This section is from the book "Creatures Of The Night: A Book Of Wild Life In Western Britain", by Alfred W. Rees. Also available from Amazon: Creatures Of The Night: A Book Of Wild Life In Western Britain.
Several times during his search for a mate, Brock struck the trail of a female badger, and followed its windings through the thickets and away across the open fields towards the the distant valley, only, however, to lose it near some swollen brook or on some well trodden sheep-path. The female had evidently come to a little copse on the crest of a rugged hill overlooking the river, and, after skirting a pond where wild duck sheltered among the flags, had retraced her steps. Brock's most frequented tracks led close to the spot where the stranger's return trail joined the other near an opening from an almost impenetrable gorse-cover into a marshy fallow. There, late one night, he found, as he crossed the opening, that the female badger had travelled forward, but had not yet returned. Revisiting the spot some minutes afterwards, he discovered that the backward "drag" was strong on the damp grass. He followed it quickly, and, in a stubble beyond the gorse, came up at last with the object of his oft-disappointed quest. She was a widow badger, older and more experienced than Brock, but smaller and of lighter build.
Perhaps because she wished to test the loyalty of her new lover, and to find whether he would fight for her possession with any intruder, she resisted his advances, and refused to go with him to his home. So he followed her far away to her own snug dwelling on the fringe of the moorlands. Thence, with the first streak of dawn in the south-eastern sky, he hurried back to his lair.
Early next evening, Brock went forth to meet his lady-love; and throughout the long night and for nights afterwards he wandered at her side, till, concluding that no other suitor was likely to appear, she accompanied him to his home, and entered on the season's house-keeping in the central chamber of the great " set" where he had been born. There they lived happily, and without the slightest annoyance from the old badgers; and, since the time of the spring "running" was over, they wandered no further afield than in the cold winter nights. Filled with the joy of the life-giving season, they often romped together in the twilight for half an hour at a time, chasing one another in and out of the entrances to the " set," or kicking up the soil as if they suddenly recollected that their claws needed to be filed and sharpened, or standing on their hind-feet and rubbing their cheeks delightedly against a favourite tree— grunting loudly in their fun the while, and in general behaving like droll, ungainly little pigs just escaped from a stye. At last, their frolic being ended, they " bumped" away into the bushes, and, meeting on the trail beyond, proceeded soberly towards the outskirts of the wood.
As in the previous spring, the big burrow was soon the scene of family affairs other than those of the badgers. By the end of February, there were cubs in the vixen's den, and both the wood-mice and the rabbits were diligently preparing for important family events. Brock's companion, unlike himself was not accustomed to a house inhabited by other tenants. None but members of her own family had dwelt in the "earth" near the moor; and, being somewhat exclusive in her ideas, she strongly resented the presence of the vixen in any quarter of her new abode. A little spiteful in her disposition, she lurked about the passages, and by the mound outside the entrance, intending to give her neighbour "a bit of her mind" at the first opportunity. But since she did not for the present care to enter the vixen's den, that opportunity never came till her own family arrangements claimed her undivided attention, and effectually prevented her from following the course of action she had planned.
In the first week of April, the badger's spring-cleaning began in downright earnest. The old bedding of fern, and hay, and leaves was cleared entirely from the winter "oven," and, after a few windy but rainless days and nights, when the refuse of Nature's woodland garden was dry, new materials for a cosy couch were carried to the lair, and arranged on the floor of the roomy chamber where Brock's mother had brought him into the world. The badgers' methods of conveying the required litter were quaintly characteristic, for the animals possessed the power of moving backward almost as easily and quickly as forward. They collected a pile of leaves, and, grasping it between their fore-legs, made their way, tail first, to the mound, and thence, in the same manner, along their underground galleries, as far as the place intended for its reception, strewing everywhere in the path proofs of their presence, quite sufficient for any naturalist visiting their haunts.
On a dark, wet night rather less than a fortnight after they had completed their preparations, when Brock returned to his home for shelter from the driving storm, three little cubs were lying by their mother's side.
The training of the badger-cubs during the first two months was left wholly to their dam; but afterwards Brock shared the work with his mate, teaching the youngsters, by his example, how to procure food, and, at the same time, to detect and to avoid all kinds of danger. In so doing, he simply acted towards his cubs as his sire had acted towards him. Apart from family ties, however, his life—that of a strong, deliberate animal, self-possessed in peril and in conflict, yet shy and cautious to a fault—was of extreme interest to both naturalist and sportsman.
Five young foxes, as well as the vixen, now dwelt in the ante-chamber near the main entrance of the "set," and the presence of this numerous family became, for several reasons, so objectionable to the she-badger, that, about the middle of May, the antipathy which, since her partnership with Brock, she had always felt towards the vixen, was united with a fixed determination to get rid of her neighbours. She was too discreet, however, to attempt to rout them during the day, when some dreaded human being might be attracted by the noise; so she endeavoured to surprise the vixen and her cubs together at night.