Friday, 21 May 2010

Noises Of Nature

Yellow Rattle, the beautiful wildflower,  is now in bloom.  This delightful little plant is a semi-parasitic grassland annual.  It looks beautiful along the verges, but wouldn't be a flower that would be welcomed on farm land due to its ability to drastically reduce a grass crop, being said to reduce a hay yield by up to 50 percent.  It is to be welcomed though where wildflower diversity is sought, as it opens up the sward and leaves gaps for new seeds when it dies back at the end of the season.

The individual flowers always make me think of a screaming parrot, and when the plant is looked at from a distance, it does have the look of individual birds stuffed into sacks with just their heads peaking out, perhaps  giving them something to scream about!

It derives its name from the noise made by the seed heads when ripened: the green 'bladder' behind the flower becomes paper like, and the seeds rattle around inside.  This tends to happen around the middle of July onwards.  When this plant used to be common on farm land it also had the name of Hay Rattle, as it gave warning to a farmer that the hay was ready to cut. Sadly, gone are the days of wild flower hay, and now we see mainly monocultures of ryegrass.  Though these monocultures might give better yields, they are disastrous for wildlife, and also are not good for the health of stock, as the mixed herbs were beneficial to the health of the animals that grazed them.   We hear so much now about TB in cattle, and have in the not too distant past had the terrible tragedy of Foot and Mouth, a tragedy of the governments making.  For over a hundred years now farmers have been campaigning for better understanding of disease in farm animals, and some of those farmers showed just what could be achieved solely with good diet and herbs.  If you are interested in getting a better understanding of these subjects, then it is well worth reading the books by F Newman Turner, Albert Howard and Robert Elliot.  The following website has Elliot's and Howard's books available as a free download:  Turner's books have now gone back into print, so are no longer available there, but his work carried on from Elliot's and he dedicated his time to curing cattle that would otherwise have only been fit for slaughter, including TB cattle.

A view from my bedroom window this morning.

The mist gets thicker!!  But all is not lost because I just heard a Cuckoo: wonderful!!!  I had given up hope of them arriving here this year.

And glancing through the window again, the sun is trying to show his face.

The sun has got his hat on! Hip, hip, hip hooray!  The sun has got his hat on and he's coming out to play!  I had better go and find the sun tan lotion! :-) 

Cuckoo!  Cuckoo! Cuckoo!


  1. You mention tb in cattle, unfortunately the badger is one of the main culprits in the cause.
    since the law in the early 9os ! stop cull of the badgers, tb in cattle has increased dramatically, so too has the disappearing if lambs poultry etc, a lot of this killing was blamed on the fox, I lost a whole flock of breacon buff geese, to a badger who dug in under the door of the nissan hut, 30 rare breed birds wiped out,they kill for fun and only took one goose to its den.

  2. You may be interested in this article on badgers,

  3. Hi Tony

    There is a lot of research to show that the cattle are actually the problem, and are the ones infecting the badgers, rather than the other way around. It is a shame that F Newman Turner's books aren't available online as I am sure you would really enjoy reading them. He demonstrates, through experimentation, that diseases such as TB have their root cause in poor diet and management. Even DEFRA admit that farmers are, on the whole, putting health way down the list of priorities, and have therefore bred sicker and sicker livestock. The reason that Hilary Benn refused to allow the cull in England, was due to the overwelming evidence that culling causes more problems than it solves. I for one was deeply saddened that the Welsh Assembly is going ahead with the cull in South Wales and just as deeply saddened to see that the new Tory and Lib Dem goverment are going to start culling in England despite so much scientific evidence against a cull.

  4. I'm Glad you've found a Cuckoo Kelly, they make the spring! Only a month left till they stop calling though :-(


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I live in North Wales and spend my time caring for animals, walking in the countryside, photographing nature and reading. I hope to share, in photographs and words, some of the beauty that I see. If you enjoy the photographs on this blog then you might like to take a look at my Flickr photostream. View my complete profile for links to both of my blogs.