Daisy and the Dragonfly

Barrowford Lock No 48 is broken and being repaired so we have been moored up for four days at Bridge 91 on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal until we can move knowing that we can ascend the flight.

There is a small herd of cows that wander in distinct patterns around the field.  The trees at the top are where several Buzzards sit and we can hear their call during the day and evening.  We have watched them soar around the fields alighting on different groups of trees as they hunt.  So far we have been unable to get any photos of their splendour.

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Male dragonfly we have been watching

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a male dragonfly whose patch is along the bank beside us, we stand and watch his patterns of behaviour so that when he lands we can photograph him.  There were flashes of turquoise blue along his brown body, and his abdomen and head yellow and brown, with bronze colour wings, superb!  Nature is so amazing.

Ella
Ella going out wearing a red collar

Today Ella is staying close to the boat and not going into the field; we think she may have got stuck in the fence and hedge last evening because she came back without her collar on and wanted to cuddle up on my lap for the rest of the night which is unusual for her.

She catches voles, mice, shrews, and eats spiders, flies, and all sorts of creepy things.  Daisy on the other hand has never liked furry animals preferring her prey to be slimy, and a long time ago used to bring in worms, frogs and fish from a neighbours garden (her prize ghost carp, oops!) and has not attempted to catch anything since moving onto the boat.  Once Ella brought her in a mouse and put it down in front of her hoping she would join in the sport of chasing it, but Daisy looked disturbed and lost, so Ella had to claim it back as it ran.

Yesterday I watched the female dragonfly lay her eggs in the water on some reeds, and cursed not having my camera with me ready.  I returned with my camera and a stool to sit and wait for her return but as the way of things she was nowhere to be seen.  Today Mr Hs called to me that Daisy was bringing me a present, “Daisy?” I queried, and in she trotted with the female dragon fly firmly in her mouth.  Proud of herself she announced her kill to me then proceeded to play with it, deftly removing the head.  Yes, she loves a crunchy prey too!  Abandoned on the carpet, both parts still moving, I picked it up and took some photographs, interesting to see it up close, but sad that she caught it.

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A few minutes later, I saw Ella through the window, take a mouse up to Daisy who was now eating grass, and showed her, then proceeded to eat it.

I have been in and out of pain since the last set of seven locks which I did on my own.  Both of us have found it hard this year physically, having to have rest days.  I commented that we must be getting old, and Mr Hs said that our disabilities are making it hard.  I agree with that, I remember him saying to me (in one of his accusing moments when I just wanted to rest) “you weren’t like this a year ago”, and thinking about it, I wasn’t.  In the space of two years my physical and mental state has declined much to my own disappointment.  However, I will not let that stop me, I imagine the pain of walking and winding stiff paddle handles, and pushing 2000kg of  supposedly balanced gates open, is doing my arthritis good.  At least there is chance of wearing away new nodules, as they say; use it or lose it.  When you moor up  in the countryside with the flowers, birds and insects around you it is all worth it.  At times we have no idea where we are, even which County we are in, like now, we think we are in Lancashire.

Where have all the ditches gone?

ImageDriving around the countryside I was thinking about the recent floods that turned the fields into lakes forcing livestock into small corners of slightly higher ground. Lakes that have ruined the winter crops for the farmers.

We crossed the Swarkestone Causeway which was built in the 13th century to cross the river and its surrounding marshes. It is the longest stone bridge in England and is listed Grade I.  The marshes have been turned into fields over the years, but retain a large pond area at the end of each field near the bridge.  The ponds where the ducks swim and live amongst the  reeds are usually full.

This got me thinking about managing land and farming throughout history.  Have you noticed that the ditches have disappeared?  Hedgerows have been ripped out to increase the areas of crops and grazing.  I remember as a child ditches being waterways for water, we would play in ditches, jump across ditches, and accepted that there were ditches everywhere.  I have grown up with ditches being drainage channels, so how come farmers these days fail to maintain them.  It seems to me that farming has become ‘industrialized’, taken from the farmers own hands and given back to them with the ‘new methods’.  I know that I do not have the experience to judge how farming has moved away from the land towards textbook working, so can only state what I see and how I think about it.   Some hedges are not maintained and grow up into sparse bushes and trees that no longer form a firm boundary.  Ditches are no longer cleared each year allowing the water to drain, fill and flow.  I don’t know how much these things impact on waterlogged fields but maybe they help towards drainage.  I know the impact on wildlife has been high, with the loss of habitat.  Ponds, and ditches, have been part of our landscape for a few hundred years before land was taken from the commoners and given over to private ownership filling in the ditches to increase their productive area.  Ditches around alongside the hedges remained and were maintained.

How has modern farming changed the usability of the land in light of weather changes outside of our control?

A few ditches have been dredged but not enough, rivers have not been dredged and left to silt up so that water draining off the land raises the level of the rivers which burst their banks.

When did we stop managing the land that has been managed for hundreds of years.  Do we feel we know better than the simple farming people of history?

As I say, I these are only my observations and Imagethoughts without expertise.