has broken in the wind, specifically the tent I’m supposed to be using at the weekend. Will be back later to put photos on.

Later: one pole is bent and another went through the roof of the tent. It’s fixable but we really could have done without spending the time on it.

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Meanwhile the runner beans are suffering in the wind. I’ll try to save what I can but I’m going to plant replacements in the polytunnel tonight – fortunately I have toilet roll tubes in the back of the car.

That’s probably the oddest closing sentence I’ve ever used.