Harry Enfield must be a bird watcher

young-kestrels
Photo: Andy Morffew

We were all so excited when we realised that our young kestrel chicks were about to fledge. Over the last few weeks, there had been bits of feather and wings poking out the nest hole. Gradually, one by one they emerged from the dead tree until all 3 sat side by side on the broken branch by the nest. Whilst they were still in the nest there had been lots of “Kee Kee Keeing” and many too and fro’s by the parents with food, but this was our first glimpse of the chicks.

How sweet they looked, perched on the branch together, so cute and charming. But don’t be fooled – Hear no evil, Speak no evil Think no evil is the phrase that comes to mind! What little monsters they proved to be! They emerged from the nest looking, and behaving like 3 little Harry Enfield “Kevins” – grumpy and sullen!

Like human teenagers, it took them a long time to find their wings, crashing about and shouting in the trees. Then they would sit around waiting for a parent to come back with some food. On hearing said parents announce their return, all 3 little hooligans would fly towards the supper-laden adults, screaming their heads off. Whoever got there first snatched the meal away and left as fast as possible. The other 2 rained retribution down on the hapless parent pecking their head and screaming with rage.

This behavior went on for about 2 weeks. The adolescent kestrels then moved off to find their own perches, (one outside my dining room window). From there they would sullenly sit and survey their domain. Occasionally calling out to demand food from the hard pressed parents who rushed round finding the next meal for the youngsters. Their behavior reminded me so much of Harry Enfields creation “Kevin” I can see why Kestrels only rear one brood a year, what a thankless task. It is amazing that they want to repeat the process at all, but maybe, they have terrible memories, avian amnesia, which ensures the survival of the species.

Mars bars, milk production and pigs.

The Old Girls using the en-suite to cool off
The Old Girls using the em-suite to cool off

We have just had a vets visit, Uncle Charles has had the dental work done, no doubt he would prefer to have had gold caps on his tusks ( all the rage down in the piggeries as status symbols, no doubt?)

The vets visit entailed lots of discussions about diet among other things. The calorie content of the diet for the ladies in waiting, and the lactating mums was all under scrutiny. Much discussion was had about formulas, content etc. However eventually it got down to the energy content of the diet as this is by far the biggest factor and cost.

To put you in the picture, a dairy cow at peak lactation produces about 12 litres of milk per day. To produce this she must consume about 14,820 calories a day! This equates to about 57 standard Mars Bars!

Our Old Girls, producing milk to feed about 12 or 13 piglets require 21,320 calories a day. This equates to about 82 Mars Bars!!

A cow weighs in at about 500 to 600kg, but one of our Old Girls only weighs between 220 and 250 kg. An impressive ability to convert calories to milk! Especially as a dairy cow on average has about 3 gestations and produces 3 calves in her lifetime.

However, our Old Girls average 5 gestations in a lifetime, producing about 12 piglets per litter, that is an impressive 60 piglets!

I think they might just qualify as the most hard working animal on the farm, never mind “Lazy as a pig” anyone would feel exhausted! Especially if you don’t like Mars Bars!

Moleing Duty

mole catcher
Our own tribute to The Fallen

I know that we have recently commemorated the centenary of the start of the first world war. I went to see the poppies at the Tower and now proudly display one of them in the garden.  The other day I  went out into the garden and discovered we had MOLES!!!( or it looked like several anyway!)  My beautiful garden was dug up with mounds of soil and plants all uprooted in one corner behind a large flower bed. I love most wildlife, can tolerate moles in the field, but if they venture into my lawn it is a death sentence!

I duly spent several mornings setting traps,hoping to catch the vandal(s) that were wrecking havoc in my treasured garden.  However they managed to elude me and stuck up 2 mole digits at me by making the carnage worse.

I was in despair and walked over the other morning with the dog (Woggle) and explained to her what a useless ornament she is as she couldn’t even catch the bloody things.  I was gardening later in the day in the courtyard and one very pleased dog came up to me with a mole in its mouth!! (dead of course) I was so delighted, I praised her and gave her a treat for doing such a wonderful job. Excited I rounded the corner to see where she had caught it.  To my horror she had re-enacted the troops at the Battle of the Somme. The place was complete carnage, trenches and holes everywhere.  Our own unique tribute to the Great War.

I decided that fitting tribute that it was, like the poppies it had a short shelf life. Burrowing in masses of soil to fill those trenches made me realise what a hard job those lads had to dig out trenches on the battlefields, let alone face the enemy!

The dog has now been stood down from “Moleing Duty”

Bad neighbours

Common-Kestrel
Female Kestrel by Craig Shaw

We have kestrels nesting in a dead tree in the garden! They are very busy bringing up a young family, but I am sure in the bird world they would get an ASBO. Not only do they eat their neighbours they are very noisy too! This morning my man came whizzing into his favourite look out post and started shouting at his misses. Kee, kee, kee kee etc very very loud and proud! She eventually emerged from the nest and flew over to him. (By this time I had my binoculars focused!) He sat up and deposited a mouse at her feet. She looked at him with a steely glare, as if to say, “Is that all?” He flew off, perhaps offended? She sat there for several minutes, kee, kee keeing and looking at the morsel and then up at the sky, she was not impressed I think!

She did take it back to her brood, but I could just imagine what she said to them about useless men not providing properly for their family.

I watch the nest with great interest to see what happens next!

Uncle Charles and oral hygiene

Uncle-Charles
Uncle Charles

We have a very large and much loved old boar on the farm, He should have become sausages years ago! However he so good at his job, knows the ropes as well as the men do, and the old girls think he is the equivalent of Pierce Brosnan!

However he needs to visit the dentist. Boars grow tusks that should point outwards, but Charles has ingrowing ones, and like toenails of the same ilk, they are digging in and getting painful. Hence the dentist visit. For those of you who do not know, boars are very large, very, very smelly, and produce vast amounts of foaming spit, they also wee all over you and anything to mark their territory. Best to keep fairly clear most people would agree? It was decided that a vet visit is in order, so lining up in the waiting room is dear old Uncle Charles for a tooth filing, and dental hygiene. ( The tusks do not have a nerve in them) However I think that Uncle Charles will not like the intrusion into his personal space, so when the poor pretty young female vet arrives next week, she may find that this is not such a tasty job and wish she had stuck to neutering pooches and worming cats!

What a baptism of fire it will be for her, he will object long and very loudly I think!

She will be spat upon, deafened and with careful aiming might get a welly full of boar wee!

"Home from home! Most comfortable room we have ever stayed in! Thank you"

Rex and Carole

Earsham Park Farm, Earsham, Bungay, Suffolk NR35 2AQ
Tel: 01986 892180 or 07887 648139 or 07798 728936   Email: bobbie@earshamparkfarm.co.uk