Cold Feet

Cast you minds back, to November and I’ll tell you the adventure of a bold, but not very bright bird. Primrose the chicken.

Dusk arrived early, and the role call of chickens showed we had a problem.  Primrose was missing.

We called the neighbours, searched their gardens, scoured the lane by touch light, looked in the shrubs and bushes,  all to no avail.  Eventually we had to conclude she might have been picked off by a fox, who, made bold by hunger, made twilight strike, or she had gone broody and gone off somewhere to make a nest.  We called off the search.

It was bonfire night, rockets streaked across the night sky scattering glittering stars in their wake,  Spud the dog shifted uneasily in his bed.  Eventually all fell quiet, and then the rain came by the bucketful pounding on the roof in the small hours.

At first light, Mr Uphilldowndale went out to resume the search, to be honest he was expecting to find a drift of feathers somewhere nearby.

He couldn’t find anything. However, he could hear something.  Cluuuuccckaaaa, Chahhhaaa, Cluck! But where was it coming from?

As befits the start of a pantomime ‘It’s behind you!’ he turned on his heels to find…

Cold feet 2-0942

Can you see in the bulrushes, in the middle of the field pond? Oh you silly bird.

Cold feet-0939

She’d been standing, up to he knees (do chickens have knees?) in the water, all night.

Mr Uphilldowndale gallantly went in , braving chilly waters and slippery pond liner to get her*.  If you’d like to see how he got on, pop over to the video.

We took her into the kitchen to warm up. She can’t have had much sleep she kept nodding off in Mr Uphilldowndales arms.

Cold feet 3-0943

we don’t know why she was there, she will flap and fly a little, especially if startled.  She obviously didn’t have sufficient ‘runway’ to make her way back again.

* I think I’d have built a bridge, I’ve never been fond of cold water.

Thirty days wild. June 20th

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_20


The best thing that you can do for nature is too make it part of your life. That’s why we’re asking thousands of people to make room for nature in their everyday lives this June. Please spread the word amongst friends, colleagues and family and get them to sign up, too! After all, all our lives are better if they’re a bit wild… ‘

I’ve signed up to 30 Days Wild with the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust,  with the aim of blogging each day, a little bit of the nature of my world.


It rained a lot yesterday and cold too, we even felt the need to put the heating back on. The twentieth of June for goodness sake.  By now I was hoping for some  Leisure time watching dragon and damselflies by the pond, whilst sat in sunshine. But it hasn’t happened yet.  Even the bees weren’t hanging around very long.

iris bee

Out on a Limb

Move over the frogs, the toads are coming to a pond near you…

toad swiming_

It was impossible to count, but I’m sure there must have been over a hundred. When we came home at dusk on Thursday night we had to abandon the car in the drive, we couldn’t have driven on without squashing them, they arriving from  every direction. I wonder how they know which direction to head.

Toads pond

They had no qualms about being disturbed  by humans or dogs. Spud just jumped in

Spud swimming with toads

And joined those looking for love

beautiful toad eyes _

This one was climbing back out, job done I suppose.

toad climbing_

It sat in the sun for quite a while,

toad grden

it was a very sunny day, I was getting a bit worried it might need some factor 50 sun cream, that skin  looks delicate.

I spotted one with only three legs. I wondered if it was a birth defect, or if it had lost a limb in some toady trauma. It amazes me how animals can seem to manage such an injury.

toad three legs_

It seemed to be coping just fine (and no, it didn’t swim round in circles).

Fish Supper

Given that the tea order maxed out at seven during the installation of the ground source heat pump, you’ll appreciate there has been more folk  milling around the place than usual. Which is probably how Dodger the kitten cat was spotted by one of the guys, nonchalantly strolling along by the pond, with a fish tail dangling out of his mouth, the tail was still flapping! Something we’d never seen before.

It seems, unbeknownst to us he is a bit of a fisherman, and that the biggest ones don’t always get away. 

fishing cat_

When I found a dead fish by the pond a few weeks ago, I’d blamed the heron (sorry heron) This is the closest I’ve got to catching Dodger in action.


fishing cat 2

There are a lot of fish in this pond, I’m not sure I could stop Dodger from his antics, and I suppose  he’s never going to manage as much carnage as mother nature did a few years ago.

Buds, Birds and Blue Sky.

Darling buds of March seems a little premature and the frosty mornings have served as a little reminder that it is still early in the season. But we shall make the most of what we have. It’s beautiful.

Buds and blue sky-1

Spud has been getting hot and bothered, yesterday whilst Tom and I were sat by the pond, he took a cooling dip, and swam right through the gloopy remnant’s of the ‘frog spawn jelly’ before clambering out.  And what do dogs do when they get out of water? They shake. Bleuughhhhh SPUD! You revolting dog!

Spud on Sunday Part LXVII

Spud has had a high old time this afternoon, for it seems spring has arrived in the pond. There has been much croaking and splashing around going on.

frog search 5-1

I could find the cause, with a softly, softly sort of approach. But Springer spaniels are not built for stealth. Crashing around in the undergrowth is what it is all about.

frog search-1 

Interestingly he wasn’t for leaping in, in his usual style, just wading in the shallows.

frog search 1-1

Then he went for a better look, leaping on to the floating island; this is something that started out 10 years ago, when we built the pond as a couple of sheets of polystyrene, stitched into a piece of pond lining fabric, which has now been colonised  to such an extent it has its own eco system including a couple of young willow trees and drifts up and down the pond at the whim of the prevailing wind.

frog search 3-1

However it isn’t very stable, Spud wisely decided it was not the place for a bit of frog spotting, and made a giant leap for dogkind to get ashore. We were impressed he made it.

frog search 4-1

Spud on Sunday Part LVIV

Spud is having a Sunday off,  actually he’s had most of the week off, it has been half term holiday for the boys, and whilst Spud has had much to entertain him there have been no big adventures (he even managed to come back from getting his coat trimmed in reasonable shape) everyone has been chillin. So for those needing a weekly fix of all things canine, take a look at some sub aqua dogs, photographed by Seth Casteel



There are plenty more to view on his website too and you can buy a print if you so wish.


I’d love to bring you such a photo of Spud, but I doubt the visibility is as good as this in the garden pond

Call Off the Search

We’ve looked high and low, checked and double checked the barn, the shed, the stable, even  considered dredging the pond. Dandy the cat has been absent without leave since Wednesday morning.

In yer face

He is sixteen years old and getting rather geriatric in his ways, he’s not been further than a couple of yards from the back door for months. He’s never missed a meal in all those sixteen years, his routine is eat, sleep litter tray; eat, sleep litter tray. So you can see why we were worried. He’s got himself into mischief before and frankly we thought he’d done that cat thing of going off to die.

So when I returned home this evening and found him sat in the porch demanding to be fed, I was both surprised and  delighted and scooped him up to take him indoors to delight  Spud, Tom, Joe and Mr Uhphilldowndale.  Maybe, as Inspector Gadget had already suggested (he knows about finding lost things) Dandy was off out and about soothing his old bones in the warmest September/October weather in the UK for over two decades* We will probably never know, I’m just glad he’s home, and if he could mange in future, to keep his bottom inside the litter tray, I’d be especially pleased.


*18C at 8am, 25.5C this afternoon, it feels quite tropical this evening, what with the early, swift sunset, very odd, well odd for the UK