OK…..I accept that ‘sun’ and ‘shining’ have not been hugely abundant during the summer of 2012. However, let’s be fair here………..whilst huge swathes of the country have been hit by floods and pestilence, our little bit of Kent has not turned out too badly. Indeed, the county has cemented its reputation as the driest and sunniest part of the UK. Great for those of us that live here, and it has meant that our guests have enjoyed the best of whatever sunshine 2012 saw fit to deliver.

As you can see, the hay is now cut and baled, the picture is taken in the West Paddock, a favourite stomping ground for the Tollers of Biddenden Green Farm. Yesterday I strolled the boundary of the paddock, and I confess that I was a little concerned at the state of our natural larder. Last year we had a stunning crop of nuts, berries, hips and sloes….more than enough food there to keep a veritable army of hungry avians going throughout the winter months. This year, the heavy rain during early spring seems to have created some problems with fruit setting. Our garden apple trees have a poor crop (most of which is being eaten by the blackbirds and the scooty hens), but the hedgerows are decimated. With the exception of a few dog rose hips, berries are almost non existent. This creates two major problems.

Firstly the feathered residents of the farm, along with the winter influx of field-fares and red-wings, are going to be a little hungry this year. My guess is that the garden feeder bill is going to sky rocket…..secondly, and perhaps most importantly, no sloes means no sloe gin!!! I am pretty sure we have some previous vintage knocking around, but a long winter walk, or a days shooting will be nowhere near as enjoyable without my favourite nip of something warming. Mrs M is a fantastic sloe gin brewer, I am sure her recipe will be available at the right price!!!

All summer we have had the pleasure of watching our resident barn owls hunting in the early evening, despite my best endeavours, I have yet to get a photograph of them, so you will just have to take my word for it………. We have a barn owl nest box waiting for leaf fall before being put up. Hopefully next year we will know where they nest and will be able to get some pictures for you.

The other famous or not so famous residents are subject to various fortunes….Mr Bunny Wunny is the size of a small dog……he feasts every morning on the corn we leave out for the wild ducks, and obviously is enjoying his bachelorhood. The scooty hens are breeding, well they are breeding like Mr Bunny Wunny would if there was a Mrs Bunny Wunny around. We think we are on our eighth generation of little black dots, and even now in the dog days of summer, we still have tiny tiny babies hatching.

Of the white squirrel, alas no sign, we are hoping that this is simply because the trees are in full leaf, and food in plentiful, however with Barn, little and Tawny owls present in abundance, kestrels and sparrowhawks as regular visitors, there is a chance that the white squirrel is no more. Watch this space for an update.

There is still time to book an autumn weekend away in Smarden, Kent’s most beautiful village, and of course both The Thatched Barn and The Oast house ar welcoming visitors all winter. Log fires, a walk to the pub, a pint of late red and a good meal are all waiting for you. www.biddendengreencottages.co.uk your home in the garden of England.

Tilly, Molly and Lottie, along with the rest of the crew at Biddenden Green Cottages, look forward to welcoming you.

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