Really Wild Birdfood Co
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The days are getting shorter and the farm is starting to have a very Autumnal 'feel' to it! During September we harvested our spring beans.

Their variety is 'Fuego' and as a bean, they are leguminous, so we use them as a break crop to return nitrogen to the soil before the next crop of wheat is grown. The beans were sown in late March and this year they yielded tremendously well. It is important with beans that they have the correct moisture content when harvested; if they are too dry, the pods shatter and the beans bounce out the front of the combine onto the floor - which is wasteful and expensive!

We are hoping that they will make the grade for human consumption and then they will be off to Egypt; the Egyptians eat huge amounts of beans! It is a windy old place Egypt!!

These pictures above are the before and after; in the pod and after harvesting and cleaning.

 

On Premium Sunflower Hearts! This month we are offering a whopping 20% off our Premium Sunflower Hearts. That equates to a saving of £8 for a 20kg bag! Our premium hearts are top quality (bakery grade) and derive from the plumpest black sunflower seeds. This means everything gets eaten, leaving no waste.

Just about all of our native British garden birds love sunflower hearts -even traditional 'non seed eaters' seem to have developed a taste for them! They are highly calorific due to their oil content, and provide an instant source of nutrition since no de-husking is required.

If you are looking to treat yourself for summer, we also have these lovely squirrel resistant Nuttery Helix Peanut feeder and Peanut feeders, in attractive summer colours which will look great in any garden and have 10% off in July.

Please also remember - during these dry days put out clean fresh water for drinking and bathing...... sit back and enjoy the bird bath action!

Last week we spotted a red kite soaring over the farm. It is not an uncommon occurrence nowadays. These spectacular birds which are easily identifiable by their forked tails, chestnut colour and white patches on the underside of what can be a 2 metre wingspan became extinct in England and Scotland in the 1870's with only a few birds remaining in mid Wales.

During the Middle Ages red kites were protected by a royal decree and were valued scavengers that helped clean up filthy streets. However by the 16th Century, in common with other birds of prey, they were being persecuted as 'vermin'. As numbers declined and they became rarer, their eggs became more valuable to collectors, which hastened their demise. Since the early 1900's, farmers and landowners' have made dedicated efforts to protect them. In the 1950s they suffered a setback when the rabbit myxomatosis outbreak decimated rabbit numbers and destroyed their main food supply.

The re-introduction of birds from Europe in the1980's and 1990's stimulated population expansion and there are now around 1800 breeding pairs in the UK -over half of them in Wales! Adult kites tend to be quite sedentary and not move far from their nest sites - so it may be the visitors we see are juvenile kites - out seeing a bit of the world (or maybe we have a lot of rabbits

We keep on adding new and interesting items to try to ensure our website is bang up to date with latest products and every time you visit Really Wild Bird Food website you see something new.
Have you checked out our recent additions yet?


You have seen the ornate and the practical bird baths in our collection that are good looking as well as an affective way of attracting birds to your garden (especially when it is dry). Have a look at this lovely new Blue Dipper bird bath. The perfect option for the smaller garden and will look pretty too!


Made from frost-resistant ceramic, this decorative bird bath comes with a striking Cerulean blue glaze that creates a beautiful contrast with the natural terracotta rim. The decorative pair of clay birds perched at the water’s edge makes it look all the more interesting. The terracotta landing stones placed at the centre give a perfect place for the birds to land and provide easy access to the water too.
View our full collection of garden bird baths.

 

 

Not long now until harvest starts in earnest; a very exciting (if a little nerve-wracking) time of year. Our winter oats (seen here) will be the first crop on the farm to be harvested and should be ready towards the end of next week.

Richard has been busy topping tracks and bumble bee strips with his beloved Massey Ferguson 675 which he bought way back in 1984 - making it a grand old 31 years of age!

As farm machinery gets bigger and bigger - there is something rather lovely about the simplicity of a 31 year old old friend to spend an uncomplicated (if rather bumpy) few hours with!

This photo shows one of our bumble bee tracks which has been recently topped. Half the track was topped about a month ago and you can see flowers just coming again.

The left hand side will recover and flower later on in August.

 

 Here is a brief comparison between the two types of Bluebells:

  • Native bluebells give off a beautiful sweet aroma. Spanish bluebells have no smell.
  • Native bluebells have droopy heads. Spanish bluebell heads are much more upright.
  • Native bluebell heads hang from the same side of the stem. Spanish bluebell heads are more random.
  • Native bluebells are narrow in shape with rolled back tips. Spanish bluebells are more conical with open tips.
  • Native bluebells have white pollen. Spanish bluebells have blue pollen.
  • Native bluebells are protected by law. Spanish bluebells are not protected so you can dig them up!

I hope you can see from these two images just how different the two species are. The left image is that of a Spanish bluebell and the right image is of our beautiful British woodland bluebells on the farm. Of course - with all the cross-pollination and hybridisation occurring - pure forms of either are becoming much rarer.

Would you like to have a look at some of our wildflower seeds? When you plant wildflowers in your garden, you attract all kinds of wildlife including bees & butterflies.

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Here is what is new at Really Wild Bird Food Company. Latest in our ever expanding range of products form you and your birds is an great addition to our Pick and Mix section
Now you will be happy to know that we are offering the inclusion of suet pellets in our Pick & Mix selections!

Our Pick and Mix options come in 2 forms, the Mini Pick and Mix of 2kg quantity and the normal Pick and Mix of 4kg quantity. Ingredients include choices from any of our Seed Mixes, Straight Seeds, Peanuts and now our latest addition to the options the Suet Pellets!

The best thing about Pick and Mix is being able to acquire a wide variety of bird feeds and enabling you to try something new in your garden at least cost

So why not visit our Pick and Mix! The Choice Is Yours!

 

There are many ways to make your garden attractive to birds and wildlife. By taking small steps like providing food and water a garden can be well on its way to becoming a haven for birds. Apart from food and bird-friendly trees and plants, there are other things that can help in achieving this aim.

Roosting pouches or shelters prove to be quite helpful to the birds to survive and in turn attract them to your garden. Many small wild bird species prefer and come to the roosting pouches for shelter when the weather is bad because they provide protection from the elements. Above you can see our Robin Roosting Pocketperfect for small birds like robins that prefer open fronted nest sites!

With the arrival of the cold weather, now is the right time to have these roosting pouches in place to provide a place to shelter for your garden birds. We have some very attractively made roosting pouches made from natural materials. These have strong rings and are easy to hang in the gardens. Above you can see our Tall Roosting Nest PocketsThese work best when they are concealed in the hedgerow and can be a real life-saver for small birds when the weather turns cold!

For more information about our roosting pouches, or any of our other bird care products, don't hesitate to get in contact with us! Give us a call on 01489 896785 or send us an email to sales@reallywildbirdfood.co.uk.

The Get Set Go Feeders for example are low cost, available in beautiful colours and easy to use. The quick release base and the easy disassembling make these feeders easy to clean thoroughly. These feeders are available in different colours and make great gift options too. Since Christmas is just round the corner, these will definitely make well appreciated gift options for the bird lovers.


The other new entrant in our list of products are The One Peanut feeders. These feeders can be mounted on the Droll Yankee Garden Poles and are again very easy to clean since they are easily detachable. The Ring Pull feeder is another great option that is cost effective and top quality. The parts of these feeders can be easily separated by simply pulling out the central pin which again facilitates easy cleaning. These come in different sizes to suit your requirements.


Birds love peanut butter and so we have Flutter Butter, a rich and nutritious option with a low salt content which makes a delicious protein boost all year round. What’s more it can be put out in the garden easily by simply twisting the jar into the Flutter Butter Feeder.
Apart from these we have many more options available but if you prefer a gift voucher that option is also available.

It’s an average September morning in the Smith farmhouse kitchen in Hampshire: Richard has drained his cup of tea and is pulling on an overcoat; his wife Lesley stacks the dishwasher while her laptop boots up, ready to start her working day; and eight-year-old Eleanor is giving her rescue dog Lily one last pat before school. It’s like countless scenes playing out in homes around the country but with one big difference. Clearly visible through the large glass double doors that dominate the back wall of the kitchen are a thousand golden sunflowers – and, if it wasn’t for them, the Smiths wouldn’t still be living at Street End Farm.

“It’s a cliché, but it’s true when they say that farming is in your blood – my family has been farming for centuries,” says Richard, who grew up on the 400 acres near Bishop’s Waltham, taking over from his father in 1981.
At first, he continued growing crops for seed but in 2000, grain prices hit rock bottom and, five years later, he was faced with losing it all. “As a relatively small farm, we couldn’t produce enough to survive. We had a choice – leave or diversify. I hated the thought of renting out the land, so had to come up with an alternative.”


That was when Richard struck upon the idea of The Really Wild Bird Food Co, growing a small number of plants – including sunflowers – and mixing the seeds with grain to sell wholesale. “There was a lot of competition, and retailers were only interested in cheap varieties that used wheat filler to keep the price down,” explains Richard, who would often be out on the tractor at 11 o’clock at night in order to produce the tonnage needed to make the business viable.


“I thought a range based on quality ingredients that I could raise myself and sell at a good price would work.” It was a bold move – with Eleanor just a toddler, Lesley had taken time out from her marketing job at a pharmaceutical company, and their finances were tight. “I faced a dilemma,” she recalls. “Should I go back to my well-paid job, leaving Richard with the company? Or should I sacrifice a stable income so we could try to turn it around together?”


The Smiths decided that the business could only work if they pooled their skills, so, while Richard expanded his sunflowers to ten acres and planted another ten of white millet, Lesley set up a website and began marketing their new venture.


Today, Street End Farm’s breathtaking displays of sunflowers, a sight more commonly associated with balmy Tuscan landscapes, attract visitors from around the country. But it isn’t only day trippers who make an annual pilgrimage. “Having spent my life outdoors, I knew what type of seeds birds like and my planting reflects that,” Richard says. “Skylarks often wheel overhead when I’m out in the tractor, and the diverse crops attract new species, such as stonechats, every year.”


Having harvested his commercial crops of wheat, oats and oilseed in August, this month Richard turns his attention to the birdseed mixes. Once gathered, he spreads the seeds over a drying floor and passes warm air between them, before sending them through a series of vibrating sieves to remove stalks and other waste materials. Finally comes the blending and bagging.


“I had to work out how the components of my mixes would sit together – some naturally rise to the top, while others might clog the feeder. It took a great deal of trial and error to get the right balance,” Richard says. He launched five mixes and now produces 14, including a general one, four tailored to specific garden birds, and the Tidy Garden blend, for those who don’t want their lawns scattered with shells.
The process from field to packet takes three or four days but it’s heavily governed by the weather. “Last year was testing: it was so wet, we didn’t finish harvesting the sunflowers until November,” Richard adds. “But, if the weather is bad for crops, it usually means birds need a helping hand – which is good for business.”


At first, Richard and Lesley couldn’t simply rely on customers coming to them – the company is based online – so, by the end of 2005, they spent every weekend at farmers’ markets, spreading the quality birdseed word. It also proved a great opportunity to collect feedback. “One lady asked if I had anything for robins, which I didn’t, because I’d thought the cost of adding mealworms to a mix would be prohibitive,”
Richard says. “I decided to try it out, though, and now our Deluxe Robin Crumble is one of our bestsellers.”


Slowly but steadily, five orders a month became one a day and by 2008 the business was starting to make money. “It was tough; we were living frugally on our savings,” Lesley says. “Richard used to ask me, ‘Is this going to work?’ I honestly didn’t know, but we’d given ourselves five years to try, and our only choice was to push on.” Ploughing profits back into the business, Richard added canary seed and linseed to his crops, whose fragrant, lilac blooms in June begin a colourful crescendo that continues with the yellow-petalled sunflowers and tassled fronds of millet. Ensuring traceability of his product, he sources ingredients such as buckwheat and hemp, which are not financially viable for him to grow, from a producer in West Sussex.


The couple have also taken on three members of staff, and introduced a range of feeders and birdbaths. The birdseed business accounts for just 80 acres of the entire farm, but it has become its biggest income, and Richard is devoting more acreage to it every year.
Running the company has introduced the family to another side of farm life. “We weren’t avid birdwatchers before,” Lesley says, “but now we have let some areas grow wild and put up nesting boxes to help increase their numbers.” For Eleanor, growing up in such special
surroundings is nothing out of the ordinary. “I have no idea if she’ll want to be a farmer,” Richard says. “All I know is that if we hadn’t started the birdseed business, she wouldn’t have had the choice.”