Sunday, 5 February 2012

Footprints in the snow.

A two inch covering of snow is marvellous to discover what has been round the farm. Plenty of pheasant footprints but they are no surprise as the cock pheasants stalk up and down to the bird table every day, taking their time now that the shooting season is over. One of them comes via the top of the garden wall. I watched him this morning. The wall is awkward to walk along I would have thought, but he still prefers that way in.

In the fields there are rabbit prints everywhere. They will need to be finding grass to eat so will be active along the hedgebacks. That explains the other prominent footprints this morning along the hedgebacks - the fox. The only time we really know he has been around is when there is a covering of snow.

Tess refused to come back in after her early morning utility stop. Instead, she stood at the paddock gate and barked...and barked. Going out to look what she was barking at it was easy to see - not the fox but he had left his footprints and his smell. I suppose when you are a little Border Terrier it is only safe to bark when the fox has gone.

He (or she - although I believe that it is around now that the cubs are born) had come along the side of the hedge which borders the farm drive, over the wall into the lane, up the lane and then over the wall again into the pasture - keeping to the hedge side all the way down the field. There were several pheasant's feet lying around, but not a sign of blood or even of feathers.

I wrote a poem a while ago about the fox in the snow. I know I have put it on my blog before, but make no apology for putting it on again. I have a few new readers so hope they enjoy it. If you have read it before then you can always choose not to read it again. That is one of the joys of blogland isn't it?

Reynard.

A fox came round the farm one day
although what time I couldn't say.
He picked his way across the yard
and there he left his calling card.

He sniffed around the chicken coop
(no doubt imagined chicken soup);
he stood upright and looked between
the window bars - took in the scene.

I wonder if the hens took fright,
or, if asleep, they missed the sight.

He sniffed around the barn of hay:
I hope the farm cats were away.
He came right up to the farm back door
and left his footprints on the floor.

I hope he calls again one day
(when hens are safely locked away).
Maybe he often comes and goes -
I only track him when it snows.

He's a handsome chap. Still fears the chase,
although for now he's found his place.
His greatest enemy is man, so
please don't repeal the hunting ban.

For I would miss the splendid sight
of a glimpse of the fox at the end of a night
as he slinks along the hedgerow back
to his earth at the end of the farmyard track.

If there is snow where you live, batten down the hatches, stoke up the fire and get out a good book. Reading Gwilym's comment yesterday - he lives in Vienna - it seems we are very lucky here in the UK - my goodness me, how Europe is suffering. But then my friends in the Netherlands are hoping the freeze can continue for a day or two so that the big cross country race on the canals (I think it is 120 miles in one day) can take place. I read yesterday that the canals have been closed in readiness. If it does take place then I do hope we see something of it on the news. And if my friends F and R are reading this - if you see any of it, please do take a photograph and send it to me, Then I can post it on here for everyone to see.

19 comments:

Jennifer Tetlow said...

This morning I followed footprints at my sheds - stoat, pheasant, birds unknown, voles and of course lots of big flat goose feet!

Tanya @ Lovely Greens said...

Brilliant poem...I can imagine it with some lovely foxy illustrations :)

Golden West said...

Pheasants and foxes! Here it's raccoons, opossums and skunks meandering through the garden after dark!

Heather said...

Lovely tribute to Reynard. Some years ago in the middle of the day I looked up the garden a saw a fox sitting by the birdbath. It was fully grown and looked so serene, taking everything in. They are beautiful creatures.
I love to see all the different footprints in the snow - it takes me back to childhood when we were always out looking for signs of what had come visiting.

Rare Lesser Spotted said...

Great blog and splendid poem. The tracks in the snow tell a whole story on their own. 4 inches of snow here in East Yorkshire - melting now (2.30 pm Sunday)
xx

H said...

I had fox prints up and down my garden too. The other main sets of tracks were the moggie from next door but one and the blackbird.

Pondside said...

Looking at photos from Rome - they are not equipped for that kind of weather!
Wonderful poem - no foxes here, but I can imagine.

Toffeeapple said...

How exciting to be able to see many different footprints. All I could see were cat, bird, human and car prints. Hardly of any interest at all. I do like your poem.

Mary said...

I know my foxes are still around the garden, my neighbor saw one this past week. Please share an inch of your snow - I would love to follow the tracks!

Love that poem - you should be published - perhaps I said that last time too! Never apologize for repeating anything - I love to read things again - hey, at this age I don't remember much for long anyway!!!!!

Love, Mary (still waiting for snow!).

Dominic Rivron said...

A good poem - and a very political one, come to think of it. Why not send it to William Hague? That ban may be something he's called on to consider.

I thought I'd commented on your post about news - but it hasn't popped up. Should we watch the news? Edmund Burke famously said that "for evil to triumph all that is required is for good men to do nothing." One can only know if something needs to be done by following the news (and following it critically).

I understand why rural communities are inward looking and don't take much notice of what's going on - for a start, I live in one and we are all shaped by the lives we live. However, if it were not for Britain's city voters we'd probably still have the poorhouse, cock-fighting, bull-bating and no NHS, not to mention the fox hunting issue.

And yet rural communities are not necessarily hotbeds of reaction: in 1968, french farmers famously took to the streets in support of the students, bearing red flags on their tractors!

As I said, most of us don't turn to books and newspapers to form our reactions and opinions - we simply react to the life we are living. The few who do often spend their lives wondering why everyone else can't see things the way they do!

Gerry Snape said...

love that poem..great rhythm.

that's the thing about snow...some want it gone and some want even more! I want less now that I have to watch out for ice and slipping!!

jill said...

Lots of foot prints out in the snow here today, wonder where they would take us if we followed?Hope you are keeping warm Pat,thanks for your comments.Love Jill xx

Cloudia said...

Quite a lovely post!


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Granny Sue said...

Enjoyed the poem! Wish I could say I was enjoying some snow as well, but this has been an "open" winter in my part of the states.

Dave King said...

I found one huge footprint (human) at right angles to the path this morning. Nothing on the path and no oothers either coming or going. OOOo-er!
Lovely post - as always.

Reader Wil said...

You live in a wonderful country side with foxes and pheasants and other wildlife around! We are hoping indeed that the skating event of the Eleven Cities Tour in Friesland can take place! It doesn't happen very often for the distance is very long( 200 kms) and dangerous too in some places.If you get on the ice too early you can get under it and drown.It already happened to some people. The last Tour was in 1998.

Thanks for your congratulations on the birth of my new grandchild.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Goose feet Jennifer - that is something I have never found here. And all those lovely animals from the US too. It seems that we all look for footprints in the snow. Thank you for contributing.

Pat said...

The fox must be pleased to have you on his side.
I enjoyed the poem- thank you.
Gayle sent me:)

Pat said...

Do you know Farnhill?
We had a cottage there for years.
Sadly missed.