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A Week on the Estate: Cowpats, Cuckoos & Creamy Cocktails

Flaming June finally arrived for the estate this week and the landscape brimmed with life. Strong sunshine after a useful amount of rainfall has allowed both wildlife and agriculture to thrive.

Paul Barnes and Tristan Jørgensen have heard our exotic visitor, but now Damian Furlong has seen it. On one of his walks, he found himself face-to-face with a cuckoo.  The cuckoo is a summer visitor to the UK and a well-known brood parasite, typically targeting dunnocks, reed warblers and meadow pipits. The RSPB includes the species on its conservation ‘red list’, meaning that it faces global decline as well as a UK decline of over 50% of breeding birds over the last 25 years. It’s good news for the estate – and for the cuckoo – that it appears to be doing well here.

In the tail-end of last week’s wet weather, the team from J.E. Spence & Son worked hard to get a new driveway in place ready for new garages to be built for tenants at Hardens Gap Cottages. Meanwhile, Little Ormsbees Nursery is taking shape at the old school. New timber framework has been fitted and will look fine for generations to come.

Damian and Leah Furlong have been exploring the Lincolnshire Wolds around the estate, chronicling in photographic form the ebb and flow of the seasons across the landscape. They’ve given us many fine, open vistas, as well as close-up glimpses of wild flora and fauna, ranging from a hoverfly sipping nectar to grey herons taking a break from fishing to hunt for larvae and mice in a field.

Closer to home, we took a less picturesque look at cow manure. Flies are a cornerstone of South Ormsby Estate’s ecosystem, providing food on-the-wing for many types of bird and bat. Our Lincoln Red cattle produce lots of dollops of manure which are manna for adult flies. It’s estimated that a beef cow grazing the land produces approximately 10 tons of manure per year, all of it rich in bacteria, plant matter and valuable elements like nitrogen. Each cowpat has the potential to become a thriving colony of insects.

 

Mature flies lay their eggs in cowpats and the next generation emerges 10-20 days later. Because we move our cattle between different fields regularly, the Lincoln Reds miss the worst of the buzzing nuisance caused by hatching flies. Cowpats also attract interest from below. Nematodes and beetles burrow through and help to oxygenate the surface soil in their search for food and egg-laying sites. Predators such as spiders and digger wasps follow in search of easy pickings. Some more familiar scavengers then help to tidy up and fertilise the land. Birds like rooks and carrion crows break up and disperse cowpats in search of tasty larvae.

On a sweeter note, and to cheer up tennis fans in the absence of Wimbledon, Tristan Jørgensen has created a delicious, summery cocktail inspired by strawberries and cream. Combine 30ml of Marie-Jeanne pink gin and 30ml of whipped cream liqueur and shake them well in a cocktail shaker. Pour 30ml of grenadine into a tall glass, then drop in some ice and strawberries. Strain in the gin and liqueur mixture and top off with soda water. Garnish with strawberries and whipped cream. Enjoy!