Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Ducks and Dandelions.

The farmer drew back the curtains at 6.30 this morning to see a group of ducks strolling up the lane outside our house. There are plenty of semi-wild ducks around here because they are bred on our neighbouring estate for shooting parties in the Winter. The same is true of course for pheasants. Luckily (or unluckily if you happen to be the game keeper on the estate) the ducks quickly learn to walk rather than fly and to stay on the pond - in either case they can't be shot at - they have to be in the air.

Our neighbouring farmer has a grain store and the ducks regularly stroll round there for a feed when he is not looking. He has had to learn to approach the store from the opposite end, approach it slowly and making just a little bit of noise and allow the birds to stroll out - otherwise if they all fly out together in fright at his approach they scare the cattle in the next shed so that there is mayhem and panic.

It was nice to see them out for their morning walk, quacking quietly to each other as they went up the lane. Of course the pheasants also take advantage of any corn lying about. Two or three stroll up the lane and turn into our gate every morning, making for the bird table. They are semi-tame and if we go out they don't fly off, they merely retreat under the nearest bush until we have gone.

On a different note - it is the dandelion season. All along the edges of the roads here dandelions are in full bloom. There can't be another wild flower that reproduces with such energy (and has such a long tap root that it is impossible to get them out of the garden).

Several of the farmer's fields have patches of dandelion. If we don't do something about it before they start flinging their thousand seeds into the air then next year the whole field will be covered, and whilst it will look pretty it won't make good silage. So we must do something about it quickly before they seed.


MorningAJ said...

When I was growing up we used to have an 'old' lady (she was probably only in her 40s but I was about eight so she seemed old) who made dandelion wine. She used to pay us a penny a bag for the heads.

So they never had chance to turn to seed.

The gardeners down the road loved her for it!

Elisabeth said...

I haven't been around for a while and here I am struck by all the colours.

Cooperation between farmers is typical is it not, Pat? And such a good thing, too.

Arija said...

A pity to have to spray the dandelions since they are great in salads, their flowers make the most wonderful
wine, like nectar of the gods and they are like sunshine in the grass. A pity, as I said, but in your climate they do take over and controlling them is the only option.
During the war we made coffee from their roasted roots too.

I have tried a number of times to leave you a comment but blogger has been fooling around again.

I hope you have come good again with the warmer weather. Is there any hope of you driving again? I certainly hope so.

steven said...

weaver a pair of mated ducks (surely not the same?) arrived on the school field again this year and are setting up camp. they are a natural attraction (can i say that?!) but need their space. can you imagine convincing 4 - 10 year-olds to stay away from a pair of ducks?!!! steven

Lyn said...

I am so far removed from this natural scene..and so it all seems quite exotic to me..I ppreciate every step!

mrsnesbitt said...

Aaaaaaaaaaaarghhhhhhh! Dandelions! lol!

H said...

I've just come in from a quick trip up county (Derbyshire) and have seen plenty of evidence of fields filled with dandelions.

I can also vouch for the tap root. I spent a chunk of yesterday trying to extricate them from my garden! Loosen the soil, slide in the fingers, down, down, down, pull very gently...SNAP! &$*^)"%

The Weaver of Grass said...

AJ I love the idea of the old lady making wine. Wish we had one down our road!

Steven - I expect they are the same pair - they tend to go back to the same nest site every year.

Thank you for commenting.

Heather said...

I made dandelion wine one spring when we moved to a house with a little paddock full of the flowers. I took one look at them all and thought 'Granny would have made something from those'. It was delicious and like a light table wine. The whole plant is edible and in the past was very useful. It's a shame they can be such a pest and I'm glad the farmer found a less expensive solution to his problem with them. I love to hear ducks 'talking' and they have such a 'dirty laugh', as if one of them has told a rude joke.

Elizabeth said...

What a good idea to share equipment.
Really silly to duplicate stuff. We should all do more of this.
In a VERY small garden the best bet is to sit down
and dig each dandilion root out individually with a paring knife.....thus ruining paring knife for ever ( I speak from experience.....!)
As far as I remember dandilions taste VILE or at least the white juice stuff.

Happy Easter!

Acornmoon said...

tell those ducks to continue keeping a low profile!

Tess Kincaid said...

The dandies are out here, too. I have sweet memories of helping my grandmother gather dandelion greens in rural Indiana. She stewed them on the stove.

Cloudia said...

Carrying on with a wonderful life of the mind & land.

those strolling ducks are now in my head....not unpleasant on a Spring Day.

Fond Aloha from Honolulu

Comfort Spiral




Gwil W said...

When we were kids we used to collect dandelion leaves for our pet rabbits.

Rachel Phillips said...

An infusion of dandelion leaves make a great liver cleanser. Pick some leaves and put them in a teapot as if making tea. Allow to brew and then drink. So if you think you need a detox now is the time.

Dave King said...

As enthralling and instructive as ever. Always a special treat to come here.

Rarelesserspotted said...

I try not to spray anything, always prefer weeding by hand and of course, it's very difficult, despite trying very hard, to get all of the dandelion tap root out. It's just become a sort of spring routine now.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you for the comments. I had forgotten that we used to eat dandelion leaves in salads - i might just try a cup of dandelion leaf tea - and the wine sounds good too.

Crafty Green Poet said...

When we had a rabbit, we collected dandelions for her and we did have quite an effect on keeping one local patch of grass relatively dendelion free!

Janet said...

Flourishing dandelions are a sign of calcium deficiency in the soil so possibly a dressing of lime whould help to suppress them - in my experience, though nothing does!! I love, on the other hand, to see the drifts of dandelions under the trees in all the apple orchards around this area!