High up on the plateaux, above a thick bracken bank lays a four-hole earth. Nothing special to look at, in fact, you could walk by without spotting its dark entrances concealed under the bracken for most of the year. But once winter arrives then so do the foxes and the earth is soon “Well kicked out”. This little earth used to be a great place to encounter old redskin and at least one dig could be expected each season without fail. Yes, I did say, “used to be”, because, alas, this earth holds no more. Late last season some fool went and trenched the entrances in, therefore ruining the earth. There was not a sign or clue of a dig, just the mess that some vandal had caused. I have my suspicions as to who the culprit is, but of course, there is no proof.
I had bolted a few foxes from this earths tubes with my old Russell bitch, Lucy, she was rather good at persuading Charlie to hit a well-set net. Lucy would inspect the holes and, if there was someone at home, look at me and whine excitedly. It was then, with shaking hands that we would net up. Back in 2001 I had a great dig to my black and white bitch Jane She had been taken to the earth on a leash and as soon as she smelt the foxy scent she started doing catwheels on the lead, we then proceeded to have a steady two hour dig, breaking through at just over five foot. It was not the deepest of spots but once the top layer of soft peat was removed you had better be ready for some hard, arm-jolting work on the shovel. Layers of sandstone are sandwiched between soft, orange sand that was very unstable.
Over thirty years ago my father was digging to his dogs in that very same earth, he had backfilled correctly, like I have always been taught to do. That way the earth will continue to flourish and provide work for the terriers, a good earth is like the goose that lays the golden eggs: If you look after it, then it will look after you.
It was a wet, miserable February morning last year when I snuck through the dead bracken with the terrier on the lead, hoping to find the place occupied. I had a picture in my minds eye of the entrances being highlighted by bright sand that had been excavated in the night. My heart sank when I saw the carnage. This generous earth had been ruined, vandalised, murdered. I only hope whoever trashed the earth will not be resident in the terrier world for long, hopefully next year they will be into racing pigeons or ferrets.
Look after the earth’s guys and they will provide good sport for you, your children and your children’s children.
Written By J.Darcy