Hoglets!

We’ve reasonable knowledge about hedgehogs over 300 g, and have overwintered some of these prickly darlings in our purpose-built animal room. But hoglets?!

A passerby saw a hoglet outside the house, knocked on the door … a quick search and we found 4 more abandoned hoglets. We put them in a carrier with a heat pad to warm them through – they were freezing! and quickly phoned the vet. Of course, Sunday service! But Scarsdale Vets in Derby were fantastic and an hour later we were armed with a Royal Canin Babycat milk kit with feeding bottle.

They’re so Tiny!

The smallest hog was 50 g and the largest 66 g, two with eyes open. Using my Vale Wildlife Hospital hedgehog rehabilitation course booklet, we worked out they are 14 days old. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of feeds. Dunk volunteered to take on the night shift as they have to be fed every 2 to 3 hours. Each hog has been marked, so we know who’s who to keep track of weight/feeds/poo. They also have to be stimulated to poo and wee after every meal. They survived – but we have a battle ahead to get sufficient milk into them. Huffy – named after his nature – curls into a ball and huffs and the smallest drinks gratefully.

We are currently at a weight range of between 67 g and 85 g two days after they were found. Watch this space for cuteness!

Hedgehog Nest

Hedgehog Nest

Later in the day we went searching for the nest, just to make sure there were no more waifs and strays waiting to be picked up. It didn’t take us long to find it – only about 2 metres from where they were all found – they must have left it to go looking for their mother, which is a sad thing to think. We’d been walking about ten feet from it all this time, in the front garden, and it’s only about ten feet from the lane at the front! Carefully pulling some leaves back from this heap of dry leaves showed an empty nest, and a thorough search of the rest of the area turned up no more, so we’re pretty happy we have them all.

New Animal Treatment Room

Finally we have a dedicated room to look after those animals in need of extra care. For the last ten years we’ve been using the kitchen, the Sunny Room (the only living area room that gets sun in the day, hence the name!), the hall way, the garage. You name the room, at one stage or another there’s been a poorly or young animal in it.

But not anymore (well – not any more as often as there was). The dedicated room has stainless steel worktop for easy disinfection, an industrial floor, and soon to also have medicine cabinets and cupboards. The first occupants? The hedgehogs who have been rescued from outside because they were either caught in the flooding in the area, or are part of the large number of underweight hoglets which seem so prevalent this year around the country.

Importantly, it’s not attached to the main house, so any animals being looked after will get some peace and quiet!

Hedgehog!

When we first landed at Merrybower, about ten years ago to the day, we were chuffed to bits with a hedgehog that sporadically showed itself – one night even appearing silhouetted against the garage doors by the car headlights, like a slightly less sinister parody of Nosferatu.

hedgehog

Mr Hedgehog makes use of the fallen grain.

But as the years passed, the hedgehog has been sadly lacking here, for whatever reason. The reality is that whilst we live in the countryside, we are surrounded by open fields, the distance between hedges growing ever longer as some are grubbed up to allow for larger machinery.

Not One,

However, this year our hedgehog, the one above, has become a nightly visitor, almost like clockwork. Of course, the hedgehog’s clock isn’t based on time, but the sun, and our prickly fellow pops into the garden to nibble on fallen grain from the bird feeder, having wobbled its way from the patch. We’ve been careful to leave gaps under the various gates, to allow such passage, and delighted to find our little friend is making use of his own personal highway.

Not Two,

It doesn’t stop there though! A few weeks ago I was on my way down to the patch to close the coop pop holes when I noticed a prickly bottom poking from a clump of grass near the rhubarb patch. At first, in the light from my head torch, I thought it *was* a clump of grass, but the noise gave it away. It had its head firmly planted in the grass, and wasn’t shifting, so I carried on. Several minutes later, coming up the path in the opposite direction I met the hedgehog once more, heading back to the patch having extracted itself from the clump. Rather sweetly he just bent his head to one side, to avoid being blinded by the beacon on my bonce. I muttered an apology to “Mr Hedgehog” and scurried past him, watching him continue on his merry way as I’d passed. Fifteen feet further I glanced at the clump I’d seen him in and, to my delight, there was a prickly bottom still wedged tight! Wait til I tell Suz, I thought – two hedgehogs!

But Three!

My last chore was to head to the front of the house and bring the eggs in from the front and to empty the honesty box. Now either one of our two previous friends was extremely quick on their legs and had sprinted around the house or, as I strongly suspect – mainly due to the fact this one was so much larger – I was confronted with a third hedgehog coming in under the main gate! Wow – three hedgehogs at Merrybower – incredible!

That night further affirms the good that our way of growing does for not only ourselves, but the animals we share the land with – we’ve gone from an empty acre of monoculture crop to a feast of wildlife, all making it their home. And that feels good.

Hares

They eat our veg, but they’re oh-so cute. One of these has been seen hanging out the front on the lane for a month or so now. His early morning constitutional involves walking up the lane, loitering at the gate, hanging around at the corner, then sauntering back past the house, to disappear in the barley field opposite further down. We can only assume he’s been eyeing up the pet rabbits who, it has to be said, seem to be wearing a tad more makeup than normal these days.

This shot seems to suggest he has ditched the plump dutch dwarves for the favour of a fellow country yokel. Poor rabbits, lucky hare-ess 🙂