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Wild Goats and Culling Cars

Updated: Mar 26




Spring officially landed this week, according to calendars and books, and I concur, as the land feels distinctly different from the wintery months. The hill opposite a subtle hue brighter. Primroses in full force, daffodils shining, willow catkins buzzing with life as I pass amidst swelling bud and early unfurling leaf, blackthorn blossom marking the landscape marking the wilder hedgerows of wilder times whilst the metal fences stand rigidly wintry no matter the season.


In the woods the black, red and white currants have come into leaf and waft the sweet smell of late summer treats as I brush past them. My cuttings, heeled into the forest soil are fully alive making me hopeful of roots in the warming ground. Propagation of berries somehow feels like a counter to fake news and anti-social media. Ill soon hit the 'share' button, passing punnets to friends, jams for Christmas.


The goats have been passing through regularly (since the Ice Age in fact), so deeply at home in these hills. They remind me the sap is rising as they peel bark from our apple trees. Today I will tap, as gently as I can, the birch water to be both drank direct from the tree and slowly boiled over fire rendering the most desirable of natures sugars. 120-litres bubbling down to 1-litre, utterly transformed.


Surely this is cauldrons work?


These goats are celebrated, but quietly their wildness is both feared and controlled. Too wild for even these wildest of British lands, the goats are 'culled' in a devastating irony; they eat grass (destined for sheep bellies), saplings (an effort to replace forest we took away and sheep continue to destroy on vast scales) and 'cause' car accidents.


I cannot help but ask; is it not cars that cause car accidents?


I'd like to hand ownership of these lands back to the goats and let the Wolves and Eagles do the work of the culling marksman. Death is indeed welcome in the wild, but only appropriate death. Death determined and undertaken for purposes that justify control, uphold destructive ways or divert the obvious truth as to where the problems lay is not death in a wild sense but murder or genocide. The word 'cull' comes from old French and Latin words meaning to gather or collect. It is a dishonest word when used for killing. It implies a greater good, that we determine right to life and that we understand the ways of wovenness (we do not). It begs that we forget to question the direction of travel by rationalising horrific acts with shaky, dominator-oriented reasoning.


Such reasoning pulls the sheep's wool over the wolfs eyes so we see only poverty wilderness. Is it not the case that these goats are our little British opportunity to see that wildness is not the romantic ideal overlooking a forest glade in a painting? Welcoming wildness involves an acceptance that we cannot control nature and at the same time claim a love of wilderness.


I welcome the goats and the Himalayan balsam as I welcome migratory birds and the return of the beaver floods. We need more wildness.


So, if we are to cull, let it be cars and chainsaws and guns. If we are to collect and gather, let it be berries and leaves. If there is to be killing, let it be in a healthy, balanced wild.


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