Friday, 11 October 2013

Hunting For Chestnuts And A Catch Up With The Week

It's been a busy week here (when is it not?). I've had two days at uni. Wednesday was a practical day when we were all out removing scrub from a fence line and taking the fence down. The sun shone and everyone was in t-shirts and good spirits. Practical sessions are a great way of getting to know everyone. We are about 25 in number, from all walks of life and all ages 18 up which I think makes for a really good mix. Everyone is very nice and friendly and I just about have everyone's names sorted now, which is useful.
Thursday was a class-room day, and Quite Heavy with four hours of lectures in two two hour batches. We're studying Ecological Principles (basically terminology) and Science Foundations (the Elements, atoms, protein synthesis, DNA structure, biogeochemical cycles, and that's just for starters!).
Not having been at school/ uni for the best part of twenty years makes it all the more interesting. I haven't studied science since I was about 15, so I am having to do a lot of background reading, but it is starting to pay off and I am fairly gripped by it all anyway with makes it much easier.

It was nice today therefore to meet up with my lovely friend Mrs M and her hubby at Emer bog this morning for a walk with the dogs and a mushrooms and chestnut hunt. D had his mushie book with him so we were able to work out what some (mostly boletes) were.
There weren't many mushrooms left and I suspect people had been picking them. It's an old problem- mushroom hunters supplying restaurants can clear an area of fungi very quickly.


Of chestnuts there were plenty and Mrs M and I spent an enjoyable half hour under the Sweet Chestnut trees peeling the prickly cases back to reveal the plump chestnuts inside while Teddy got in the way, trod on a prickle and spent ages holding his paw pathetically in the air and squeaking at the top of his voice to anyone who would listen that his foot was about to come off. Miraculously, after picking him up, checking the paw (nothing there) and giving him a cuddle for a few minutes, when I put him down again he scampered off with never a backward look as if it had been fine all along. Big wimps, Westies).

Years ago my sis and I used to ride our ponies into the woods opposite the farm house and collect the chestnuts and use our riding hats as baskets to take them home in. Today, it was dog poo bags that provided that service (I find them incredibly useful at this time of year- so far they've been used for wild plums, blackberries, and now chestnuts, and only occasionally for poo).

There is a knack to getting the nuts out of the prickly casings- it's best done using your feet, and if you go for the ones whose cases are already splitting the chestnuts inside are more likely to be ripe. Now all I need is a good recipe- can you cook and freeze them for Christmas? Hope so. (And that, dear friends, is the first Christmas Reference I have made this year).







Although it is raining now we have had good weather this week, and a couple of days ago I took the camera round the garden to catch the last light of the day and see what i could find.
I was Very Pleased to see this Green Sorrel Beetle on the sorrel (of course, and now I understand what's been Putting Holes In My Sorrel all summer long). I've been wanting to see one since finding it in my insect book earlier this year. I was fascinated by the rotund bottom of the female, which is what this one is. Fantastic colour isn't she?



I also found this nymph (?) floating dead in the pond. Any ideas?

 
M collected a couple of bucket's worth of apples over the weekend. I have put some in a bucket outside the front gate with a sign for folks to help themselves...



 Around this time of year the juvenile moorhens start to come into the garden looking for seeds and the apples. They crawl over the hedge and are Extremely Nervous: one hint of me with the camera at the window and they are off...





The Virginia Creeper is turning a gorgeous Autumnal Red on the side of the house....



The hollyhock seed heads are looking really rather beautiful close-up....




And the sunlight coming through the trees by the lake as I'd finished was really beautiful too, heralding Colder Days, quite accurately as it turns out....


I feel that a post wouldn't be a post at this time of year without some mushie pics, so here are a selection taken in ma's fields in the Forest, and some from around the lake near home. This rain should help them along.....

















Have a Great Weekend All,

CT :-)

16 comments:

  1. I'm glad you're enjoying uni. The course sounds a good combination of being outside and in lectures. Poor Teddy - or maybe not; he got a hug out of it all!
    We didn't have much luck with chestnuts when we gathered some a few years ago. I don't eat nuts anyway but David tried them and didn't like them. It's a shame because there are so many around.
    Love all the mushrooms.

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    1. It is a great course, just what I hoped it would be (so far!).

      We used to peel chestnuts and eat them raw- in many ways they were better than cooked :-)

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  2. Love the juvenile moorhens! You're going to be a proper boffin by the end of your course.

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    1. I hope so! Feeling distinctly under-educated at the moment but then my last degree was in history and this one is sciences, so it is completely different.
      I love the moorhens too- such enormous feet!

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  3. I'm glad you are enjoying Uni - sounds a great course :) I love the Green Sorrel Beetle and the fungi photos - what a great variety.

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    1. It's really fascinating and very nice to have the mix of practical and lectures.
      I thought the colour on the beetle was fantastic :-)

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  4. Love all the fungi pics, this year seems to be much better than last year for these fascinating organisms :-) That Green Sorrel beetle is a stunning colour and it's good to hear that you are enjoying your university course, though it all sounds pretty daunting !

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    1. I agree- a grand year for mushies with plenty to see (as long as no one picks them first!).
      There is a lot to get through on the course but at the mo it's manageable and fascinating too so I'm enjoying it :-)

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  5. Lovely collection of images CT. Great to hear about your Uni days, it's so good to hear you have a nice group around you. Love the Hollyhock seed head.

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    1. It makes all the difference if you're surrounded by good folks with good senses of humour. Learning is that much easier. I love seed heads- fascinating things :-)

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  6. I wish you lived closer so we could come and take some of your apples CT! They look so delicious. We just can't grow fruit trees up so high and I do miss that. My mum bought me some Coxes in Waitrose last week and it was such a joy.

    Love the mushrooms, particularly the fifth one. Have a great weekend too and don't forget to dig out some doggy pics when you remember.

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    1. You'd be very welcome to them Em, we are over run!

      It's on my list to email you doggy pics tomorrow, when I finally have a free-ish day :-)

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  7. Aaah, chestnuts! I am feeling a chocolate and chestnut roulade a-coming on!

    I have to say that you do take the most fabulous photos. Loved the one of the sun shining through the trees. X

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    1. Ooh that sounds nice. I shall look out a recipe before they all go moldy from lack of attention. How goes the crochet? :-)

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  8. Great mush pics! I've been attempting to ID some of the ones I took photos of a weekend or two ago. Struggling! Countryfile had a piece about chestnuts and it's made me want to go out and find some.

    I'm glad a hug for Ted made him feel better! Bracken has hurt his paw (being mad and running around) and is now limping :( Hopefully it will be better in the morning after a nights rest. Usually rubbing his paw or leg makes it better, but not this time.

    Your uni course sounds brilliant! Very envious, wish I had done something similar! Keep us updated :)

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    1. I've come to the conclusion you need a mushie expert with you to have any hope of telling them apart!

      Poor Bracken- hope his paw is better today. Give him a big kiss from us and a lick from Ted x

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x