It is not a nice experience.
So we have to do something.
The general wisdom is that the combination of a ready water supply in the form of the nearby lake combined with a ready and easy food supply in the form of the girl's chicken food means short of putting down some Very Nasty Indeed poisons (which we won't do) the rats will remain. And then multiply. And then multiply again. And probably again after that.
So, after much soul-searching, we have decided to give up our hens. They've been with us five or six years and I will be sad to see them go, but they are only moving down the lane to a (to be honest) far superior abode (in the form of ma's garden), so we will be able to visit them. Hopefully, that will sort our little rat problemo out.
I've been out at a college practical today- a field trip to St Catherine's Hill, an iron age hillfort and nature reserve.
It was cold. Does that show in the pics?
But we are Brave and
In fact, compared to our trip to Richmond Park to see the deer rut last autumn when we all got completely soaked, this visit was relatively comfortable.
St Cats is bordered by Twyford Down, which some of you may remember from the protests that went round the country 19 years ago, when the M3 cutting was put right through the middle of these ancient hills and trackways. I was at uni in the city at the time and a friend got his pictures of the demonstrations of what became known as the 'Dongas Tribe' into the national papers. The cutting is still an eye-sore and I suspect if it were required now a tunnel would be the preferred method. The motorway slices straight through the middle of the hills, cutting them off from Winchester entirely, which is not Great News for the local wildlife...
St Cats is chalk downland and part of the management plan involves the grazing of livestock to produce a mixed level sward. Sheep nibble it right down and the cattle leave it a little longer. This benefits all the invertebrates who call the hill and surrounding valleys home (including the increasingly rare Brown Argus butterflies who live on the slopes here).
The trust that manages the hill grazed British White Cattle here. The jackdaws were having a Great Time this morning pulling our their coats for nesting materials. There are gonner be some swanky-looking fur-lined nests round about....
St Cats (or the valley to one side of it) was used as a burial pit during the 14th C when the Black Death wiped out most of Winchester. There are still restrictions in place today that prevent disturbance of the ground around the graves. I've always found that section of the hill an eerie, sad place to be.
The ancient hospice at St Cross, about which I have written before, was visible across the still soggy water meadows as we made our way back to the cars....
Here is a picture of some of my Chums, squashed into the landy on the way home. And at this point I have to issue a Very Public Apology to Calum (see, only one "L") for miss-spelling his name in a previous post. I promised I would Cal, and I have!
I popped into winch for a spot of retail therapy afterwards, but forgot I was wearing my 'traipsing round the hills in very cold weather' kit and made the mistake of going into Jigsaw, where the shop assistants and the customers alike looked like they would very much have liked to call the police and have me forcibly ejected for bringing the tone of the place down. This is becoming a pattern. Sigh.
Back home and Scruffy Mucking About Clothes (as M rather endearingly calls them) are not remotely out of place, in fact they are de rigeuer. The birds didn't seem to care (or notice), probably because they are all too knackered to be bothered about what people are wearing, run off their feet (flown off their wings?) as they are, feeding small children whom they've hidden away in their nests strategically placed round the garden...
And as far as Pop and Ted are concerned, you could walk round the house naked and they wouldn't mind, as long as you put their fire on for them. Remember how this used to be Teddy's fire and Pop was lucky is she got half a paw on the blanket in front of it? Those days are long gone...Incidentally, don't you think she's grown? Nearly as big as Teddy these days.
|Squashed up as close as close can be|
I think I mentioned that we have a Vole (I think he's short-tailed, unless he's met with an unfortunate accident) living in the front veg patch? I first noticed him some time last week and have seen him a few times since. A couple of days back I noticed he has made himself a Nice Front Door in the form of a hole into a tunnel on the other side of the beds from where I first saw him. This suggests to me that he considers the whole of the veg patch as his stomping ground, something I have been worrying about, because M also consider the veg patch to be his stomping ground. I say have been worrying about rather than am, because today something happened that made me suspect the vole won't be remotely bothered about M being there.
I thought I'd try and get a piccy for you. I expected this to be difficult (voley people being notoriously shy and fast and his hole being nearby), so you'll imagine my Complete Amazement when I went out with the camera and found him, not only sitting out in broad daylight by his hole, but remaining calmly there while the dogs crashed up and down the path in front of him like lunatics, battering themselves against his fence. I was desperate to wave them away but honestly thought he'd skedaddle if he heard my voice or if I moved. As it was his face was obscured by some blades of grass so I thought perhaps he didn't know I was there.
In the end the dogs were driving me mad so I took the risk and waved them away and then took a step or two forward so I could see him properly.
Did he bolt as expected?
Heck, no. He remained sitting where he was, looked calmly at me for a good few minutes, and only when he'd checked me out thoroughly did he turn round and amble off down his hole. Magic. I LOVE knowing he is there.
|The latest Des Res chez Countryside Tales|
The only other thing of note to tell you is that the new iphone has arrived and I am already hooked, largely due to the fantastic wildlife-related apps you can get for it. This is going to prove Enormously Useful for college, where we do a lot of ID tests for all sorts of wild-related things...
I've already downloaded a goodly selection and had fun last night testing M on various bird songs and wild flowers. This was gratifying because I can easily beat him at it, which makes up for all the University Challenge episodes....
These apps are great- the birdsong quiz one tests your knowledge of the calls of various birds, and I have another one which tests birds by sight. The wildflower one has got different settings for the quiz element, so you can choose to test your know-how against the leaf, flower or the whole plant. Its the same for the inverts one and the winter twigs. Happy Days! You know what I'm going to be doing for the foreseeable future.
I'll leave you with a pic of those two devoted doggy people trying to kill each other on the garden path, as you do....(Mr Vole lives just behind the fence on the right).
Hope your week is going well?