Thief! Thief!

“Our” plots lie at the corner of the allotment site. Down-slope. An advantage we smilingly say, because when those on the slope above us water their land the water runs downhill – and we get the benefit. We need that bonus though, because we are as far away from the stand pipe as it is possible to get. Our part of the world is bounded by two hedges; the one along the Wolverhampton Road and the second between us and a detached house. There is a lap board fence beyond this hedge, the installation of which severely damaged the hedge. However, over the years e have either repaired the hedge or replaced it.

As you walk along the path to our plots, usually carrying a bag of horse muck, baskets or the kitchen waste in buckets the view is obscured in summer. By the branches of a Bramley cooking apple tree and a mixture of drooping, fruit heavy damsons (or are they plums?) from the opposite plot. And the mighty Tarzan-sized leaves of rhubarb (which a new plot holder recently mistook for gunnera!) which project out of massed roots on our own plot. So you don’t see the strawberry plants packed into the raised bed until you have ducked under (difficult with a wheelbarrow) the trees and heaved aside the rhubarb.


Yesterday as I did this I disturbed a pair of thieves. Sitting, hidden, on the sides of the raised bed they were carried away. Helping themselves to the strawberries we have spent time, organic chemicals and energy on … so that we can stuff ourselves with that juicy taste of warm sun (as if …) and summer. We didn’t go to all that trouble for …

All of this rage is passing through me …

I haven’t broken pace, but I have started to lower the box I am carrying that has the means in it of making fire. For today is Friday: burning day. And we have come to get rid of the brash from trimming the insides of the hedge, which have been left to dry for a week or so.

At about the same time as I see them, the robbers notice me. They are fast. With that characteristic noise they leap up, startled but moving already.

… and are gone. Because, goddammit wood pigeons can fly!

Leaving me shaking my fist (still holding a box of matches) in frustration.

Image result for wood pigeons

Our fault. Of course. We have been lax. Should have put that netting over the crops a lot sooner.

Wood pigeons are a big problem on the allotments here: taking the tops out of pea plants, pecking at cabbage plants, breaking the soft branches of currant bushes that can’t – quite – support their weight and attacking the strawberries. Often, after they have departed the evidence damns them: part-pecked fruit on the paths.

But we seem to have human thieves here too; other plot holders are talking of losing vast quantities of fruit or having protective netting removed and produce disappearing.

This is nothing less than disgraceful, shameful behaviour … and may, perhaps, even worse, be an “inside job”.

The committee are making big, off-the-record noises about the security cameras they have had since autumn, apparently. But nobody is actually sure, because accounts vary, whether they have actually set these up yet.

Meanwhile we get our heads down, install the anti-marauder netting, burn the clippings, water the squashes and retire to sit, sipping wine by the fire pit.

DSC_0418 DSC_0419

Picking the strawbs can wait until tomorrow.



3 responses to this post.

  1. Oh dear. I must admit to having a soft spot for wood pigeons they are so clumsily comical they always make me smile. Perhaps you could put out some peanuts for them in exchange? 😉


    • You’re quite right, of course.
      I always think of them as the avain equivalent of bumble bees as an aerodynamic prospect, clownishly ungrateful but always better at flying than I am.
      My grandfather – a farmer – called them flying rats.
      On amore profound note: we kind of think that the pigeons now no longer go to the fields because farmers are growing less cereal crops (they grow rape, lupins, flax, maize (whoops that is a cereal)) an dour plots are more attractive.
      We should have put nets on the strawberries – simple as …


      • Hahaha. They aren’t a traditional suburban garden bird for sure. I saw one seriously considering landing on the peanut feeder, but common sense prevailed 😀

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