The terrorist pheasant stalking the Cambridgeshire farm

The terrorist of Hail Weston. The terrorist of Hail Weston.

Monday, March 24, 2014
3:39 PM

Terrorists seem to operate in all shapes and sizes, and unfortunately we appear to have acquired one of our own here at Wood Farm. He is exceedingly cunning and crafty and spends hours peering through hedges and lurking in the undergrowth waiting for an unsuspecting victim.

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I first had my doubts about him when I found him peeping through the French windows of the kitchen and he continued to stare back, rather than move off hurriedly. Since then, he has made life a misery for anyone who wants to spend time in the garden or farm yard, unless they are fully armed!

I have always thought that cock pheasants, pictured, are beautiful but slightly shy if approached.

Not this one!

He comes for breakfast to the bird table every morning with another cock pheasant, and it is odd to see the two of them without any girlfriends – most pheasants have started to pair up by now.

Recently he chased Amy, my Jack Russell, who met him unexpectedly while happily pottering about the garden. He flew at her and chased her across the garden and along the farm tracks until she was able to make it safely home.

In the last few days, this evil pheasant has taken to attacking cars. When he is not busy pecking tyres, he just stands in the middle of the roadway and if the driver gets out to try to shoo him off, he goes for them.

I had one poor man in a van who spent 20 minutes trying to leave our farm, going backwards and forwards so as not to run over the rotten thing. Every time he inched his vehicle forward, the pheasant would fly up onto the bonnet and start to peck at the windscreen.

I eventually suggested that he should drive off fast so the pheasant would either fall or fly off. It worked, but I was astonished to see the bird running after the van right to the end of the drive.

The early spring is a great pleasure after all the cold, wet weather this winter.

I do not know whether it will last, but intend to enjoy every minute of it whilst it is here. The spring flowers make everywhere look so cheerful, and with the days lengthening, life is feeling better each day.

Rob has managed to do some spraying on some of last years’ stubble to kill off the weeds so that the land can be prepared for drilling.

Most of our fields were ploughed up early last autumn so that they could ‘weather’ over the winter.

However, on several areas of the farm, this plan hasn’t worked out quite as we had hoped as instead of having lots of frost which tends to break down the soil and make it friable and easy to prepare for drilling, we got masses of rain.

The end result is that although the surface looks dry, the soil underneath is still very wet and it needs to be turned over carefully to let some air get in to it before we can drill it.

Learning how best to handle this situation has been extremely interesting. The usual cultivation equipment has been put to one side and some of our old cultivators have been dragged out from the back of the shed where they have resided for many years.

They look miniscule compared with most of the modern machinery that we normally use, but have really come in to their own this time as they are relatively light and so can go onto the land without causing damage.

It has taken a little longer to get the job done, but if the sun continues to shine and the wind to blow gently, the soil will be ready for us to start spring drilling later this week.

I suppose that this is really the fascination (and sometimes frustration) of farming.

Normally no two seasons are ever alike. Although we are making a start on our spring work here, I keep thinking of the poor farmers and their neighbours who still have terrible floods to contend with.

For many of them, this will be the third year that they have been flooded and this time it may just be ‘the straw that breaks the camel’s back’.

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