A Walk in the Woods

C’mon, let’s go for a walk.

Sticky WillyThat’s Sticky Willy, (Goose Grass or Cleavers) growing in amongst the Ivy, I thought that it looked pretty.

Ivy-leaved SpeedwellThis is the tiny Ivy-leaved Speedwell.

Ivy-leaved Speedwell

Ivy-leaved Speedwell

Ivy-leaved Speedwell

Ivy-leaved SpeedwellI came along this track to photograph the Early Dog Violets but the wind was blowing so strongly today that I couldn’t really get any decent shots.

Early Dog VioletWe will have to come back to them on a quieter day. It doesn’t matter much because in a bit we are going to find another Violet,

Fizz want’s me to go out into the farm fields, I think that she has something planned and as that just happens to be on the way to a wood that I want to visit, I agree.

Up until today nectar has been in short supply and I have been searching these fields for signs of any flower. That has all changed.

All over the field are little splashes of colour. Small and isolated at first this is the start of one of nature’s Spring spectaculars.

Dandelion

Dandelion

Dandelion

DandelionSoon these fields will be a sea of yellow flowers and there will be more nectar than you can shake a stick at.

So this is what Fizz has been up to, she has brought me up here to see the Sheep.

SheepTen Sheep is all that we have left now, the other twenty six have gone to market. They were Blue Texels and they have been sold as breeding stock rather than stock cubes, they will be happy in their new home.

This was the scene from my kitchen window last Wednesday, very early in the morning.

SheepThere is a story about how those Sheep came to be in the orchard.

A few days earlier the farmer and a friend went up to the fields to get the sheep in. They drive around in Land Rovers, tooting their horns and driving the sheep before them but it hadn’t gone well, the animals panicked and ran everywhere and it was a right kerfuffle.

The farmers wife had seen me walking around in the field being followed by thirty six Sheep, so he asked me if I thought that I could bring them down and sure enough they all followed me right into the orchard, where he was able to sort them out.

He said that it was amazing and he had never seen anything like it and that from now on I was “The Pied Piper.” I think that it is pretty cool to surprise somebody who has been working with animals all of his life. (I just used my loaf 🙂 )

Plans

Whisper, whisper, whisper…..

This is the “treat” that Fizz has organised for me. She knows that I am down in the dumps about losing my Robin and she knows how much I like to have little animals eating out of my hand.

Ha Ha! Thank you ladies 🙂

Sheep

Sheep

SheepSo anyway, as I said, we are on our way to a wood that is up behind the fields. I am going to see the Lent Lilies.

On the way to the wood we found our second Violet of the day. These are Sweet Violets.

Sweet Violets

Sweet Violets

Sweet Violets

Sweet VioletsThey weren’t very perky it was not a very nice day today. There will be better pictures when the sun shines.

Sweet VioletThe leaves in that picture above are mostly Lesser Celandine, the Violets are growing through it.

That wasn’t very perky either, it likes the sun and closes when it’s overcast.

Lesser CelandineThis next picture is the leaf of the Sweet Violet. (a lovely little round thing with a scalloped edge)

Sweet Violet leafEventually we did get to the wood and the first thing that we saw were these signs of activity.

Boar tracksThis is where Wild Boar have been turning over the soil looking for food and all around were the sweetest little tracks.

Boar tracks

Boar tracksRegular readers will know that a few weeks ago I put a trail camera up here to look for Boar and as soon as I found them I retreated.

What we got on camera was four animals walking across the screen. That told me quite a lot. It told me that they were females, the males are solitary and also the time of year told me that they would be having their litters soon. I felt then, that it was best to leave them in peace and especially not to draw attention to them.

Now I am just going to “Go off on one!”

This is the front page of this weeks local rag.

The Yellow PressUnder the main headline it says,

“Now the boar have tasted blood, what’s stopping them attacking a young child?”

The first lines are,

“CHILDREN’S lives could be at risk, following wild boar attacks and the killing of new born lambs.”

The article continues on page three saying “They attack in packs. If one begins to chase, the rest will follow.”

In case you don’t know that is absolute garbage. Nobody has ever been hurt by a Wild Boar since they were reintroduced here more than twenty years ago. They have never attacked anybody, not even a scratch and they don’t hunt children in packs 🙂

This fear and hatred is what I have to protect my animals from.

People who live here in the Forest have the right as commoners to let their animals loose to roam around. It is a trade off, they avoid the expense of renting land but the sheep are uncared for and they will lose some.

These are lambs born in the wild.

Forest LambsI know that our Sheep require a lot of looking after. These free ranging Sheep wander onto the roads and they get involved in accidents, some of them don’t make it, they are not cared for but as I say, it is a trade off, they will lose a few but they will avoid the expense of owning or renting land.

At the very end of the article and deep inside the paper it says,

“The Forestry Commission has received reports of three to four new born lambs being killed by boar, but not “in packs” and there is no first hand witness testimony.”

If that is the case then why print such rubbish on the front page?

Boar tracksI think we should put the camera back up there now, for a bit.

Lent Lilies, I saved the best for last.

Narcissus pseudonarcissus, the Wild Daffodil (Doesn’t eat children)

Wild Daffodil

Wild Daffodil

Wild Daffodil

Wild Daffodil

Wild Daffodil

Wild DaffodilThank you Fizz.

Fizz🙂

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35 thoughts on “A Walk in the Woods”

    1. Thank you Joy 🙂 I think that they might become a problem here in the future. Maybe so and maybe not, I don’t know but then neither does anybody else. I think that we should have contained them in the forest but we have dispersed them and we have given up our chance to control them. It’s nothing to do with me. Boar are part of the English countryside now.

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  1. Firstly, we have ‘sticky willy’ and it is very stick but I’m not sure I like the name.
    Secondly, I am amazed that your farmer chases his sheep around. I think it would be fantastic if you went back to the start of your dealings with the sheep. I remember both you and Fizz being quite tentative and now just look at it. And what with the staff and the long hair there is something very Biblical. John chapter 4 the Good Shepherd goeth before them, and the sheep follow him and he knows their name.

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    1. Thank you John 🙂 I think that the name comes from Sticky Willow but it is a children’s game to put it on your friends back and then laugh at him because he doesn’t know what you are laughing about. To get the Sheep to follow me I have to walk quite quickly, if they have time to stop and graze they all get spread out and I lose them. It must look quite funny to see me marching down the hill with a whole bunch of Sheep chasing after me 🙂

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  2. Well I never. A few days after 40 odd sheep charged up the hill towards us to say hello you too have them running to you.

    Not sure how sliced bread fits into the food cycle, I thought sheep ate grass.

    Any way why would you expect a newspaper to report facts when a good distortion of the truth can sound much more exciting.

    I very occasionally buy a paper if I’m stuck at airport, but generally avoid them.

    Private Eye on the other hand is a far more regular purchase.

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    1. Thank you Stephen 🙂 I used to live in Yorkshire and you don’t want to open a sandwich box there, the Sheep mob the tourists. Sheep only eat grass because they can’t hold a butter knife in their hooves or make their own sandwiches.

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      1. Oh my goodness, sheep will eat just about anything–they’ll eat up your vegetable garden, bushes, tree leaves, fruit, you name it. And they especially like powdered white donuts with their coffee in the morning.

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  3. I’m soooo crazy about the sheep. Why are they spray painted different colors? Wild lambs? Really? I think you should rite a rebuttal and send it to the paper. People will go out hunting them, poor things. Fizz is looking good:) Flowers are beautiful.

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    1. Thank you Gigi 🙂 They generally come with paint on them and every time we give them a treatment they get another spray to show what has been done. Lots of people will write in to the paper and in the spirit of fair play they will print one on the letters page but the damage has been done.

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  4. It was so nice to see the sheep and you feeding them. The little wild violets that grow here, (and I have no idea which kind they are,) are called Johnnie Jump Ups. That is a mess with the wild boar situation. They are taking over in several of our states here and causing big problems. But there doesn’t seem to be any problem there. I hope it gets resolved and the animals can be left alone.

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    1. Thank you Sarasin 🙂 There isn’t really a Boar problem here at all at the moment. They are very wary and secretive animals. They are living all around us and very few people even know that they are here. People will only notice when there are many more Boar and they just can’t stay hidden. I don’t know what will happen then. Animal numbers are not usually controlled by predators but by the amount of food and shelter that is available and the Boar should find their own level but first they might eat everything in sight.

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    1. Thank you Maureen 🙂 One of these Sheep is very confident and maybe she was hand raised and got used to taking food from people, the others just follow her example. If our Sheep got mixed in with somebody else’s I think that I would end up rustling the whole bunch of them 🙂

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  5. Sadly, I am allergic to Goose Grass and get a very painful rash when I touch it. I haven’t yet experimented to see if the other bedstraws affect me in the same way. It does have very pretty leaves. When our local farmer wants to move his sheep he sends his most sure-footed young man into their field to shake a bucket full of tasty treats. The sheep run to him and then he legs it down the lane to the next field with the sheep in hot pursuit. The farmer follows on slowly behind in his truck just to block off the road. I often wonder what would happen to the man with the bucket if he fell over!

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    1. Thank you Clare 🙂 That sounds like the way to fetch sheep. Around here we have an ASBO farmer, he has literally had an ASBO served on him for allowing his animals to be a nuisance. He lets his sheep roam but he is from outside the boundary of the Forest and locals don’t like that. His sheep wander up and down the main roads and through the local village. I have watched him rounding his animals up when they have blocked a road and he has a dog. His van will pull up behind the sheep and the dog leaps out of the window and gathers them all up and hustles them down the road. I have seen him doing this a few times and it is really clever to watch, he has an excellent dog. I don’t think that Fizz would ever be up for that kind of thing.

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    1. Thank you Bill 🙂 The key to the Boar’s success is not their breeding rate as many people think, it is their quiet and secretive nature. By the time anyone knows that they have a problem it is too late to do anything about it. Protecting them just means not giving away their secrets, if nobody knows that they are even here then what harm are they doing? We do know that they can improve species diversity in the forest by rooting up the ground and exposing dormant seeds and I think that they should have been allowed to stay in the forest. To me they are just another animal, like the Badger and the Deer, they are here now and we might as well enjoy them.

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  6. Amazing the fears that ignorant people have and foster. I am often asked here if, as I hike through the wilderness if I am not in fear of wolves. Amazing! I would love to see them more often.

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  7. Some lovely photographs of some very delicate flowers. As a birdwatcher, I have many memories of the impressive knowledge of nature of the farming community. Badgers and beavers aside, the best was the Cornish chap who didn’t want buzzards nesting on his land because they would swoop down and carry off babies and toddlers from his campsite. What would happen if the idea of wolves was seriously put forward? They have currently been seen in Holland and only forty miles or so from Paris. And nobody eaten yet!.

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  8. At last! Someone else who calls them Sticky Willy 🙂 Well done on your sheep wrangling, I have been mugged for my sandwiches many times by sheep in the Black Mountains.The simplest solution if the “child hunting” boar numbers get out of control is to reintroduce wolves 😉

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  9. I suspect daffodils may well eat children. I shall write to The Forester to see if they will run the story. I have seen them ganging up in clumps, just waiting to spring on an innocent passing toddler. I like daffodils.

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  10. Love your post today. The sheep story is wonderful – the sheep whisperer you are! I’m sharing your outrage at the fear-mongering to sell a few papers. Poor boars. Did you write the editor a letter?
    The color of the sweet violets truly is violet -LOL! Ours must be dog violets – they are dark purple and white and cover the lawn in May. So beautiful!

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  11. So lovely to see the daffodils and photos of the sheep…. your detailed post is very interesting and informative, Colin 🙂 Thanks for sharing and enjoy your walks with Fizz! 🙂

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