Every Monday morning I am in hedgehog heaven.
I have volunteered at The Wiltshire Wild Life Hospital at Newton Tony near Salisbury to be surrounded by 300 hedgehogs one morning a week. A nurse's uniform is not required but gloves are a necessity. Each adorable hedgehog has his or her own box which every day needs to be cleaned out with fresh paper, a towel, a bowl of gourmet food and a dish of water.
Some of them are very compliant and keen to get at their new food bowl. Others understandably just roll up in a ball and fan their prickles out. If you're adept however you can get your hand in, just before they roll up tight, to enable you to lift them out without two many prickles piercing your gloves and then your skin. People kindly send in stacks of newspapers as each hedgehog has probably two whole newspapers in his/her box. I try to be selective with the the top page- no pictures of Trump or anything too lurid. The TV Guide is frankly just mean. I think the crossword is probably the best. Today one of them escaped and by the time I had left, which box he'd escaped from hadn't been discovered. I suggested he was named Steve.
( Mc Queen.The Great Escape.)
I have taken these two pics(the one just above and the one just below) from their website. Marilyn and Mike run the hospital and do a fantastic job. Sometimes Marilyn having to work till 4 in the morning if not enough volunteers turn up. As well as the badger there is a sweet fox (too difficult to photograph) and numerous birds, squirrels, a couple of swans and at the time of writing a wobbly jackdaw. When the fox cubs come in in the Spring I must be careful not to offer to take one home and bottle feed it. All the animals are returned to the wild where possible and a too tame fox cub would not survive. As it is I have to check my pockets before I leave to make sure an adorable hedgehog hasn't climbed in.
Pixie's prickly very interesting fact is that the collective noun for hedgehogs is an array.
And the hammock is just a gentle reminder that Spring and Summer are only round the corner. At the moment we are knee deep in mud - it's like the Somme - and being on a hill we are also in line for the prevailing winds and lashing rain and the thought of swinging in that hammock in the blazing sun is pleasing. Though I am reminded that since I got the hammock I have actually never laid in it let alone swung in it. And now I'm one of an array of volunteers I'm even less likely to.
The snail moves like a
Hovercraft, held up by a
Rubber cushion of itself,
Sharing its secret
With the hedgehog. The hedgehog
Shares its secret with no one.
We say, Hedgehog, come out
Of yourself and we will love you.
We mean no harm. We want
Only to listen to what
You have to say. We want
Your answers to our questions.
The hedgehog gives nothing
Away, keeping itself to itself.
We wonder what a hedgehog
Has to hide, why it so distrusts.
We forget the god
Under this crown of thorns.
We forget that never again
Will a god trust in the world.