Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Stealth chicken

Over the years many chickens have enjoyed the free range lifestyle around Campbell’s Cottage. Once in a while we would lose one or two to a fox but just recently there has been a spate of attacks. Betty the brown one, Mo the large white, Flo the small white and Maisy and Daisy, two new ones, who lasted just 24 hours. That leaves just Jo, the large black one. What is the secret of her success? Is she coated in some sort of protective veneer like a stealth bomber invisible to radar? 

For the time being we have decided not to fight nature and to take a break from keeping chickens – we are sorry for any disappointment this causes. We will look after Jo as best we can, being extra vigilant to make sure she gets locked up early on dull or misty evenings. She seems happy enough to be on her own and positively pleased to be rid of the newcomers, Maisy and Daisy. 

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Lamb wedged in arrow slit

Lamb wedged in arrow slit
You never know what you will find when you take the dog for a walk. This morning's excitement was a young lamb stuck in an arrow slit. Just as well for the lamb that Molly was on her lead.

The arrow slits were added to the 16th century house in the 1960s by Colonel Campbell.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Father’s Day – a muddy treat in Snowdonia

Sunday 17th June is Father’s Day and also the Snowdonia Society’s Dry Stone Walling Competition at Hafod y Llan. I don’t think those stones are going to be very dry and conditions underfoot might be a bit sticky. This is what it looks like in good weather:

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Mighty wood mice

Another fine mess you've got us into
Galvanised bins are great for keeping chicken feed dry and safe from hungry creatures. A couple of times I found the lid on the floor and thought Sue was being a bit careless with the corn. Yesterday I caught the squirrel in the shed and twigged what was going on, so I placed a wooden sledge on top of the lid.

This morning both the sledge and lid were on the floor but the squirrel was nowhere to be seen, instead two rather bloated wood mice were wishing they’d brought a ladder. I scooped them out in a cardboard box and secured the bin with a chain. If there are wire cutters on the floor tomorrow .....

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Gravity Train & Triple Hunslet

Last night I saw a gravity train go down the line in the pouring rain, with a passenger vainly sheltering beneath a windswept brolly, and today floods near Aberystwyth were top item on the news. But tonight the rain had stopped and the wind had dropped – cue swarming midges. A triple Hunslet pulled up the longest gravity train I’ve ever seen and this is what it looked like at Campbell’s Platform:

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The big yellow bird

The drive to Campbell’s Cottage takes you steeply through pristine nature reserve giving a bird’s eye view into the trees. First time visitors are a bit pre-occupied with negotiating hairpins and ignoring the steep cliffs so they sometimes miss some of our specialities. Right now it’s a busy time for the pied flycatchers feeding their chicks. There are lots of nesting boxes but I always prefer to watch them in a natural nest. This short film clip below shows a nest near the bottom hairpin.

I suspect it’s not that big inside; last year I watched a squirrel race away from my car into the hole, where it froze, with its tail hanging out like a bell pull.

Back up at Campbell’s Cottage there was a big yellow bird in the sky; mountain rescue in operation. It went to and fro in front of the northern slopes of the Rhinogydd for about twenty minutes. Must have been a tricky retrieval.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Campbell's Grass Snake

Moth pretending to be a birch twig
You never know what you might see at Campbell’s Cottage.

Wild goats are old hat and just recently a family of tawny owls has been keeping us awake. A bank vole has been feeding at the bird table which explains why we’ve been seeing stoats.

And in the greenhouse the other day a massive grass snake at least three feet long. If you think I’m exaggerating have a look at this film clip.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Ottery St Mary to twin with Maentwrog?

In the last two years we have had three families from Ottery St Mary come to stay at Campbell’s Cottage. Is this a massive coincidence or is it part of an advance party to establish a formal twinning arrangement with Maentwrog?

This is part of what the latest ‘Ottregians’ had to say in the guest book: ‘The cottage cosy and homely. The garden so pretty and peaceful. Jo and Flo (chickens), love them to bits. The wildlife, just to sit and watch, wonderful. Campbell’s Platform, on the bench reading and watching the trains go by. Snowdonian scenery, breathtaking.’