Recent mulching activity at Genus HQ has left the compost heaps empty and ready to receive more material to use later this year. One bay containing recently cut-back and uncomposted material was full to the brim and needed turning, and a long mound of clippings had built up alongside. To speed up the composting process it helps to turn the material, something we try to do at least once, if not twice, so with the boards removed from the front of the bays we set upon the task using a garden fork.
It’s always an interesting process when memories of summer come flooding back as the still recognisable stems of dahlia, crocosmia, and rudbeckia appear in various states of decay. There’s those secateurs I’ve been looking for! There’s those cork coffee mug coasters! And why a shoe?! We’ve never been treated to the delights of slow worms or grass snakes in our heap but the free lodgings and warmth are attractive to itinerant rats as we found out when half way through the heap. Out one leapt, long and fat, leaping repeatedly in the air to escape. Over the top it eventually went, straight into the labyrinthine limestone walls that border the southern side of the garden. We’re not sure whose heart was beating the fastest.
With the rat out of the way we continued unhindered for ten minutes, only for another equally healthy rodent to follow suit. The well known camping song referring to ‘rats, rats, big as blooming cats’ came to mind.
Eventually the bay was turned and moved with no more incidents and the excess clippings that had lain outside the heaps were housed safely, fitting perfectly into bay number one. After all the excitement of our wildlife encounter and the exertion of the work, we were warmer than we’d been all week. It was the perfect job for what turned out to be the coldest day of the year.