Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 7 November 1915
The plough has not intruded much on the broad heath and woodlands of North-east Hampshire where they abut on the outer Surrey commons. You can pick your way through miles planted here and there with small and now bare coppices, through great spaces where the ferns are brown and shrivelling, foot deep with the wasting leafage of many years, interspersed by big pools of clear water, dark and still, stirred only by the feet or wings of the wild fowl, before you come to the higher chalk measures where comfortable corn ricks stand in nearly every corner. There in place of wild nature you come across the home poultry wandering over the stubble, long distances from their roosting-place, searching about not only for stray ears of corn, of which there are yet some left, but for insects and worms.
In the root fields the sheep are folded between hurdles – kindly Down sheep with full faces and mild eyes, bleating occasionally as in a contented conversational way. A shepherd yesterday was shifting a fold partly for convenience in reaching the root fodder and partly to secure dry footing for his flock. “Not likely there will be one here to-day,” he said, “but a day or two ago in a close fold I came across a vixen; sharp faced as a sack needle she was, and how she got in and why she stayed was a mystery.” “Oh, yes, they are voracious (they in main hungry),” were his exact words, “sagging about with their cubs, and there’s enough of varmint astray without them,” It is a fine, broad, open hunting country here, with low thorn hedges and occasional cover, just spacious enough for a reasonable draw. But perhaps the fox will carry his brush for some weeks yet.
Source: Guardian Environment