Taken from Lynne’s weekly column ‘Green Scene’ for the Western Mail. 3rd November 2018
Be Considerate, So Fire Works
It’s that time of year, so it’s not an original column by any means but it is a heartfelt one. I’m trying not to rant.
Please check all your bonfires for hedgehogs and move the whole fire before lighting if possible. This recent cold snap will have meant that hedgehogs will have started hibernating and a big pile of wood and brash is a perfect ‘des res’ for them. Yes it’s an extra effort, but one the hedgehog population will thank you for.
And please, please take care of your pets on Bonfire Night and remember prevention is better than cure. Keep your dog on a lead in case of unexpected fireworks (two were let off in the late afternoon last week – it wasn’t even dark) and check garden gates are closed.
I have built Yogi a little den behind the sofa; just a cardboard box with a load of blankets but she always runs and hides there when the bl**dy things start going off. If you do have a diffuser, Frankincense is a great calming oil to use and there are the ‘plug ins’ that you can get from the vet, although I haven’t used them. My brother asked, “Is that something you plug in to the dog’s ears?” No, Dopey! They are like a plug in air freshener but emit pheromones to calm your pet. Your vet will have more details.
If you are letting off fireworks, please be courteous and let your neighbours know. Every year I hear horror stories of a dog running off and getting lost or running onto a busy road, and of horses running straight through fences. It drives me absolutely nuts and is all so unnecessary.
There is a wide range of silent fireworks available now and surely they are far more ‘magical’ than the deafening ones, which even make small children cry, not to mention far more pet-friendly. I appreciate how lovely fireworks look and how they add gravitas to a celebration but it’s just the effect on animals that completely incenses me.
Of course there is a petition. To legislate for silent fireworks to be made mandatory, as they are in Italy. You can sign it here: www.change.org/p/uk-parliament-silent-fireworks-in-uk
And whilst I have managed to write this without ranting, I would like to quietly remind you that the Animal Welfare Act 2006 states that: “It is an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any captive or domestic animal and that fireworks must not be set off near livestock and horses in fields, or close to buildings that house livestock.”
To do so is an offence, which carries a fine of up to £20,000 and/or a prison term of up to six months.
Wild? I’m Furious
I contributed to the Morning Show on Radio Wales in the week, being interviewed about the collapse of global wildlife populations. Closer to home, one in 14 wildlife species in Wales is at risk of disappearing altogether, according to conservation body WWF Cymru.
It is a subject that I feel passionate about, and have a lot to say. Unfortunately airtime is limited but my point is that we need to change our attitudes, as well as implement practical changes. You can hear the interview here: www.lynneallbutt.co.uk/bbc-radio-with-guto-harri
We are becoming too ‘tight’, too neat, too tidy and too fearful; in life but also in our gardens. Gardens are not only for our enjoyment, they are home to so much life. Or should be. All wildlife needs is water, food and a safe place to live. Leave quiet, untouched places for it. And in particular bugs and insects.
When we talk about helping wildlife we forget that we are constantly eradicating their food. It’s not rocket science. Hedgehogs, voles, birds and other much-loved wildlife feed on insects. We need to improve out attitude toward their survival too. There is a whole generation that is afraid it is going to be stung or bitten by something and are too quick to kill it. Even spiders are persecuted. When I was a kid, we shared out homes with them – we had huge spiders that would run across the front room carpet at certain times each evening. They even had names. Now they are squished or hoovered up in a quest for pristine living. I have got more wildlife in my cottage than some people have in their garden.
Leave sheds as sheds. Today a shed is a summer house, or a studio, or another bedroom for Air B&B. It has soft furnishings. Loosen up people. Relax. We all want to live alongside more of the ‘Disney-esque’ wildlife, but that includes living with bugs and insects too.
If it moves, respect it. I have three wasp’s nest in the garden and am infamous for my interview a few years ago (also on Radio Wales) where I insisted that insects understand Yes and No – if you read the riot act to a wasp it will leave you alone. I always do a deal with them – ‘if you sting me, my dog, or any visitors, I will annihilate you and your nest. Leave me alone and I will leave you alone’.
Laugh if you like, but I am the only one, out of a workforce of 6, that has not been stung by a wasp, this year and the previous four years. We all need boundaries but we all need to be allowed to do our own thing too.
Live and let live. Please.