Nature Diary

A Good Bit of Plotting

Yesterday was quite an eventful day.

For starters, it was a Wednesday which meant l was volunteering at the reserve. Tom [the warden] and l were working on the internal wildlife cameras. The reserve now has three working units. I donated two l had from my garden here in Willow, and the reserve had two of its own, although one is broken, meaning they only have three active cameras.

The cameras serve a dual purpose; One] the obviousness is watching the wildlife and their behaviours, and Two] watching the human-wildlife and their vandalistic and anti-social behaviour.

We sadly have vandalism here, and whilst it is not as rife as it once was, we still bear the brunt of damages. Only recently was one of the two conservationists threatened by two older lads with a rottweiler. We have a no dog policy in Gazen Salts on or off-leash, dog owners are not to bring their charges in here, and this is to protect the wildlife. But that doesn’t mean everyone adheres to it.

So Mike wasn’t too impressed that he was told to eff off after politely informing them that this was a no-dogs area and that they probably didn’t see the sign, but they should be aware of the operational cameras.

Sadly the cameras were in a different time zone, so that incident between Mike and the two lads wasn’t caught on film.

However, one of my extra tasks with Gazen Salts is working with Tom and these cameras. I offered to take on the role of checking through the images and keeping back what would be of interest to the reserve. This is my second week in the position – there was no one dealing with it before, so it’s all a new challenge.

But after the Sunday morning fiasco with Mike and the lads and their dog, l decided that all the cameras needed to come down and 1] be repositioned, 2] be reset with different filming times, and 3] be reprogrammed as to how many images are captured and what quality.

In an ideal world, the reserve could do with six cameras covering particular zones over the space, but as we only have three cameras, we have to be a little savvier. So yesterday, Tom and l examined the area map, decided to site the three cameras accordingly, and l suggested a triangulate strategy.

We now have one camera near the main entrance, another on the central lake [where the incident happened last Sunday] and the third near the bird station shelter. One gate and two seating areas. This will award excellent coverage.

However, l had initially set up the cameras to be working on a programme of seven days a week cover and activating between the hours of 4 pm to midnight and taking a photograph every three minutes, which meant each camera would take roughly 800 photos in that period and l could come in the following Monday and download the cards.

With the new settings of a photograph, every two minutes between 8 am to 9 pm seven days a week works out to roughly 2300 images each. It means l must be in every Monday and Thursday to download the cards and then go through them.

That’s a lot of imagery. It doesn’t bother me as l am used to scanning thousands of my photography monthly, what’s a few more. Plus, it might be fun, especially seeing more of the wildlife. I looked through my first batch last Monday, and that was ‘okay’, but one of the cameras was playing silly buggers, had the wrong programme, and took a photo every thirty seconds!!!?

With that setting terrible, although the camera activated at the right time … it was out of space by midnight the first day! Palm slap forehead moment!

Anyway, here’s hoping the next batch will be better. Below you can see two images caught on camera two, which is by the lake. I wondered if it was some Magpie and Crow convention and what is it about benches that Magpies love so much?

Sandwich Allotments displaying location as well as our proposed plot’s location.

In other news.

Yesterday afternoon, Suze and l visited Sandwich Allotments on the outskirts of the town over in St Bart’s Road, which you can see in the above gallery.

There are 78 allotments here, and Mike [one of Gazen Salt’s conservationists] was telling me about an allotment he has there with his wife and how normally allotments or community gardens as they are known in other parts of the world are like gold dust to acquire had several empty plots.

Well, this piqued my interest, and when l finished in the reserve yesterday, l talked to Suze and asked what she thought about us getting an allotment? It would cost rent-wise £80 per annum, which includes water usage!

There were a few reasons l wanted a plot 1] for the obviousness of growing crops to eat, 2] for being able to expand my composting operation, 3] to grow crops for both the compost and worm productions and 4] to have some chickens for the eggs. I eat roughly six eggs daily, and Suze eats probably a dozen eggs weekly.

A chicken costs about 15 p a day, maybe slightly less, so if we had a flock of eight chickens, they would cost us around £1.20 a day and about eight pounds a week to maintain, especially if we made the chicken feed ourselves. It costs me £2.20 to buy a dozen medium-sized eggs, and l am buying sixty eggs weekly. So even the saving of a fiver is still worthwhile especially given l will know the eggs are fresh.

I used to keep chickens back in 2008 and 2009 and know what is required to maintain them. It’ll cost more upfront to get the system going, but it is one of those times when you have to spend out to make the saving.

But there are many benefits to having an allotment and not just for the sake of maintaining a flock of chickens. The growing of edible crops, having a much broader herb garden, incorporating wild flowering methods successfully into the overall layout and not being restricted by, for instance, the inherited design here at Willow.

It will allow me to work on the compost systems better to produce a workable medium for the gardens and the allotment and a soil medium for the worm farms.

I intend to move the worm farms this year into a different environment where once l can kickstart the business properly, and I will perform this once l iron out all the current crinkles.

There are many benefits in that area alone, never mind the mindfulness and well-being aspectation of outdoor gardening as in the wonders it does for mental and physical health. These are things l know already. Running an allotment is not new to me as a concept. I used to help with these community-styled gardening ventures before as a youngster and even in more recent times.

The last allotment was in 2012, so l might be a little rusty; however, l was still working on gardening methods from that point until today, so it’ll not take long to get back into a routine.

The other significant bonus is that it will significantly help Suzanne; it’ll award her a lot of focus, something she has struggled with since cancer and the remission. It will give her some much-needed direction and something she feels she has lost, which is purpose.

Also it will enable me to add another series to Earthly Comforts as well as furnish me with even more subjects and information to write about.

Ao an allotment will significantly help us for many reasons, and l think that is huge. I will keep you all updated to our progress.
How typical!


Always one to stick the boot in!

The plot we looked at yesterday which has been abandoned for six month was let out yesterday at the same time we were viewing it!

Just been to the Guildhall and put my name down as there are four others available – l do so hope we can get one soon otherwise if like the last time, l was on the Kingsdown waiting list for three years since 2017 and they only offered it to me the first week l moved into Sandwich in 2020

A few photos l took yesterday in the empty plot and a slow worm that was in Mike’s compost pile.

Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Published by The Autistic Composter

Earthly Comforts is a wildlife journaling scrapbook focusing on the countryside, wildlife biodiversity and environmental conservation, flora and fauna volunteering projects, gardening, composting and vermiculture, inspiration, poetry and photography.

15 thoughts on “Nature Diary

  1. I really enjoyed this nice, newsy post, Rory! 😊

    It’s such a shame some people have to be so belligerent and destructive. I have often wondered what satisfaction that would bring a person. They must feel very insecure in themselves to find a need to exert power over others. Oh, well, I can’t understand it and as Bud says, “You never will because they are insane.”

    Setting up the cameras in the Reserve, downloading the photos and replacing the cards sounds complicated to me, but I feel that with your expertise it will be fun! 😊 How wonderful, another great project!

    I like the idea of an allotment! I do hope you will be able to get one, for you will both enjoy it so much. And chickens! I just love chickens! They are so personable. 😊 I used to have some and it was wonderful to have really fresh eggs everyday. They provided great manure for the garden, too. Of course it had to be diluted – powerful stuff that! But I got the largest, most beautiful and tastiest tomatoes I ever grew!


    1. Yes so do l. Mike who was introducing me to the plot said he thought it was empty and he knew it had been since January and no one was interested. BUT, he also said that the chairman of the allotment didn’t know it had been let either and found out only today and he is supposed to agree with them …

      The concil never tell anyone anything – l am hoping l get a plot. Suze and l were truly gutted as was Mike. The plot would have been right next door to his.

      As to the chickens, a mixture 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It will come, you will find the one that is meant for you guys … keep trying. It always happen when you least expect.

    I have seen some “community gardens” why they call them community gardens ?

    That makes me think is to feed homeless ? Or community? … When you say community?

    They call them that here too?? I never understood them? Cause they locked up and say community lol – makes no sense

    Is private plots of land for private parties wishing to farm or beautify area? But not really community unless share with community?

    Odd to me?? Way they word it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Trisha, strangely enough the terming community gardens is mostly an Americanised terming when used here in the UK.

      Many American terms are now becoming global, l have seen Australia in the last thirty years become more American than Australian in some ways.

      Matter of adopting – allotments here in Britain were formed as a way of allowing those without the ability to have a garden ora specific garden to further develop and grow .

      Community gardens was here as a term but not specifically tied to vegetable growth – but mostly meaning open and available to all in the immediate community.

      Both originally stemmed from backyard farming which was a term used during World War II where homeowners used to grow food for the table.

      In the States they were referred to as ‘digging for victory’ gardens.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol Americanized

        What terms be American? Are cool ones at least?

        Well I think that since the world is pretty global at this point – many cultures bleed into others because there is the exposure

        My kids are all into Japan lol 🙄 anything Japan does is the coolest – they are taken by Japanese culture – they also like Korean culture … so see cultures come in and swirl into population lol

        I do not know any Japanese terms or things – but they do lol

        There was a song from the 60’s?? Sukiyaki?

        I can sing that lol … mostly 😄✌️

        Well your word must be community? And mine garden?

        Because we have community pools and that means everyone gets to use whenever, as long as it’s open.

        Community garden to me is something the whole community enjoys ?? Lol … it’s the word “community” that messes my brain up to find it odd.

        And victory gardens sounds like the name of the gardens somewhere around the White House lol

        Although… if I can actually get a garden up and running nicely – I shall call it my victory garden 🪴 ❤️ … because I hope to be victorious with own food.

        Normally we just call it backyard gardens ?

        My dad had huge gardens – gardens for food and others for flowers 🌸…

        But it was always just for us and was just the backyard gardens.

        I always wondered what those little plots labeled community garden was ?? I always thought they weird with that name but always locked ???

        Thank you for explaining how is meant. Is still little weird because of the name- the word community makes it different to me

        We have them here too 🤷‍♀️

        They are usually a plot somewhere in an urban neighborhood & gated. The ones I have seen here anyway.

        Now I understand

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You know l learned something today – l never realised that you used the word ‘garden’, l have always heard gardens referred to as ‘yards’ 🙂

        It’s like for yonks [means very long time] that American houses never had stairs – despite watching the Brady Bunch in Australia, l still couldn’t get my head to understand American houses had stairs.

        In Australia, l had never lived in a house with stairs as they were all bungalows. The first time l lived in a staired house was in England .

        Liked by 1 person

      3. A yard is different … you can plant flowers and things in the yard and have nice flow to it… but is not garden

        But a garden is specifically to raise specific things like food or flowers.

        Usually sectioned off from rest of yard.

        But also depends on where you from as to how you refer to things – the northern US is different from West and South… we all have different ways lol … and different words

        I always had stairs in every home… I do not have stairs currently. Just maybe 5 steps up to front door… but no steps in rest of house. I have 1,500+ sq feet though – and I don’t have to go up and down with laundry lol

        My parents always had huge houses… always always stairs and many levels.

        Lol the Brady Bunch ❤️

        I have watched some show a long time ago where they looking for houses in other countries… they sooo small!!

        Or in England they have flats? Which I don’t understand that name either?

        I do not like being so close to others like that? And seems small without private yard – just small tiny square – they so close together

        In New England – is older area of United States so population is denser. They have 3 deckers and things we do not have much of out west – also our land is different too…

        So the area, the age and the population density, I’m sure plays apart.

        I will have to see what a home in an English suburb or a country home looks like.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Flats are like your apartments or condos 🙂

        Many English homes are very different pending upon where they are built in a town or a city. Village homes are different to rural home and country homes are different to estate homes or manors ….

        Funny ol’ world eh?

        Liked by 1 person

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