Flood and pestilence of a different kind called for serious action when not only were our entire pea and broad bean crops eaten (again) but rodents got into the cavity wall and chewed through the washing machine hose. This resulted in an unscheduled (if perhaps not unnecessary) early morning washing of the kitchen floor. Extensive searches and a trip to deepest Somerset produced not one but two replacements for the greatly missed Merry. They’re great fun and take their duties seriously, spending much time scaling the face of the haystack, optimistically poking paws down holes in hope of finding an unwelcome intruder.
Our turkey rearing seemed set to be an improvement on last year with several female poults and a young male fattening nicely, but the fox struck again early one December evening and took the male and several hens. Maybe next year if we manage to avoid avian flu and the attendant bureaucracy.
Rue’s work is as busy as ever with the added uncertainty of not yet knowing if she’ll have a job next year, or where or what it will be. In October English Nature will formally merge with Defra’s Rural Development Service and the Countryside Agency’s Landscape Access and Recreation sections to form Natural England. Whatever happens it will mean major changes in role and organisational culture. Meanwhile restoration work in the Avon Valley is progressing apace in the hope that some momentum can be achieved before all the changes start to take effect in the spring.
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