A.M.A.N.D.A. Sept ’13

Our vegetable garden is very special (just ask Pete). It’s been many years in the making and I’ve got to be honest, my tending it has been a bit hit and miss (just ask Pete).

It all started around 5 years ago when some friends helped us clear a patch to plant veggies. A year or so later I’d planted nothing and the patch was overgrown. I called in a ‘professional’ who did a splendid job putting in raised beds, a gravel path and even some rustic steps leading down to the now-spectacular stage for the planting of all manner of home grown food. He did charge us…quite a lot as it turned out (just ask Pete), but now I was set.

Well you know how it is, busy lives and all that. A year passed and then another and with the garden now overgrown (and still no vegetables) I had to call ‘the professional’ back to clear it once again. And once again he charged us. By this time Pete is calculating that a single potato or beetroot (still not sown) would costs us upwards of £30…each! He wasn’t happy.

This year was the turning point and after another visit from ‘the professional’, I planted my first crop and they’re doing just fine. I still haven’t harvested anything but I’m working on that. They will undoubtedly be the most expensive vegetables ever eaten – but they are organic!

So here’s the best bit. The other night as darkness fell I went outside and was flabbergasted to see not one, but three barn owls perched on my raised bed! I ran back inside and called Pete. We spent the next half hour mesmerised by the young owls cavorting around the vegetable garden. OK, I accept this wasn’t why we invested in it and I accept that it’s not been as productive as I intended but come on, three barn owls? That’s priceless isn’t it? Just ask Pete.

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7 Comments

  • Karen Thomas says:

    I know what you mean re veg plots. Ours is always productive, if not for us then the birds, and usually only those veggies that can survive on very little care and attention. However, barn owls, now that’s a whole different issue!

    I am VERY pleased to hear that you have three young owls – although that is also tinged with envy, as we are having a dire year here in the south in that department. I am part of a county monitoring scheme and out of the fifteen to twenty boxes I look after we have not had a single brood this year, nor even an occupied box. There have been sightings of owls locally so at least they haven’t completely disappeared. However, this has been a poor year countrywide ref this comment from the Barn Owl Trust web site in late June “Recent checks of traditional sites in the north of Devon are revealing very little breeding. Nesting occupancy usually runs at about 50% but so far it’s as low as 12%, with those pairs that have survived still not breeding, presumably due to being underweight.” So, rejoice in your visitors, oh and make sure Pete gets some photos!!

    Barn owls aside, I hope you get some nice veggies and that they inspire you to keep digging next year:-)

    Karen

  • Phil Piper says:

    OK Mr C., following your recent discussion reagarding the failing income stream from image sales, I think I see a new tour possibility………..”Barn Owls and Broccoli – a taste of the Highlands”
    This could be a tour that would appeal to everyone. Day one to be spent crouched amongst the veggies taking charming shots of posed barn owls peaking out from amongst the carrot tops and potoato plants. Day two could be similar, but with the added thrill of seeing the birds hunting for voles (think the Osprey experience, but smaller!). Day three – by this point the client base is probably starting to get “owl’d out” and is looking for something new. Out with the macro lens and offer “arty” macro shots of the brassicas (Pete, please note that was “brassica” and not “brassiere” – that would be a whole different tour).
    Now for the real money spinner………..at the end of the tour, get the group to pick and wash the veggies from said plot and sell them to the local, environmentally conscious, supermarket for 2p/ton. Your local Te-Asd-Burys should be more than willing to take them off your hands.
    Sorted!!!

  • Welcome back Amanda. You and your musings have been missed. I had to resort to reading Pete’s blog!

  • Mike Towler says:

    Barn owls — lovely birds. Years ago I took part in the ‘Barn Owl Breed and Release Scheme’ releasing three pairs from a decrepit, disused, building. All ‘paired’, but none stayed. Just not ‘the right environment’ I assumed. A few years later, to my joy, a pair nested and bred in the same building, in the same old tea chest used for the release scheme.
    I know they bred because one adult owl hurt itself and was incapable of flight. I rescued it. Whilst it was in care a guest reported seeing ‘a pair’ fly across our lawn.
    The injured owl recovered and I released it one evening — a beautiful silent ghost — doing my heart good. But, in a storm a few days later, the roof of ‘the owl shed’ collapsed and they were gone.

  • Melanie M says:

    Hilarious! You were born to be a writer. With your words I can so well picture the scene. Another chapter to what I know will one day become a book I’ll be queuing up to buy.
    Mx

  • Penny Dixie says:

    Superb blog Amanda! I really enjoyed reading it and giggled the whole way through. Please write more often!

  • It’s always fun to read your blog! You’re my new gardening hero! heh

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