Many stout hearts have wilted in 2006. Let’s begin with the wilderness between the allotments and the Rec. To many, and unkindly if you are a son of the soil, this is known as a nature reserve. Well it’s certainly a reservation, and so named after the Indian ones! Every night herds of deer and posses of rabbits have come a whooping and a hollering. I’ve managed just 5 carrots from 2 packets of seed. At one stage would you believe, they even ate the tops out of the onions, and then toyed with, but spat out the garlic. Much of what they didn’t get the pigeons did. The allotment pigeons are the size of jumbo jets - I swear Benson helicopters divert around them. Mob handed they bounce up and down on any protective netting. Now I just found what ate the tops out of the potatoes. Caterpillars, 3 inches long, have come up with the spuds. I have an epidemic of Death’s-Head Hawk moths!
Next we come to moles. They appeared in early May, tunnelling from the general direction of Bell Lane. They followed the line of our mysterious “Permissive path”. At the water tank they turned right, then straight as an arrow, went for my little acre. The good news is that I was ready. Kind friends had equipped me with a battery deterrent that worked. A little plastic coil that winds into a knot, then goes off like a cross between a Catherine Wheel and a Jumping Jack. What a joy! The tube it shakes and emits a noise like I imagine a rattle snake makes. Mr Mole, he no likee, and just kept tunnelling along
Unfortunately in late August, I made a molasses of things. For years the first sign of autumn in Church Lane has been squirrels in an ancient coppiced hazel tree outside Mellstock. They first strip it bare of the far from ripe cobnuts, and then charge up the lane to pillage my nut tree. Not this year they didn’t! I dug up the mole deterrent, tied it to my tree, and hey presto, for the first time since 1968, no squirrels, but lots of lovely nuts for Christmas. So what went wrong? Because of the nuts, I have a garden full of mice. Now those mice have cats, and I’m not a cat person either.
Meanwhile, back at the allotment, there was the third plague of 2006, drought. I delayed planting out my leeks till mid-September, but was then forced to water them in. would you believe it, there were moles pushing them back up before you could say “Dave Hurley”. Do you know , they tunnelled in exactly the same places as last year – and they were not the same moles, I guarantee.
Finally, why “Dave Hurley”. Well, despite the drought, Sotwell House spring kept flowing in 2006. It is he who pumped and pumped to keep us allotmenteers a watering. Let’s hear it for Dave, for in a year of adversity, he was a flow of comfort to some very demolerised diggers.
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