Tuesday, 19 June 2012

A Hedgehog’s eye view of the Jubilee

Me in Axbridge with Tessa Munt, MP; the Revd Tim Hawkins; Mrs Yvonne Chamberlain, the Town Crier, Ian Laken, the Mayor and his Lady; and the Deputy Mayor, John Albone.

Sorry I'm a bit late posting my blog about the Jubilee.  June apologies too as she is the one who helps me with the typing and she has been busy pulling together the Summer Edition of the Indie Shaman Magazine.   She had lots of interesting articles from authors and as the magazine is due out of the end of July, this is the month she has to finish the editing.

Anyway back to the Jubilee, which happened while I was staying with Maggie, who took me along to the Axbridge Jubilee Celebrations where I had a great time and met lots of interesting people.  Everyone was very welcoming and nice to me as you can see from my title photo.  I met Tessa Munt, the Liberal Democrat MP for the Wells Constituency; the Reverend Tim Hawkins; Mrs. Yvonne Chamberlain, the Town Crier; Ian Laken the Mayor and his wife; and the Deputy Mayor, John Albone.  I also met Mike Sartain, the Deputy Chair of Axbridge Chamber of Commerce as you can see from the photo below. 

Meeting People - Me with Mike Sartain, Deputy Chair of Axbridge Chamber of Commerce, and the Mayor and his wife.
I’ve been learning about the Queen’s Jubilee.  The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee marks 60 years of the Queen’s reign.   That means the Queen came to the throne on 6 February 1952.   Her coronation was on 2 June 1953.  The only other British monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee was Queen Victoria in 1897 which is quite a long time ago.

One of the special projects launched for the Jubilee was the Woodlands Trust Jubilee Woods.  This will create a 460 acre public wood in Leicestershire and also plant 6 million trees across the UK creating hundreds of new woodlands.  Planting has already started in Autumn last year and will continue until the end of 2012.  I think this is a very good idea and all my wild animal friends will like it as well.

I also like parties.   I got to try some Pimms.

I have been learning about Axbridge while I am here, which is a lovely medieval town on the Southern slope of the Mendips in Somerset.  It has some wonderful old buildings one of which I visited; the King Johns Hunting Lodge is a museum in a 450 year old property owned by the National Trust. 

As you can see I am now a very cultivated hedgehog.   The museum is run by a dedicated group of local volunteers and has many interesting things in it including prehistoric bones found in caves in Bamwell.   There are also rooms showing what it was like in the workhouse, as well as of life as a civilian during the Second World War, an old shop and many more fascinating collections and displays.  You can learn lots there!  

Here I am at the celebration picnic outside Axbridge Butchers with more new friends.  The butchers sell award winning sausages which are very nice.

All that partying was very thirsty work and my Pimms seemed to have vanished but fortunately Maggie lent me her drink to toast the Queen with her and Les.  Apparently toasting someone isn't anything to do with bread like I thought at first.  Which is just as well really as I had no room in my tummy for more food after that picnic!  

Maggie asked if I want to stay another week as she has somewhere else exciting to take me so I'll be back soon with tales of my next adventures.

With many blessings to all my friends old and new

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Hedgehogs Need Your Help!

I took the opportunity to learn more about being a hedgehog during my visit to Secret World.  Of course I know a fair bit about actually being a hedgehog but it’s always good to get a human perspective on our world which I can share with you all.  I also wanted to let you know how you can help wild hedgehogs as we need your help and make good garden friends you know.

Hedgehogs aren’t just handsome (as a friend remarked on my appearance on my Facebook page) we are also valuable friends to have around your garden as we are one of the best pest controllers there are.  As anyone who has had me visit them will know I do have a rather large appetite but did you know an adult hedgehog like me can clear a slug-infested garden in three months?  Hedgehogs are insectivores which mean we eat slugs, beetles, worms and caterpillars.  Bread and milk isn’t good for us but poorly or rescue hedgehogs can be fed cat or puppy food.

Hutches at Secret World.  Note the hedgehog friendly pile of logs!

Unfortunately hedgehog numbers have dropped by 25% over the last decade.  Changes in farming practices haven’t helped but most hedgehogs actually live in suburban areas so I’m sorry to say that its changes in people’s gardening which have actually caused hedgehog numbers to fall so drastically in recent years.   

Hedgehogs do, unsurprisingly, like hedges to hang out in but hedges have been replaced by fences and walls with no gaps for us to get in and out of the garden - effectively locking us out from helping you with your slug problem.  People are also paving or decking their gardens, and appearance and tidiness seems to matter more than having the odd wildlife friendly area.  

At Secret World.  Here the hedgehogs go outside when they are feeling better before being released
So what can you do to get your own wild hedgehog friend helping you with your garden?  We like:
  • piles of leaves and longer grass
  • a source of drinking water - if it’s a pond please make sure we can escape if we fall in
  • log piles, compost heaps, hedges/shrubs
  • hedges or walls and gates with gaps for us to get underneath or through.   
Basically a hedgehog, like humans, needs food, water and shelter.  But unlike humans you can provide for a hedgehog with a good compost heap!  If you haven’t got a hedge then shrubs or keeping a wild bramble patch will do – we’re not that fussy.  If you leave some leaf litter that will be perfect for us to make a nest with and did you know slugs also like to eat leaves so they will be eating them rather than your plants while the hedgehog will be eating the slugs.  Once you have a hedgehog in your garden keep it safe by checking any fruit nets aren’t too close to the ground and check your bonfires before you light them please. 

Hedgehog Fallacies
Many people don’t want hedgehogs in their garden as they think we have lots of fleas.  All wildlife has some fleas and hedgehogs have no more than any other wild animal.  Hedgehog fleas only live on hedgehogs so it’s not true that encouraging hedgehog will mean your pets ‘catch’ our fleas!  Of course personally I have no fleas at all!

Hedgehog Facts
  • ·         Hedgehogs are nocturnal and adult hedgehogs are solitary.
  • ·         Hedgehogs have 2 litters a year between June to July and September to October.  We have on average 4 or 5 hoglets but litters can be as large as 8.
  • ·         Hoglets are born blind without spines which develop within an hour of birth.  Baby spines are soft and white with brown spines appearing within a few days.  Eyes open after two weeks.
  • ·         Weaning takes place after 3 – 4 weeks when the hoglets will follow their mother on foraging trips.  The hoglets leave home at around 6 to 8 weeks old.
  • ·         Hedgehogs hibernate from November to around February/March when there is no food.
Having a much deserved cuppa after all that learning!
Back soon with a hedgehog's-eye view of the Jubilee

Many blessings on your hedgehog helping

Hedgehog information and facts courtesy of Secret World Wildlife Rescue  and the Guardian Online.

To find out how you can help Secret World with their rescue work visit their website or donate via Indie Shaman's Charity Fund to help continue my adoption.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Secret World of an Assertive Hedgehog

I was so excited to arrive at my friend Maggie’s last week.  I’ve met Maggie before when June, Simon and Judith from Indie Shaman met her on one of David Rowan’s Stonehenge tours.   Maggie knows a lot about hedgehogs already as she volunteers for Secret World Wildlife Rescue where I was born.  Here I am having a rest after my journey and enjoying the late sunshine in Axbridge.

Maggie also runs Pace for Living.  She’s been a therapist for over 20 years which is more years than since I was born!  

Maggie runs training courses and let me help her teach assertiveness at the Carlton Centre, Weston Super Mare. I’m very good at assertiveness apparently.

Then Maggie took me for a visit to Secret World Wildlife Rescue.  It made me feel quite emotional seeing my old home as I haven't seen it since I was a young hoglet.

Secret World is a charity in South West England which rescues, rehabilitates and releases injured, sick or orphaned wildlife.  Last year they helped around 4000 of us.  They also carry out educational visits in schools to teach children about nature and what they can do to protect wildlife, and have a conservation area including woodland and a wild flower meadow.

Do you know that I’m endangered?  It’s not just me and my hedgehog family and friends either as hedgehogs are only one of the many species of wildlife that were once common but are now on the endangered list.   Makes me feel very sad so I'm lucky I have all my friends to cheer me up and to help, and even luckier that there is somewhere like Secret World Wildlife Rescue.


Secret World relies on charitable donations to be able to do its work so if you are holding a fundraiser do take a look at their website.  You can also help Secret World by adopting an Owl, Fox, Badger or Otter and you will get information about your adopted animal as well as your own cuddly friend.  And if you treat them well they may develop a personality with assertiveness like I have.

Back soon with more photos of my visit to Secret World and more information about hedgehogs.

Many blessings
Your friend,Shaman Sham the Wandering Hedgehog