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It’s been five years since leaving West Yorkshire and I thought it time that I brought you up to date with some insight to our new lives in North Wales. We have been very lucky having found our house which is surrounded by fields and all sorts of wildlife. Within two thousand metres of our house is no less than forty-one remnants of ancient woodland and other protected areas. The sea and Snowdonia are nearby along with many footpaths. Besides the usual birds which visit our garden, buzzards fly nearby. During nesting time, a few crows bravely make a noisy beeline to see off any buzzards which venture to close. It is fascinating to see the aerial combat which ensues. While out walking one day a stoat carrying a large rabbit crossed our path. On another occasion a stoat could be seen chasing a mouse in and out of a stone wall. Ravens often feed in the fields nearby, with the aid of binoculars one can see their large and powerful beaks. By night one hears the Barn Owl and sees bats fly silently by. We are blessed with a site nearby where starlings gather in huge numbers and perform their amazing murmuration. The starlings sometimes congregate on our oak tree before heading down to the roost. The other day a grey squirrel was half way up our holly tree when a magpie which was nesting there, flew down and chased it out of the garden and down the lane, all be it cautiously and at a safe distance. We have the usual frogs, toads and newts and lately ducks are regular visitors.

All this wildlife is good news, but there is a bit of a downside if you happen to grow fruit and vegetables. For instance, why is the bird bath sometimes almost dry, what has been making all these holes and scuff marks in the lawn and other areas, and what has burrowed into the hot bed and compost bin? My newly planted potatoes have disappeared down a burrow. I had been meaning to purchase a wild life trail camera, so these recent events have prompted me to get on and do so. The images have revealed some of these mysteries. An ewe with a lamb drinking out of the bird bath, and images of mice or shrews as well as a rat and a small rabbit. The night time images reveal a few cats on their nightly patrols and the ducks asleep on the pond. Unfortunately, our garden is very rocky, a spade or fork will not penetrate the soil, so raised beds are the answer. High input, but it is the only way. And of course, all that lovely loose soil in the beds is ideal for burrowing animals. A bit of fleece covering the crop and some fencing here and there has mostly sorted this problem. Although there might be a few naughty rabbits occasionally entering our garden, I still expect to be producing fair harvests. The organic growers’ mentality regarding wildlife is a good one. It’s easier to cope with bunny and others.

Jack First

Terry's Tomato Tips

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Children's Section

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From Val's Plot

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Jack First's Advice

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