Buying a property with a large garden and fields, next to woods, I was looking forward to a life surrounded by nature. Visions of Disney-esk frolics with cute bunnies, tweeting birds, and mice who (possibly) were going to help me with my sewing had swirled in my thoughts. As ever, the reality is a little different.
The cat has killed and (half) eaten the beautiful woodpecker that we fed. The kids have run back with shrieks over the frogs, not in the pond, but in the pool. And my husband has taken to striding around the garden in a most Elmer Fudd style, complaining about the ‘pesky warmints’, on a one-man mission to eradicate the grey squirrel population from Britain, apparently.
However, I have persevered. Spending my new pay rise on funding nuts and seeds for the greedy birds, (who then drop the seeds over the rose bushes, creating a lovely layer of grass – messy tikes) I have also been trying to entice a hedgehog or two into the garden. I have bought ‘hedgehog food’ (that pay rise has certainly gone by now!) and tried to create little spaces where they can feel safe. Every evening I have been monitoring the border in front of the house, trying to see the cute little snuffly nose and shuffling walk, beloved by children’s authors everywhere, but to no avail. But I didn’t give up.
And then we had a bonfire. Various bits of garden waste and all sorts of strange bits of wood from the house that the previous owner had decorated the walls with were merrily burning away when I had a sudden, horrifying thought. We hadn’t checked the pile for hedgehogs (or any other, less cute wildlife.) The flames, so pretty before, now seemed to represent my cruel and thoughtless need for destruction – I was no better than my husband! I sat, ringing my hands, plagued with guilt. When I mentioned this to my other half, the next morning, after a sleepless night with visions of a horrible, fiery doom, he just shrugged. Appalled by his callousness, I started to gear myself up for a good fight, but he added, ‘you do know that we won’t ever get a hedgehog? There are badger setts in the woods. They would have eaten or scared any off a long time ago.’
Anyone want some hedgehog food? It’s quite expensive…