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The Tramp is gone. I am ending this blog and starting a new one. There are a whole bunch of reasons that I will explain but probably the most important one is that last Thursday I signed the papers that will provide me with a small but adequate pension for the rest of my life. I am not a Tramp any more.

The last two and a half years, since I separated from my wife, have been quite difficult.

A little over two years ago I was homeless, broke and quite cold so I met a girl. She was a singer in a seven piece country rock band and she had a house, with a roof on it. So I moved in and lived with her for about six months. She was a very good person but these kind of things don’t really last.

She gave me back my confidence. I was the fellow with the girl on stage. I was everybody’s best friend. We had a lot of fun with band rehearsals and gigging. She also taught me that at this time in my life I want to live alone. That is the way that I want it. I know that I could do other things but maybe later, maybe I have already done them.

The band played a style of music called “Outlaw Country” and some of it was quite raunchy. They wrote a lot of their own stuff but they did a lot of covers too. This is a song that they covered and a nice way to say goodbye.

Well that was Willow, she told me that she loved nature but all she really loved was rock and roll and I need grass and trees, that is just how it is. I hope that she is happy and well.

Tramp has run out of free storage space.

I always intended just to start paying for storage when my free space ran out but Tramp isn’t giving me what I want. In the year that it has been running I have written about five hundred posts and they have all become lost in the mist of time.

When I write something I want it to stay writ and I want to be able to easily find it again. The new blog has a series of pages running along the top that will provide links to everything written. I have only just started work on it so it is not a finished product yet but I will polish it.

Anyway you can just ignore the pages and read the posts. Pages that I create will not appear in your reader, just the posts, so I won’t be constantly bothering you with my trivia.

There will be a lot of this.

HeaderThere will also be enough of this to keep me happy.

Wild ArumI am using the same template and I have tried to keep the new design as close to Tramp as possible because I know that some people don’t like change. You shouldn’t notice a lot of difference.

Easy Wildflowers is going too but it is just becoming a part of the new blog. It will all take time but Fizz and I have got the rest of our lives now.

For a long time I have been living with the knowledge that I am in trouble and that I don’t know what is coming in the future but whatever it is I am a tough guy and I will cope with it. I have had enough of that, I am bored with it now. Time for something new.

The new title reflects my new status.

A Farm, A Forest and Fizz

No worries ­čÖé

Come over and see me if you like. Your friendship has kept me going and I owe you.

2Tramp is finished ­čÖé Bye

Unidentified Wildflower

This one is a tiny wildflower and you have to look quite closely if you want to see it as more than a dot on ┬áthe floor but then that is what we are here for…. to look closely.


The leaves are very distinctive and the flower is exquisite. I am confident that despite it’s diminutive size I will have no problem in getting a positive identification on this one. Usually when I find a flower that I don’t know I can at least recognise the family but I am at a bit of a loss here.

 Unidentified Wildflower

 Unidentified Wildflower

 Unidentified Wildflower

 Unidentified Wildflower

 Unidentified Wildflower

 Unidentified Wildflower

 Unidentified Wildflower

 Unidentified Wildflower

 Unidentified Wildflower

Over to you…… ┬á ­čÖé


Molasses: Dark Treacle.

I have decided to have another go at raising caterpillars.

Raising Treacle wasn’t easy and for a little while I thought that it was going to be a disaster. I made quite a few mistakes. I took late instar caterpillars from the wild and the mortality rate was high and I found that upsetting. Despite those things there were some fantastic moments.

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshellthe biggest thing was how much that I learned in the process.

The thing that I really wanted to do was photograph the miracle transformation from caterpillar to butterfly and in that I failed so I am going to try again.

Dark Treacle:

Aglais io, used to be Inachis io,┬ásome people just say “The most beautiful butterfly in the world.”

You know what a Peacock is don’t you?

Peacock ButterflyThe Peacock’s year is a few weeks behind the Small Tortoiseshell and there are still plenty of caterpillars about, that gives us a second chance to get the pictures.

Finding the animals wasn’t difficult, they make these little tents of silk to hide in while they eat the leaves. I don’t know how well the hiding works, I find that the tents rather draw attention to them.

Peacock Web

Peacock Larvae

Peacock LarvaeI am pleased that I have found small animals, I want to avoid the mistakes that I made last time. These haven’t been exposed to the perils of nature for very long.

Peacock LarvaeAs to building a Molasses-arium I am starting off with my old design. The caterpillars won’t wander while they are this small, they will stay happily on the leaves that I give them but I want to avoid the great escape that will come when they are ready to pupate. I think that I will just have to find and buy a purpose built home for them.

For now they have an old planter that I found in the yard with a little tub of soil in it. The greens will need water to stay fresh but you can’t put them in open water, the caterpillars will fall in and drown.

Molasses-ariumIt is no coincidence that both the species that I have kept have Stinging Nettles as their food plant. I am good at identifying Stinging Nettles and I have a ready supply of fresh leaves.

Molasses-ariumSo that is their new home prepared for now.

Molasses-ariumThe Nettles will wilt immediately but they quickly recover and will stay firm and fresh for a couple of days.

The little animals seemed to like their new home and scampered around exploring.

Peacock caterpillars Peacock caterpillarsThis morning I was pleased to see that they had reorganised themselves into a social group and were seriously eating my nettles.

Peacock caterpillars

Peacock caterpillarsThey don’t seem to have built a tent to hide in and they have no protection if I decide to eat them but I have just had a large plate of delicious new potatoes from the farm shop, they are safe for now.

Coming soon: Peacock Butterflies.

Peacock Butterfly



Sad Treacle Update: 04.06

Sadly I have had to remove my last post and rewrite it. This morning it was evident that things hadn’t gone to plan and in fact Treacle had died.

The good news is that wasn’t the real Treacle just one of his body doubles. The real treacle is absolutely fine but a bit confused about his size at the moment.

Small Tortoiseshell LarvaUnfortunately I am learning about this as I go along and there are some lessons to be learnt.

Collecting caterpillars from the wild means that they have been exposed to the perils of parasitoids. We have already seen one Tachanid Fly in action.

(Pelatachina tibialis)

Pelatachina tibialis

In fact I am seeing these flies everywhere that I find Small Tortoiseshells, they seem to be very common but these are not even the main threat.

Major declines in Small Tortoiseshell numbers between 2003 and 2008  have been traced to another fly species Sturmia bella. One study of 5000 caterpillars taken from the wild found that 25% of them were killed by the larva of this one species.

Of Treacle’s doubles there have been a few casualties. I don’t have the resources to find out what killed them but I am pretty sure that it was parasitoid species.

I am sorry about the macabre photographs but this is learning.

Parasitoid Casualty Parasitoid casualty

It is just something to be aware of if you want to try raising caterpillars from the wild.

One way to avoid this would be to buy a kit. The animals supplied would not have been exposed to these risks.

Caterpillars are very fussy eaters and you generally have to have a good supply of their particular food plant, which is why I am raising Nettle eating animals. The kits available often contain Painted Lady caterpillars because they are one of the few caterpillars that can be fed with a food supplied with the kit and you don’t have to go out and get stung.

A painted Lady.

Painted Lady

Whilst browsing WordPress sites I found one that I liked and found useful and I am guessing that he won’t mind me giving him a plug.

The Butterfly Playbook

An enthusiast from Finland with more knowledge than me. His advice when collecting caterpillars from the wild was to choose small ones, the smaller the better as they have had less exposure to predators and are more likely to survive.

Pretty much the opposite to my original approach and I have taken that advice on board.

Small Tortoiseshell Caterpillar

On a recent trip to collect leaves for food I managed to miss the fact that inside one of the tightly curled leaves were a whole bunch of little caterpillars and they are now running around in the Treacle-arium.

When collecting leaves I am normally careful to shake of any insects as I don’t want to bring anything else into the house but that is another issue. The fly that I mentioned earlier (Sturmia bella) gets her eggs inside the caterpillars by laying them on the food plant and hoping they will be eaten by a suitable host. To try and avoid introducing this parasitoid I pick nettles where there are no caterpillars present.

Small Tortoiseshell LarvaI don’t know why this caterpillar failed to complete it’s moult but there is a possibility that it was my fault.

I have been reading today that it is important to keep them out of direct sunlight as this can cause their skin to dry and harden and make a moult fail. We ┬ádidn’t have direct sunlight yesterday it was an overcast day but I had put him in the best light that I had available.

I will never know but I will be a lot more careful when it comes to the real Treacle.

One other thing that I have learned: I have become very complacent about leaving my caterpillars uncovered because once they are settled on the leaves they stay there. It was not just coincidence that the last caterpillar was on the leg of my tripod.

Small Tortoiseshell larva

They will stay on the food plant right up until they are ready to pupate and then they  instinctively move as far away from it as they can before finding a safe place to pupate.

That presents a small problem for me and I am going to have to build a perimeter fence of good pupating sticks.

Well, I didn’t like writing this post and I don’t need anyone to “Like” it. It was just a hard lesson learnt. Crap really.

My enthusiasm is not dampened, I still intend to try and watch a caterpillar pupate into a beautiful butterfly and in the process I shall learn a lot more yet.

Small Tortoiseshell


Red Campion, Boys and Girls.

Red Campion, to a lot of people it is a persistent weed. All of my flowers are weeds, I don’t really do gardens.

Silene dioica is a beautiful wildflower, it is probably at it’s best right now but you can find it in flower pretty much all year round. There isn’t very much else in flower in January.

Picture taken on January 9th.

Red Campion  FlowerIn fact I could find this one at any time throughout the winter, that alone is good enough reason to love it but it also has mysteries. and plants with mysteries always catch my eye.

Silene dioica, the first part of the name is derived from Silenus a figure from Greek mythology whom I find variously described as the god of woodland or the god of drunkenness. I have never seen this flower drunk. The second part dioica is derived from the term dioecious, which this plant is. It means that the plant has male and female forms. That is the bit that interests me.

Dioecious- Pistillate and staminate flowers on different plants.

Boys first. (Because they are the less interesting)

Red Campion Staminate

This is the staminate form of the flower, the male. It has stamens and produces pollen.

Red Campion StaminateRed Campion StaminateNext we have the female flowers.

Red Campion FemaleThese flowers don’t have stamens, they have five stigmas that collect pollen and a single ovary.

Red Campion Female Red Campion FemaleThose stigmas go right down to the base of the flower and now the sepals wrap around them in a structure called a calyx, this is where the fruit will develop.

Red Campion calyxAs the fruit develops the petals fall off and the seed pod swells.

Last night Fizz and I also went out to get pictures of the calyx of Silene dioica.

Red Campion calyx Red Campion calyx Red Campion calyx Red Campion calyxSo that is all that I have got to say about Red Campion. If you are out and about today you will almost certainly see it in flower. Do enjoy it.

Red Campion