Monday, 23 September 2013

Decay, by fungus

 These fungi are are attacking pine logs, cut six months ago and left outdoors to dry. Trying to steal my winter log supply...

Possibly Xylaria polymorpha?

Sunday, 15 September 2013

It's not Cricket...

...or is it?

I saw this possible-cricket, possibly Meconema thalassinium, the Oak Bush-Cricket, on the Swiss Chard planted this summer by Emily Hornett

Cricket on the green
The snake in the grass is only a little bigger than the cricket; look at the oak leaf beside it. I think it is a juvenile ladder snake, Elaphe Scalaris, but feel free to correct me.

Snake in the grass

Monday, 9 September 2013

On Gluttony

The fig trees are in fruit. Not one tree-full, but the whole lot - seven large trees all producing ripe fruit all at once.

Eat me

I can eat a lot of figs - but really, this is gluttony. So we share them out with the birds, the donkeys and sheep (who take those they can reach) and with Papilio machaon, appropriately called the Swallow Tail Butterfly; gluttony comes from gluttire, to swallow.

Papilio machaon - I'd Swallow my Tail
So far, I have bottled them and made jam - in a moment of madness I made five separate jams from the fruit of five separate trees. Next comes chutney. And then really, no more figs thank you, till next year.

Bye bye, Button

I have just said goodbye to Button, our first year-old lamb. 

He was a sweet-natured beast, and I was more affected by his departure than all of the other lambs that have left us ("left us" being, of course, a euphemism for "been sent off to the abattoir.") This is how most lambs live in the UK - at about a year old they are sent off for slaughter - but here we have become used, or at least come to be able to bear, the Catalan system of sending them off at 3 months old. 

Strange how one's perception of the emotional impact is greater for an older sheep than for a just-weaned youngster. In both cases the only consolation is that these sheep lead the best possible life, and thus that the meat we eat is truly fair-traded.