Thursday, 11 March 2010

listening to owls


We were away on holiday last week. NOT AGAIN I hear you cry.

We go away for lots of short breaks and weekends within the United Kingdom where we live, and I often combine weekends away with teaching my spinning and weaving workshops.

I love the idea of work being blended in with the rest of life, rather than being something that ends at 5pm when the rest of your life (therefore) begins.

In order for this to be successful, the work has to be enjoyable and there must not be too much of it. I have read books about work becoming part of life that are basically about working all the time – ie taking your laptop on the beach etc and simply working there, whilst everyone else is having fun.

You are still working whether you are on the beach or not and if you are doing that it probably just means you are a workaholic.

What I am talking about here though, is working part time and in a non-structured, flexible way.

That may sound impossible but  not only is it possible, we have done it for years.

It takes a bit of thought, planning and well, work to actually achieve this however. 
It means working out how to maximise your income whilst at the same time minimising expenditure, without cutting out anything that adds to your quality of life.
Then you can work part time. There will be more about how to do that in future blogs. You could also visit  to learn more about the Your Money Or Your Life nine step programme on how to get ahead with money.  This is a charitable organisation which aims to help people,  not someone who  makes money out of it.

Well anyway, there we were, visiting my sister at a Camphill community called Botton village in a beautiful Yorkshire Dale, miles up a single track road with no mobile phone reception (Yippee).

And I was woken up by the hooting of owls. I cannot resist getting up when I hear Things In The Night.

Owl no 1 was in a tree right outside the window, outlined against the dawn sky. I heard owl no 2 answer and they chatted for a while until they had located one another, then off they went. I stayed and watched the sun come up – wonderful.

At home, we have a little owl that comes and sits on the telegraph pole in our back garden. So now I am grateful for the telegraph pole, which I must admit until then was an irritation. Apparently little owls eat a lot of worms, beetles and that sort of thing. Hopefully I can tempt it to the odd slug too…

That figures, (them eating worms I mean) because the first time I heard it  was when we got to grips with our fledgling vegetable garden a few years ago and got a load of manure. Our worm population doubled practically overnight, and our little owl population went up by 100% (ie from zero to one!).

At the time I just thought ‘what the heck is all that din?’ rather than oh great – a little owl. It was easy to figure out what it was though, even in the dark, because in silhouette they look rather like Garfield and are smaller than the average owl. Even I could spot it in the bird book.

On one of my night-time slug forays, armed with a pair of scissors,  ( yes I know, yuck but at the time I was bagging 70 slugs a night)  I heard a strange rustling noise next to a patch of garden where I had spread some manure.
The torch showed about a dozen worms literally munching on the bits of straw etc  in the manure.
I didn’t even know they did that, but what an amazing sight. They have huge mouths that just open up out of nowhere. And they really do make quite a noise.

I heard on the radio that the wild life in your garden is likely to be your wildlife and not even shared with the garden next door.  Ie it only exists because of what your garden is like. Gardens are mini habitats in their own right.

In our garden, there many different kinds of bumble bees, solitary bees and mason bees, including some little black ones  which I think are quite rare.  When I heard about it being 'our' wildlife it made sense, because when we first moved here, all we had was a square of scrubby grass and there were no bees - and no frogs, lizards, stoats or little owls either.

Those creatures are there because of plants we have, like the cotoneaster, which flowers for a long time. I was going to dig it up until I realised how many bees were on it. And they are probably nesting somewhere in the garden. It is a good idea to find out where and make sure you don’t destroy their habitat by mistake.

That is the great thing about simplicity – having time to watch the worms, and the energy to get up and listen to the owls.

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