picture courtesy of wikipedia
We've had the first full moon of November - known as the Woodcock Moon - when the woodcock begin their migration from Europe to England, presumably to feed in a milder climate. It will be a little while longer before we see many here in the west, but I can hardly wait. They are my favorite little bird because of their appearance, and because of the strange behaviours and folklore associated with them.
Their eyes are nearly on top of their heads so they can watch for predators while they feed. It's rarely observed but a female with a chick, when disturbed, will fly off carrying the chick between her legs. What a wild ride that must be for a youngster!
They are also crepuscular, a great word I rarely if ever get to use in a sentence. It means they are mainly active at dawn and dusk.
They are also by far my favorite game bird to eat, and also the hardest to shoot which makes the reward that much sweeter. I have only ever shot two. If you shoot two woodcock - a 'right and left' as it's known - without reloading or lowering your gun and in front of two witnesses, you can be admitted to the Shooting Times Woodcock Club. I don't know any members personally. All I know is I can't wait until I hear the whirring wingbeats crossing overhead at dusk.
At the moment, I'm doing 'indoor jobs' as the weather is horrid and uncooperative. It makes everything so much harder slogging through mud, wiping paw prints off of everything, toweling off dogs every time they go outside, wearing layers and peeling them off one at a time as they get soaked, and hanging them in front of the woodburner to dry. I'm down to a t-shirt and apron now. Both fires are going at the moment to keep the house warm and, more importantly, dry. We're shooting tomorrow so I'll have to face this wretched weather then.
Part of the indoor jobs included cooking. I finished tomorrow's lunch for the workers, plus some pureed pumpkin for the freezer and a pumpkin bread. I collected our half a pig from the farm today which means a nice change from venison. I boned out the front leg and roasted it for our tea, and all the pork fat will go to the dogs to help keep their weight up as work and the colder weather takes its toll on their reserves.
The next lot of meat for the freezer is the last 14 meat chickens which I will dispatch this Tuesday. Then it will be big lamb and little lamb. I'm still not looking forward to that day. I keep putting it off.