So after a few restless nights and a couple of hours of tossing and turning, I finally passed out late last night and was looking forward to sleeping in today…
You already know how this goes, don’t you?
Yep. Lily decided that a pre-dawn raid on the garden was crucial to today’s strategy, jumping up on the bed and prying my sleeping form up out of my warm little hollow with her muzzle. She punctuated these attempts with yips and grumblings, clearly translatable as lectures about seizing the day, early birds, my being a lazy bum and something about vagrant cats getting a head start.
Well. She’s nothing if not pushy, our Lily. So I hauled myself up and out of bed, staggered downstairs, let her out to do the needful and came to terms with the morning having started earlier than planned. May as well make the most of it, eh? So I got to the washing up, putting in the laundry, swept the living room etc., got to my desk, started organising the day’s workload…..and after a while I realised that though Lily had come back in, she’d been conspicuously undemanding – in fact, I hadn’t heard a peep out of her for over an hour.
So I went to look for her – she was not anywhere downstairs or outside…and then it dawned on me (the words that accompanied this dawning I will not sully my little blog with) and I marched upstairs and sure enough, madam was curled up in my bed, fast asleep.
A few days back we had a sunny spell, so I thought I’d quickly grab some sunshine time in the garden. I put out the blanket and went in to make some ice-tea (sunshine doesn’t work properly without ice-tea), and when I returned, her royal doggieness had taken over my spot! Please note the very firm ‘I belong here, don’t try and mess with me – now go fetch me a snack’ look I got from her. She rules with an iron paw she does.
So I’m still using scrap pieces of paper and spare bits of time to play with my watercolours. Sadly, I still lack the skills to render ‘Mind-blowing Artwork that Will Rock the Planet’, but I must say it’s a nice little bit of stress relief for the perpetually anxiety ridden.
Also, this – about the badgers. The whole business is making me very sad indeed.
It had to be done. When you wake up to big ol’ fluffy flakes of snow cascading down over the back garden, you must acknowledge the magic of the season. So here is a Christmas tree with some of the best presents ever! Of course such presents bring with them much joy and excitement as well as unavoidable ‘accidents’, hence the little widdle 🙂
Season’s greetings everyone!
Lily and I have the same morning routine. We wake to the sound of our main man getting up for work, we cuddle for a while, enjoying the snuggly warm bed, and then we get up, stretch out and head downstairs to our respective loos, after which we read the daily news.
For me this means wading through newspapers from the borough, the country I live in, the country I was born to and a few more besides – while for Lily it’s an urgent snuffling all over the back garden to find out who’s been up to what during the night, then she darts through the house and starts pawing at the front door so she can read the front garden too.
Some mamas and papas, some little wee ones, a blurry great-tit, a frog and some smelly flowers (the one on the left smells better than the one on the right, teehee).
The ever-so-quick Great Tit
A couple of weeks ago I was tap-tap-tapping away in my little ‘studio’ when suddenly the lovely birdsong that accompanies the rhythm of our lives morphed into a shrieking cacophony more suited to a certain Hitchcock film. It felt as if every bird in the sky had realized the end was nigh and begun screaming in unison. Lily and I jumped and ran to the back door to the garden, not really sure what was going on. I pulled open the door, Lily at my heels, and we were both suddenly frozen as we saw on the ground right in front of us a sparrowhawk, wings surrounding its prey and with another little fluffy body of a recently fledged starling nearby. It looked at me with that eye (oh, that eye!) and I was completely hypnotized – had I been a fluffy bunny that would have been the end of me I expect.
After what seemed like a while, though I expect was barely a couple of seconds, the bird took off and Lily sprung into action towards the spot where the sparrowhawk had been. I yelled at her to get away and she took off towards the end of the garden leaving me at the scene. Looking at the patch of grass vacated by the predator I saw the second of the little starlings get up and lurch, bloodied and spurting red, towards the cover of a nearby hedge where it collapsed and died. As I stood there, completely horror-struck by the whole episode, I may have let out a little scream myself (okay, okay – so am lily-livered city girl…*blush*).
Of course I could do nothing but fret until the man of the wilds came home and ‘dealt with it,’ admonishing me for having interrupted the female sparrowhawk (of course he knew it was) sorting out a meal for her little fledgelings back in the nest. To rub it in, he pointed out that she’d probably have to go ‘off’ a few more starling chicks in order to feed her family, the death of these little ones having been in vain (though he did leave them for cat/fox by the fence and, sure enough, just a tuft of feathers by the morning).
So I failed. My first encounter with Nature in her fiery glory and I played stupid rabbit *sigh*.Will now have to sit through a lot more Attenborough on Eden to compensate. But, at least I made a cool sparrowhawk picture to illustrate since I wasn’t really quick or calm enough to take a photograph. The feather textures are actually from a photo I took of a pair of duckies by the river, tee hee. Hope you like it.
And if you enjoyed my tale of woe – here’s another on the topic by Derek Neimann in the Guardian, also taking place in Bedfordshire.
It’s been almost a year (a very well documented year) since we were graced by the presence of our very own resident superstar – Lily. She’s going to be a regular feature here so I thought we’d start at the beginning – these are from her first week with her new people.
It is hard to believe that when we brought her home she was a very sick puppy. The previous owners did not tell us about her condition and so we were pretty blind sided. She was unable to poop and when she tried, it was just blood, mucus and the vilest odour (sorry if that grossed out anyone). Multiple visits to the vet were inconclusive and alarming – they said it could be Parvo, or some other infection – in any case they didn’t hold out much hope for her.
But in spite of everything else she never lost her spunky spirit, which is how we knew that she’d be just fine with some care and attention. Being the keen ‘googler’ that I am, I found a number of people online who had dogs facing similar issues, and in most of those cases it was a particularly nasty type of worm. It turned out that she hadn’t been wormed properly and so that was step one. Her food also didn’t seem to suit her, so we switched her to home cooked meals and alternated food ingredients till we isolated white rice as being particularly upsetting to her system. She couldn’t eat more than a tablespoon at a time so she had to be fed at regular intervals.
Eventually though, she recovered and is as fit and boisterous as they come and now eats everything you put in front of her. She’s also a bit of a ho, soliciting attention from everyone that passes by the house and is well known and loved by all the neighbourhood, and it isn’t unusual to find all manner of people leaning over the fence cooing over and coddling her at any given time.
The wonders of the English country garden do not cease with the bird life. We have seen many other critters come and go over the last year including, but not limited to, a fox, a hedgehog family and various cats in search of a tender morsel or two. Aside from the little birds we had some ducks drop in and I had a close encounter with a sparrow hawk, which I have no photos of unfortunately (mostly because once it fixed its eye on me I found myself unable to move – more prey than predator in me I suppose).
Some of these comings and goings were documented, I hope you enjoy them:
A Mallard – Lily was desperate to have a go at duck hunt, but had to watch from afar.
The Incredible Mr.Fox – since we got Lily last year we have had to stop encouraging this nightly visitor in case of an encounter, but he was a pleasure to watch.
Mr. & Mrs. Hedgehog would come by around dusk every night for a plate of cat-food. Contrary to popular belief, feeding them bread and milk is not a good idea as it makes the little critters very ill.
And where there are fluffy little fledgelings, there is a a hopeful cat waiting by the bird feeder for a little smackerel of something. This one has had to be chased off a few times, but often we’d see him hiding in the nearby bushes anyway….hope springs eternal.
Named ‘Shooshoo’ after failing to respond to that command repeatedly, this cat is a regular in our neighbourhood and always ready for a cuddle. A neighbour was smart enough to bell her as she is quite the avid tree climber/bird killer herself.
Lily now keeps the yard free of predatory cats, but occasionally decides to pull a predation herself (ref. The Pigeon Caper).
Our Westie, Lily, has open run of the garden but these days is usually limited to the front end of it in order to keep the back garden quiet for the fledgling birds.
Unfortunately a number of people leave our little gate open when they come in (usually the newspaper delivery guy and assorted sales people) and so we have to keep an eye out all the time in case Lily decides to make a run for it (she knows the directions to the dog park and feels she can easily walk herself there, thank you very much!).
So today’s five minute project was to put together a basic poster to print out, laminate and stick on the tree near the gate to ask people to keep the door closed (that’s a little Lily silhouette there). If you could use it, feel free to print it out for yourself.
Download A4 sized PDF here – Dog Running Free Poster
And you can always contact me for a more personalized and happening version as well!