Friday, 2 September 2016

Walking Among The Fields

There was a cool wind blowing when the dogs and I went across the fields this morning. All week we've been up and out early to beat the heat, but this morning the heat had gone and the wind was agitated in its place, whispering of a change in the weather as September ushers itself in.

The pigs had been wallowing, displaying the evidence in the crumbled patchwork of old mud dried on their flanks. Poppy likes to stand on her back legs and watch them. She isn't so keen when they come rattling up to her looking for food and scampers off in search of things less intimidating. I like the pigs: they are friendly, boisterous, bumbling creatures who gaze at you from intelligent eyes, noses working as they take your smell in for analysis.

While the dogs watched the pigs I watched the hedgerows, finding the fruits of Guelder Rose well along now, all red and plump and heavy, hanging low from the bough.

The badgers, who have three front doors along the track between the fields have been making good use of the straw left over from the wheat harvest. Even the most novice of detectives could not fail to notice the golden blades dragged through the hedge and strewn untidily about the holes. There will be some comfy badgers sleeping down there this winter. 

Ted considered investigating inside the hole but was fortunately distracted by a small rabbit who inadvisedly poked his head through the hedge at that moment to see what all the fuss was about.

While the dogs took off in pursuit of the rabbit who had a good head start and was in no real danger, I stood by the hedge and watched a flock of starlings murmuring. Fifty or so swung through the sky, moving like a giant wave that rolled first one way then another before falling suddenly to settle along the electricity wires. I could hear them chattering from half a mile away. The swallows are massing in ever-greater numbers too. It won't be long before they leave now, and I will miss them until Spring brings their return.

Down in the fields dissected by the eight hundred year-old hedge, the ditch was white with the feathery baubles of Lesser Water Parsnip. The plant may look dainty but it is poisonous, as so many of the wild Carrot family are.

The dogs, who had acknowledged defeat about the rabbit by then, caught me up and together we crossed the field back up to where the badgers have a latrine beneath the hedge, me enjoying the peace of the morning, them busy exploring the exciting smells left by the wild ones who'd wandered that way in the night...

As we went I noted the striking yellow of fleabane growing in clutches at the base of the hedge; the tall lilac spires of purple loosestrife spearing out of the ditch; the blue of blackberries smudging the hedges; the groink of a raven flying over and behind it the high keening mewl of a buzzard. Hazel nuts opened by squirrels lay on the ground and the dried stalks of hogweed and sorrel stood like desiccated sentries beneath the oak trees.

The sheep, grazing in a field thick with ragwort as we neared the car, thought we might mean food. Poppy, who considers herself a proper sheep dog (even though she only comes up to their knees), was outraged at the very thought...

September in the UK can produce balmy Indian Summers that often give our main summer a run for its money, but today it feels like the sunshine and the warmth of the past month has gone. Oddly, this has not troubled my Common Darter Dragonfly, who has been coming into the garden every day to settle on a bamboo cane for a chat and a sunbathe- I've just seen him whizz past the window. Some wild creatures accept our presence with barely a flicker, and this dragon is one. He lets me get so close I can hear the snap of his jaws as he flicks his head to catch passing insects. He has a handsome auburn tail and fine threads the colour of rubies on his wings. They glow like burnished bronze when the sun touches them. He is perhaps a harbinger for a season typified by reds and yellows and bronzes.

Hope all is well with all of you.



  1. Isn't it interesting how dragonflies seem to have no fear or humans at all - and they really are the most beautiful of creatures.
    I agree about the weatheer - in the past two days it has gone from Summer to Autumn and I fear we shall not see Summer again, although I hope I am wrong.

  2. Lovely, all that fresh air - away from the pigs of course. It's so quiet here, as if there's going to be a downpour or something. x

  3. Wonderful words CT. Swallows are one of my favourite birds, I always love to see them and I'll miss them too. I shall look forward to seeing the return of the Bewick's swans next month though, it's always good to see how many come here each year and whether it's been a good breeding season for them. CJ xx

  4. we're having a couple of days of respite from the heat -- it's deliciously cool and i'm enjoying the thought of more to come.

    beautiful ponderings and a very fine pig. xoxo

  5. What a beautiful, poetic post. I love the thought of the badgers all tucked up cosy in their beds. The signs are all there aren't they. I do love autumn but have my fingers crossed for a few more sunny days yet. Have a lovely weekend. xx

  6. I love the pigs and the scary sheep! I'm hoping for a dry sunny day to get my own meadow mown this weekend!

  7. A lovely post. Out in the countryside with the first hints of autumn in the air and the dogs seem to be enjoying it also

  8. Autumn and Spring are my favourite seasons! Lovely post! Pigs... What a great photo! Dogs enjoying the grass!
    Enjoy all the colours, smells and the bonfires!
    Spring has sprung here! Blossom - calves and foals 🌺❤️

  9. What a beautiful post. I was quite lost in the moment reading it.

    I was having tea in the garden Thursday afternoon with my Grandchildren. We watched the swallows above the garden. There must have been around a hundred, feeding. They stayed a while and then they were gone. I have not seen any in the skies here since. I always feel melancholy when they leave.

    How wonderful to see the badger sett.
    I have never seen on in the wild.
    I see badgers (sadly as road kill) but never their home.
    They must be well hidden and that is good :)

  10. We have noticed the temperature changes so much the past few days. It was lovely to take this walk with you and be able to share what you had observed. Tavi always enjoys an early walk as the traces and scents of any animals are so much stronger! Sarah x

  11. I like pigs too. So nice to see those outside and free instead of confined to tiny pens

  12. I love pigs. They're very intelligent and interesting creatures, aren't they? And badgers, how interesting. I don't think I've ever seen one in the wild, but then I don't know if I've ever lived in a place that was a natural habitat for them. I saw hedgehogs in New Zealand and thought at first that they were the same as badgers, but I don't think that counts. :)

  13. I love the way you write about the turning of the seasons. It's felt chilly here this weekend, but apparently we're due some more warmer weather yet. My seven year old son is completely and utterly obsessed with badgers and he would just explode with joy if he saw a badger home, never mind saw one in the wild.

  14. A lovely walk across the fields. The September countryside is beautiful, there is so much colour in the hedgerows. I like pigs although we don't have any at all around here - and I'll really miss the swallows, too.

  15. I love the first photo. A couple of years back the new farmer introduced some pigs into the field behind my house. There are laughing tears in my eyes as I type. Less than four hours they had escaped and had to be rounded up, Harry remembers that day vividly - we all do. Definite change in the temperature my dear, I feel all quivery with excitement x

  16. WOW, what a pig. What is wrong with his ears ? It looks like they are pinned together.
    I love the photo of Ted and Poppy running about the fields. Very lucky gud dugs !
    Wonderful post today.

    cheers, parsnip and thehamish

  17. I see I'm a week late as we've been away in a wet and misty Cornwall and the weather here has once again turned cool and windy. We used to feed the local pigs our windfall apples on a day like this and I would order a joint of crackling pork for Christmas. Today the pigs have been replaced by yet more horsiculture. Our chalk Downland is still so colourful with flowering grasses and wildflowers. Badgers have been visiting my front garden this hot dry summer - I think they are attracted by my wormy compost which feeds my borders. They haven't done too much damage thankfully but I'll be glad when it properly rains and they can go back to digging in the woods.


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x