Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience

The Terrifying Events in Caravan Land

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Now, its not every day that you settle for your after work pint with your buddy Liz, and the first words that pop put of her mouth are: “I discovered a bear in caravan last night, scared the life out of me it did!”

In all fairness her language was slightly less suitable for public viewing, but anyway, needless to say she was pretty shaken up by this ‘bear’

Now, bears aren’t known for their regular forays in Hertfordshire. I am ignorant of the existence of any lesser spotted Hertfordshire black bear, or greater spotted, or any variant on the theme. If I am wrong in my assumptions do let me know!

Turns out this bear was a huge fallow deer. What it was doing there we don’t know (nor does Liz wish to find out), but the story certainly provided much entertainment (especially the part when she realised that she was just in her underwear). Caravan land was full of hoof prints, and tree damage, and based on it being compared to a bear we can probably safely assume that it was a boy deer and not a girl. So, we have a stag in our midst!

We have a lot of fallow around the farm. They are extremely attractive animals, and large herds look particularly impressive as they run across the stubble fields on cold autumn mornings. Introduced by the Romans, they are now a naturalised species to the UK, present across much of England and Wales. They are possible the most difficult to identify for the non deer expert, as their coat colours range from pale to very dark, with or without spots (hence the confusion between deer and bear).

Unfortunately for the farm, fallow deer can cause quite a lot of damage. As well as terrifying employees, they browse just about any young shoot they can get their mandibles around, and have the tendency to crash through fences and the like.

But they are extremely elegant animals, and have played a huge part in our history. Wherever fallow deer have been introduced (and they have been taken everywhere since Neolithic times), they have ‘altered the physical and psychological landscape’. This is a quite from Dama International, a project investigation fallow deer in conjunction with the University of Nottingham. The researchers believe that the distribution of fallow deer over the centuries is a direct record of human migration, trade and behaviour. The cultural data on humans that is thought to hide in fallow deer could be huge; this is a species well worth taking an interest in! The project aims to combine archaeology, history, geography and anthropology with genetics and other sciences that are beyond me, to examine the impact of this species on human across Europe.

But the main moral of this story ladies and gents is this: don’t step outside your caravan to investigate a noise at 2:00am in the morning, in nothing else but your underwear. It’s just going to go wrong.


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