Nature update

Quick update on what's happening in the garden/woods/fields.


1. I have put a cleft chestnut fence with wire mesh round the half acre pond that people/dogs can too easily fall into from my garden.  I have sold the idea to anyone questioning this as a health and safety brain fart.  However, the true reason is that I want to stop dogs getting in and allow our ducks to come in, raise their brood on the island and not get scared off by a Labrador with a taste for duck eggs (last four years have seen the drake paddling round with the duck hiding in the grass and just as she's sat for an age, she is chased off by a weed-covered watermonster who snacks on the eggs). Now I expect ducklings. Will update you.

2. Daffodils are about to sprout. They have fat heads and it's going to be a lovely year.

3. Fruit trees all pruned and ready to go. I had a good crop of apples and pears from one side of the garden and really low crops from the other. This is because the way the wind blew in April 18, the ones on the west side got their blossom blown off before they could set.  The splayed peach on the chimney breast is looking really good and has a lot of new nodes ready to sprout.

4. I put in about 60 mixed alliums in the borders. They are just beginning to surface. Could be lovely by June.

5. I spent Sat and Sun hedge planting and splitting - cutting blackthorn, hawthorn, beech and hazel, splitting the bows half way and bending those down for regrowth; planting multiple stems of willow cut off the millions of willows that grow round us straight into the clay.  Must have planted about 100 stems.  Last year I did this at the end of one field to create a quarter acre wind-protected space for the beehives. It's grown well into a real hedge, but you have to be confident to cut the tops off to make the lower plant bush out.

6. I noticed that a cock pheasant in the wood has become incredibly loud as it starts to boss the area and call to the females/see off other males. he has a perch on a gate which divides our field from the neighbour who has 50 pregnant ewes ready to drop.  He stands there and does his thing about a dozen times a day. The usual cock-erch call and all that tail buzzing and fluffing up. But when he does it, the ewes all get a panic on and start to move away as a flock. Then, having cleared the space, he flies off the gate and into the middle of the field. The ewes stay bunched up at one end until he fux off. Intimidating fuquer. He came into the garden. The dog walked up and then just stared at him from about 20 metres. He didn't budge.  She started to run full pace at him and only at the last minute did he think "ok then, you're serious" and flew over the hedge.

7.  Saw a woodcock on the edge of the field / wood yesterday evening.  They are so beautiful. Hello old chap. Eyes like squid. 

Or do you mean all this stuff rather than all this writing?

Eyes like squid is a particularly terrible turn of phrase.  makes me think of the Ood in dr who.

Weirdly beautiful.

When a woodcock sees you and doesn't think you've seen him, he sits dead still and head is side on so he gets a huge view of you. You see a long beak, struggle to see his body in the leaf litter but you can see this black jewel shining at you. It's disproportionately large as they live in the low light of the forest floor.  And it's black as night.

Having seen that, you can then work out where the beak is and the body line emerges.  Then when he's decided you're onto him there's a quick burr and he's gone.

the temperatures and rainfall has confused the feck out of the bulbs.  I have daffs, snowdrops, crocuses, tulips and alliums all on the move at the same time.

Maybe, but jsut fencing a half acre pond must be a weeks work for two men. 

Daffodils already out down my way and the buds on the hawthorn our front are ready to go.

I like mutter's nature posts.  Particularly when they are focused on the dog.  But I also wonder how he finds the time.  

Out of curiosity, do you have a non-working wife?  I think a non-working spouse must make life a lot easier.

THis is very much like my life.  Now the weather is picking up I have to move about 20 10 year old oak trees from the chicken run as well as a similarly aged southern beech, all to form a uniform line by a fence, and then cut back and weave a willow hedge planted a few years back (an annual job).  I’ve already moved 10 poplars into their new homes, and also have to get to the oak seedlings by the pond  before the spouse sprays them.  We have loads of pheasants around at the moment, flown in from local shoots over the last few seasons and as I rarely shoot them they have prolierated.  They eat a lot of stuff in the vegetable garden.  It will soon be time to fertilise and then prune back the peach fan.  I don’t know yet where I will replant the oak seedlings.

If you want more dog info then I will do my best to oblige.



?? - as to the two weeks' work for 2 men, actually it's less than that as I didnt have to fence the whole thing. the pond is bordered down one side by a proper slatted fence line, and at the other end the hedge line has been improved with some paling fencing previously in place, plus a gate out into the rest of the garden. Up the other side we have a laurel line up to half way which has some historical chain link fence inside it, for about 20m, so that leaves about a quarter of the long oval which needed fencing. 2-3 days on that, not counting the prior work to measure cut and shape. The 2 days involved digging out the post points, fitting them then fitting the fence line in between each post. What took a long time, unexpectedly, was hanging the gate.

It must be hard to do all that and still have time for weird druidic rituals and burning people in wickermen

Apparently you can outsource that nowadays, Amazon sell pre-filled wickermen, and if you have Prime they'll burn them for you too.

strutts' special 'our front' and 'my way' places are his own - if you require more particulars as to the location or nature of his 'buds' you will need certificated clearance in advance.

strutts - if Mutts continues with this line of questioning please show us on the doll exactly where he posted.

given that spring travels at a measurable amount (4 miles a day west to east - trufax) and that I am living inbetwixt this line of daffodil contest between mutters and strutter I am calling this for mutters.

my daffs are peaking not blooming

Mutters, do you charge a consultancy fee? Could it be converted into a venison fee?

I need to get you out to help me come up with a plan for here.

Wang - I’m not sure your model considers the impact of microclimate. We are in the valley below a north facing slope of the South Downs. While we may be further west and south than many RoFerati,  we get cold air drainage into the valley and the chilling effect is 1-2.5 degrees. Drive up the hill and the temp rises on a cold day. This delays our spring.  Similarly, though someone to the east and north of me may say spring will come a few days later than in West Sussex, they will have the benefit of the urban landscapes and road networks which maintain a higher average temp, reduce frosts and absorb radiation. 

Yours, due a wedgie no doubt, 







I’m not a fee charger Jorrocks. But I’ll happily give you a few thoughts for what their worth. I’m no visionary. I think the answer usually lies in getting to know your land and the biodiversity and then making arrangements which suit the way the flora and fauna are already utilising it. For example, growing a willow hedge, check if there is willow already naturally sprouting and doing well. If not, blackthorn etc may be happier, or beech. 

Jorrocks: 'ello

mutters: 'ello, oi be mutters, whas the problem

jorrocks: it's this bush see, it's all pertangling

mutters: what you need is to replant it on the ley lines

jorrocks: do what?




Mutters, I'll email you. Sorry not to see you on Thurs.

I think rof summer drinks should be a garden party chez mutters.  Who's in?

Mutters send the cock pheasant down to see the sheep that are currently in the field at the bottom of my soon to be garden.  They're properly aggressive and last weekend had me and the hound pushed up against the electric fence leading to me beating a retreat from a herd of sheep for the first time ever.  Normally they just trot off to the opposite end of the field as soon as they see you.

Who's in mutters'?  probably a mallard, several sevrals, an hippopotamus from the great grey green limpopo river and Oliver Bolliver Butt. and four grapes.

I have a hot smoker. I put a pheasant in it last week. It was very good news.

All very interesting

Some sheep do get tricky when pregnant and perceiving threat from a dog and walker. Group action. Gilets Jaunes etc. 

Jx- nice. I’m building a new cold smoker, using one of those metal incinerator bins with an air con ducting pipe up to a cupboard (smoking chamber) with a flue off that, all round the back of the workshop. Will give prog report.

my pizza oven succumbed to the freeze this year. All the render has cracked and fallen off the clay dome.

Sheep are cunts. Particularly the rams. Don't trust 'em.

We have crocuses/crocus/crocii/wotevs coming out, daffodils up but not out, no sign of the alliums yet, tulips coming up, no sign of the bluebells yet and more snowdrops than grass it seems.

Age wearies all of us, m8 - commiserations.

Hope you sort it by Spring and the missus doesn't start to look for a Sloppy Giuseppe elsewhere beforehand.

Mutters from what I've been told this lot are just being fattened up ready for slaughter so hence wasn't expecting the reaction I got from them.

My last was to Mutt's 10:13 pizza oven woes, obv.

I thought about building a pizza oven but gave up as it looked to complicated. 

I'd be interested to hear how your cold smoker works?

I was thinking about connecting my hot smoker to a galvanised dustbin using some copper pipe so it gets cool smoke but, again, gave up as it looks too complicated.

I thought about building a pizza oven but then I realised I have an oven.

One of those things that are great to use in sunnier climes villas abroad a few times but not so much 3-4 times a year back home. A decent BBQ ftw for that.

My parents always warned me about sheep. Late 60s early 70s they lived on a sheep farm. My mum was a lab technician and dad was civil servant and they had zero money and this was one of the lab's test locations. They hated the sheep. Loved the cows. My mum always treated cows like they were dogs.

Sadly don't know more about this probably most funny time in the life of my parents other than that they drove an old Simca that had a floor that was rusted through so the passenger had to spread and they could see the road go by through the hole in the floor. That car had to go when mum got pregnant. And the fact that they tried to grow their own weed. The plants did very well apparently but they never figured out which part of the plant to use so they just dried a bunch of leaves in the oven. Incinerated one lot and smoked another lot that made them so sick they never did weed again. Or so they say...

I am now going to impersonate tricky in ducklish.  which may well be offensive.

I shee treesh of green,

red roshesh too

and lotsh of cunting sheep

they shhould fuck off too

and bring me shome fucking edam man*

this also works for sean connery

Close... but no cigar. I really don't like Edam cheese. And I sound like an American nowadays. So I'm told anyway.

I don't understand the "getting ganged up on by sheep" gig really. There are very few animals that won't just fuck off if you raise your arms to increase your height, advance on them and shout, as loud as you can, something like "JUST FUCK OFF OR I WILL BUM YOU TO OBLIVION ARRRRRGGGGGHHHH" and then speed up running towards them. Sheep will not think "have 'im". They will think "holy shit, Mavis, he's serious" and split.


*polar bears, not so much

Mutters watch Black Sheep the kiwi horror about man eating weresheep and you won't look at sheep the same way again.

Fiction but involves things that could be real...

Don't tell me you also weren't scared going out in the dark in the country after the first time you read the Hound of the Baskervilles?

I’ve had to re-render (in lime) our pizza oven three times over the nine years since I first built it.  Just sold another pizza peel on ebay, a thing of some beauty in olive ash.