Monday, 18 May 2015


Our Great Tit (Parus major) chicks are getting ready to fly. We counted six of them...

Eating, Parus-style

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Repro Croft

Everyone seems to be reproducing this Spring - er, apart from your writer. The Treecreepers have made a nest in an old fruit tree and are bringing up a clutch of four or five young.

Certhia brachydactyla, in a hole

Meanwhile, round the corner these two were having a good time on a flower stalk. I am hopeless at bug identification but I think these might be Scentless Plant Bugs. Order Hemiptera, Family Rhopalidae. But any better suggestions very welcome.

He's bugging me...

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Passer over Parus

We have had double bubble this year with the nesting boxes.

Here (look closely) is one, with a busy parent just back from feeding the chicks:

Tree sparrow, Passer montanus

And here is the other. This one has a video camera inside, so I can see four chicks, and the parents coming in every three or four minutes with food.

Great Tit, Parus major
Nature is blooming on the Croft.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Bee day

I've been at the bees today:

I can't give up smoking

I am a total beginner at bees, so I'm likely to make mistakes. But this, for pretty well sure, is a frame of capped brood in the typical oval laying pattern at the centre of the frame, with a ring of larvae around it, and a ring of honey beyond that:

I was framed, mate

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Patrick Plods Along

I moved Patrick the foal and his mum Marguerita into a newly-fenced field today. The field is called "Camelot" because it was (King) Artur, a friend, who opened it up for us.

Bramble Breaks Out

Bramble the lamb is small...and can still slip under the fences. Here she is, on the way to freedom:

Saturday, 21 March 2015

High protein wheat free bread - recipe

After months of research in my cuisine laboratoire* I have come up with a wheat –free recipe for bread, that works.

1 level teaspoon sugar
150 ml milk, warmed slightly to tepid
100g oat flour
1 sachet (11g) dried yeast,  or use live yeast if you prefer
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
50g rolled oats
200g chickpea (gram) flour
50g butter, melted
1 large egg
1 tablespoon warm water, to moisten
Olive oil

Set the oven at 190ºC
Warm the milk to tepid, dissolve the sugar in it. Mix the dried yeast, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt with the oat flour.
Pour the warm milk and sugar mixture into the oat flour, stir and leave to stand 10 minutes.
Beat the egg. Melt the butter and cool a little.
Add the rolled oats, the chickpea flour, the egg and the butter to the mixture, and stir for 5 minutes. Add a little warm water to moisten the mixture – the dough should be hard to stir but not impossible.
Cover with a damp cloth, and leave in a warm place for 2-3 hours. It will rise a little.
Oil a small bread tin, and line with greaseproof paper (baking parchment.)
Put the mixture into the tin. Using the back of a spoon, oiled with olive oil, smooth off the top, spreading a little oil across the top as you do so.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes. Check with a skewer – it should come out dry.
Remove from oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin. Then turn onto a cooling rack and remove the baking parchment.
This is a high protein bread, thanks to the combination of the egg and the chickpea flour.  Using my copy of Eat Well and Keep Healthy (Macdonald, London, a million years ago) given to me by my Mum when I was 18 (which IS a million years ago) I estimate that each slice of bread, weighing in at 50g, contains 8g of protein. That’s more than three times as much as in a slice of normal bread, and about the same, gram for gram, as white fish.

*Yes. I'm joking.