Monthly Archives: August 2009

Harvest Festival

Harvest Festival used to be celebrated at the beginning of the Harvest Season on 1st August.  It used to be called Lammas which means ‘loaf mass’

[ad#125x125square]Farmers made loaves of bread from the new wheat crop and gave them to their local Church.  These loaves were then used as the communion bread during a special mass thanking God for the harvest.

This custom ended when Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic church.  Today we have the harvest festival at the end of the season.

At the start of the harvest villages would appoint a respected man as the ‘Lord of the Harvest’.  He would negotiage the harvest wages and organise the field workeers.

At the end of harvest there was a big meal called The Harvest Supper.  This was to celebrate the end of harvest.  It was eaten on Michaelmass Day.  The ‘Lord of the Harvest’ sat at the head of the table.  A goose was eaten along with many vegetables.  Goose Fairs are still held in English towns at this time of year.

Harvest Festivals as we know them today started in 1843.  Rev. Hawker at Morwenstow in Cornwall invited local people to a special thanksgiving service for the harvest.

Hymns such as WE PLOUGH THE FIELDS AND SCATTER and ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL are two of the hymns that are sung at Harvest Festivals.  The idea of Harvest Festivals spread as did the custom of decorating our churches with home grown produce.

Ways to stop bird food blowing off a bird table

Wind is blowing bird food off the bird table.

To stop this happening I coat the  bird seed in melted lard.  The melted lard makes the bird food stick together – a little, not a lot.  This method keeps it on the bird table,  not  in a fatball  but just makes it heavy enough not to be blown away.

[ad#125x125square]A second way to stop  bird food blowing off a bird table is  put a small container on the birdtale and put the bird food inside the container

Does anyone have any other tips on how to stop  bird seed  food blowing off a bird table


I find it annoying that bird food I’ve bought and paid for goes blowing away in the wind which is why I go to the trouble of stopping it happening.

Another good thing about coating the bird seed with lard is that it gives the birds an extra feed – they get bird food and fat as well!

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-08-30

  • Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-08-23 #
  • A reader has dug some shrubs up and sparrows are not coming to her garden now. She feels a bit guilty and misses the birds. Any suggestions #
  • It has been windy and the bird seed is blowing off the table. Mixed some melted lard and bird seed together and put it on bird table. #
  • A reader’s bird food Nyjer seed has germinated and she has 3ft tall plants growing. Will she get seed from these plants? #
  • RT @farmerpaula
    Hope the ancient woodland will live on. It can’t be replaced. #
  • RT @topveg #
  • RT @farminfriends #
  • Early Morning Bird Feeding #
  • Watching a thrush fly onto my birdtable through the cane garden poles around my birdtable. Canes are there to stop crows and it’s worked! #
  • Have just been out and filled up the ground feeder and the bird table. It’s very busy at Bird Table Cafe! #
  • This is one of the birds I’m getting at my feeders. #
  • RT @TopVeg: getting to grips with tweetdeck…..hopefully #
  • @Bluefinch @birdspots Am getting to know Twitter. Have just seen you note to me. thanks. Very interesting in reply to Bluefinch #
  • @parkrunner Hi, I’m just getting to know Twitter and have just seen this note you sent. Thanks. Glad you took time to watch the swallows in reply to parkrunner #
  • Putting bird food out today and a blackbird zoomed to the ground very close to me. Unafraid he turned his head to look straight at me. #
  • Wind is blowing bird food off the bird table. I coat the seed in melted lard – that keeps it on the bird table. Has anyone any other tips #
  • Sea Eagle Bird #
  • @purplepigphoto Hi, In England house sparrows are declining. I put loads of bird food out and am glad sparrows are there to eat the food in reply to purplepigphoto #
  • Harvest 2009 #
  • A farm hen got into the garden. I watched as the farm hen and a wild thrush pottered about on the grass together! #

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Harvest 2009

Harvest 2009

Harvest 2009

We’ve been busy harvesting the corn.  We have barley which we keep and feed to the stock.
We have wheat corn that we sell.
It’s a constant battle against the weather because the corn cannot be wet when it is harvested. 
Corn can be put through a corn dryer but (but not when it is really wet as it clogs the dryer).  Putting it through a dryer costs money and  corn prices (the price we are paid for corn) are very low this year
We had a good dry week and all the corn is in.
We have corn storage sheds where we can store corn and sell it at different times of the year. Some farmers don’t have storage sheds and have to sell the corn straight after harvest – when the price may be really low.
We keep the straw to bed up our calves, cattle and other stock.  This means after the harvest we are busy baling the straw into large round bales which we  bring back to the farm on tractors and trailers stack in the fields.  We  use straw every day throught out the winter to make sure the stock have a good straw bedding when they are inside in the sheds.
Crops seem to have yielded well but there is not much straw in among the crops.  We have  to buy so much straw in every year as we don’t have enough of our own.  This straw is dear to buy.
Now harvest has finished  I’m don’t have to do meals late at night when The Husband comes in from being on the combine all day. 
The extra weekend working has finished now.  We still have to milk the cows twice every day, but things have quietened down.

Sea Eagle Bird

In Scotland figures show that there have been 28 confirmed cases of illegal pesticides being used and killing birds of prey, 

Also in Scotland 42 poisoned baits which have been set illegally were found.

The RSPB say that the killings remained unacceptably high (the figures were lower than previous figures)

Some  Sea Eagles nests have been examined and the contents of the nest noted  over the past two years.  This was done by Members of the Outer Hebrides Bird Group.  Remains found in nests were

  • fulmars
  • mountain hare
  • puffin
  • short eared owl
  • raven
  • red deer
  • gannets
  • fragments of lambs

 Local farmers have blamed the reintroduction of the Sea Eagle as being the cause of the loss of 200 lambs. 

In February a spokesman from the RSPB said they

‘aim to get to the root of the problem’ …..  as to why farmers have lost 200 lambs   ‘we need to know the causes of that’


I will look and see if I can find out if the  RSPB have got to the root of the problem as to why 200 lambs  have disappeared


Migration is a hazardous time and many birds die from starvation, in storms and from exhaustion.

European swallows spend the winter in three different areas  –

  • Africa – south of the Sahara
  • Arabia
  • Indian sub-continent

Swallows take different migration routes depending on which area they are flying to and from.  This may explain why some areas of Britain have seen a drastic decline in swallow numbers and in other areas swallow numbers have remained static.  Could it be because some  migration routes have been safer/ easier  than others

When flying over areas such as the Sahara Desert they could easily starve during the flight.

Swallows –

  • Put on little weight before they start to migrate
  • Cover 200 miles a day
  • Fly mainly during the day.
  • They fly at speeds of 17-22 miler per hous.
  • Their highest flight speed is 35 miles per hour.

 I have found this British Trust for Ornithology website page.  The page  was last updated on 28th November 2008.  It may be worthwhile if every person logs all their swallow  details

Here’s hoping they have a good flight back from whence they came.


Swallow at rest in England

Swallow at rest in England


Dear Readers,

If you click on the Garden Bird Supplies image  it will  open the door to a wonderful  Garden Bird Supplies Shop.

You can browse at your leisure

Garden Bird Supplies Bird Food is recommended by Chris Packam

It is great to have bird food or bird feeders delivered to your door

Why not take a look





Dear Father, hear and bless
Thy beasts and singing birds,
And guard with tenderness
Small things that have no words



Little things that run and quail
and die in silence and despair;

Little things that fight and fail
and fall on sea and earth and air;

All trapped and frightened little things,
The mouse, the coney, hear our prayer:

As we forgive those done to us,
The lamb, the linnet, and the hare,

Forgive us all our trespasses,
Little creatures everywhere

James Stephens


Aren’t these two poems / prayers lovely?

Early Morning Bird Feeding

I put all the bird food out early this morning.  There were some sparrows looking for food on the empty feeders before I put the food out

Sometimes if a ‘sparrow’ is only in my sight for a second and I can’t tell if it’s a dunnock or  a sparrow.   I really must learn how to  quickly see the difference between a sparrow and a dunnock.

But then again, maybe it doesn’t matter that I get a bit confused between birds sometimes.  Someone once said you can know the name of every bird but not understand a thing about them.  At least I understand that it helps them if I feed them!

It’s a lovely morning here.  The breeze is light and fresh.  The world hasn’t really woken up yet.  There is still the feeling that the day is fresh and the birds, wildlife, the wind, the sun and all the plants, hedges and trees are important to this world – and we aren’t!

I bought some bird food yesterday. Stil haven’t told The Husband.  I bought two big bags (it’s cheaper that way and it lasts longer ) yesterday.  I lugged them from the car boot to the two black dustbins where I keep the bird food.   Slammed the lids on them.  Decided I’d find the right time to tell him – but things on the farm have been hectic. so I haven’t been able to find the right time.

Combine broke down, we had to round up some heifers and move them from their field because they had eaten all the grass.  There is still the milking to do twice a day inbetween this busy harvest time.  So I haven’t found time to tell him yet that I’ve bought two big bags of bird food.   But putting the bird food out and watching the sparrows, dunnocks (?), blackbirds, bluetits, great tits and chaffinches flying about near the feeders like a group of acrobats at a circus made me think I’d done the right thing in buying the bird food.

I’ll go and get my breakfast now.  Have a good day.  Make the most of this day – it won’t come again!




The feathers of birds do get  worn, damaged and discoloured.  Birds need to be in pristine condition to see them through the long winter which, to birds, is just round the corner.

It takes –

  • A certain amount of time to grow new feathers
  • A certain amount of protein to grow new feathers

Which is why a lot of birds grow new feathers in one go.

Birds are moulting now.  It is amazing how they fit in with nature.

August is the best time for birds to moult because –

  • The weather is warm.
  • Birds need warm weather when they moult because fewer feathers means they cannot keep as warm – and also means they do not have much energy.
  • If they moulted earlier it may be colder for birds
  • If they moulted earlier   they would not have enough energy to  feed their young and  moult at the same time
  • Birds are vulnerable when they are moulting so they shelter during the day.  This is a good time of year for them to shelter – when the young have fledged and they only have themselves to feed.

So birds moult when the weather is warm and when breeding has ended.

So the gardens may seem quiet – but it will still help many birds if we put bird food out.

[ad#125x125square]As the scruffy moulting birds appear at the feeders we’ll know we’re giving them a helping hand and after they have eaten their fill at the bird tables they will hop into a hedge, shelter and rest – and prepare to be at their best and fittest to face the coming winter

So the seasons progress and birds (along with other wildlife) have learnt the only way to survive is to fit in with the seasons.

We are removed from the seasons in a lot of ways.  I wonder if we lose something by not being connected to nature.

It is really amazing how they know that August is a good time to moult and how the different seasons give them  different challenges in their  lives!

So don’t forget to put bird food out – it will help.