The snow which fell a week ago is still lying after successive periods of hard weather, and it really does seem as though winter has descended upon Galloway with quite a bump. I have to go round in frequent circuits of all the bird drinkers to defrost them, and the only hens who are even trying to face the hard weather are the silkies and pekins. The rest of them stay huddled indoors, even though the hen house is open all day and they are encouraged to roam wherever they please. The partridges don’t seem to be at all bothered by the cold, and the blackcock appears to be quite enjoying it. Infact, as I type this, I can hear him bubbling away to himself.
My mother was losing hens and eggs in mysterious circumstances last week, and I was called in to help solve the riddle. Sadly, I was too late to save a really nice chocolate brown silkie hen which I had my eye on as a good clocker, and even after I had set some Mk. 4s, a large blue cochin hen was discovered with its head pulled clean off under the old duck house. Thankfully, I discovered the culprit the following morning before any damage could be done – a big old dog stoat who thought he had found some easy pickings. He had climbed into a tunnel made out of terracotta drainage tiles to see where it would take him, and found himself on a one way ticket upstairs courtesy of Mr. Fenn. As I packed up my traps and gathered the dog back into the car, I heard two foxes calling to one another – a vixen’s scream and a dog fox barking in return. I had better step up my snaring campaign on the Chayne, because the breeding season is fast approaching.
Just as a nod towards 2013, it looks like it’s going to be possible to reseed a few hectares of heather on the hill as part of a trial patch. It’s very exciting, but there will be a great deal of fencing work and general labour to do before I can see it come into fruition during the summer.