Friday, 4 January 2019

Life or Death in the Countryside

The old watermill, 60-70 years ago.

The morning dawned grey and sullen, fairly fresh, but dry.    I decided to try my first 'big' walk since I attempted a triple salchow in the conservatory...!   



The watermill today







The walk was quite uneventful, one tractor and a pick-up truck passed us along the lane, but otherwise it was quiet.





I was meandering along the lane into Dovecote Dell, when a rabbit suddenly broke cover and raced across the road, hotly pursued by something.   I rarely remember to take spectacles out with me, so it took me a moment or two to realise that the tiny thing in pursuit was a stoat.     A rabbit is small, but a stoat is about one tenth of the size.    Despite that, it meant business, but so did the athletic rabbit. 

They zig-zagged across the lane, through the electric fence and back out into Brook Farm, then back again.  Sometimes the rabbit was well ahead, then the stoat would catch up and I feared the worst.   The last I saw of them was as they ran past the allotment gardens, past the farmhouse and into the back meadow.   I left them to it, there was nothing I could, or should, do about it.

On past the old dovecote and up a steep short hill and into the churchyard.


We made a quick circuit of the church, stopping to read a few stones, admire the view, and all the work that has been done in the grounds.    Occasionally old bones rise to the surface of the soil under the ancient yew trees, where countless generations of rabbits have excavated their homes.   None today.     I scrambled back out the side gate, past the Victorian post box which is set into the wall, and walked back to the dovecote.







The old dovecote looked a bit sad today, but that is just down to the light.



I followed the path through the farmyard, then walked along the bank of the  chalk stream, back into Little Bunting.




It was a joy to be out in the countryside again.     In all, I probably walked about three miles,  it was enough.   I was glad to reach home.   But I did it!    The first decent walk of the year.


The rest of the day was spent looking after two of my grandchildren, their mother was back at school and their father working with my husband, roofing the new garage.      Just as well I hadn't planned to do anything for myself!


The old dovecote on a summer's day!





26 comments:

  1. Good to hear you're out walking again.It's hard to watch nature when she's red in tooth and claw but it;'s how she is. Hope all your family is well.

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    1. I was rooting for the rabbit, but my money was on the stoat. The size difference, and the focus, was impressive. I was glad when they went out of sight.
      They were all well, thank you. Oldest one loves his new baby brother, middle one is still very much daddy's boy, by necessity, though he is open to being won round by anyone who puts in a little effort. It was wonderful having them here for a few days.

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  2. Good to see the Dovecote in summer and winter - light levels are so poor in winter and even beautiful places look dreary.

    Fascinating to watch the stoat in pursuit of the rabbit. I wonder who triumphed? Some antiques friends of ours had a weasel's skull inside a wedding ring, on a plinth covered by a glass dome. Makes you realize how small some of this family are.

    Glad you enjoyed your walk,. I am hoping to get a decent one in over the weekend, now I'm feeling more my old self again.

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    1. I think you would enjoy the history of the area around the church, dovecote and Manor Farm. Sir Henry Vane the younger spent some years there, he led an interesting life, a politician, a statesman and was even Governor of Massachusetts for a while, he eventually had his head chopped off on Tower Hill... Some of his children are buried in the churchyard, no stones, lost in the mists of time. So much history and interest in and around this funny little bit of Lincolnshire!

      The tiny size of the stoat was what fascinated me the most, that and the focus, it really meant business and I imagine she/he probably got a fresh rabbit breakfast.

      I am really glad that you are feeling better! Onward and upward!

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  3. It would be so good to take a two mile walk. But I think I'll achieve it by this year's end, or sooner, and just be along with you in the meantime. So young Toby didn't attempt to be involved?

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    1. 'Young' Toby looked at the action, glanced back at me, then decided that some blades of grass were much more interesting. He doesn't like to get involved in any form of exercise, Joanne. Old Toby would have been off like a rocket, even up to the last week or two that I had him. Chalk and cheese, but none the worse for that!

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  4. Not sure what we walked today, saw one of the Birdwatchers I know on the walk and had a chat. Told him about a Heron we saw in a nearby field then carried on we then spotted a couple of rabbits which were the first we had seen in the best part of a year. Not seen any stoats in a long time though

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    1. It won't be long before the hares start their boxing matches, always wonderful to catch sight of one of those! Maybe I am becoming more aware, but I seem to see many more wild creatures these days - which really makes those walks worthwhile. Gifts from nature.

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    1. I really hope so. I couldn't manage further than our usual walk around the fields and the old railway line today - but it was worth making the effort yesterday. I hope to build up to my old six mile walk, even if it is only an occasional indulgence.x

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  6. So happy to hear that you are up for a walk, now that your injury is mended. Your story about the stoat, made me look up the critter, and I was shocked at how small it was, and that they say it has a way of hypnotize the rabbit. We had badgers on the ranch in Wyoming, and they would flat chase you down if they took a mind to it. I was taking a bucket of milk up to the house one time and a mean badger chased me into the house and started chewing on the door, to get in at me. My dad went out the back door and dispatched that thing with a shot gun. I don't guess a stoat would chase a human down, at least I would hope not. lol. Does Toby chase the stoat? Great pictures along your walk. Can you read the names on the grave stones? Is the cemetery still in use? Guess I have a lot of questions for you...ha!

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    1. We have badgers living just across the road, in another wooded area, luckily they seem to keep to their side of the lane - though they did cause the road to subside, a few years ago, which caused a few problems! 'Your' badgers sound much more aggressive. Toby is a dear dog, but he lacks any desire to take any more exercise than absolutely necessary! He was on a lead at the time but, even if he had been free, he would not have chased more than a dozen paces, then felt he had done his duty.

      The graves stones are mostly legible, but it depends which direction they are facing! I like to wander round, say the names out loud, think about the people. The church yard is small, but there are still a few burials which take place. The last one was about month before Christmas.

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  7. The dovecote is lovely - glad you are back to walking.

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    1. The old manor house was demolished about half a century ago, luckily the dovecote is now 'protected'. Protected, but neglected, alas! Being able to make that walk filled me with joy, the sense of freedom, I suppose!

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  8. That is a lovely walk and you pass some really interesting little places. When we go out of our door we have the village which is more of a small town in one direction or the moors in the other. Although the moors are beautiful in a rugged and wild way they have no interesting buildings and no trees and provide no shelter... and it is extremely hilly!!

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    1. I chose that walk because it is mainly flat - quite important, thanks to my 'war wound'! Your walks sound very wild and extremely beautiful, probably a bit difficult for me these days, but great for developing the fitness levels!

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  9. An enjoyable walk with a sprinkling of excitement! The Water Mill is still very recognizeable.
    I didn't see that many rabbits in 2018 but no doubt it won't be long before the road verges are filled with them hopping around. How lucky to see a stoat even if it was in pursuit! They do look funny when you see a family of them running across a road.
    Have a great weekend Elaine :)

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    1. Thank you Prunella. I don't know whether I am more tuned into the wildlife these days, perhaps keep my eyes peeled more than I used to, but Mother Nature certainly seems to let me see some beautiful animals these days.

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  10. Oh how I loved walking in my younger days. Sadly a good walk meant a long drive just to get out of town. The only wild life I see now, apart from beautiful birds, is a family of squirrels. I worried when I acquired a cat that the squirrels would suffer but not so since squirrel and cat know their place!

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    1. They are great fun to watch - I have to be careful about drawing attention to the ones in our garden, SiL would get his gun out and dispatch them, he calls them tree rats! When we first moved here, about 12 years ago, there was one red squirrel in Owl Wood. I fear the grey ones ousted him.

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  11. Such a lovely walk, the dovecote looks an interesting building as does the watermill. I know the stoat has to eat for survival but I do hope the rabbit managed to evade it and make it back to the warren:)

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    1. We can only hope so, Rosie. I didn't hear any screaming, so the rabbit may have got away. The old dovecote is beautiful, early 16th century.

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  12. If you walked about 3 miles, then the church is about half way, maybe...?

    Here we are so proud, to just be taking little walks up the nearby "alley."

    Never thought I'd begin walking in Jan. but when health summons, you do it.

    ✨✨✨✨

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    1. Well that depends on which route I take - cutting through fields, walking the lanes or following old footpaths, wow! I opted for the longer route out, a much more direct one back in. Enjoy your walks, build up gently. It rreally is wonderful to get out in the fresh air, isn't it.

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Lovely to hear from you!