Those of you who read Part 1 will know that Charlie (our OCD cocker spaniel) found that the UK Lockdown coincided with some serious landscaping of his humble jungle and hallowed hunting ground. We’re only talking an overgrown shrubbery but the fall-out was a huge event for the ‘dog who never obeys’. Not only had we removed the hiding place of his arch-enemy (the neighbours black moggy) but the deconstructed viburnum and other flora left him without a garden in which to range.
Last week I tackled the ‘green waste’ problem. With the recycling centres shut due to Covid-19 I had to think on my feet. Over three days, Charlie supervised while his master reduced the mountain of branch and leaf with secateurs and loppers. The net result was 10 garden sacks full of kindling and a small pile of branches. A polite call was made to one of the farmers on whose land I shoot (and who has a bonfire heap). We agreed that a trip to the heap was essential to the mental health of the confined canine. A sneaky dawn ‘in-and-out’ of the estate with my SUV, in which no breach of social-distancing occurred, resolved the issue. It’s at times like these you don’t begrudge the bottle left on a farmers doorstep at Christmas.
The only trips out since then have been for daily exercise. I think we now have about twenty variations on a ‘one-hour’ walk from our front door. Charlie has expanded his reconnaissance and knows where every cat lives within five square miles. His pads have toughened up too. Now, if he does abscond, we’ll probably never see him again. His pathological hatred of felines is cartoon-like yet not, in my eyes, funny.
The camera has been busy, but alas not the guns. Like my fellow shooters, I’m following the advice that casual pest control is non-essential. Which, after last years General License fiasco, means the magpies have a second Spring free-for-all. It must be wonderful to have your own few acres or more in which to exercise and shoot.
Even where I live (on the extreme fringe of North Norwich) social-distancing while walking is challenging. The permissive paths laid out by farmers are extensive but constantly abused. I see dogs charging across growing crops and often their owners, too. There are poo-bags dumped everywhere. I will never understand the mentality of someone who makes the effort to pick their dogs excrement then just dump the bag? Single-use plastic, morons! If you can’t be bothered carrying it, just pick up a stick and flick the mess out of harms way. Sorry, I’m being negative. As we’re seeing too vividly, life’s too short to keep moaning.
Every cloud has a silver lining, they say. Since March 23rd, the birdsong has seemed louder and the skies are clear of vapour trails. The trees and shrubs are full of blossom. We have been blessed, this Easter, with fine weather. Perhaps too fine for our good, in the circumstances? The opening out of our garden has resulted in more light and space. The bird table and feeders have been busy with visitors, with no feline threat lurking in the shadows. Even the goldfinches have returned.
Charlie has a new game to keep him occupied. He doesn’t seem to like woodpigeons very much? He might be nine years old but he can still clear a 3ft decking balustrade in seconds at the mere hint of grey plumage!
Stay safe, Stay At Home and have a wonderful Easter.
Copyright Ian Barnett, Wildscribbler, April 2020