Paul recently despatched a grey squirrel which had been terrorising the birds and eating everything in sight. A friend from our home town commented that she thought the act was awful which got me thinking again about the deep contrasts between city living and country life especially in attitudes to wildlife.
I’m not country born and bred. I don’t understand the concept of hunting for pleasure or sport. I wouldn’t care if I never ate meat or fish again. However, after living here for 7 years I have made a few observations on wildlife, how we can live harmoniously and when more drastic measures might be needed.
Things of beauty and joy – almost all the birds are to be encouraged with a few notable exceptions e.g. I will not be letting starlings nest above my bedroom window next year – they are very noisy and take a long time to fledge. Pigeons are a nuisance. All our outside decks, furniture, barbecues etc have to be washed down during spring and early summer prior to every guest arrival because they are covered in pigeon poo.
Also, almost all the mammals with the exception of rats, mice, grey squirrels and moles are welcome.
Rats and moles have to be controlled or they will get completely out of hand – we get professionals in for this. I don’t mind mice but I don’t really want them in the house. Holes are blocked now but I can sometimes hear them scratching about in the walls or loft which is fine.
Bees, wasps, beetles, spiders lovely. Flies in moderation I can deal with. Flies on a hot day on a country farm…no. Not much you can do about them except keep doors and windows shut, put your sticky tape up and swat the ones that are left. Greenfly no – I spray the roses.
The vegetable garden is where most of the wild things are; we don’t like chemical sprays but Paul nets everything and puts a few slug pellets down. He will lose a crop to something most years though – this year pigeons and hares have eaten practically everything. If you have spent most of the year breaking your back digging over plots and planting vegetables only to have the whole lot decimated overnight by some hungry rodent, bird or insect …you might not think a little pest control was quite so ‘awful.’ And certainly preferable to driving back and forth to supermarkets for tasteless shrink wrapped vegetables flown half way across the world.
Yes it is a battle but on the other hand we have deer, badgers, foxes, hedgehogs, owls, woodpeckers, glorious swifts flying high in the summer sky, lovely bats flitting around at dusk and butterflies basking in the sunshine. Sometimes the balance of nature needs a little help. This photo is taken from our most recent development (coming soon). If you want to go wild in the country this one’s for you.