Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Gripes and Groans

I try to avoid moaning via my blog but several things have occurred that I feel I must mention.

Firstly the immanent proposed badger cull in the west country.  I totally understand that something must be done to prevent the spread of bovine TB, however, I cannot see that culling is the answer. When our neighbouring farmer started having pheasant shoots, he shot all the foxes in the area but, within months, new foxes had moved in, which then had to be shot and so it went on until now I think he has given up.  Surely the same will happen with the badgers but worse still, I wonder if, because it is encouraging badger movement, it may cause TB to spread to areas not at present affected. Also every living thing has a part to play in the eco system.  When the farmer shot the foxes there was an explosion of rabbits which he then poisoned, this in turn killed off the birds and animals that fed on carrion (including a beautiful Barn Owl!:(  There was also an explosion of rats and mice which made life very difficult for us nearby residents.  I wonder what legacy the death of the all these badgers will leave.  I can't help feeling the cull is just a cheaper, short term solution so that the government can pass the buck to future governments.  Farmers, the cows and the badgers deserve better. The National Trust and various conservation groups are vaccinating badgers and this would offer a more permanent, sustainable and eco-friendly solution.  If you feel like I do then please sign the e-petition at

My nest gripe is about the export of live animals for the meat market.  Last week the RSPCA and Animal Health stopped a four tiered lorry full of sheep for live export at a ferry port. Two sheep were immediately euthanized, one had a broken leg and after inspection a further 41 were also euthanized. These animals were already suffering from painful conditions like foot rot but had further been injured in transit due to the bad state of the lorry.  Can you imagine how these animals would have suffered if their journey hadn't been intercepted!!!  Unfortunately this is not unique. Every day in Europe horses, cows, sheep and other animals have to endure long journeys of hundreds of miles, lasting days, with little or no water and often already ill or injured. Those that survive arrive at their destination just to be slaughtered.  In this age of refrigerated lorries it is so unnecessary to transport animals live.  It makes me feel physically ill to think what these animals go through. Please, please,please sign the petition against live export at

My last gripe is a bit closer to home. Our neighbouring farmer has part of the Saltbox SSSI which I have been informed is in a Higher Level Stewardship agreement, so, the farmer will be receiving a considerable amount of tax payers money to look after this important area of land.  However, apart from an initial clearance about 4 years ago he has done virtually nothing.  The site has not been grazed, there is considerable regrowth of scrub and areas that haven't scrubbed over again are covered in Golden Rod, Asters, Ragwort and brambles.  When we first moved here and before it was even designated a SSSI, this area was amazing with a bank of flowers adjoining the then cultivated field and going up to a small line of scrub, behind which the steep land opened up like a magical secret garden full of many different orchids, wild flowers and clouds of butterflies.  It could be like that again if only the farmer would manage it properly as he is being paid to do. Another part of the Saltbox SSSI is owned by the London Wildlife Trust and along with the Downland Project  this area is looked after properly and is coming on really well.  I wonder how many other farmers reap the rewards of HLS agreements without doing the work. The picture below shows the dense cover of Golden Rod... not what I call good management. 

I did come across one nice thing while visiting the site..a rather cute little field mouse taking in the evening sun.

Now for the groan.  I have a twisted my knee and it is very sore:(((  I first damaged it climbing over hurdles while carrying bales of hay and straw during lambing but I always feel that given long enough these things clear up on their own.  Trouble is this didn't and after carrying some heavy hurdles around and then going horse riding I have now properly messed it up.  It is very annoying as I have just taken delivery of the guide book and map for the Thames long distance path that hubby and I intend to do.  We are still going to do it but we will have to limit it to just a three or four miles a day so I doubt we will get to the more rural stretches in time for the Spring Flowers.

I am still trying to keep up my work with the Downland Project's Livestock though.  The Ewes and lambs have now been separated and neither seemed to mind...infact the ewes looked quite relieved:))  One lot of cows have been sold and another lot bought which are reportedly very friendly and as they don't have horns will be easier to work with. Some of the sheep were taken to the recent Countryside Day where they behaved very well and received a lot of attention.

On a happy note, we have just returned from a short break in the Aylesbury Vale where we had such a good time.  One of the places we visited was the Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust site of College Lakes and I really recommend it. The reserve was made from an old chalk pit.  There are lakes with hides all around, wildflower meadows heaving with butterflies, an area of standing bird feed crop, a visitors centre with cafe and more. It seems like a very pro-active site with lots of volunteering opportunities. In the afternoon we attended a very interesting talk about work they are doing investigating the propagation of old corn field flowers and we also saw some gliss-glis that were nesting in a bird box that had a camera in it. A very good day and can't wait to go back.

We also met up with our son and his partner and went to Dunstable Downs where there were masses of Autumn Gentian

Lastly, I have a new friend in the garden.  This beautiful Darter (at least I think that is what he is) had been flying around the garden for a while and when I went near him I was sure he was looking at me so I held out my hand and amazingly he flew onto it:))))))


Helen said...

Sorry, it seems that the link for the badger cull e-petition isn't working. I hope while I am trying to sort it out you will still visit the website and sign the petition.

Alice ~ writer, traveller, dreamer said...

"every living thing has a part to play in the eco system" ... if only more people would realise this. Live export simply turns my stomach, too. How people can treat any living animal in such a way just makes me ashamed to be human. BUT, the thing is to just try and do the best we can as individuals to spread goodness.

Sorry to hear about your knee (get well soon) but lovely to see the things you have been enjoying!

Helen said...

Thanks for your comment and support Alice. I don't like griping but some things have to be said...and perhaps my knee is making me a bit grumpy too:))

Anonymous said...

Hi Grumpy Helen,
Best blog I have seen this year!!
You are so right about animal transport and the badger cull.
There is no need to transport animals overseas, when people do it they have only one thought in their mind----PROFIT!
The badger cull - government thinking at the moment is -‘ leave the expensive alternative of inoculation to the next government, the cheapest way to get the farmers lobby off our back is to let them go out and shoot a few badgers ‘ (even though the government’s own advisor says that they need to wipe out 70% of the population of badgers just to slow the spread of TB by a measurable amount) again the motive is not what is right but what gives the most PROFIT.
I think you can guess what the motive is for some farmers to claim SSSI and SPS money and do as little as possible for it, yes it’s - - - - - - .(Please fill in the blanks, it’s not hard)
Hope everybody who reads your blog also takes time to sign the petitions. It will make a difference if enough people do.
Keep up the good work.

Helen said...

Thanks Anon:)