You might think this is a strange title when you look at the obvious young age of the fox cub in this gorgeous photo taken by my son a few weeks ago, but it’s true. These are some of our oldest residents. The genes expressed in this fox and the badger shown in the other pics, will have existed here or hearabouts for thousands of years.
You will note the little cub has a tick (the tiny brown dot below his left eye) – they are a nightmare this year for man and beast alike. Wet conditions and very long vegetation everywhere means they have reached plague proprtions. In sufficient numbers they can kill the very old or the very young but this little fellow looked robust enough as he played with his litter mates.
My son knows where all the earths and setts are on the farm. He’s prepared to sit for ages to get shots like these. One cub here has the remains of a bird in his mouth. Either his first kill or one brought to him by mum.
The badger, coming straight at the camera, is fairly typical of those that live here. My son was right on top of his usual “trod” and the badger was certainly not going to move. Son took the picture as quick as possible then got out of the way allowing Old Brock to pass undisturbed. You do NOT argue with badgers! They are not the cuddly, sweet little creatures portrayed in so much literature.
While you cannot tell merely by looking whether or not any badger has TB until it’s fairly advanced, we assume this one is healthy. We have had sick and injured badgers on the farm in the past and were powerless to put them out of their misery. I would not let a dog or goat suffer in the way we are forced to watch diseased and pain ridden badgers linger. But they are protected by law which means they must suffer.
When we see photos like these, taken in “our” woods, we are even more conscious of our true place here on the farm. We are temporary residents. Our 10 years here is as nothing to the age-old eco-system which exists, and has existed here since just after the last Ice Age when the Ancient Woodland became established. It has survived past episodes of global warming and cooling, predation by man and wolves and everything the modern age can throw at it – so far. It is up to us to ensure we pass on this precious inheritance for the generations who will follow us as stewards of this land.