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?
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.