And so it begins…
This year has been as chalk to cheese with the brilliant, unbroken sunshine of the past few weeks contrasting with the relentless rain of 2012. But some things remain the same, for while the veg patch and borders are all looking spick and span, we are still under bombardment from local villains.
For example, two weeks ago I happened upon a number of caterpillars on the broccoli. They were simply resting alongside each other, like mini cruisers in a game of battle ships. They were resting because they had clearly had their fill of large portions of my summer purple sprouting. I could hear the dramatic music in my head as I lifted a leaf and saw more as they munched their way along the leading edge of another leaf. It’s hardly Pearl Harbor revisited, but I actually felt a little rush of adrenalin when I saw the lazy fat striped bodies lying there in the bright sunlight, confident in the knowledge that no birds were going to eat them. I think I must be investing a little too much emotional energy into this these days. Well, the caterpillars had not legislated for an angry midlife gardener and were duly despatched.
Interestingly, since then I have not seen any more caterpillars, but the butterflies were out in force this week so we are expecting a fresh assault any time soon.
In other news, as they say, we continue to try and get the rabbit(s). They had munched on the brussels and broccoli after insinuating themselves through the wide gauge netting which the OM put round the smaller patch at the start of last year (before allowing the chard, lettuces and pink fir apples to get overrun with weeds). So I changed the netting and, since TOM got out of hospital I have taken possession of the air rifle, with which he has previously been pretty successful from his bedroom window. (I can imagine my father would have been very much at home back in the hey day of the Empire, sitting on the veranda in some sweltering Imperial outpost, shooting whatever happened to be passing, while the ice cubes rapidly melted in his tumbler of Bombay Sapphire and Fever Tree Tonic).
However, as he is slightly concerned with the thought that he might be split asunder by the kick of the rifle, I have taken control of the weapon and have spent a few fruitless mornings stalking bunnies in the garden. Fat chance I have of hitting one. In the old days I used to blast them with a shot-gun, but in the current climate of proper gun control, with only an air rifle, my chances of hitting a rabbit with a single pellet from 25 paces from behind a small shrub are slim. Even allowing for the telescopic sight (which gave TOM a black eye when he rested it against his eye brow when firing) I know the rabbits are safe.
Instead of shooting we are trying trapping instead. We have baited the rabbit trap (after a short 10 minute instructional talk and demonstration from TOM). But to no avail. I also set mouse traps and netted off the caulis and cabbages as I thought mice might have been eating my Fennel sprouts. No mice or rabbits caught, and although no further damage, the culprits are still at large (in the case of the rabbits, increasingly large). So one has to turn to the ultimate desperate weapon of choice: Fudge.
I know, I know, I have made much of Fudge’s inability to catch anything other than a canine cold, but she has shown interest in the rabbits, and got close on occasions. But no success as yet. But then, metaphorically speaking, she pulled an almighty rabbit out of the hat the other day when she dug up and slaughtered a mole. I had basically given up on catching moles – the traps never work and none of my pouring acrid smelling chemicals down the holes last year seemed to do any good. So I would simply “tramp the dirt down” (a nod to Elvis Costello – what a set he played at Glasto this year) and get on with life. But then Fudge comes up trumps with an excavated and executed mole. Good dog!
Now, Fudge, about those rabbits….