Waiting for the sucker punch

Hazel catkins
Hazel catkins

Most of us wish January away as fast as possible. This January has generally been mild and wet, (very wet). Guess what? Today it’s raining again, squelch!

Yesterday the sun shone, the Crocus tommasinianus opened, Iris Katherine Hodgkin flirted with the breeze, catkins waved, and snowdrop Brenda Troyle’s large  flowers bobbed (she’s the first snowdrop properly out). Daphne Jacqueline Postill was allowed to release her scent in the warming air.

Suddenly in early afternoon a front whipped through, we only got the tail, a wild, mad westerly flinging down hail putting a sudden end to the prospect of a gentle potter in the garden. We’re not out of the woods yet on the path to spring, February can still bring snow and plummeting temperatures.

The starling pair are back grackling away and excavating their old nest site under the gutter which is not ideal. The birds generally are putting on their best plumage, pairing up, and singing lustily. Last week we saw two hares in a field just up the road, one was gilded in the lowering sun.

We’ve had the webcam out since the chicky birds were taken by a fox at Christmas, nada, nuthin’. But it pays to stay vigilant, I thought I smelled a faint whiff of fox last weekend. Was it a fox passing through pushed by flooding? Or like BBC’s Winterwatch which featured a dispossessed fox on a tramp. A Brighton project has shown fox Fleet (Fleet Foxes geddit!?) did a 195 mile round trip in 3 weeks Dec /Jan when his son pushed him off home territory – whereabouts now unknown as his tracking collar dropped off.

I’ve been on an internet search for what I thought was a squash, turns out to be a watermelon, Moon and Stars, which I saw in the french Baumaux catalogue last year but couldn’t find online. There might be a UK supplier of the seed but I didn’t find one, I found a US company Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Missouri, although many US suppliers won’t ship outside the US, I’ve got my seeds. Will I achieve watermelons? Depends on the summer as much as anything I think.

 

An expensive Christmas dinner

Greedy Beak or Queenie
Greedy Beak or Queenie

The sorry tale started on Monday. I’d dropped piece of clothing from the washing line which was out on the lawn overnight,  in the morning  I retrieved it and went to open the chickens up and noticed a strong foxy smell. The piece of clothing also had a muddy pawprint on it and a stench of fox. Finally we had been found out,  12 months fox free, but no more.

wibble-fox
The old Black Rock

 

Yesterday battling the outcome of the torrential rain we ran out of time and tried our best to shore up the chickens as we were away overnight. Today we came back at 1:00PM to puffs of feathers scattered down the garden. As we approached the henhouse there was a lone worble. Percy the witless had somehow survived. Wibble the old Black Rock and the two Speckledys are no more. This appeared not to be a wanton destruction but a take and stash somewhere. We know the culprit,  the wildlife cam picked foxy up at 2:00AM this morning then at 5:00AM,  at 6:10AM something triggered the camera but the slaughter wasn’t captured. Poor chicky girls.