Glendale Show

Smallholders will have a stand in the Countryside Marquee at the Glendale Show, Wooler on August 26th, Bank Holiday Monday,  from 9am until 5pm

Birch Weaving

Title: Birch Weaving
Location: Lanternside Farm, Holystone
Description: An afternoon weaving with Birch (or plastic string or Raffia) with Gill Philipson
Start Time: 14:00
Date: 2013-07-07
End Time: 17:00

Corn Dollies

Title: Corn Dollies
Location: Merton Hall , Ponteland
Description: Making Corn Dollies with Gill Philipson
Start Time: 14:00
Date: 2013-05-19
End Time: 17:00

Goats and Goats Cheese

Title: Goats and Goats Cheese
Location: Merton Hall, Ponteland
Description: Talk and demonstration by members Derek and Kath on keeping goats and making of Goats Cheese
Start Time: 14:00
Date: 2013 -06 -16
End Time: 17:00

Introduction to Bees

Title: Introduction to Bees on Sunday 30th September
Location: Murton Hall P[onteland
Description: An illustrated talk by club member Christopher Benjamin on keeping bees
Start Time: 14:00:00
Date: 2012:09:30

Helping You Care For Your Poultry

Hygiene in sheds is important. They need to be cleaned out regularly and treated for red spider mite, lice etc. Perches should be thoroughly sprayed. Jeyes fluid is a good all round disinfectant and special sprays can be obtained for lice etc. Louse powder is available for dusting birds.

Scaly leg is another problem which birds suffer from, especially older birds. They can be treated by rubbing with methylated spirits or paraffin. Grit should be available, even to free range birds, to help with digestion


The Orpington originated in the United Kingdom, it was developed in the nineteenth century by William Cook from the village of Orpington. Croad Langshans, Minorcas, Langshans and Plymouth Rocks were used to create this new breed. The original breeding objective was to come up with a chicken with excellent laying capacities, and this was successful. The first Orpingtons were black, followed at the end of the eighteen eighties by White and Buff. An Orpington from that period did not look the same as the present breed. The modern Orpington can no longer be compared with any breed whatsoever. The Orpington is a big heavy breed with a profusion of rather loose feathers. One of the most frequently bred Orpington varieties is the Buff. This is a beautiful warm light yellow colour, but it can soon fade because of the sun and the rain so it is important to protect the birds with a run with bushes and trees for shade and covered area to shelter them from the rain.


The Welsummer originated from the Netherlands, named after the village of its origin, Welsum on the river IJssel and was a mishmash of “mongrel poultry” and standard breeds, the Orpington, Malay and Brahma are mentioned. In its country of origin, the breed is found only in the red partridge variety, which is considered to be the true colouring. Welsummers are renowned for their beautiful large dark brown speckled eggs. They can be kept in a closed run, but thrive wandering around free, foraging for themselves, gathering most of their own food.

Avian Flu

Following cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) in wild birds in Dorset, on 10 January 2008 a Wild Bird Control Area and a Wild Bird Monitoring Area was declared around the place where disease was confirmed. On 5 March, the Wild Bird Control Area was lifted and as of 27 March the remaining Wild Bird Monitoring Area and associated disease control restrictions, including housing have been lifted. However, all keepers of birds should remain vigilant and practice good biosecurity.

Defra Helpline 08459 33 55 77

Storing Fruit & Vegetables

Beetroot and Carrots Pack in slightly damp sand without touching each other in a frost free outbuilding…….will keep until May

Solid Cabbage & Main Crop Potatoes Pack in dry straw not touching in frost free building…..will keep until April

Apples Wrap each one in newspaper and store in a shallow tray .Do not store next to potatoes … will keep until March

Marrows and Pumpkins Cure in the sun before storage and store in suspended nets in an unheated room in house. Will keep until April

Onions Cure in the sun then tie on to a string and hang up,or use old stockings or tights tied at the toe and knotted between each one. Start using from the toe end…will keep until April


Hoolets In The Hayshed

When we first came to Lanternside the local expert told us we were too high up to get barn owls but we soon saw them along the roadside at night in areas lying higher than our place. Then two years ago we were approached by National Parks, advised by the same expert, to see if we would agree to having a barn owl nest box installed as they had a successful campaign in hand to increase the population by removing the limiting factor to their expansion, namely the lack of suitable nest sites.

They came with a nest box and it was decided to put it on a tree away from the buildings as we sometimes use rat poison. The box was erected facing away from the prevailing wind, overlooking permanent pasture with an unobstructed flight line. The team returned in the spring to check the box and confirmed that it was home to a pair of jackdaws as we expected. Their excuse was that the box had been put up too late in the season so that barn owls had not had a chance to occupy and defend it.

Next spring when they returned for their inspection we joked that they would again find black owls in the box. They returned to say we were wrong and there were a pair of white jackdaw’s eggs in there. At a second visit we helped them ring a beautiful pair of barn owl chicks, male and female.

Now our hayshed is decorated with barn owl pellets and droppings as they regularly hunt our rats and mice there so we hope there will be no need for poisons this winter. We intend to try another box at the far end of the farm as we think there may be enough territory to support two pairs.

Julian Philipson

The Future of Barn Owls in Britain

In 1935 it was estimated there where 12,000 pairs of breeding Barn Owls in Britain.). A survey in 1987 revealed a further decline to only 5,000 pairs in the whole of the British Isles, of which only 3,000 bred every year, 2,700 breeding sites were identified.

The conclusion is that the population of this beautiful owl has fallen by a staggering 70% in the last 50 years. Changes in weather patterns and farming methods have now been identified as the two most important factors responsible for the Barn Owl’s decline since the 1940’s. The decline has been caused mostly by the reduction in the availability of food, which means the Barn Owls have not been in good enough condition to breed or, if they have, then there has been insufficient prey to feed their young. Severe winter weather in itself does not seem to cause high mortality, but prolonged periods of snow cover limit their ability to find small rodents which are their staple diet. Continuous rain and drought also seriously affect breeding success.

More intensive farming methods (combine harvesters, prairie farming, high levels of livestock and silage-making etc.) have resulted in larger and larger fields, with the consequent loss of hedgerows and field margins – the rough grassland of which was the favourite hunting ground for the Barn Owl. Even where small areas of suitable habitat have been retained, the fragmentary nature of the resulting countryside has isolated small Barn Owl communities and restricted their ability to expand into the surrounding farmland.

Another major killer is road traffic. Between 3,000 and 5,000 Barn Owls are killed in this way every year. There are now believed to be about 2,000 pairs of breeding Barn Owls remaining in Britain and the bird is now nearing the point of no return. Breeding and release programmes, plus the erection of nest boxes is simply holding ground. Only the restoration of rough grassland can save if for posterity.

Taken from the World Owl Trust site

Famous Cattle – The Durham Ox

How many have seen a pub called the Durham Ox? ( How many have been in a pub called the Durham Ox?)

The Durham or Teeswater Cattle, native to Northern England and Teesdale are now called “Shorthorn Cattle”.

The Durham Ox was born in 1796 and was first exhibited at Darlington Market when three years old. In May 1801 the Ox was bought by a Mr.John Day. It then weighed 27 hundredweight (almost 1½ Tonne if you are metric). Mr Day then took this huge beast on a tour of Britain. It travelled in a specially built cart pulled by four horses. If the going was heavy an extra pair of horses hitched up. The tour started in Rotherham in May 1801, travelling to various places up the east side of England, they reached Newcastle on the 26th October 1803. After a two week stay they moved on to Morpeth where they stayed for 3 days before moving on to Alnwick for 11 days, no doubt a welcome break for Mrs Day who travelled in the cart with the ox!

They then travelled up to Edinburgh through several places in Scotland then by Glasgow and down the west coast of England by Manchester down past Wales as far as Somerset then headed east again, ending at Oxford in February 1807.

It was at Oxford that almost six years of travelling came to an end. On the 19th February the Durham Ox dislocated his hip and despite strenuous efforts to save him he was slaughtered on 15th April 1807. At the time of his death he was reported to weigh 1ton 14cwt (nearly 1¾ tonne for the metrics among you! )

He was butchered by a team of three butchers and records show he yielded a hide weighing over 10 stones while his heart weighed almost a stone.

A sad end to a remarkable beast, but at least Mrs. Day got to live in a house again!!


Could Mull become the Noah’s Ark for the Red Squirrel?

The recent discovery of pox virus in grey squirrels in the Scottish Borders is bad news for Scotland’s remaining red squirrel population. Red squirrels once occupied most of the lowland woods in the UK but today, the only remaining populations of any consequence are in northern England and Scotland.

The larger American grey squirrel was first introduced into England in 1876 with tragic consequences for our native red squirrel. The foreigner quickly made itself at home and spread across the country, displacing the red squirrel as it went. Grey squirrels displace the red squirrel through food competition and by upsetting the delicate social system of the red, the red breeding success declines and the greys take over the territories. But displacement takes place 17 times faster when grey squirrels carry pox virus, benign to greys but fatal to reds. The greys advance through northern England and Scotland is unstoppable and the reds could be extinct in 25 years.

So what has this to do with Mull?

Mull is an island which greys cannot reach. It might therefore be a secure refuge for the Scottish red squirrel. A recent survey of Mull habitats has confirmed that it would be possible to establish a pilot population on Mull. With care and co-operation of woodland owners, red squirrels on Mull could in time become self sustaining.

Scottish Natural Heritage does not presently favour such an introduction on the grounds that red squirrel are not native to Mull. (But then the greys aren’t native to Britain). So as greys advance, the proposal for Mull to become a refuge for reds may warrant more serious consideration.

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