The Best Thing about this Snow …

January 19, 2018

still snowy

… is that we definitely know the hares are back. One picked its way down our path this morning at first light and settled in a little hollow it has made for itself above the pond. It’s not as chilled as past visiting hares have been – I suspect it knows it’s a bit more conspicuous than usual (it not being one of the mountain hares that goes white for the winter) so its ears keep swivelling around like a radar dish and it takes flight at the slightest movement from the house, leaving only a hare-shaped hole in the snow.

hollow in the snow

Place where hare was, sans hare. You’ll just have to use your imagination

Some clearing and ploughing from neighbours with way better toys than we have (our retired lawyer neighbour up the hill has not one but two diggers and relishes any opportunity to use them) means our road is somewhat passable; postal deliveries have been resumed and I was able to cycle almost all the way to and from our door, thanks to the magical ice tyres.

snow on the hills, green below

We walked in the woods today and our footprints from two days ago had been completely obliterated by the snow since then. Apart from a glorious bullfinch, looking even more gorgeous than usual against the snow, the only signs of life were the tracks of badger and deer, foxes and squirrels. There’s something a little strange about coming out of the woods, having waded through pristine foot-deep snow, to see the cars back up to speed on the road across the valley and the green of the fields reappearing down below us, while everything around us remains buried in snow.

single green field

(except this one field, mysteriously, which doesn’t seem to have any snow on it at all. What do you think the farmer has done to it? Extra potent slurry? Underturf heating to make it a luxury sheep spa destination)

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Harey Christmas?

November 15, 2017

So I was all set to write another grumpy post today, having received yet another unsolicited letter from a legal firm that wants us to enrich them by agreeing to sue the electricity company over the fact that there’s a cable going over our property, something we should apparently see as a dreadful imposition rather than a source of free tree surgery.

So there was much muttering about parasitic capitalism as I cycled into Bigtown to brave the Christmas music,* cheered only moderately by encountering a chap out birdwatching by bike and then only moderately more by the silver flash of fieldfares’ wings as they flocked in the hedgerows on the way back.

But then, looking out of my study window on my return I was restored by the sight of not one but two hares sauntering about the garden. We have not had hares in the garden for ages – possibly too much gardening going on, with the construction of the greenhouse and other projects – and I was beginning to wonder if we had chased them off altogether. So it was encouraging to see them back, and hopefully more more than just a passing visit…

* It turns out that the source in the shop is in fact a life-size animatronic singing Santa which interrupts its renditions of Winter Wonderland with the occasional cry of ‘Merry Christmas everyone!’ Frankly, if it makes it through to Christmas without ending up beheaded and crucified in the local primary school playground, then that end of Bigtown will not have lived up to its lawless reputation.


Tuckered Out

June 9, 2017

When you were going to go to bed but then you caught the news about the exit poll and you ended up staying up way past your bedtime waiting for just a few more results to come in …

sleeping hare

not dead, only sleeping

… I think this young hare speaks for the nation today. And yes, it is genuinely fast asleep like that, not dead. It just crashed out like that on our patio. It’s nice that they feel that relaxed about being in our garden …


Baselining

May 31, 2017

With the other half finally home, and things slightly easing off on the bonkers busy front, it’s been time to start getting to grips with the gardening backlog. Today, I managed an hour or so listening to the radio (PM is as ever the only news programme that’s bearable during election time, indeed increasingly the only news programme that’s bearable full stop) and planting out my leek seedlings while the other half tackled the grass.

leek seedlings

I’m putting this year’s veg growing down to establishing a baseline – things can only improve from here, effectively. Especially as I discovered this morning that the Small Emergency Backup Hare is using the potato patch as its current chilling spot. Clearly my hare defences need to be exchanged for something less rustic and more agricultural, possibly involving chicken wire and/or baler twine.

veg plot at the end of May

Meanwhile, the Large Main Hare and another Large Main Hare appear to be working on the stock of Small Emergency Backup Hares, although Mrs Main Hare doesn’t seem to be too keen right at the moment. Yesterday, as I headed off on my bike to Bigtown they were so busy chasing eachother round the farmyard at the bottom of the hill they were actually running towards me instead of away – I can only hope they’re a bit more wary around the cars. And I’ve discovered that, for an animal with a reputation for the uncanny and the magical, when hares get frisky with each other they’re actually pretty heavy footed (especially when you’re all alone in the house and wondering what on earth is thundering around outside). Humans clearly aren’t the only ones to totally lose their cool in the presence of the opposite sex…

frisky hares


Hare Today, No Veg Tomorrow

May 15, 2017

We’ve been sadly deficient in hares for the last few days, which is a great sadness to us because it’s been a huge privilege to be able to watch them chilling out in our back garden.

So I was quite excited the other morning to see something moving through the garden and snapped a quick somewhat hazy photo (I had just got out of the bath…)

hare in the veg plot

Hmm. Perhaps they can’t read after all. I thought my sign was pretty clear.

After it had had a nibble of the potato leaves, it hopped over my hare defences with insolent ease.

Unfortunately, we are off (again, I know, but family calls) to Colorado for a week leaving the hares in charge. At best this may bode ill for the vegetables. At worst, they may have moved in and changed the locks. I’m ruling nothing out.

Even if the latter, I think the other half is still Team Hare.


Hares Today …

March 14, 2017

hare outside front doorAs I may have mentioned, we have a resident hare in the garden. It has a few favoured spots where it likes to hang out, and it’s a bit fly to be photographed on a mobile phone, although today I did my best when I went into our entranceway today and found we had a visitor right outside (possibly contemplating nibbling the second of the pair of little bay trees that I had been hoping would frame our doorway; it’s already decapitated the first.)

When I was in Inverness, I also got a text from the other half to tell me that not one but two hares were hanging out on the manky pink carpet, waiting for the rain to stop. As hares are largely solitary, two hares can mean only one thing: that the time has come when a young hare’s fancy turns to, well, other hares (the ‘boxing’ they are famous for in March is generally down to the female hare not yet being similarly inclined and reminding the male hare that hares are largely solitary and she would prefer to keep it that way, thankyouverymuch). So far we’ve seen neither boxing nor any sign that they are doing more than just tolerating each others’ presence, but we live in hope of more hares tomorrow.

hare haring off

Naturally this makes the hare-proof defences for the vegetable patch increasingly urgent, but for now we are just enjoying their presence and trying to work out a means by which we and the hares can continue to share the garden nicely.


When Wildlife Goes Bad

June 13, 2014

I have to admit, I didn’t exactly set out to get the paper with a song in my heart this morning. More of a sort of nervous keeping-one’s-spirits-up whistling. Being struck by a buzzard out of the blue is one thing, and frankly it’s scary enough. Knowingly setting off on your bike to face an angry buzzard is quite another. As I rode down to the papershop I found myself counting off the miles: Nearest Village is pretty safe, then the bit down to the sharp corner is fine, then there’s a long stretch which has never been buzzard infested to my knowledge, then that nice downhill bit to the ruined cottage…

buzzard alley

Here be buzzards

… that marks the entrance to buzzard alley.

The stretch of road where I’ve been attacked only amounts to about half a mile of the whole five-and-a-half mile run down to Papershop Village. Clearly, that’s about the size of an angry buzzard’s territory. It happens to be surrounded by conifer plantation – lots of nice buzzard ambush points – and goes up the longest, steepest hill of the whole ride, meaning any cyclists are going slow enough to be swooped upon. As I approached the entrance, I stopped to put my hood up, nerved myself up, had a quick look around for any obviously enraged raptors, and set off.

To cut a long story short, ASBO buzzard is still there, and it’s still angry. But its aim has either improved or worsened, depending on its intentions, because I only got two close-ish passes this morning, rather than the full buzzard-across-the-back-of-the-head treatment.

And lest you think it’s all wildlife-related terror round here, once safely out of Buzzard territory, I then rounded the corner and encountered two hares who were more interested in either beating or chatting* each other up than me. Apologies for the quality of the photos; my camera phone zoom is worse than useless. But you know what they say: the best camera is the one you have.

hares fighting hares fighting

Anyway, now I am safely in Edinburgh where at least I only have to deal with the trams and the lorries in two dimensions, rather than three. If any of you are also in the city and at a loose end, may I recommend this followed by this?

* Like herons and humans, their fighting and courtship rituals are hard to distinguish