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Baby hedgehog. BABY HEDGEHOG!

For once, not from my kitchen. I saw it bumbling past in the drive and realized it was a little ‘un. And so, of course, I had to run out there and pick it up and scare it out of a year’s growth.

I tried to pick it up without gloves at first — holy cow, those spines are really sharp! It’s a little hard to tell scale here, but this one is about half the size of the adult we’ve been seeing — assuming it’s just the one adult.

Wikipedia tells me pregnancies peak between May and July and gestation is 31 to 35 days. So about right.


July 18, 2017 — 10:11 pm
Comments: 13

The monster that eats cats


This story has a happy ending, I’ll let you know right now. I wouldn’t tell it to you otherwise.

A few weeks ago, our neighbor came flying over to tell us she’d spotted Charlotte, our dear old kitty, in the bottom of her garden in a very bad way.

Dear god, was she ever. So much blood and fur. Her head was so messed up and bloody I thought she’d lost part of it. I was pretty sure I saw an ear in the grass. She was alive, though — panting hard and shocky.

It was a Sunday (of course). I scooped her up in a towel and Uncle B called around until we found a vet on duty.

She’s fifteen. Learning that visibly changed the vet’s attitude but, do him credit, he gave her a thorough exam (including the usual few expensive tests) and hooked her up to an IV overnight. No broken bones, no internal bleeding, no apparent brain damage (still has both ears, thank goodness). But she wouldn’t stand or respond, except to scream when moved. She tore a bloody strip off a careless veterinary assistant.

The only injuries he could find were two deep, horrible holes with long gouges in the top of her skull, like something with big canines clamped her whole head in its mouth and tried to pull her down into the ditch we found her by. I believe now that our neighbor startled whatever it was – which was more than lucky. No-one goes down that end of the garden much.

She began to purr the moment she knew she was home, but that’s all I could get out of her. For almost a week, she wouldn’t move or eat or focus. I forced water on her with a pipette several times a day (she could swallow okay) but otherwise let her be. I was sure she was starving herself on purpose, the way animals will when they’ve had enough.

But after four or five days, she would lick food off my fingers if I offered it. A couple of days later, she used the litterbox (I was never so thrilled to see a cat turd in my life). A few days after that, she staggered out of the back room and refused to return to her sick bed. She’s unsteady and a little loopy, but she’s positively back and absolutely her old self.

The pic is old. I took some new ones this afternoon, but you have to get close to see the scars, and why would you want to? She looks just the same otherwise. A little skinnier.

We’re so very grateful to have our old girl back. And with that happy thought, we wish you all the best of weekends!

July 14, 2017 — 9:34 pm
Comments: 32

Say, this glove smells like…hmfff…mff


Yeah, sure, y’all laugh, but Onkle B looked down yesterday and realized he’d tracked hedgehog poo from one end of the house to the other.

Yes, we’re keeping the kitchen door closed now.

July 12, 2017 — 9:52 pm
Comments: 17



I have bailed this hedgehog — or a hedgehog, anyway — out of the house every night for a week. Sometimes twice.

No, he’s not tame. Every time I walk in on him, he gets that “oh, shit!” look on his face and disappears under the nearest piece of furniture. Little bastards are quick. Once he panicked and pee’d the floor. And then disappeared under the nearest piece of furniture.

In the end, we got some advice from Sussex Wildlife Trust. We were worried he might be sick or something. Nope. He (it’s almost certainly a he) has developed a powerful cat food jones. It started with the leftover bits of nasty old cat food I flipped out into the grass for the chooks and graduated into breaking and entering.

So I’m trying an experiment. At the end of the day, I’m putting the cats’ bowl out back for him. So far its…well, see the picture. The cats don’t seem to mind a bit (cats are communists).

Got a note from my next-door neighbor this morning: she put food out on the deck for her cat and caught a hedgehog with his nose in it. Broad daylight.

Either we have a family of the prickly little bastards, or we’re going to have Sussex’s most morbidly obese hedgie.

July 10, 2017 — 9:32 pm
Comments: 24

Comes the harvest


Our first year here, we made tons of jam. We had such a fun time making it, and then we realized we…really…just…don’t eat that much jam. Even today, I find the occasional jar of gray glob from all those years ago.

We’ve learned to moderate our jam-making activities, but we still make a few jars a year. In the picture is the makin’s of a red jam — raspberry, tayberry, a few strawberries and gooseberries. That was several days ago, and it turned out real nice.

Tonight, we made redcurrant jelly. Two plus pounds of redcurrants cooked down to two little jars and a bit. I hate to think what that would cost if you bought the berries – they’re super expensive in the store. Oddly enough, redcurrant jelly is usually used on meat here. Brits, eh?

Good weekend, everyone!

July 7, 2017 — 10:51 pm
Comments: 28

Genius loci


What’s the difference between a crow and a baby rook? NOBODY KNOWS!

Erm, at least, it’s very hard to tell by looking. Baby rooks have yet to develop that crusty white flesh where the beak meets the head, the signal characteristic of the adult rook.

Pretty sure this one’s a baby rook, though. A) he had some remnants of babyfeathers sticking out of his back, B) this area is known to be alive with rooks. Not so much crows. And C) he was acting like a knucklehead chattering to Uncle B for a solid half-hour. Got some cracking good pictures, though some of the best had stupid bits of grass waving in front of strategic bits.

June 26, 2017 — 10:12 pm
Comments: 8




Our neighbor called this afternoon to warn us that a swarm of bees was seen headed our way. Sure enough, we looked out and they had clustered on the outside of our chimney.

This happened three years ago. They swarmed in the exact same spot. You can see a picture and read the story here.

Last time, we plugged the holes and so far we’ve only seen one bee in the bedroom. Well, several over several days, but finding the odd bee is not that…odd. We couldn’t see them this afternoon, but it’s raining.

Last time, they moved off on their own after a couple of days. If they cluster again tomorrow, we’ll build a gentle fire. I do not fancy hoovering dozens of bees out of my bedchamber every morning.

You know, I always assumed that .gif was an edit of the time Oprah gave a car to every member of her audience, but that video is here and it’s clearly not the same event. Did she do that more than once?

May 11, 2017 — 10:03 pm
Comments: 16

I found a loophole, said Weasel!


Our Christmas tree. Yeah, it always looks lame in black and white, but I give it a try every year. Trust me, it was lovely.

I know some people take the tree down the minute Christmas is over, but that’s definitely not us. We usually aim for Twelfth Night, because it’s traditional and we’re like that, but January 5th (or is it the 6th?) just seemed too soon. The tree was still lovely, hadn’t dropped a needle, and we weren’t quite ready to wave g’bye to Christmas.

But the other traditional day is Candlemas (did I mention we’re traditional?). But that’s February 2nd, and that just seemed way too long, even for big crybabies like us.

Then I found a loophole – Old Twelvey Night! This is where Twelfth Night fell before adoption of the Gregorian Calendar and some hearty Brits still observe it. Because pff – that was just, like, 1582.

I love these people.

It’s tonight — the 17th of January. We’re going to take our tree down and do it right. Bottle of fizz, a nice steak dinner. I’m not going in in the morning so we can sleep in. Try to hold onto the true meaning of Old Twelvey Night. Which is steak and champagne, I guess. I don’t know. You can just make this shit up if you want.

Wishing you a very merry Old Twelvey Night, from our household to yours!

January 17, 2017 — 8:57 pm
Comments: 11

Jack: 2 Rabbits: nil


Well, technically I suppose it’s Jack: 1 Rabbits: 1. It’s hard to see here (easier to make out in color) but that thing in my right hand is the head of a bunny, which is fortunately still connected to the rest of the rabbit. I distracted Jack just long enough for Mr Buns to get away.

Yes, I felt awful for stealing his rabbit, but I just can’t deal with the screams. He can torture a little animal for hours and hours and never get bored.

Earlier in the day, he (I assume it was he) left quite a large dead one on the front stoop with significant pieces missing. Explains why he never turned up for his Friskies today.

We could use the rabbit control and I’m proud of him for taking down such a big beast (he’s a little squirt). I just wish he’d be a little quicker and cleaner about it, at least when I’m in the garden.

sock it to me

July 20, 2016 — 8:33 pm
Comments: 15

witches and how to disinvite them


In the comments to the thread below this one, there was some brief mention of the hex marks in Badger House. I thought I’d posted extensively about it once before, but all I can find is this brief mention.

Well. This house was built some time between 1505 and 1610. It’s a timber-framed Tudor farmhouse, with the timbers exposed on the inside (they probably were originally exposed on the outside, too, but this place has seen a LOT of alteration over the centuries). There are things scratched into the beams at various points, and we didn’t think anything of it. Just old graffiti, we thought. But, as it turns out, what we have here are classic ‘witch marks.’

Or, if you want to sound all sciencey and shit, apotropaic marks. Click that link, and you’ll see tons of examples that look exactly like these two pictures from Badger House. And we have since taken many pictures and had many a conversation about them in National Trust properties.


The one above is a hexafoil or daisy wheel, the most common apotropaic mark in English houses. It’s believed to be a very ancient sun symbol. Like prehistoric. It both brings good luck and wards off evil. This one is in the main beam above the downstairs fireplace.

The one at right, that looks like “TW” or “IW” we just assumed were somebody’s initials (they appear more than once in our house, above the fireplace in the master bedroom), but it’s another terribly common mark. “T” and “O” ward off evil somehow and the “W” is actually Marian — an interlocking “V V” for virgin of virgins, or an upside down “M.”

Or, you know, everyone is talking out their asses and no-one really knows. Some of the straight marks we’re convinced were made by the builders and had a more practical purpose. In a house near here, a series of room beams are marked, in order, “I” “II” “III” “IIII” and — tellingly — “V”.

If you want to read more about it — and, believe me, this is a real fun Google rabbit hole to fall down — try a search of witch marks, ritual protection marks, house magic or the charmingly named Wookey Hole. (It’s a cave. They age cheese in it).

Good weekend, folks — and keep them witches out!

sock it to me

February 12, 2016 — 8:08 pm
Comments: 19