Saturday, 19 November 2016

Efficiency

I have been standing in the sitting room window watching a hen blackbird feeding outside.   It has been a damp night and a whole lot of dead, wet leaves are lined up against our garden fence just outside the window.

She started at the bottom end and systematically turned over every leaf with her beak and found something to eat under almost every one.   I know that when I sweep up leaves like this I always find wood lice, slugs and worms - well Mrs Blackbird had no difficulty in finding her breakfast I can tell you.

Coming through into the kitchen I saw the greater spotted woodpecker arrive.   He loves the peanuts but today he decided to start his breakfast by moving up the trunks of the Scots Pine trees, chipping off bits of bark and finding something to eat behind them..

A wren was scratching around in the hedge bottom behind the bird-feeders and in the field next door five or six pheasants were scratching around.

We spend around a hundred pounds each month on food for the birds and we get huge pleasure from watching the large variety we get here - Winter and Summer.   We shall not stop feeding them - but it did strike me how very efficient they are at finding their own food in all but the most severe weather.

The same goes, of course, for the grey squirrels who have taken all our hazel nuts from the numerous bushes in the hedge;  and the various birds who have had their fill from the fallen crab apples.

Have we lost a lot of that ability (Cro excepted)?
Do we now expect the Supermarkets to provide our food all year round?   And have many of us even lost the ability (or perhaps the inclination would be a better word) to stockpile for winter with jams and pickles (again I make the exception here for the numerous bloggers I follow who are trying to be self-sufficient - and I do so admire them for it)?

Will we eventually become a nation who rely entirely upon the supermarkets for keeping us alive?   As more and more couples have to both go out to work in order to pay the mortgage and thus have very little time to prepare home cooked meals, will we all come to rely on the freezer or the delivery man who brings ready meals to our door?   Interesting thought.   What do you think?  And where do you fit into this equation?

31 comments:

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Personally I don't feel that a bird that bangs its head as hard as possible against a tree to impress the ladies is a good example to follow.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Each summer, Shirley makes chutneys and bramble jelly and strawberry jam. I grow some vegetables - mostly for the pleasure of seeing things grow - not enough to sustain us. I make 95% of our meals from scratch. That's where we stand in the equation.

By the way, I am in awe of the fact that you get through so much bird food. I am sorry to say that we have been getting fewer and fewer avian visitors in our suburban garden so I rarely have to buy big sacks of bird food any more.

Rachel said...

I think more and more young couples both work because it is very boring sitting at home. I work with many extremely able 30/40 year old females in local government and although of course they like and need the money the very suggestion of staying at home sends them into apoplexy. My mother stayed at home as was the norm in the 1940s and 50s she was a very clever woman and I bet if she lived now she would be out to work whether she needed to be or not. I pickle red cabbage for Christmas to have with cold turkey and make clear vegetable pickles for the same reason. I manage without a freezer and can still shop and I like going out to work. My mother used to have her groceries delivered in the 1950s so everything just goes full circle.

Gabrielle Howard Gengler said...

I too, throughly enjoy watching my birds from my living room window. When it snows, and a beautiful red, cardinal appears it's a lovely sight with the contrast of the white snow.

Tom Stephenson said...

I think I am one of those people who will live entirely from supermarkets, mainly because I am usually too lazy to go to small greengrocers. I stayed in a hotel in Glastonbury, and in the back yard there was a flower bed with a massive hole in it and earth strewn in a huge pile on the ground where it had been dug out. I thought they had an obsessive dog somewhere nearby, but it turned out to be an obsessive blackbird!

Dawn McHugh said...

With more and more issues arrising with supermarket food I do wonder if there is anything else safe to eat anymore, I love watching the birds always filling the feeders I was just thinking about setting up a feeder outside my cabin window as well.

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

We both work full time, but I still have my small vegetable garden and big strawberry patch. Although, strangely enough, I processed a lot more food when the kids were younger and I had less time!! I think it is wonderful how many birds you have coming to your feeders. -Jenn

Joanne Noragon said...

I haven't thought of this much. I guess I'm not big on food. We buy meat and groceries from a whole food market or from farmer's markets. We go to the grocery store for cleaning products, and to the pet store for cat foot, and the bird seed store for bird seed. A little circuit. But, adventurous enough for me.

jinxxxygirl said...

Hubs and i are recent retirees refurbishing a house... Hubs has a desire to grow a garden.. i do not... so i tell him go it! lol ... We can buy our food cheaper at the grocers than to grow it ourselves... the water bill alone would kill us... We would grow only as a hobby because fresh from the garden taste better.. Our garden will have to look like Ft. Knox to keep all the animals out.. We did one time or two make jelly from our plum tree in TX.. But we did it as a lark.. to see if we could do it and it came out great!!! In TX we had pecan trees...we gave alot away and kept some ourselves and sold some...We buy all our food at Walmart...

One thing i think of often is all the knowledge we have lost over the years... knowledge of what foods are edible in the wild and what is not.. Most of us could be stranded in the woods and starve because we didn't know food was there next to us... somehow that disturbs me.. and we've forgotten the medicinal value of some plants..

Love the way you described your birds Pat... We had the crows visiting this morning and i can hear the blue jays screeching.. the cardinals are sitting in the Quince bush letting the sun warm them up... We got up too late to see the deer meander thru... its hunting season so the deer have changed their schedule on me.... lol Hugs! deb

Mac n' Janet said...

We grow what we can, but buy most from the store. I make our bread, use to make our jelly too, but stopped, too much work and I'm not much of a jelly eater.

donna baker said...

Feeding wild life is a joy in my life. I rarely cook anymore as I don't enjoy it. Sad, because I am a very good cook/baker, but just don't like to. Can very little anymore too. I have become a fuddy duddy. I am even dreading having to make the Thanksgiving meal. Would rather buy it readymade and just doctor it up, but the family could tell.

Carol said...

My parents, having lived through the Great Depression and WWII, instilled in my a "waste-not-want-not" frame of mind. Although I can afford to be a supermarket eater, I still pick wild berries to preserve, fight the bears (figuratively) for the wild grapes, take advantage of my own and others' garden overflow to freeze and preserve. My children remember, fondly, vacations on which I canned freshly picked peaches on the camp stove. My daughter has followed the tradition. Perhaps a few will remember a little of how to find their own food.

angryparsnip said...

I too read many of the blogs I found here about growing their own food, from gardens, chickens and animals. It does become your life or a huge part of your life. Not a life for me but I do enjoy reading about it.
I am not able to do that kind of work anymore. In fact I tried to grow many veggies from seeds for the last two years I didn't do a great job. I will only be growing one or two tomatoes this year and that is about it. Plus where I live the temps and critters do not make it easy.
I like making quick pickles but as much as I love jams and chutneys I can only eat a small amount.
So it is buying at the markets and farmers markets for me.
I do not enjoy cooking as I use to. It is just tiring. Plus cooking for one has just as many dishes as cooking for many. I would rather be reading or doing artwork.

cheers, parsnip

Heather said...

We used to have a large veg. plot and even in our much smaller garden I have grown tomatoes, various types of beans and salads until recent years when my energy seems to have plummeted and been taken up with caring for my husband. Sadly, I think we will rely more and more on the supermarket because it is so easy to shop there and get everything under one roof.
I always wanted to be self-sufficient and do admire those who succeed. In the past I loved to see the shelves in the larder well stocked with jams and chutneys, but older appetites shrink and we would never get through it all now. However, I do still make a few jars of marmalade.

the veg artist said...

I have a small greenhouse which I fill with tomatoes and cucumbers in the summer (grown from seed), also a few raised beds of summer veg, but our garden is very wet in the winter so I grow trays of salad leaves in the greenhouse instead. All of the rest of our food comes from the supermarket, but never in 'ready-cooked' form.
I do think that home-growing and home-cooking are skills that are in danger of dying out, but then I have plenty of time to stand and chop!

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

I love watching blackbirds feed, tossing leaves around, getting angry at any other blackbird nearby, allowing you to get quite close to take pictures!

Cro Magnon said...

I prepare three meals a day from scratch, and I have done for most of my adult life. AS you know, I also grow most of what we eat, and preserve a lot for winter. I come from a 'comfortable' background, but that never meant being wasteful or lazy.

thelma said...

Almost sacred to me is baking bread, cannot be doing with shop bread. I have planted a few crops whilst we have been here, mostly in cold frames because of the hens. As for cooking, most of our food is home prepared. Jam making has gone we hardly eat it, so partly self sufficient.
That is an enormous spend on bird food, most of our food goes down the gullets of pigeons, I don't actually begrudge them, hunger is after all hunger. And the antics of birds in the garden is always a pleasure to watch.

Countryside Tales said...

We use a lot of homegrown food and Hedgerow harvested food here. I much prefer it to shop bought, although of course we do that too. Love all your birds. Seeing more wrens here now winter is coming and a green woodpecker eating ants on the lawn yesterday too. Magic.

A Heron's View said...

We do avoid carbohydrates, meat and sugary foods i.e. jams etc as much as is possible. Our diet is preferably demi-vegetarian although I do eat a lot of fish every week salmon, haddock or cod in that order with salads that we buy from Lidl. I am not a gardener which is just as well because the soil depth around the cottage is no more than three inches.
Our wild birds get fed on peanuts and cous cous daily, we have lots of feeding stations and the cost is minimal about €7 per week.
I enjoy making veggie roasts and especially roasted garlic which I am almost addicted too !
I feel that it is very important to the nation to visit local shops as well as Lidl because it is necessary to keep people employed and money has to be circulated.

Derek Faulkner said...

£1200 a year to fee birds seems an awful lot of money but I guess if you are getting a good variety of birds then I guess it's worthwhile. It does make me wonder though if we are in a way, creating a similar thing with birds as you mention with humans, are they finding it easier to pop into your garden food shop, instead of looking for it, as we do with supermarkets.
I wonder as well, whether all your blogging friends that grow, or find and eat, a lot of their food in such a lovely way, are of a certain age, say +50 or 60. Youngsters today are too busy being out trying to earn a living to spend time growing things and besides, many new houses these days only come with postage stamp size gardens, if they have one at all. It takes a lot of determination and time to grow your own stuff when fresh food and a wide variety can be snatched from a supermarket on the way home.

Maria said...

A friend's mother feeds the birds with sugar-water from a small bottle which hangs on a tree. I was wondering if the little birds are addicted now?
Greetings Maria x

Shammickite said...

I will never be self sufficient but I love to bake my own bread and I am totally addicted to making my own jam, marmalade and pickles. I'm not a vegetarian, but often prefer veg meals to those with meat.... however I have some nice "pulled" chicken in my fridge, just waiting to be eaten up.

Maureen Reynolds said...

My Cypriot neighbor has been a true grower of his own food for the 30 years I have lived next to him. The past two or three years, his garden has provided almost no edible food. He used to have enough to often share with us. The variations in the weather and the cost of water are two factors I see in his inability to produce food as he once did. He is a very organic gardener and rotates his beds etc.

Any jams or jellies that given to us go right to the box at the library for the food bank. We don't and have never eaten either of these. If we are in the US during peach or tomato season, I do can those but again, the weather the past couple of years has made those two crops scarce and too pricey for the work involved. Bread we do enjoy making but sadly don't have the metabolism to eat much of it. Too too tempting!

lil red hen said...

Here in the U.S., I work to provide food for those supermarkets; we have four poultry houses. However, I must admit, we buy chicken to eat. :)

Librarian said...

Supermarket food isn't necessarily bad. I buy all my fresh fruit and vegetable from Aldi, with the additional home-grown delivery of berries and apples from my parents' allotment during the gardening season.
Much of what Aldi sells is regional and seasonal, as it cuts down their cost, too.
When I do cook (on weekends when I'm not on my own), I make my meals pretty much from scratch; it happens maybe once or twice a year that I resort to frozen and microwaved meal, usually for an "emergency". Other than that, my staple food is bread and cheese, salads and fruit, and chocolate - couldn't live without it!
I don't make my own bread but could get used to that if I had to. Making my own cheese is completely out of the question - I don't have a cow, nor would I know where it should live here in the middle of a town.

The Weaver of Grass said...

What a really interesting lot of comments there are here - and what a lot of really valid arguments. Re us feeding the birds - I think you are right - we do perhaps feed them too much and perhaps they have got to rely on us too much. Certainly all the tits brought their young and now we have a huge numgber of them - and maybe that is a bad thing. Interesting how many of you (like us) have stopped eating jam because of the sugar content - and most of us seem to have increased our consumption of fruit and vegetables (although I was brought up in a household where there were always veg in the garden winter and summer, but sadly our garden does not function in winter.) Thank you so much for making this such an interesting topic.

Gerry Snape said...

Have you seen any waxwings yet Pat?...I read that they are coming over in an "irruption"...from the north as we have had such a good berry season this year...I'm longing to see them but maybe not here so far south.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Not a single waxwing has been seen here Gerry. I must say that most of our berries have disappeared to the fieldfares and redwings. The only time I have seen waxwings was some years ago when a flock appeared to strip the rowan berries in a supermarket carpark in Wolverhampton. They are magnificent birds.

Derek Faulkner said...

Several were seen here in Kent over the weekend.

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