The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Spider on window

Spider on window

There are many more spiders in the countryside than in town. After 25 years I am finally happy to live alongside these arachnids and 99% of the time, I enjoy their company and their transient webs.

I used to kill all spiders that I found in the bath in London. Large hairy-legged beasts that alarmed me. I imagined they were on holiday from the drains. Now I realise that they were visiting for a drink and a bit of gentle exercise.

After a few weeks in the country I decided to stop killing spiders and try to get accustomed to them.  It wasn’t just an occasional one in the bath. Out in the sticks, spiders are everywhere. From spiders so tiny they look like a spot of dust to ones that seem big enough to pull on my Wellingtons. I had a full time job. Spider hunting had begun to spiral out of control.

Spiders upsize to the countryside. There are far more flies and tasty insects there. Apart from birds looking for spider snacks they have few enemies and the space to exist with very little human contact. The city spiders are eking out a living with few local resources. When they need a drink they have to run the gauntlet of visiting a human’s bathroom or kitchen. Country spiders have ponds and puddles and heavy dew to salve their thirst. Only the laziest countryside spider needs to saunter into a bathroom to drink.

Some lucky ones must have accidentally stowed away on removal vans and found themselves in rural paradise. A spider lived on Jalopy’s wing mirror all last winter. It travelled to Cambridge, Saffron Walden and Bury St Edmunds. The motorways stretched the spider’s web to the limits and it was often ripped to shreds. But each evening the web was repaired when I opened Jalopy’s door at dusk. And then, one day in Spring, the spider had gone.

I hope that this spider found a mate and decided to stay here to breed after a turbulent start in life on the wing of my car.

There must be generations of spiders that have lived in this cottage and garden for hundreds of years. Spider families usually have a much longer association with a location than most humans. If we could speak Arachnid, I bet we’d discover that the oddities are the long distance travellers and the hero who survived on Jalopy’s wing.

I meet a lot of spiders when I’m decorating. It’s a time when I’m close to long stretches of skirting and coving. Is some sort of social or professional one-upmanship going on between those at the top and those at the bottom of a wall?

They look like they same breed of spider but which are the hedge fund managers?

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  1. mowdrops

    There is a saying [If you wan’t to live and thrive let a spider run alive]My mum taught me this many years ago, and i now don’t kill any spiders.

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