Thursday, February 24, 2005

The woodpecker has landed

I woke to see a woodpecker on our bird feeder this morning. It really shocked me. The weather has been continually snowy and, judging by the number of bird varieties flocking to our feeders, it's been a hard time for my avian friends.

It just shows how much difference a week can make in the bird world. Word (or chirpy gossip) really has got round. No longer do I only have a robin and blue/great tit community. There was a greenfinch, a nuthatch, starlings, long-tailed tits (what i originally thought were wagtails) and blackbirds. It really is a lovely sight to behold.

Apparently now that I've started feeding them though, I'm not allowed to stop (so says the peanut packet). Something akin to chain letters and the fear of death, or simply that the birds will come to depend on me for food. I won't stop feeding them though. I've bought seeds (got blue and grey tits), moved on to peanuts and suet in a coconut (got all the rest). Even if i have to start buying frozen mice for the golden eagles that will ultimately descend on my patch I'll keep buying the food. I imagine it's something like drug addiction only with bird species: start with coffee, and before you know it you're buying heroin in the dirty bogs of the Prince George, just to get the bigger, better feeling.

Roll on albatross. I'll have mackerel waiting for you.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Flatpacked seed storage

For one reason or another, I've been deluged with seeds this year. As always when I have too much stuff, I try and offload it onto my parents. And, like good parents they've happily agreed. Yes I'm a bad person, but when you have no cupboards, someone has to look after your old Transformer toys. And no, I will never get rid of my Optimus Prime!

So I've had the joyous task of finding a way to send seeds through the post. And what was the answer? An origami seed packet! I've dabbled in origami before - you could say, in equivalent terms to Karate, that I've reached my yellow belt. I'm quite adept at dealing with super-complicated, half-described, not-very-well-illustrated diagrams. But of course, the plan for this little seed packet came from my seed club's catalogue, which was borrowing it from a Swedish seed club. BORROWING ORIGAMI INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE LAND OF IKEA??!! What was this little British seed club thinking? For eight manoeuvres there was a massive offering of two diagrams?!

Even so, I muddled through and managed to make one after about five attempts. I even got quite proficient in the task, and I can now knock one up in a matter of seconds. So Mum and Dad will be getting lots of little seed packets sent to them soon. And I might even make the envelope to put them in.

Lots of origami seed packets.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The wellies have arrived!

Much to the complete disbelief of many colleagues at work, their contributions to my birthday fund were wisely spent on a pair of wellies. But why wellies? one asked. Because I've been digging a vegetable plot, I replied. Why are you digging a vegetable plot? he asked. Because I quite like gardening, I replied. You have a garden? he asked. Yes I have a garden, I replied. You live in Crystal Palace and have a garden? he asked. Yes, there are such things in Crystal Palace, I replied.

Needless to say, he was and very much still is, a moron. But I don't care, because I'm now the proud owner of these beauties

And I'd wear them to work if they weren't covered in mud, simply because I love them so!

Friday, February 18, 2005

Cat trail

In a moment of great awareness this morning, I realised that, just like the way sheep cut thin trails across hillsides, cats have cut a thin path across our garden. As shown in the illustration, just to the right of the yellow dashes you'll see a dark line running from top to bottom.

Cats must have been walking that route since the Iron Age to cut such a furrow. I wonder if Tony Robinson would be interested?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Tits, 'tails and 'peckers

Despite my efforts, it seems the only birds that like my seeds are a pair of great tits. This was reaffirmed by my eloquent and ever concise girlfriend who gets to watch them from her workdesk. 'There's a pair of great tits on your nuts,' she wrote in typically witty fashion this morning.

I'm not disheartened by this though. We've heard a woodpecker drilling on a tree at the end of my garden, we've seen pied wagtails flitting about happy as larry, and as I've said before, there's a lovely pair of robins that keeps us company. There are many species out there doing ok. The only problem is that I want to provide them with food.

My bird family should be ship shape and podgy with fat, just like my cat, but it feels like I'm trying to cook the sunday dinner from hell: each child likes only one, differing vegetable; there's a vegan coming over to dine; and one of your friends has a starch intolerence so you can't cook roast potatoes.

But still, maybe with a bit of planning next year I'll be able to satisfy all the little birds in the garden. However, I do have a nagging suspicion that they'll just love any seeds I might plant in my veg plot.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Spade heaven

Birthdays come but once a year, but gardening-linked birthday presents in droves.

There once was a time when i'd receive all manner of music-related products for my birthday, even down to the cards - who knows where mum managed to find all those images depicting a sorrowful cello and a vase of flowers. Then it was art. I'd get pencils and pads galore, and of course, cards depicting palettes and easels.

Then I reached the grand old age of 27 and I was immediately deluged with gardening-related products. I heartily welcomed this new era into my life, and even found myself pointing to objects on the gardening birthday cards: "Oh look, yes that's my spade, and even my trowel - what a lovely card!"

But this was a GOOD year for presents. A new spade that doesn't weigh a tonne; leather gloves that smell just like garden gloves ought to, and the best is yet to arrive; a pair of dashing wellies to really woo the girls in the nearby allotments.

And then there's the seed present: membership to an organic seed company that promotes unusual and ancient seed cultivation! In one fell birthday swoop, I've got the means and goods to make a fully stocked vegetable patch.

My life really is complete.

My delicious gloves!