News from the farm December 2022
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A flock of 300 wild geese seem to enjoy the stubble fields, and the occasional splash in our new wetlands
In amongst a variety of wildlife and land oriented interests as a youngster I had a bit of an obsession with deer. My interest found homes in school biology projects (examining gut contents for a study on roe deer feeding preferences, much to the disgust of others in the biology department!), summer holiday jobs and university dissertations alongside rather a lot of skulking around the countryside at dawn and dusk. I also ate up as many books as I could find on the subject.
One author I much enjoyed at the time and whose books I have returned to at various points since was Lea McNally. An old (but still very valid) school naturalist who for the last 20 years or so of his working life was the ranger for the National Trust for Scotland in Torridon. He was a man deeply embedded in the natural life of the hills, with an enormous knowledge of and love for the wildlife of those places including the red deer. He embodied the dichotomy of the hill man, both culling deer and loving them. He was also an accomplished wildlife photographer and as a teenager I was fortunate to go along to a talk he gave on his life and experiences, illustrated with his own images. My only clear memory of that evening now, aside from the gentle character of the man, was one slide he put up of a yellow broom flower, a common enough sight around the countryside, with the explanation that one of the pleasures of getting older was that he had to stop more often as he climbed the hills, and in the stopping there was time to notice the details. Such as the beauty of an individual broom blossom.
It’s curious that that comment lodged and echoed over the decades while his tales of deer that fed my obsession faded. In the years since I have often caught myself remembering those words and halting a step to the next thing while I look for the details of life where I am. It’s often a plant or a bird, but even when there’s nothing, there’s always something and it’s invariably beautiful and always interesting. It feels like asking someone ‘how are you?’ and, instead of expecting the answer ‘fine thanks’, meeting their eyes and for a moment, knowing something about them. We’re enormously fortunate at the farm to have an ever increasing diversity of life to see and enjoy as the farmland and habitats continuously evolve and develop. Each new species sighting or new flush of abundance brings it’s own thrill and puts a bounce in my step. But as this year comes to its close and, perhaps because during it I passed one of those accumulation of years milestones, my aim for the year to come is to stop and look more things around here in the eye and, for a moment, know them better. I will though hope for a more positive response to my attempts to ‘connect' than a wood pigeon I was watching here received this week. A large flock of pink footed geese were feeding on one of the stubble fields and when they lifted and flew off a pigeon joined their formation travelling for some distance in synchrony until, flying a little close below one goose, a long neck stretched down to deliver a rather rude mid-air rebuke and the pigeon hurriedly broke formation! Suitably entertained, knowing a little more about geese and with binoculars returned to my pocket, it was back to gathering the sheep.
And talking of the end of the year, the December order form is now updated and online. You can find all the info on the order form. Orders can either be collected at the farm AB33 8LL on Friday 23rd December between 11am to 2pm, or can be delivered to your home on Thursday 22nd December (to certain areas only). Because we expect to have a very busy delivery day, everyone choosing to collect their order at the farm, will not just make us very grateful, but will also receive a free freshly baked pie and a hot drink at the farm on Friday 23rd December!!
As ever please get in touch if you have any queries.
Laurel & SaMDecember 2022 Order Form