Friday, 1 May 2015

Cuckoo Flower Time On The Smallholding.

We have had a really abundant crop of Cuckoo flowers in the pasture this Spring.  I wonder if it's because we don't hammer our fields with granulated "bag manure" fertilizer?  This year we haven't bought any.  We haven't paid any one to put the slurry yet.  I noticed there are quite a few docks growing where we spread slurry last year.  Cow dung/slurry is a "cold" manure and weed seeds don't get killed like they do in rotting dung heaps.  If you want nettles and docks spread cow slurry

The cuckoo flower is a member of the Brassicacea family: Cardamine Pratensis is it's Sunday name.  It thrives in damp meadows.  Apparently in ancient folklore this flower was sacred to the faeries and it was considered very unlucky if you picked it and brought it indoors.  My mother used to tell me the same about the Hawthorn flower which was called "mother death" in northern English counties.

My Irish grandmother believed in the 'little people' and the Irish won't step on or near any of the 10000 forts found here in Ireland.

I have not heard a cuckoo yet this year.  Apparently it only makes a noise to call a mate and then it shuts up.  Perhaps it's found a mate already?

Talking of the cuckoo season.  We watched Question Time last night and noticed only Dave was given a chair to sit on?  The privileges of office me thinks!

It looks like it's going to be a close call.  Do you think there will be a Labour/Conservative coalition?  Now that would be different wouldn't it?  Well there going to go into government with some one aren't they?  


  1. The name 'Cuckooflower' was explained by 16thc. herbalist, John Gerard as 'These flower for the most part in April and May when the Cuckoo begins to sing her pleasant notes without stammering'

    'When daisies pied and violets blue
    And lady-smocks all silver white
    And Cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
    Do paint the meadows with delight,
    The cuckoo then on every tree
    Mocks married men, for thus sings he:
    Cuckoo, cuckoo: O, word of fear,
    Unpleasing to a married ear!'

    Love's Labour Lost. William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

    1. Thanks Anne for the Shakespeare poem. Sounds like it was penned by a middle aged man thinking of all the pretty unmarried maidens. You can just picture them in their Tudor finery. Thanks!

  2. My Grandma and even now my Mum didn't/doesn't like hawthorn coming in the house either.
    I enjoyed the Question Time programme, us Yorkshire folk don't suffer fools gladly, I thought the audience kept all 3 of them on their toes. I must admit I did chuckle when Ed Miliband nearly fell off the stage - I'll never grow up.

    1. My mother would have gone mad if we took her a bunch of hawthorn flowers, Twiggy. She also didn't like shoes on the tabe or putting an umbrella up in the house. I think it was new shoes on a table because people would be laid out in their best clothes in the parlour when they died.

      Yes there were some good questions in Leeds. I could have asked them a few; why does the UK need Trident? I like the Greens and Labour. Thanks!

  3. It's a good spring this year for cuckoo flowers- I've seen hundreds of them in the fields and on the banks here. They are the food plant for the orange tip butterfly, so hopefully that little insect will also have a good year :o)

    1. I suppose we would see more CT if we used less man made fertilizer and grew more hay than silage? Is there any insect that likes the common soft rush? Thanks.

  4. Hi Dave, your meadows look good with all the flowers. We have soldiers buttons in abundance around here. I wondered if they are the same as your cuckoo flowers but I think not. The soldier button is the stitchwort, but it is very abundant here. My mother wouldnt allow us to pick it because it was considered unlucky, not that it was much good for picking because the stems just wind themselves around in the grass and they dont stand up. but they look lovely, like your field, only white. You will have saved yourself a lot of money not buying the fertilizer. The fields around here get spread with turkey and chicken muck to save on buying expensive fertilizer and the crops are heavier for it. I think it is a good year for all wild flowers around here, just noticed Countryside Tales comment above.

  5. Hi Rachel. Yes the stitchwort are very pretty flowers aren't they? They were used to cure stitches and pains in the side in Europe, hence the name.

    You don't know what's in chemical fertilizers and I have saved about 600 Euros not buying any. I bet there is an awful pong when they spread but it's very good like pig slurry is? Countryside Tales is a good blog to follow Rachel. She's always very informative and posts great pictures.


  6. HI Dave I follow CT adnsaw your name adn wondered did you live in ireland as I do. I have now discovered you do although the other end of the island to me. I have not heard a Cuckoo this year either. Only the male calls 'cuckoo', the female has a different call. She lays between 12 -22 eggs in differetn nests before retuning to Africa. Anyway it is nicce to know ofanother blogger in Ireland. Have a lovely weekend. Margaret from Birding For Pleasure.

  7. Hi Margaret. I have seen your comments on CT;s blog. I live down in West Cork on the Sheep's Head Peninsula. Didn't know the Cuckoo returned to Africa. I know the Swallows and House Martins fly to South Africa because they need insects to feed on. I follow the following other Irish based blogs: An Irish Alternatiive, Jaunts Around Ireland, A Heron's View and Lackan Cottage Farm. The last one is based in the North of Ireland. Thanks for popping over.

  8. I have what looks like grass but is more daisy and dandelions than grass here!

    I will try to remember to put up a picture of a magazine article I saw and immediately thought of your post with the horse shoes in the wall. I will sort that some time this week.

  9. Hi Sol. Good to hear from you. Look forward to reading about your new home. The magazine article sounds very interesting. Thanks!

  10. Hi Dave have you ever watched nettles close up on a hot summers day because if you do then you will see that they give off a cloud of gas every so often.
    I rather like nettles young ones are good in stews, then there is nettle tea from the leaves and from the roots comes a tonic which is an anti-inflammatory. So you see you can treat
    Stinging Nettles as a cash crop.
    Dock Leaf is good for burns and scalds.

  11. Hi Heron. You are right there are lots of uses for so called weeds. Nettle tea is good for arthritis sufferers and you can make rope with nettles and they use to make army uniforms from nettles. Herbal-ism is very interesting. I love reading up on all the uses for our wild flowers and plants. Thanks.

  12. Nettles are wonderful, you can make beer, wine and soup from them, they are high in iron, they are great as a blood purifier and general tonic, help with kidney stones and gout as well as hay fever, they make a good compost activator, an excellent liquid feed for plants and are the host plants for comma, peacock, red admiral and small tortoishell butterfly larvae, as well as ladybirds. Fermented in water and then diluted at 1 in 6 they also control greenfly. One of the most useful so called weeds known to man.

  13. Thanks for telling us about Nettles and their many different uses Anne. I have read that Nettle hay is the most nutritious fodder there is for cattle.

  14. Hello Dave - I have popped over from Sue in Suffolk to have a look at you. Most interesting about the Cuckoo flower. I grew up in Lincolnshire, where we were inundated with them - I love them. Here in North Yorkshire the farmer calls them Milkmaids -also a lovely name I think. We don't have as many in our fields as we used to do - same goes for the common orchid, which used to flower everywhere in the hedge bottoms. As for Hawthorn blossom - your name for it is interesting because in Lincolnshire we always called it Motherdie - similar name isn't it?
    Do pop over and see me sometime.

  15. Hello Weaver. I think growing silage instead of hay means that a lot of the wildflowers don't get chance to set flower and set seed and the bees don't get to pollinate them. Thanks for your comment.


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