The Stockhouse is a cabin in a reed bed built for our “Stock” , the stock being any wildlife living on, or passing through our 30 acres. The floor of the Stockhouse has numerous gaps so that the reeds will eventually fill the cabin. I have incorporated as many nooks and crannies as could be fitted and the horizontal boards will support the vertical reeds making a stable environment for nest building. Most of the wood used for the construction of Stockhouse are left-overs from previous projects, like rebuilding the house roof, old fencing posts, and bits of discarded sculpture.
We have had a long warm summer and the change to darker and damper weather should be expected and even welcomed. But it is hard to witness the decline in numbers of bees and the tailing off of the harvest of fresh beans. We have been planting out more and more of the blue Devils Bit Scabious as this plant brings a welcome supply of nectar in early autumn and hums with insects well into October.
The House Martins are still very much with us with one brood still to fledge. The dampness has increased the number of flying insects and flocks of Martins are swooping and twittering over the house. We are maintaining a daily swim in the pond and each time could be the last as it is nippy. Swimming up to five times a day in the very hot weather while watching pond life is a top Blaen Cwm Cadifor activity. We found this dead mole while walking back up the field to the house.
Our largest pond is big enough to encourage the proliferation of Toads and although the cold spring froze much of the frogspawn in the small pond, the toad-spawn was in deeper water and survived. From then on, the wonderfully warm April and May sunshine made the spawn hatch and grow at a pace and the metamorphosed toadlets left the water on the 8th and 9th of June.
For around nine months of the year a stream flows from a spring, down past the house and between the meadows and finally entering Gwenffrud, the major steam in the cwm that eventually flows into the Teifi. We have diverted one of our walkways to take in and run along side part of the little stream as it is so full of interest.
December has been mostly overcast and damp but as soon as the Solstice passed, a song thrush took to singing in a tall ash tree and a nuthatch has been sending shivering calls around and about the house. From out in front of the house I have taken some photos showing the wide range of winter light:- late afternoon snow, early morning mist and late afternoon sunset. As ever I have tried to make as many christmas cards as I could and some were failures. Here are three, the Salted Fish, the Bat and the Moth all consuming pints of glitter glue.
It is the beginning of November and I have propelled myself into starting several schemes. I have made three Bat Boxes for outdoors, all with interior compartments. Our Pigsty is being converted into a wildlife friendly building, shelter for birds and beasts. (more of that in the next titbit).
Autumn brings long nights of full moons and insects attracted by artificial light. Enormous House Spiders fall into the bath and we start the delight of a regular evening open fire.
One outdoor plan is to cast stepping stones in concrete but I have got a bit distracted by adding colour and texture to the mix and these twmps remain purely decorative.
2017 has seen a big increase in the number of butterflies in the cwm. The four pictured here are the Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, Tortoiseshell, and Comma. I am very ignorant about identifying moths and plan to learn more next year. The photo of the green "bridge" is I think, the Peppered Moth caterpillar. The chrysalis is that of the Elephant Hawk Moth pictured in the previous Titbit.
We have been transplanting birch trees this month and found the voracious, aggressive American Sawfly larvae stripping a sapling of leaves.
For four years now, to my delight, the lizards are still living in the sculpture titled "Wasp Loft".
September has been wet and cool, the streams are full and we have had plenty of big arching rainbows across the cwm. An annual prickly job is the pruning of the holly hedge which is eight foot across and eight feet high on one side. It adjoins the public footpath and takes the two of us two days to cut with shears.
Our last ever Art Trail is over and the near silence of unselfconscious life can happily settle back in the cwm. The Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar is turning black as a sign of wanting to pupate. Its life of munching willow herb is over and next year it will become a pretty pink and green moth. Frog is poised on the edge of a bucket and the Palmate Newt is moving side to side over the surface of a cast iron bird. Fox is about to leap on something hidden in the grass. It turned out to be only three or four mouthfuls worth.
Maurice and Wendy are taking part in the Ceredigion Art Trail this summer!
We have made many interesting walkways across our meadows and through the woods. They display a wide diversity of habitats as well as numbers of sculptures.
We are open on August 12th,13th,16th,17th,19th,20th,22nd,23rd,24th,26th,27th,28th-10am-4pm
We look forward to seeing you all.
The ariel mounted on our chimney offers a commanding 360 degree view of the surrounding cwm. This spring it has been taken over by the usual pair of swallows and and for the second year running, a pair of mistle thrushes. They reared a pair of chicks in the same tree as last year.
The muggy weather brought out countless mayflies, and insect eating birds like the swallows and pied flycatchers had easy pickings. A regular pair of flycatchers nest in the studio wall and the tiny iridescent ruby tailed wasp is another local inhabitant of the stone work.
Further down the cwm in damp woodland, water avens carpets the ground and millions of tadpoles gather to sunbathe on the edge of the pond
This March has seen an abundance of the silky silver and yellow pollened catkins on the Pussy Willow trees. Happily differing hybrids of sallow have been displaying their male catkins over many weeks. I planted a twig in our cwm from a willow that used to put on a display as early as January during my childhood living in the Itchen Valley. Now we have a dozen of them lighting up the cwm from mid-winter through to the end of March.
For a bit of fun after dark, when the moon and stars are visible, I point the camera at the moon and press the shutter open and wave the lens at the sky until the shutter closes or I choose to turn the camera off.
The resulting pictures are surprising. If the stars are bright enough they will appear as finer repeats of the lunar pattern.
Now that the Woodland Trust owns more of the cwm, we are assured of more undergrowth and cover for wild life. At Blaen Cwm Cadifor the trees are tall enough to look after themselves and so we have let thickets of brambles,nettles and ferns form impenetrable areas, allowing only small creatures to forage, like hedgehogs and woodcock. We are well on our way in the recycling of old fence posts and I have made the first Hedgehog Hotel, hopefully predator and water proof.