Being in our garden in Brittany is a real treat. It is not neat and tidy, nor is it in any way formal, it’s just a long stretch of greenery dotted with surprises. Geographically speaking it is a 150 metre-long strip that slopes gently down from our house at the top to a tiny wooded stream at the bottom. In between there is first a lawn and flower beds, then a vegetable garden, next an orchard that runs into a meadow with paths mown to form a maze and finally a wild area of tall grasses, reeds and trees. 

Apart from the vistas offered and the produce provided, one great attraction for us is its wildlife that includes umpteen species that go unseen. For the majority of those in residence it is their permanent home, for others, such as some birds, it is just a staging post. Over the years there are many animals that we have ‘adopted’ such as a salamander, a toad, a feral kitten, a hedgehog and, most recently, two chaffinches. Of these ‘friends’, the hedgehog and the chaffinch couple are back again this year. 

We have never thought to make the garden secure. Yes, there is a fence around the top lawn but elsewhere there is little to stop animals from coming and going as they please and in general all are welcome, even the usual garden pests, such slugs and snails, which have their place as they sustain our hedgehogs and slow worms! This blog is about two animals that are altogether different as both have invaded and threatened havoc and are definitely most unwelcome. 

To the gardener, badgers and wild boar are simply vandals who overnight will tear up a lawn or a vegetable patch as they forage for roots or worms and the like. Because wild boars are rough and use their snouts and tusks to dig, while badgers use their claws, it is relatively easy to tell who has done the damage. Recently both have been at work, with wild boars reaching as far as the orchard and badgers close to our lawn. It has all felt very threatening.

Invasions such as these should not have been a surprise. There is a large badger sett in a field nearby and running across the bottom of our garden is a track made by wild boar which has been known to us for years. Recently, the numbers of both animals have been growing and despite various culls, estimates suggest there are, for example, between fifty and hundred wild boar in the area. In keeping with these figures, both badgers and wild boar are seen regularly on the roads and in local gardens in the village. But what should we do?

Using branches I quickly blocked all the easier access points but that still left a narrow driveway. Here we followed a suggestion made by our neighbour whose garden has been spared. Just as dogs and cats mark out their territory with pee, men – not women – can use theirs to fend off badgers and wild boar. That is what the neighbour does and, apparently, it works like magic. 

I did as he suggested and it worked for us too! I found a suitable jug (see first illustration) and for the next weeks I collected my magic potion and in the evening sprinkled it across the little drive and near the fruit and vegetable beds. Since then there have been no new invasions anywhere in the garden and tranquility has been restored. The potion has been very powerful! 

But the story is not over – in the absence of these two vandals another visitor arrived. One morning I saw some most unusual animal footprints crossing a newly planted potato bed (see the second illustration).

From their shape, depth and spacing the intruder had to be large and after searching the web and talking with experienced gardeners the list of candidates came as a surprise – it was a either a wolf, a golden jackal or a large dog and soon the choice narrowed. While wolves have been sighted 70 kilometres away, a few days ago a jackal was seen in a neighbouring village. At the same time, no one has seen a large local dog. Importantly too, I discovered that neither wolves nor jackals would be put off by my potion!

Being invaded by wild boars and badgers is horrible, but that they are deterred by a readily available ‘magic’ potion is a great relief – once again our garden is a safe haven. That we might have been visited by a jackal would be most unusual. Importantly, if it comes back, it will not damage the garden nor would it put we humans beings at risk!

The first illustration is a photo of the jug I used to collect my magical potion. The second illustration is a photo of the unidentified animal tracks in the potato bed. The two lower imprints are 80cm apart

For helping me write this blog, I would like to thank Regis, Yves, Annie, Rohan and Vivien.,

11 thoughts on “Night Visitors

  1. Fascinating blog Joe, although I’ve been wondering how the magic potion is dispersed and whether is has unexpected powers… weed killer, bumper crops?!

    This might just be the start of a new business, Dr. Joe’s Magic Potion available in jugs, bottles… home visits by appointment 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Carolyn, Thank you for your comments and proposals. Your suggestions might require more demands than I could personally meet and if I worked with others, I would never be able to vouch for their qualities. Sorry to have to reject your idea. Love, Joe


  2. Nice blog. A glass of water- thanks, but not from that jug. Hope you enjoyed the crowns and prayers etc. Our soldiers march superbly – that should put the fear into Mr Putin !!! Great local election results though x


    1. Dear Peter, Thank you for your comment – a first if I remember correctly. Very amusing. I will try to ensure that our jugs are washed out carefully. Love, Joe


    1. Dear Sarah, Thank you for your carefully crafted comment – a delight. As for peeing on the compost – we believe it is gender neutral. When you are here we will give you the necessary container! Love, Joe


  3. How interesting – mystery footprints! I recommend an infra-red trail cam, Joe. I have four, and every morning delight in the animals it has captured using my garden for their activities… hedgehogs mating, a fox eating plums etc. etc. The cameras are about £55 and I found the Zimoce ones, available on Amazon, v easy to set up. Have a lovely summer.


    1. Dear Merrily, What a clever idea. We have sometimes seen nighttime business being played out during daylight but there will have been a lot we have missed.


  4. Dear Joe,

    Thank you for extending my horticultural knowledge: if the problem is marauding badgers and wild boars, micturition is the answer.



    1. Dear Alan, Thank you for your comments. We have now left Treguennec and the question that arises is how long the magic works. There one or two men in the village who promised to spray more magic while I am away. Here’s hoping!


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