Thursday, 27 June 2013

Huginn and Muginn the orchard crows

In the afternoons a pair of crows often come to visit me in the orchard. They don't come too close but they hang around in the hope of being able to nick something and from time to time they have been fairly successful managing to steal some of my lunch when it's been left unattended wrapped only in plastic.

I've nicknamed them Huginn and Muginn after Oden's ravens and I find them vastly entertaining.

Today I succumbed to their charms, crumbled a scone and threw it for them. Huginn was first in gathering up as much as possible before flying off to who knows where, Muginn repeated the exercise and all was well until the magpie appeared.

Huggin and Muggin quickly saw the magpie off  but then another pair of crows appeared and while Huginn and Muginn chased them away the magpie dived in and got himself some tasty morsels.

I was so amused by these corvid shenanigans that I confess to donating another scone to the participants, I expect I'll come to regret my generosity should I find myself mobbed by crows!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The East of England Apples and Orchards Project

 The East of England Apples and Orchards Project (EEAOP) is a not-for-profit voluntary group that is working to ensure a future of orchards and orchard fruits within Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

 There are around 250 local varieties of apple, pear, plum and cherry with historical links to the East of England and EEAOP are working not only to ensure that these varieties survive but also become more popular in the region.

To find out more about the East of England Apples and Orchards Project please visit their website:

Thursday, 20 June 2013


If you've been out and about at all this month you've probably noticed the buttercups. This year has probably been the best year for buttercups ever, certainly in my memory. I don't think I've ever seen so many.

Although delightful to look at and play the traditional "Do you like butter" game with, they are also poisonous to humans and just about every grazing animal.

All of the ranunculus species of plants contain an irritant substance which causes protoanemonin poisoning you can find out more about buttercup poisoning here. Although the article is aimed at horse owners the information is interesting.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Cow Parsley ~ Anthriscus Sylvestris

Anthriscus Sylvestris 

Cow Parsley

Wild Chervil

Queen Anne's Lace

It's everywhere during May and June, in the hedgerows, at the roadside, in the neglected orchard. Beginning to go over now, going to seed. My maternal Grandmother would never let us pick it to place in jam jars on the table, she called it Break Your Mother's Heart and said it was bad luck to have it in the house...

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Lingering Apple Blossom

The Orchard Year 's little Blossom Festival / Virtual Blossom Tour / Blossom Walk has been over for a while now but the odd blossom or two always linger  long after the rest has dropped. Surprisingly this late in June there is the occasional blossom bud still to be found amongst the emerging apples.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Apple Streusel Flan

Here's a weekend bake for you and yes you can still get British grown Bramley apples for this even in June!

I'm just going to tell you about the filling, you'll need a blind baked 7" pastry flan case, whether you make it yourself from shortcrust pastry or use a bought one is up to you.

1lb cooking apples
2ozs sultanas
2ozs caster sugar

1oz plain flour
1/2oz butter
1/2 teaspoon mixed spices
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2oz demerara sugar

Your oven needs to be preheated to Gas mark 5, 190 degrees C, 375 degrees F

1.Peel and slice the apples and heat them gently in a saucepan with the sultanas and caster sugar stirring until they begin to break down.

2.Make the streusel crumb topping by mixing together the flour, cinnamon, and sugar taking a little butter at a time rub into the flour mixture. Keep rubbing until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. 
3.Put the apple mixture into the pre-baked flan case and top with the streusel crumb topping.
4.Place on a baking tray and cook in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes until the crumb topping is golden and the apple mixture bubbling.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Natrix Natrix ~ Grass Snake in the Orchard

For some bizarre reason when I saw the snake on the track my first thought was that someone had placed a rubber snake there!

I stopped and looked and slowly it dawned upon me that the snake's tongue was moving. About the same time as I realized I was looking at a grass snake, the grass snake realized I was there and slithered off the track into the longer grass.

Great sighting, probably the closest I've ever been to Natrix Natrix the largest species of British snake.

Image (sadly not my own I never seem to have the camera on me at moments like this)  © Copyright John S Turner and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Another Orchard Pig

I've spoken of pigs in the orchard before and now I'd like to introduce you to another, this is Hugo the Kune Kune. Handsome chap isn't he?

"The Kunekune pig, originally kept by Maoris in New Zealand, are friendly hairy pigs born in a variety of colours.
It is the smallest domesticated breed of pig in the world, a firm favourite among pet pig owners, due to its placid friendly nature and love of human company. Small scale pig breeders enjoy its ease of management and ability to thrive on grass." ~ The British Kune Kune Pig Society You can learn more about Kunekune pigs by visiting their articles page.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Tiny Plums

June and proof that pollination took place amongst the plum blossom

the tiniest of baby plums.