Saturday, 28 November 2015

Temporary Hedgehog

A couple of weeks ago I found a hedgehog in the garden. It had been a few weeks since I'd last seen the regular ones foraging, and I'd weighed them to check they were ok to hibernate. This one looked smaller, so I scooped it up and weighed it. 
Barely 500g, far too small to survive hibernation. I kept it safe, made sure it was warm, had water, bedding, and food. Than I called David at Neath Port Talbot Hedgehog Rescue, and he came to check the hog over for me. She's a female, was riddled with worms, and as suspected, too small, and wouldn't survive the winter.

David helped us with the hedgehogs we rescued last year, they were also far too small for hibernating and he took them and cared for them through the winter. But this time, he's full. There's no space at the hedgehog inn... He does a brilliant job, working full time, and balancing family with wildlife rescue, but he has limits on his resources.
This little one just needed 10 days or so of worm treatment and feeding regularly. With his support and advice, that's exactly what we're doing. She gets 200g of chicken cat food, in jelly - which she leaves but the gravy variety has stuff in that's bad for hedgehogs - per day, fresh water, a bed of shredded newspaper, and left in peace. She's not a pet. We only handle her for weighing, twice a week, and cleaning out daily. They make loads of mess!
Today she was checked again, and the sample seen was clear of all signs of worms. We think we've dealt with that problem successfully.She'll be with us through the Winter and will be released back into our garden next Spring.
By us keeping her here, David has space for a hog that needs more intensive treatment, or is more ill, or injured. Hedgehogs are in decline due to the pesticides we use in our gardens, our roads, we'd like to help the ones that are still around to survive as best they can.
I would like to ask you to consider doing 3 things.
  • Stop using slug pellets. They kill so much more than just slugs. It's not just hedgehogs, it's everything that eats slugs, and everything that eats those things too. 
  • Let part of your garden grow a little bit wilder. Leave the grass at the edges a bit longer, leave that small gap in the fence/hedge. 
  • Consider if you can bung a couple of quid to help David help more hedgehogs - and bats, he does bats too. 
There's more you can do, but they'll do for now. Look out for more hog posts through the winter!
Please, though, please don't just take a hog inside and start feeding or treating it for anything without asking for advice. They are wild animals and get stressed very easily. If you are worried about a hedgehog, put it in a high sided box with a towel for comfort, and a shallow dish of fresh water. Then ask for help. Always ask for help. 

Sunday, 8 November 2015

It's not about you.

Today is Remembrance Sunday. It's cold, wet, and windy. A gloomy day to remember those fallen in various conflicts. There are ceremonies happening around the country, and in other countries, no doubt there's something happening near you.
But would you consider yourself more important than the ceremony you are attending?
This from the BBC.

The service at the Cenotaph is going to be shorter than in previous years, in an effort to reduce the amount of time war veterans are made to stand.
However, plans to make political leaders lay wreaths together in order to save time were dropped after some politicians argued they were being overlooked.

Excuse me? Politicians being overlooked? At a ceremony to remember other people? That's the whole point, you're there for someone else, not for your own prestige. Those men and women fought and died so you could stand there and be a pretentious idiot. Some may have fought and died on your orders. Those who stand there with you did their fighting many years ago and they are growing old now, age does indeed weary them. They deserve your respect, whether you agree with the principles they fought for or not. Whether you agree that the conflict they fought in was just or not. 
The point is, it's their day, not yours. Yes, you ARE being overlooked. Because it's not about you. Stand shoulder to shoulder with your rivals, put aside your differences, and respect those who enabled you to do so.

Friday, 30 October 2015


Today I am testing something. If this works then I've just got back home after spending the day with Doctor Who in Cardiff....
I made this as part of a photoshop course last year.
Anyway, testing things. I've just been asked what the "Schedule" function does on blogger and my reply was "Oh, it doesn't work" But, I've been using wordpress for years, and haven't really used blogger much before this blog so my assumption that scheduling doesn't work might just be wrong. Time to test the theory!
If you are reading this on or after Friday October 30th 2015, after 6pm, then blogger scheduling works exactly as it should.
Assuming it worked... To schedule a post: Write your content, choose Schedule from the right hand side, pick a date and time, hit "Publish". The post will be published at the time you chose, on the day you chose.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Dirt feels good

You know how some days you feel like you can't do anything right? Today was one of those days. I missed a call, let someone down, and then it was far too late to do anything but apologise.
The reason I missed the call? It wasn't raining today. I was hanging washing out, then working in the garden, and didn't hear the phone. All very understandable, but I still feel bad about it. Today I woke with pain in my neck and shoulder, having not slept well, and confused with the clocks change. Maybe confused is too strong, but it leaves me out of sorts for a day or 2. I'm out at work tomorrow and Tuesday, then busy Wednesday, so garden work had to be today or next Thursday. With the location, and time of year, I have to take advantage of the lack of rain whenever it happens. There is no, maybe later in the week, here!
The pain in my neck and shoulder is an old thing that happens now and then, a cramping/spasming muscle, which if left unchecked becomes really painful and affects my entire back. Out with the exercises I used to use to ease it and then make it all work some more by digging and building things in the garden. It aches now, but is moving a lot better. Exercise really does help sometimes.
The mission for the garden today was to tidy up the compost, dig some more of the pond, and stop the cat digging my bulbs! The cat issue was simple - put some sticks in and across the bed where the digging is happening. Deter them and they'll go and dig somewhere else. It worked for the garlic, that's why they started elsewhere: in the bulb bed. Hopefully that'll sort it out until the bulbs poke green through the soil.
Tidying up the compost was more of a problem. I've been using one of those black plastic "dalek" style bins. Fabulous invention, easy to place, move, fill, absolutely brilliant. Until you get rats move in and live in it. The neck is great for filling, and keeps it all nice and warm, but you can't really get a fork in there to stir the compost properly. So the rats love it. The rats have to go, so the dalek has to go. But I still have compost....
Three pallets and a few screws later, and my compost is mostly contained, and I can get in there and turn it regularly to deter the rats.It's uneven because I didn't bother trimming the pallets to size. I don't care really, it's just to contain a sprawling pile of rotting vegetation and to provide a space for me to throw more. It works, and there's plenty of space for more to be added.
I dug the pond hole a bit deeper before deciding that my shoulder wasn't going to like that for too long. So it's still not finished but it's a bit more done than it was. I also added 3 more pallets to the growing hen run. Again, it's not finished but it's a bit more done than it was.
Through all of that I realised I'd forgotten something. Dirt feels good, and helps me to feel better. I'd lost the time and head space to just work on my own, in my garden, breathing in that special earth smell, feeling the mud dry on my hands, the wind through my hair, hearing the birds and insects around the place. It's healing.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Smelling the weight of years

I wandered into a second hand bookshop today. I love bookshops, the smell of new books is wonderful. The fresh ink, the crisp pages, unturned, unread....
But second hand books have a different life. There's a stage where a book has been read a few times, handled a few times, and it's a well read book. Books are wonderful things, but the difference between a freshly printed book and a read one is like making a new friend. First you dance through conversations, discovering new things about each other. Then after a while you know which brand of tea they like, how they take their coffee, which song will get them singing if it comes on the radio. Then there are your best friends, your longest standing friends, the ones who've shared the best times, the worst times, the ones who are your memories.
The freshly printed book is your new friend, you're still getting to know them for the first time. Those are special moments.
A well read book is a good friend, who you've known for a while.
But the old book with that special old smell, that one is the friend you've had since you were five, that smell is the weight of years, and memories.
It wasn't my oldest friend today, but it was someone's comfort, someone's memories, and it was 123 years of it. Today's book with that special smell was a bible printed in 1902, with a list of names from a bible study class from 1912, all male. I wonder how many went to fight 2 years after they wrote their names on that page. I wonder how many came back. I wonder how many weddings that bible has seen, how many christenings, how many tears. How many people have whispered their fears, sought guidance, begged for forgiveness.
That book has seen and survived so much, and can't tell us. But the smell is so rich, so laden with the weight of all it's seen.
In the end I didn't buy it, and the staff in the shop didn't laugh at me inhaling the scent of history. They just smiled, and pointed me to another shelf, with more old books.

Friday, 16 October 2015

20 years ago.

Twenty years ago I wasn't a mother. I was a daughter, a sister.
Today I am a mother and a daughter, but I no longer have a sibling, yet I still consider myself a sister to a brother I no longer have. I've blogged about it before, "Is someone there with you?" and 20 years on, it doesn't go away. It just is.
Go and hug someone you love, tell them you care.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Summer. It's a lovely day in Wales.

Some days I don't know why I bother getting out of bed.
It's raining, cold, and feels like Autumn. It's August. The garden is either waterlogged and dying, or being eaten by vast armies of slugs that even the 2 visiting hedgehogs can't control. The plants need sun, and warmth.
A bit blurry, but that is the smaller of the 2 who come visiting. I hope it's the same 2 we released after winter care, back in May. If so, then they're doing well. 
I'm sitting here in jeans, thick socks, boots, and I have a jumper on, and I'm still cold! I refuse to put the heating on. It's August.
Global warming? This is the reason I really don't like that phrase. I know it applies to an overall picture covering many years, but this doesn't feel "warm" in any way. What happened to summers where you roasted and retreated indoors because it was too hot? What happened to beaches and sandcastles, without rain coats and flasks of hot chocolate....
On top of all that, I'm job hunting and this morning's emails brought a slew of rejections. Not shortlisted, unsuccessful.... Sigh.
Some days a positive attitude is very hard to maintain.