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Autumn’s Fruitfulness

1st of November 2011

What a year it is for fruit; every apple bough seems to be bent over, the floor of the beech wood is a mass of mast. Ted, my dog, hates walking on the prickly beech mast cases and picks his way carefully through the wood. Acorns rain down on me as I get the car out of the garage; oh, how I wish I had a couple of pigs to eat them!
Acorns are strange fruits, toxic to some animals, but not all. Horses, cattle and sheep can all be poisoned by them but deer and pigs love them and are untroubled by them. In the New Forest pigs are sent out to eat them so that the ponies do not get too many and die. They seem to act as an addictive drug to some horses and cattle; they go mad and eat masses and then suffer kidney or liver failure and die. The acorns are even more toxic when they are green.

Muntjac deer love them; almost every morning Ted and I see one having them for breakfast when we take our first walk. A few days ago a magnificent looking fox thought he would try some but the Muntjac was not keen to share his favourite patch. To my surprise he tried to head butt the fox! The fox was a bit surprised too. He skipped away from the first challenge and then tried to come in from the other side, only to be chased away again, this time a bit more determinedly. The fox skipped about a bit, as if he were playing a game of tag, while the muntjac tried to carry on eating.
I was enjoying this unusual spectacle, probably with my mouth open, when a dog suddenly started barking in Wayside and they both decided it was time to go. I always see the most interesting things on my early morning walks, that is what gets me up in the morning and gets me through the day!
Wendy Bathurst

 
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