Monday, 8 September 2014

Country Matters

For the first time in a lot of years we have grey squirrels. Why?   Well the answer to that question is obvious if you walk round the boundaries of our fields - our nut trees are laden with hazelnuts.  The farmer says that when they are ready he will shake    as many as he can down so that we can get them rather than the squirrels.   But one question continues to niggle me.   How do the squirrels know?
We honestly never see one, so there can't be any all that near to us.
This means they are coming from a distance away.   Do hazelnuts smell?   We have never seen any signs of squirrels so it can't be that they patrol every year to see whether the trees have nuts on.   Does 'odeur  de h azel  ' waft around the surrounding area and do their sensitive noses pick up the scent?   Whatever the reason - they are here in force and piles of broken nut shells lie under the trees.   But I don't begrudge them their little feast, so good luck to them if they get them all before us.   I just wish I knew how they did  it.  One of the mysteries of the countryside.

The hunting (fox hounds) season has not begun yet but the hunt came round this morning cubbing.   They come round early (7am), just as it is getting light, bringing their young hounds as well as some of the more experienced ones and they look for fox earths.   They are not intent on killing the cubs, they just wish to have a rough idea of where they are and to give them 'a bit of a run around'.  I don't approve of fox hunting, but the farmer does and it is his farm so I tolerate it and keep quiet.   But my sympathies always lie with Reynard.   'The unspeakable pursuing the uneatable'
is my view.

Tom managed to be the first to mention 'Season of mists.....'   I have always felt that it is 'season of bonfires' and as I go around, that evocative smell of burning leaves, grass and foliage, which means quite often that gardeners have been tidying up for Winter, seems to be everywhere.   I love it.

The other things which are everywhere this year on the trees is horse chestnuts (conkers).   Does anyone play 'conkers' any more?   It used to be secret which method you used to make them hard and unbreakable (vinegar, roasting, soaking) and giant conker fights abounded when I was a kid.   Does anyone play the game now?

10 comments:

jinxxxygirl said...

Ahhh don't know much about horse chestnuts but i do love some hazelnuts... :)

Em Parkinson said...

I fear the conker thing has been quashed by health and safety rules Pat. Thanks for your lovely comments today. x

Heather said...

I hope that some children do play conkers on the quiet, but the game has been banned from schools by the dreaded Health and Safety brigade. The lovely smell of a bonfire always reminds me of my grandfather who loved a good 'blizzy' as he called it. Years ago my husband had to serve the stirrup cup at the Meet and our teenage daughters threatened to disrupt proceedings as they were anti-blood sports. My sympathy lies with the fox but I leave it to countrymen who know the country to decide whether hunting is good or not.

Terry and Linda said...

No one burns leaves here anymore (in the fall) and I miss it.

Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

josephinaballerina said...

THE ELEPHANT WHISPERER : MY LIFE WITH THE HERD IN THE AFRICAN WILD by Lawrence Anthony.
Hi Pat, that is the book I have waiting for me at the library this week. I read a little newspaper article that Mr. Anthony had recently died. And, out of nowhere, two herds of elephants materialized out of the bush. They walked a good 25 miles to his home, stood there for three days as if paying their respects, then melted back into the bush. How did they know he had died? A similar question to how the squirrels know there are hazelnuts this year.

Joanne Noragon said...

When I was young all the fathers raked fallen leaves into piles. First we played in them, then they were burned. Now they all go to the curb for collection and no modern child knows the smell of burning leaves.

Cro Magnon said...

The Squirrels are always there; they hide on the other side of tree trunks. We're just waiting for some rain before lighting our big annual bonfire. I once carved, and painted, a conker from a piece of mahogany; no-one spotted it.

Robin Mac said...

Fascinating stories for me to read as I try to return to reading blogs. I always love to read of what happens in your beautiful part of the world. Cheers

Rachel said...

My brothers used to put the conkers in the Rayburn overnight ready for school next day.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for calling in and contributing.