Stoat Nest


A haystack turns grey as the winter goes by. If it’s been wet, some of the outer bales will blacken. But look inside and it’s silvery green with the heaped scent of summer grass. Shreds of beautiful hay trickle through your fingers like sand, even on a day without daylight.

We’re at the back of the main stack now. I’ve carted most of the bales away to be fed, and the cows have done well through the darkness. In shifting bales this morning, a large dark ball rolled down from the rafters and landed at my feet. I was in a hurry and hardly gave it a second thought, but then it fell apart in a puff of fluff and feathers. I could see rabbit fur and rat hair in the blend, along with a mattress of wren feathers. Here was an abandoned home, and it hardly took much to identify the former occupant. There has been a stoat hanging around the yard all winter, and he’s been canny enough to set up shop in the most comfortable place for miles around.

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