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I'm beginning to feel slightly overwhelmed, now the countdown to Christmas

really is beginning. Not only do we see adverts on our TVs, and hear folks chatting about the

event on the radio, it’s all over social media, schools are practicing their

Christmas plays, others are rehearsing for pantos. Then of course there

are folks like me who are busily working away on much appreciated

commissions for my artwork .

I'm trying to teach myself that it’s okay to say no to late orders, because

I’m already happily ploughing through a list of colour pencil commissions,

house signs and paintings on slate. I'm also desperately trying to catch

time to start work on illustrated book number 3. And ticking off a list of

Craft and Christmas fayres. Oh yes - and I decided to start decorating

my living room too! So at present there’s no paper on the walls and I’ve

pulled up the carpet … As I'm busily working away, I find time to look out the window and can see

many creatures are also busy. Perhaps they need to be busy to simply

survive? To survive the winter that's on its way or maybe even just to

survive that day?

We now have a family of stoats under a log pile along the old railway track,

they may look mischievous and cute wee things, and they are beautiful to

watch, but they are incredibly skilled and mathematical killers. They will

survive and thrive, tough wee things that take no prisoners, let's hope

they don't cause too much havoc.

I love watching the longtailed Tits as they feed in a group, a mass of

feeding frenzy, they flit in just as quickly as they flit out again.

The tawny owls have been busy these last few nights, calling persistently

through the wee small hours, hoping to find their mates ready for mating

season. Our resident badger is regularly spotted bumbling along the track at the

back of our house. He's been busy digging up our garden, feasting on his

findings and trying to pull the chicken coop door open with his strong claws. Keen to find food and get stocked up ready for winter, wildlife begins to

come even closer to our house. Maybe also in hope of shelter from the

winds and rain. They will gain heat from the house too.

We often have roe deer in the horses’ paddocks finishing off hay from

that day’s rations. Looking out from my front door it’s clear that many things have shut down

for the Winter. The trees are looking tired, lifeless and bare, foliage and

plants have died back, and my lawn is covered in a blanket of brown and

orange leaves, mostly from the big oak trees. They provide a great

habitat for butterflies, woodlice and so many more insects to hide and go to

sleep until temperatures rise again in the spring. The evergreens are a welcome sight, from a variety of pine and fir trees,

the glossy green ivy clinging up the oaks trunk, and the holly really coming

into its own. In the distance I can see the glow of yellows and amber tones

where the larch hang onto their needles among the dark green spruces,

and the river Liddle looks oh so cold.

Wildlife to care for this coming month: ● Offer clean fresh water, checking it hasn't frozen ● Create areas in your garden for wildlife, leave a pile of leaves for insects ● Provide bird food regularly ● Continue to report any red or grey squirrel sightings to

SAVING SCOTLAND'S RED SQUIRRELS. Happy wildlife watching x

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