Tuesday, 7 August 2012


I have blogged before about the problems of my garden being considered a public convenience by most of the local animal population.  We have found the best solution is a product called Dog Off , which I call 'Fox Off', for the obvious humour value and for the reason that we actually want to repel foxes not dogs), which has a strong perfume that apparently confuses animals that rely on scent marking.  It seems to work on cats too.  But the last bottle bought had a 'new aroma' which turned out to be garlic, making our backyard smell like an Italian restaurant rather than a rose garden.  Not such a happy solution to the problem. Still, the other product that works quite well on the lawn is pepper, which actually goes quite well with the restaurant theme.

The problem though with these products is that they don't easily survive the present run of wet weather (the wettest June this century).  So we have supplemented olfactory deterrents with aural ones - PIRs with a high pitched sound emission.  I think the combination has been successful.  No evidence of animals for a while anyway.

This morning when I left home however, there was a dead fox on my doorstep.  My first thought naturally was that I have been targetted by a gypsy for some reason.  Can this be a warning to other travellers that I'm unlikely to give them 20p, even for a cup of tea?  Or a sign that I never  seem to want my kitchen knives sharpening?  Or maybe it was a death threat?  Or maybe it suffered from a garlic or pepper allergy.  But then the next thought was what do I do about it?  Fur collars and stuffed animals are not so much in vogue these days and there wasn't much meat on it.

But it was later that the paradox struck me.  I will spray my garden with Fox Off and chase away any varmints I see out there, but, when it comes to disposing of a body, my humane human instincts kicked in and I debated with myself where and how to bury it decently.

I had the same thoughts last night as it happened.  We had been out in the garden for much of the day with the house door open and the living room had filled with flies.  Normally I would swat them with a folded copy of Bikini Monthly, but there were so many of them that my stomach reacted to the thought of disposing of all the corpses and so I chased them back out the door instead.  Having done so, I did think it was perhaps an odd solution.  Maybe I should have just got out the Bug Off spray?

The same thoughts arose when I went to bed.  There, sitting on the bedside lamp, was the most enormous insect I have seen for a long time .  It was either a hornet or a queen bee, not too sure which.  I thought how fortunate it was that it had settled on the lamp and not the pillow where I might not have seen it until too late.  On the other hand, maybe it was the lamp that attracted it into the house in the first place.  Anyway, I found a tumbler large enough to hold it and a large card and carried it to the back door for release.  For some reason or other, it promptly flew back into the house.  Maybe it was in defence or attack mode.  Luckily it settled on the wall and I trapped it again and successfully liberated it.  How strange I thought though that my own defence or attack mode didn't activate and lead me to simply swat it.

Of course, like most of you no doubt, I am always carrying spiders safely outside in tumblers.  But I wonder where we normally draw the line.  I was reading an article in Cowgirl magazine recently about Clint Eastwood at home.  It caught my eye because I am often mistaken for Clint (a serendipity he has never used to his advantage incidentally).  But he apparently always rescues insects from the house and carries them outside.  Any insect, however small, which I thought at the time rather over the top.  But perhaps I tend to the same practice.

On the radio the other day, on the other hand, I listened to people ringing in with tips for disposing of slugs humanely.  Apparently, pouring salt on them works spectacularly, but is very painful.  Personally, I'm not sure I'm much bothered by the pain of slugs, but then I do leave out beer which they like so much that they drink themselves to death.  Perhaps that meets my humane side better than salting them.  There is something kind I suppose about giving unwanted pests what they desire and killing them with kindness.

Apparently foxes think of the houses/gardens they inhabit as home and, when injured, or otherwise dying, they make there way back before finally expiring.  That's probably what had happened in my poor creature's case, since it had no obvious injury.  Anyway, the balance of opinion was that the best way to dispose of it was to leave it in a woodland, so I took it into the copse where I think the rest of its skulk live, on the assumption that they might like to know what had happened to it and where Nature will hopefully take care of it.  If I now get murdered by didicoys, you'll know I misinterpreted the semiosis.

No comments:

Post a Comment