Your Late Season Hare

October 4, 2020

On a day when apparently the whole of the UK was being battered by Storm Alex, here in Bigtownshire it’s been rather suspiciously lovely – mild, dry, sunny, and I even had a tailwind uphill on my way home, which is unheard of in October. The other half was tempted out to do some strimming while he could – ‘while he could’, in this case, translating into ‘until he started up a baby hare’ because nobody wants to find a baby hare the hard way while strimming.

In this case, the leveret got itself safely away from the strimming monster but apparently struggled to get into the raised beds in a particularly adorable way. By the time I had come out, and the other half had got his camera out, it was safely ensconced under the broccoli.

meadow in June

There’s no real point to this tale except to show you this photo, really (irritatingly WordPress has switched to a new interface and has decided to make it so you can’t click on it and see it in all its glory [update it turns out I can make it work by editing the html …]). October is late for leverets of this size, but hopefully the weather will be mild enough for it to thrive, and it’s welcome to all the brassicas it can eat. Meanwhile, the strimming will have to wait.


Wee Stoater

August 24, 2019

As I mentioned, we’re off on holiday on Monday for a couple of weeks, and so it’s been the usual rush to get everything done before we go. So yesterday morning I was keen to get to my desk and get my head down, with a couple of work deadlines looming.

This would have gone better, had not a stoat decided to appear on our front lawn and – if you’ll forgive me the technical animal behaviour terminology – start wildly mucking about.

Up until now, my encounters with stoats have been pretty fleeting – something dashing across the road in front of my bike, or occasionally stopping to peer at me from the undergrowth. I’d certainly never seen one doing backflips before, let alone right in front of my study window. As a means of distracting me from work, it couldn’t have been bettered.

In fact, according to some sources, this was the point of the acrobatics: stoats apparently hypnotise their prey by acting weird and then pounce as their unsuspecting audience edges closer for a better look. This would be more convincing if there had been anything else around to watch than us – stoats are also known for taking prey much larger than themselves, but even so I think a couple of humans (however fascinated we were) might be overambitious for something that weighs a couple of hundred grams. Another school of thought is that it’s the side effects of a nematode infection (although there’s no reason both couldn’t be true and that the stoats have evolved to profit from their infestation-induced antics; after all, it’s been suggested a similar thing might be happening in humans).

Either way, by the time I’d extracted myself from an Internet-sized rabbit hole of animal behaviour work really was looming, so it took until today before I managed to get the resulting poor quality video up online to prove I wasn’t imagining things

This morning’s distraction was just as cute but rather less acrobatic.

young hare

Given the stoat is still around, if the dancing really is an effective form of hunting behaviour, and the leverets prove as susceptible as we were, we might have a dilemma on our hands …


Garden Assistance

June 16, 2019

After a week of gadding about, today felt like a day for hunkering down and getting on with the gardening. Undoubtedly there were more productive things I could have been doing, but sometimes you get stuck into a task and find it hard to stop.

Which is why our back patio now looks like this:

weed-free patio slabs

Oh, okay, that was a carefully selected camera angle and a tight crop; the true picture looks like this (please excuse the pile of stones which are awaiting a project that needs a load of stones (we’re not bringing any more gravel into this garden if we can help it), various random stumps which have been sitting there so long I’ve stopped seeing them, the mystery giant’s chair that was left by the previous owners and has proved a good place to harden off seedlings out of reach of slugs, the equally mysterious spare flagpole (we already have a main flagpole) found in the garage, and the overgrown mass of vegetation which is currently smothering a collapsing trellis and wood store which will be sorted out in the fullness of time):

back patio

I did leave one ‘weed’ – a little patch of speedwell. I’ve always thought of it as growing in lawns but it seemed happy among the stones so I’ve transplanted some more around the edges of the patio. With any luck it will spread along the gaps between the paving stones and at least give the dandelions and other weeds a run for their money. Something has to, as I know that my efforts this afternoon have largely amounted to giving them a nice radical pruning, rather than actually eradicating them.

speedwell flowers

It was also satisfying to discover many ex-snails (last seen doing their bit for science) among the weeds – we have a resident thrush whose intermittent hammering forms a soothing soundtrack to any gardening task. While I am now a little fonder of the stripey snails than I was before, I’m fonder of thrushes, which have had a tough time of it due to our farming habits. It’s good to know that our garden functions as a thrush habitat as well as a hare one, especially if it makes the garden a bit less of a snail habitat.

Meanwhile, the young hare is no gardening help at all, having decided that my (allegedly fenced off) asparagus bed is a handy place to chill out – unless ‘contemptuously demonstrating the uselessness of my hare defences’ counts as helping…

hare in asparagus bed

Damn it’s cute though.


Hare Brained

April 27, 2017

As spring (or ‘spring’, as it’s been rebranded after the last couple of days of icy winds and the odd shower of is that … snow?) advances, the garden is slowly revealing itself. Or at least, what survives of the garden after, apparently, ten years of neglect and rampant chickens, if our neighbours’ stories of the previous owners are anything to go by. Probably not plants that are going to need a whole lot of cosseting to survive.

Dicentra formosa

Dicentra formosa (according to Professor Google) which has popped up in one of the bits down to be managed by strimmer…

There’s a lot of it, so my strategy was to try and identify which bits of the garden I would try and change this year, which bits I would try to maintain as they are, and which bits would be left to be managed by strimmer until we have decided what to do with them and have the time to take them on.

hare hiding

spot the hare

Since the advent of the junior hare, however, the garden has been reclassified into ‘hare habitat’ and ‘non-hare habitat’. The hare, being downright adorable, gets to have whichever bits of the garden it likes to sit in (currently: under a pile of willow sticks that were going to be burnt, in a clump of weeds by a wall that were going to be weeded, next to the bench where we like to have our coffee in the sunshine, and tucked into a huge clump of grass beside an old tree stump where it has created a hare-shaped hole (technically a ‘form’). I’ve managed to retain the veg patch, the front lawn and, so far, the house although if it wanted to come in, I can’t imagine us denying it.

hare form

Hare-shaped hole in the grass

So the gardening will be somewhat patchy this year – but we’re not complaining. When the hare is around, and visible from the windows in the house, it’s actually quite hard to tear yourself away in case it does something extra cute like scratch its nose, pull down its ears to nibble at the tips of them, or stretch out one or more of its improbably long legs before settling down to look inscrutable again in its chosen spot.

hare in weeds

hare, what hare?

It’s also quite hard to go out to the garage for more fuel for the fire, or do any gardening, or generally do anything, without scaring it off, so we’ve been reduced to walking the long way around the house to the garage, or practising our special nonchalant ‘hare, what hare?’ walk as we skirt past it as unobtrusively and unscarily as possible.

hare running away

Sometimes this works better than others.

Hares aren’t territorial, so we know that this one is really only visiting and eventually it will move on and we will get full access to our garden again. But gosh we’ll be sad to see it go …


Every Little Helps

June 9, 2016

pannier full

I really should know better than to go to the Bigtown plant swap event. Even though I cunningly go by bike, so I can’t be tempted to pick up any plants which may or may not be suitable for the new house, when you’ve got a magically expanding Dutch pannier bag it’s amazing what you find you can carry home all the same.

plant swap haul

Like two bay trees, some lupins, and a strawberry plant. And then again, who doesn’t need such things in their new garden? And given all the splendid goodies on offer,* I think I was relatively abstemious.

In other news, I noticed the other evening that we’ve been getting a little hand with the weeding

hare eating weeds

Chilled hare (or its equally chilled pal) is back.

hare scratching

* It’s becoming a regular occurrence at these events that a chap nobody has ever seen before pulls up just as the event is starting and offloads a bootful of amazing nursery-standard young plants from his allotment and then disappears without a word. I think some gardeners just grow plants like some knitters knit – it’s the doing that’s the thing and the end product is somewhat irrelevant; finding someone who’s happy to take them off your hands is a bonus.