Alezane's Diary Archive May 2004
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Saturday 1st May 2004
“Wicky?”
“What is it now, Treg. You’ve interrupted me a hundred times, this morning, son. Why can ye not just get on with eating, laddie?”
“Oooh! Sorry I spoke, I’m sure. We are a bit grumpy this morning, then, aren’t we old man?”
“And, who are you calling an old man. You know very well, I’m a lot younger than you are.”
Who are you calling an old man?“Don’t be so sure, Wick. You count age in years not height, you know.”
“Now, listen, you fetlock. Don’t go on being so cheeky or you’ll get your knees bitten. What was it that you were going to ask me?”
“Er, I forget. Er .. Oh yes. You didn’t do that ‘bite and a bump for the first of the month’ thing today. Did you forget or what? I’ve been on edge waiting for it all morning.”
“Oh, grow up Treg. I canna be playing little colty games wi’ you all the time.”
“Oh, so you did forget. Would it be too late for me to do it to you?”
“You’d be too late, if you did, Treg. The late Mr Tregony Bay . That’d be you.”
“You can be a real spoil sport sometimes, Wicked, do you know that. You didn’t used to be so grumpy. What’s the matter? Are you feeling your age, or what?”
“Oh, go away and play policeman, you old buffoon. I just don’t always want to be doing childish things. A fellow has a serious side, too, you know. What about art? what about poetry? Where do I find time for these to fit into my busy life? Certainly not when I have to nursemaid you all day.”
“Something’s brought this on, Wick. What’s the matter? Is it anything I can help with?”
“Alright, Treg. Tell me a poem. There! Dig deep into your artistic soul and tell me a poem that will fill my heart with joy.”
“Right, Wick. Er, that is … Er, hold on a minute, I’ve got to remember one. Well, here goes…
 
There was an old man called Wicky
Who had an enor…..”
“Hold it there, Treg. Just hold it. I asked you for a poem, not a limerick. Especially one of very dubious taste, I might add. Don’t you have a soul? Don’t you know any real poetry?”
“I was only trying to cheer you up, Wick. Don’t get excited. Let me have another think, I’m sure I know a beautiful poem, it’s just a matter of remembering. There. I’ve got it. I learned this many years ago in Cornwall .
 
Where the land ends, at the oceans play,
Where the chough cries out loud and proud,
Where the church bells chime for the farmer’s day
I know Kernow and I’m proud.
 
There, what about that?”
“Laddie, I don’t wish to be hurtful or anything or to say anything against your homeland but I think I preferred the limerick.”
“You’re not a nationalist, then, Wick?”
“Not a Cornish nationalist, that’s for sure! I tell you what, Treg. You’ve lightened my mood now. Let’s go and tackle that bit of grass over there. Quietly!”
“Oh, all right, Wick.
 
There was a horse sick as a parrot,
who fancied a bite on a ca…….”

 

 

Whose wool is stuck on the barbed wire?Sunday 2nd May 2004

“Alli, have you heard my latest poem?”

“Don’t listen to him, Alli, he’ll drive you mad. He’s been muttering things under his breath all night. I’ve not had a wink of sleep and if I don’t get indigestion I’ll be very surprised.”

“You’ve always got indigestion, Wick. Wind, anyway. I don’t think you can blame it on Tregony’s bad poetry.”

“I wouldn’t mind if it were bad poetry. His stuff is nothing like poetry. You know when someone comes up to you and says something that is so rubbishy as to be embarrassing. That’s Treg’s poetry.”

“Did you or did you not ask me to tell you some poems, eh Wick?”

“Aye, laddie. I will admit that, in a moment of deep, deep despair, yesterday, I did make that mistake.”

“Come on you boys. Let’s stop all the bickering. let’s do something positive. How about we try and cheer up Harry, in the next field. He’s looking a bit lonely.”

“He4 always looks like that, Alli. He’s a hunter. They’re never happy unless they are jumping over or into things. The only way we can cheer him up is to get him to jump over his gate and gallop up the bridle path.”

“Yeah, that’s right, laddie. Young Harry there is always either moping about on his own in the bottom of his field or he is prancing about, up and down, when he thinks his humans arte coming.”

“Well, what shall we do today, then? If you don’t want to talk to Harry, how about doing something with the sheep?”

“The only thing I’d like to do with the sheep, lassie, is to stampede them out of the field. Do you know that the other day, not content with eating up all my grass, one of them had the cheek to tell me not to pollute the ground by dropping my hair all over the field. Really, a sheep said that. Whose wool is it stuck all over the barbed wire all around the fields? Really!”

“I think the sheep are rather nice, Wick. They let me practice my poems on them. They just stand there while I recite my verses and never complain.”

“I’ve said it before about sheep. Daft as vets, they are. Not a brain cell amongst them. They even make you look intelligent, Treg.”

“Do they? That’s nice. Remind me to thank them.”

“You’re at it again, boys. If you can’t learn to behave, I’ll have to separate you.”

“Thank goodness for that. Tell you what, Alli. You take Treg right up to the top field and he can recite some of his higher thoughts for your entertainment. And I’ll just stay down here and have a quiet little snack. How about that?”

 

Sheep begave, well, like sheep!Monday 3rd May 2004

The sheep were out in the road when THEY got here this morning. It’s not the first time but it’s the first time this year that THEY have seen it. SHE got out of the car before the gate and attempted to get them in. However, two things stopped HER. First the padlock was on the gate. But even if SHE had managed to get it open, the sheep were off and away before SHE could get near them. They just ran along the road and down the bridle path. HE said that HE would give us our breakfast and then, when THEY were leaving, HE would go over the gate and round by the bridle path while SHE stood guard at the road end, so that THEY could herd the sheep back in. All went as normal with our buckets (what there is of them, these days) and then off HE goes, climbing over the gate in our home field and then, after looking up the bridle path and seeing nothing, HE walked back up to the road. Of course, by then, the sheep had gone. It’s a funny thing about sheep. When they get out of the field that they are supposed to be in, humans straightaway think that they are ‘lost’. That is humans who are not sheep farmers. If you tell a sheep farmer that his sheep are roaming a road or a filed that they were not put in, he will thank you, because he thinks it makes you happy and then forget about it, as he knows that they will find their way back, as well. Sheep behave like, well, like sheep. They follow. If one goes out of the field, those who are looking will go along too. Similarly, when they find that they are outside of the place where the other sheep are, they will follow the others back in. All it takes is a little bit of time, in the middle. The only time when the sheep farmer is worried is if his sheep go into another farmer’s land, as then he will be worried by angry phone calls about his sheep stealing the other’s grass. Unless you live in the country, you probably think that grass is just something that is there, often something that you have to pull up as it is spoiling your flower beds, but definitely something that covers the ground in the country. You are probably not aware that grass is money. Grass has to be looked after, tended and fertilised and cropped just like your flower beds but more importantly, for it is your living. So someone else’s sheep on your field is actually stealing out of your pocket.

There was one good consequence of the sheep getting out. Because HE went out by a different route this morning, the latch on the bar that keeps us out of the road field did not get fastened. Now, Wicked is just the right height to put his head under that bar and lift and, if there is not a fastened latch to keep it down, up it comes and the down to the floor it falls. THEY were ever so surprised to see us waiting for THEM, up by the road gate tonight at bucket time. Wicky is good for some things, I suppose!

 

Our streamTuesday 4th May 2004

We are very lucky to have our stream, running between the home paddock and the Throwleigh Road field. We never go thirsty as it never runs dry and the water itself is beautiful and pure. It comes down from the moor and is filtered by all the rocks and stones it passes over. It is always cool, even in the hottest summers and it is crystal clear. Clear, that is, until we have a heavy downpour. then it turns cloudy and muddy, as all the sediment is washed down from the hills. The levels are interesting, as well. We have had one of the driest winters since I have been here, this year. The water levels, until a few weeks ago, were very low indeed. Always there and always running – even in the driest year, but still, the level does drop surprisingly, not only at the ford that we cross but in the main stream as well. But, then, we only need to have a bit of rain and up they shoot again. Sometimes we can tell when the rain is coming, even before it gets here because the water levels rise with the draining of the rain from the high moor. Last night and this morning, it rained. And, did it rain! Not just like rainfall or a sharp shower but one of those long, consistently heavy downpours. So, this morning, when THEY came with our buckets, even Wicky would not stand in the stream, to wait for his biscuit treat. I say ‘the stream’. It was more like the torrent. HE had to be careful not to loose a footing, carrying the buckets. What a calamity that would be if he dropped them and all our food was washed away. HE knows this, of course. There was a time during last winter, when the constant little spring which flows down the hill to the ford, just where our gate opening is, was frozen over. HE always has to carry the three buckets while he is lifting the sort of gate affair across the ford opening, to open up for the morning. Anyway, having walked over to put the top of the opened gate down, HE slipped on the frozen ice of the spring. Now, HE knows how important our food is to us, so, rather than spill it, he just held on to the buckets and didn’t break his fall, resulting in a damaged knee and split trousers. As HE hobbled up to the field shelter with our buckets, Treg, Wick and I all applauded and, if it were in our gift, we would have put HIM forward for a medal.

This morning there was no ice. He waded through the stream and up to the field shelter. It was when THEY were standing around, waiting for us to eat up that THEY noticed that Wicky had ‘wet the bed’, in a manner of speaking. At least, that is who THEY put it down to. Treg is very loyal and Wick doesn’t give a , well, he doesn’t care, so that’s is what we let THEM believe. After all, I am a princess, aren’t I and I can’t be expected to go out in the rain, in the dark just for that!

Treggy pretends to shiverWednesday 5th May 2004

The weather was very unkind, last night. We stayed in the field shelter most of the night, telling stories and munching hay. That reminds me. We’ve not seen anything of those rats that came to live with us the last couple of years. You could always rely on them to have a good story or two to tell on a wet and windy night. You’d think that being so small they wouldn’t get around much. I mean, I could cover as much ground in a minute as it would take them, well, ages to cover. But this lot, especially the male, had been around all over the place. He’d been to places that we never have. He could tell you all about Michaels barns and shed and things and where he stored all the feedstuffs. The nearest we’ve ever been to Michaels barns is when the farrier used to come, before we had our field shelter built and the weather was too wet for him to do us in the open. Then we used to all walk, HER leading me and HIM with old Treg and Wicky on lead reins, up to the shelter of one of Michael’s barns. But we never saw a bite of food. Just a few old cows shut up in the next barn. Mind you, it was fun walking up there because HE would have to walk alongside Treg while Wicky always likes to follow along behind. And trying to organise that, while keeping in to let the traffic pass us, used to get HIM in a right old tangle with the reins.

I forget what I was telling you. Oh, yes. The weather was nasty. Well, in the morning, Treggy played on that, in order to try and get his rations increased. You know SHE has been slowly cutting back on our feed bucket contents, of late. Well, while we were talking last night, Treg came up with this idea that he’s get HER to think that he was too cold for lack of food. Then SHE would feel very guilty and up our rations. Well, we all agreed it was worth a try, so in the morning, when SHE goes over to sit down on the rock and I go to HIM for my treats, Treg goes over to her, trying to look ill and weak. At this time, he always gets some sugar from HER, until HE is ready to go. So old Treg stands there, and to give him credit, he plays it just right. While she is looking straight at him, he starts to shiver. At first he thought she hadn’t noticed but then SHE put her hand out to him and started to feel at the top of his legs. Now, there was nothing he could do to make himself feel colder, so he just started to shiver again, even more violently. Then he knew he had HER. SHE called out to HIM that Treggy was shivering. This is it, we all thought. More food in our buckets. Well, you can imagine our dismay when we heard HER say to HIM that THEY should bring old Treg’s rug up that evening. Oh fetlocks, plan B, we all said. The last thing we wanted is those things on again. That evening, you never saw a group of warmer horses in you life. Well, it was worth a try, wasn’t it?

 

Treg loses a shoeThursday 6th May 2004

“Oh do come along, Treg. What’s the matter with you? Dawdle, dawdle, dawdle. If we don’t get down soon, we’ll be late for buckets.”

“Won’t be a minute, Wick. Just looking …er…just look, er Wick, you’ve not seen it, have you?”

“The lunar eclipse? What chance have we got here, you old fool. First, it’s daytime and second, it’s always raining, isn’t it?”

“I’m not talking about the lunar eclipse or any other sort of clips, Wick. It’s my shoe, I’ve lost it somewhere, I don’t know where and I’m feeling very lop sided without it.”

“Oh, your shoe, you’ve lost a shoe, Treg. Then why didn’t you say so? Which one is it?”

“It’s the one that I cant find, Wick. You know, the lost one. I was just telling you about it.”

“Alright, Treg. I can see that this is not going to be easy. When you had it, old son, which one was it then?”

“I hadn’t really thought about it. Let me see… I know, it was the one that I was going to lose. That’s right, eh, Wick.”

“Treggy, oh Treggy. Let’s listen, shall we. Now, how many legs have you got? Think now, slowly.”

“Oh you cant trick me like that Wick. I know the answer to that. Its th.. er four. Four legs, that’s right, isn’t it.”

“Very good, Treg. Well done, laddie. Now, this might be a bit tricky. How many legs have got shoes on. Now, right at this minute?”

“That’s another easy one. One, two, fo .. er.. three, f.. no  - that’s it. Three.”

“Oh really well done, Treggy. Well, just this one question now and we’re home and dry. Which leg is it that has not got a shoe on? Slowly now, think before you speak.”

“This one, Wick, it’s this one.”

“And which leg is that, then Treg. Loudly now for the benefit of those that can’t see you. Which leg is that, Treg?”

“I keep telling you, Wick. Please listen, I’m getting tired of all this brain work. It’s the one that’s lost its shoe. That’s what I’m doing. looking for my lost shoe.”

“Tell you what, Treg. Let’s just tell Alli that you’ve lost your offside fore shoe and get her to tell THEM, so that something is done about it. Then, we wont have to worry about it any more. What d’you say?”

“I say ‘Alli, I’ve lost my offshore tide and would yo…”

“Oh, shut up. Get on down, I can hear THEIR car!”

 

Harry talks to the cowsFriday 7th May 2004

“Look at that handsome redhead over there, Mimi. I do believe he’s looking our way.”

“You always were attracted to your own colour, Scarlet. I don’t see what’s so handsome about him, funny shape bull, if you ask me.”

“But he’s ever so big and strong, don’t you think. None of the bulls back home are that tall, are they?”
”He may be tall, but I still say, he’s a funny shape. Most of the fellas I know have a bit more muscle round their hind quarters. This one looks like either he’s got wasting disease or he’s just grown out of himself, sort of shot up in all the wrong places.”

“Well, I like the look of him, Meem. Let’s call him over.”

“Well, alright. But just don’t get me involved in your silly schemes. I know you. Fluttering your eyelashes and waving your rump at men. Just you behave yourself, girl.”

“Oh, come on. It’s only a bit of fun. Nothing’s happened since we got in this dreary old field. We ought to be able to have a bit of excitement.”

“Well, O.K. But I’m not like you, Scarlet. You’ll have to do the calling. I’ll just stand here and watch.”

“You big silly, Mimi. Right, here goes. Hey. Big boy. Over here. I’ve not seen you before. Do you come here often?”

“Really, Scarlet. ‘Do you come here often?’ What kind of line is that?”

“Ssshh! He’s looking up. look. I think he’s coming over.”

“HELLO. DID YOU CALL ME? WHAT DO YOU WANT?”

“Goodness, he’s loud. You answer him, Meen.”

“You started this, Scarlet. You cant duck out now. Go on. He’s nearly here.”

“Oh, hello, big man. I’ve not seen you here before. You see, my friend and I, we’re new here.”

“YOU DON’T LOOK VERY NEW TO ME, LADY. AND WHAT’S THAT FUNNY THING HANGING UNDER YOUR BELLY?”

“Oh, my goodness. How rude. And I thought you were such a nice bull, as well.”

“WHATS A BULL? DO YOU JUMP IT OR CHASE IT?”

“Scarlet, I’m beginning to think we’ve made a big mistake here. Look, not only does he not look like any bull I’ve ever seen before, he doesn’t even know what a bull is.”

“Um, you could be right, Mimi. You know how short sighted I am. Maybe we should just make our excuses…..”

“YOU DIDN’T ANSWER ME. DO YOU GO HUNTING MUCH? I’M NOT REALLY INTERESTED IN ANYTHING ELSE. EXCEPT MY MUM AND DAD, OF COURSE. THEY BRING ME FOOD. I LIKE FOOD.”

“Er, yes. Well, Mr …er…ah. It’s been nice meeting you, us being neighbours and that. But we can’t stop and chat over the wall any longer, I think it’s milking time.”

“CHAT OVER THE WALL. YES, THAT’S WHAT WE ARE DOING, ISNT IT? I’LL TELL MY MUM WHEN SHE COMES TO GET ME.”

“God, Scarlet, let’s get out of here. Quick. You can come back again in about ten years when he’s grown up.”

“Right, Mimi. Alright, it was a mistake, I admit it. Well, goodbye sonny, it was nice to meet you. Maybe see you around. Bye.”

 

“Who was that you were talking to, Harry?”

“OH, HELLO TREG. I DON’T KNOW, BUT THEY WERE VERY NICE, I THINK ALTHOUGH I CANT SEE THEM BEING MUCH GOOD AT HUNTING. BIT OF A FUNNY SHAPE, YOU KNOW.”

 

Some of our birdsSaturday 8th May 2004

I can’t remember if I told you about a week ago that we had seen the swallows, again. Just a couple of them. They looked as if they were doing a reconnaissance flight to check up on their old nesting sites. Well, today they were back in strength. I had a word with HIM and HE checked with my last years diary to see when they arrived. It seems that they are a little early, this year. I noted their arrival on May 20th last year, so they are nearly two weeks earlier. I hope they do come back and nest in our field shelter again. Their old nests are still there. I hope they have forgotten about the dreadful happenings of last year. When a cat or rat or buzzard got the whole nest of chicks. And after the poor things had worked so hard at rearing the family as well. I’m not really sure how it works. I had assumed that it was the chicks that were reared in the previous year that came back to the place that they were born. And yet, it the chicks were all killed last year, there would be none to come back, so who are these birds that have been flying in and out of the field shelter? I wonder if there is a sort of collective memory for the whole flight or flock or whatever they are called? Either that or the parents are still alive and have come back to raise their family here once again. The more I think about it the more I realise how little I know about the birds. All I really know is what I see when they are here. I know that they are tremendously hard workers and that they are devoted parents and that they are beautiful and graceful things to watch. Such skilled fliers, catching their food in flight as they do and so skilful in  manoeuvres, zooming in and out of the field shelter and avoiding both horses and humans, landing away from the nest to deceive us. I am tempted to say that they are my favourite birds, at Ninefields but when I think of the wagtails, the chaffinches, the robins, the magpies, the pigeons, the rooks, blackbirds, thrushes, sparrows, starlings, blue tits, the heron and the ravens – each has its’ own characteristics and qualities. I’ve just thought of another good thing about the swallows though. They eat flies on the wing. If I could have my own way I would keep a couple as my own personal bodyguards, just to keep those flies away.

 

Sunday 9th May 2004

“Not seen you doing your log, lately, Treg. What’s the matter? Have you resigned from the Human Watch?”

“No, Wick. It’s just gone a bit quiet, these last few months. Not much villainy going on, you know. Not much nicking or damaging the humans these days, seems to have gone right out of fashion.”

“I suppose it could be that you and your colleagues are so good at your job that the baddies have just given up and gone away.”

Talking about Human Watch“Yeah. Yeah, that’s good, Wick. I hadn’t tho ught of that. I’ll have to put that in the log. ‘ D.I. Sergeant Tregony Bay has completely cleared up the villains in the Throwleigh Road area and no human need fear when Treggy is here’. How about that, Wick?”

“Maybe a bit on the strong side, Treg. You mighty work yourself out of a job, you know. If there are no more villains then there is no need to have a Tregony on duty anymore.”

“Oh dear. I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe I wont put that in, after all. I wouldn’t want to have to give back my uniform and everything. And, think of the loss in status. I’d go back to just being plain old Treg again, wouldn’t I? No, I couldn’t do that.”

“And then there’s the loss of the pay, of course.”

“The loss of the what?”

“The pay. The salary. What they give you for doing the job.”

“Oh, no, it’s nothing like that, Wick. They don’t give me anything for doing the job. I have to give them. But they are very good. It doesn’t cost me too much. They say as I am such a good hossifer, they let me do it for a discount.”

“Wait a bit, Treg. Hold it. You’re telling me that you give up your time and all this effort and you have to pay them to do it?”

“But I do get the log, Wick. And the status. And it’s really very cheap.”

“I worry about you, Treg. I worry a lot. Don’t you ever think that they are taking advantage of you? If you want my advice, I’d tell them where they could put their Human Watch.”

“Oh, that would be nice, Wick. I’m sure they would like that. They might even let you join and be an hossifer, like me. Is it somewhere new that you think that the force could be? You go and tell them, Wick. I’m sure they would be really pleased.”

“Treg, Treg, Treg. Oh well, let’s start again, shall we. You’ve not been putting much in your log, lately Treg. Why is that?”

“Oh, don’t worry now, Wick. You’ve given me lots to write about!”

 

Treg's shoe goes back onMonday 10th May 2004

The best thing about Mark coming to do just one shoe is that we get to go in the forbidden Throwleigh Road field but, at the same time, it doesn’t take too long. Treggy had quite forgotten about his lost shoe, after making such a fuss on the first day that he lost it. In fact, these days, Treg doesn’t seem to mind much at all. He is definitely having a good year, this year. He looks good too. Having lost that overweight look that made him appear such an old lad, he is now quite sprightly and glossy. And independent! Off he strides, up the hill, these mornings,, without an apparent care if the rest of us are following or not. It’s sometimes all I can do to catch up with him. Mind you, that’s because I am always concerned to keep the herd together and Wicked  is usually trying to gather up every last crumb in the field shelter.

Things took a rather nasty turn today, for two reasons. After starting out a pretty misty morning, the weather turned hot and sunny by lunchtime. I expect you think that that is good? Well, you’re not the only ones to think that. The flies do too. We’ve had some midges and the odd fly about earlier this month but today was the first really bad fly day. Strange, isn’t it. When you think of the comparative difference in sizes between a horse and a fly, you wouldn’t think that it would be an equal contest. One flick of the tail and the fly would be out of it. No so! They may be little but the amount of annoyance and, sometimes real damage, a fly can cause, is something to be wondered at. When you are standing, just trying to have a bite of grass and a crowd of the things start climbing all over your eyes or when they start to bite your legs and lay their eggs on you, then you realise what hell they can make our lives and why we much prefer the bright but colder spring or autumn days.

The other downturn in our lives is the buckets. Tonight, for the first time, old Treg left some of his, in disgust. SHE has decided that we can get enough nourishment out of the grass now and so has cut us down to the very rock bottom extra feed. No more ‘short feed’ just a few carrots and apple mixed up in a bit of chaff. Mind you, I was talking to some passing horses who thought that we were spoiled with having anything at all, particularly the carrots and apples. It’s what you get used to, I expect. I often watch THEM go away after bucket time, with a twinge of nostalgia for those nice full bucket and ‘late stable’ treat times that we share in the winter. I don’t know why, but I do feel very attached to THOSE TWO.

 

We were up the top fieldTuesday 11th May 2004

I love a good thunderstorm. It gets right into my bones. It’s the first one this year and it’s glorious. You wouldn’t have guessed it was coming, this morning. We’ve had a couple of glorious days. Sun shining and very hot for the time of year. This morning started the same. A bit of a fog, at first. When THEY came along with our morning buckets (or what passes for them, these days) you could hardly see further than from the stream to the Throwleigh Road . By the time THEY went, the sky was clear and blue, as quick as that. By midday , the sky had started to cloud over but nothing special. just a typical dull day when all of a sudden, bang. The sky went black, the thunder rang out and the rain hurtled down by the flare of the lightening.

Normally, if we have a day of long, cold rain, I head off for the field shelter to watch and munch hay. But this, this was different. We were up in the top field, as near as we can get to the moor, when the storm struck. Instead of heading off for the field shelter, we just run for a bit of cover, under the nearest tree. And then we just stood and watched. After the first excitement had passed, we all started telling ‘storm’ stories, remembering ones that we had been through before. It is at times like these, when your blood is roused by the elements, that ones imagination tends to get a bit carried away. But that didn’t matter. We all knew that what we were saying was a little bit further than the strict truth, but that didn’t matter. It was more like a story telling competition than just a recollection session. Wick, you’ll not be surprised to hear, is very good at this. Treggy is a bit too honest and, to be truthful, a little bit too unsophisticated, to exaggerate to much. But he tries. We all do. And what a pleasant afternoon we passed that way. Wicky was just in the middle of his story about when he had to fight with an octopus which had been washed into his field by the great rains, when THEY turned up with the evening chaff muck. To be honest, I would rather have stayed to hear the end of the story but, you know Wick, his appetite come before everything. Down we went and it wasn’t until we were all standing, munching, in the field shelter, that I realised the storm had long since passed and it had turned into a lovely evening again.

It didn’t seem long before THEY were making their way back to THEIR car and Treg immediately headed off up the hill again. I hung around for Wick, who always goes back to the field shelter just to clear up any scraps that he may have missed. As we both made our way back up to join Treg, I couldn’t help my self. I had to ask him, ‘What happened to the octopus, Wick?’ He turned and looked at me and then gave a long slow wink. Ye canna believe all ye hear in a thunnerstorm, lassie. That’s what my auld dam used to tell me. And he smiled and walked on.

 

Did you hear something?Wednesday 12th May 2004

“Did you hear something, Treg?”

“Of course I did Wick, I’m not deaf, you know.”

“Well, what was it then?”

“Silly, it was you saying ‘did you hear something, Treg’, wasn’t it? I’m not silly, you know.”

“Rats, man. Listen. There it is again. What time is it.”

“What time is what, Wick? You do ask some difficult questions, sometimes.”

“I think I can hear THEM coming. I was asking you if it was bucket time already.”

“No, can’t be. We’ve not been up here, at the very top of the field, all that long. And look. It’s still bright and sunny. Nothing like the evening yet.”

“Ay laddie, that’s what I was thinking. But look, doesn’t that look like HIM walking down the Throwleigh Road field with our buckets in his arms? And I’d swear that it’s HER shouting and calling. I think I’d better go and ask Alli if she thinks we ought to go down.”

 

“Hi, Wicky, what’s up?”

“I think that’s THEM down the field shelter with our buckets already”.

“No, can’t be. We’ve only just got up here. Let me look, I can’t see now that tree’s got it’s leaves on. Oh, fetlocks, you’re right. It is them. We’re going to have to go down, not that it’s worth the bother these days. All that way for a mouthful of chaff and a few carrots. I don’t know about you but I could do without it now the grass is so good  up here.”

“Nothing for it, lassie, though. It’s down we’ve got to go. Shall I get Treggy or will you?”

“No, you go down, Wick. I’ll get him, lazy old cobblers.”

“Reet. Here we go, wheeeee!”

 

“Come on Treg. Bucket time. Get a move on.”

“But, ..but, we’ve only just come up, Alli. We’ve not to go down now, have we?”

“Shift you’re a… self, Treg. Come on man. You know we’ll only get in trouble.”

“I should think that you’re in trouble already, Alli. Look at the state of you. Been rolling in sheep pooh again, have we?”

“Been rolling, yes. In sheep pooh – well, not on purpose. Although, if some did just happen to get in the way …”

“If I were you, Al, I’d run down now. Don’t wait for me. I’ll make my way down, in my own time. The less you upset them, maybe the less they’ll notice your coat.”

“Good thinking, Tregman. O.K. See you down there then. But don’t dawdle, will you.”

“Me? Dawdle? What are you thinking of, Alli. Go on, off you go. See you soon.”

 

“Look at her run! If only she knew what trouble she’s in. Oh well. I suppose I might as well go down and see the fun. here we go then!”

 

He looks after our fieldsThursday 13th May 2004

I was in real trouble, this morning. I know I was a bit grimy from rolling yesterday, but it didn’t warrant all that hard brushing, just when I was doing my best to eat that muck that THEY call breakfast, these days. I will admit that I got a bit irritated and, in the middle of my grooming session, I just walked away. Well, SHE was furious. Not so much about the fact that I wasn’t fully groomed but more, SHE said, because of the lack of discipline and obedience. I didn’t go far, just outside the field shelter and SHE came storming out, shouting at me. Well, I know what to do when that happens and I just stood very still and looked very ashamed. But, that wasn’t enough, this time. SHE went storming into the field shelter and came out with my head collar. Next thing, I am tethered with a very short rein and SHE is going about the rest of my grooming with my ears being punished by a torrent of abuse. I really began to feel sorry for HER and was very relieved when she got it out of HER system and took me off to our corner of the filed for my treats.

Something interesting happened later in the day. We were going about our midday grazing when we heard the sound of some equipment stop outside our gate. Next the gate was being opened and, on looking up, we saw our friend Adrian, drive his tractor in, complete with roller and other bits. I don’t know if you remember, I was talking about it, only the other day, Adrian was the guy who was responsible for getting our field drainage put in, at about the time I started this diary in late April 2003. He also looks after the fields, spraying the weeds and so on. We carried on grazing but kept an eye on his progress as he proceeded to roll and top the ground and re-seed the places that had got poached up in the winter. It was rather fun really. As he moved from field to field, we kept just one field ahead of him, climbing higher and higher and then, at the top, going from one field to another. When you see someone doing that, it can only put good thoughts in your head for, after all, all he is doing is getting your dinner ready!

 

 

 

Sheep watching for THEMFriday 14th May 2004

We were up above the field shelter this morning, when breakfast arrived. The weather has been so good lately that it is a shame to hand around and wait, particularly just for that chaff stuff, even if it is molassed. At least SHE says it is. I think that they just pointed it at the sweet stuff as it was on its way out of the door. Whatever. When THEY did turn up this morning, I was faced with my usual problem of getting Treg to follow me down. Last night, after Adrian had gone, we all decided to stay up and enjoy the high grass until supper time. When THEIR car turned up, Wicky was the first to hear it or, at least, to recognise that the car sound meant filling his belly. It didn’t take him more than a few moments to get himself together and start to make his way down. In fact, after running in a very un-equine way down through the first gateway, Wick changed to a sprightly canter and was down the hill in a flash. He may be an old ‘un but he has a great turn of speed. Of course, with legs twice as long as his, not to mention my racing background, I could easily have beaten him down, if it wasn’t for my old mate Treggy. Now in the same way that Wicky’s reactions are swift, Treg’s are rather lethargic, to say the least.

Rather than ‘Oh, it’s them, let’s be going down, Alli’ it is much more like ‘What’s up, Alli? Why’s Wick started running? Is it the flies?’ and so on. When I tell him, ‘it’s THEM’, he usually looks blank for a moment and then either says ‘who?’ or even more often just puts his head down to the grass again. I’ve tried everything with him. I’ve tried shouting, I’ve tried going behind him and biting his bum, I’ve even tried running down the hill a little and then running back for him. Nothing really imparts any sense of urgency to our Tregony. In the end, I do what I did last night. I get him at least moving in the right direction, I then run down a little way and stop, looking back to make sure he is coming and letting him know I am waiting for him. When I am sure that he really is on his way, I just come on down, although not without misgivings. Many times I have got right back into the field shelter, with my nose in my bucket and then I’ve had to go back out and see where he had got to.

I’ve noticed HE must feel very similar to me because HE goes up to meet the old fellow, with Treg’s bucket in HIS hands and then walks down with him, holding the bucket behind HIS back, so that Treg can eat, walking along.. I don’t know why we all have such a soft spot for old Treg, but we do. He just makes his way, in his own time and really is rather a sweetie!

 

I'll ask AlliSaturday 15th May 2004

“Well, if it isn’t old cyber Treg. You are coming up in the world, my old son.”

“Hello, Wicky. What’s this? What are you talking about?”

“Why, you, you old micro nerd. HE told me, I know all about it.”

“Oh, well, that’s good. Maybe you could tell me then. I don’t know what you are on about now.”

“You know, what HE told you. I know HE did, because I saw HIM talking to you.”

“Oh that. Load of rubbish. I think HE must have been taking the mickey out of me. What do I want with a bit of cloth like that? Just rubbish. And don’t you be spreading it about. I’ll be the laughing stock of the Throwleigh Road ”.

“I don’t know why you’re taking it so bad, Treg. I thought you would have been pleased. It’s not every horse who gets upgraded like that, you know. Even the humans have had trouble. They’ve had to all get together and make petitions and things. And you did nothing and it just comes to you. I think you should be very grateful.”

“Listen Wicked, you’re as bad as HE is. I don’t know what I’ve done to make you so rotten to me. It’s not as if it’s funny, even. It’s just silly and I’m fed up with it.”

“Hold on a minute, old man. We can’t be talking about the same thing here. It’s certainly not silly and it’s not something that you should be ashamed of. What is it that you think I’m talking about?”

“You know. It’s what HE said to me. HE said that HE’d had an e-mail from someone called Sam, saying that I was going to have a brow band or something. I expect HE thought that the sun was getting too hot and that my forelock was getting in my eyes or something. Anyway, whatever it is, I’m not wearing it. Sissy thing. Let Alli or one of the other girls wear it, if they like. I’m not having anything to do with it!”

“Treggy, you old fool!  It’s not a brow band that HE was talking about. The e-mail said that Tregony was going to get Broadband, next year. Though why they should have singled you out, I just don’t know.”

“Now you’re alluding to my girth, I suppose. That’s even worse. I cant help it if the spring grass tends to swell one’s tummy just the tiniest bit. It’s no broader than yours. Why don’t you have to have it?”

“I despair, old soldier. I really do. Have ye not heard of Broadband. It’s a way of connecting computers top the internet so that they work much faster. I thought it was a bit of gear to do with your Human Watch duties. Getting you to fill your log in over the web.”

“If it is, I’ve heard nothing from head office. tell you what, let’s ask Alli. She usually gets told things that we don’t. Hey Alli? Alli?

“What is it Tregony, my sweet?”

“What’s all this about me getting broad .. er.. what is it Wick?”

“Broadband, Alli. HE said Tregony was going to get broadband.”

“Oh dear, you two, I’m afraid you’ve both got it wrong. Treggy, where do you come from?”

“Is this a trick question, Alli? Cos, you see, I could give you lots of different answers – a riding school, my dam’s tummy, the to….”

“What I was trying to get at, Treg, is that it’s the town of Tregony , in Cornwall , that’s going to get broadband. That’s what I was telling you.”

“Well, that’s a relief. Let them be laughed at for wearing silly things on their heads. I’ll just go on up the field for a bite, now. Coming Wick?”

Tregony Broadband

 

Whooosh!Sunday 16th May 2004

Its was quite warm already, this morning, when THEY came with breakfast. I think the trouble was also that we had had a fairly active night. Some nights we just snooze about in the field shelter, hiding from the rain or wind. But when the weather is as clement as it has been lately, we love to be more active at night when the flies are not around and the moon lights our progress. Of course, this means that by the morning, all we are ready for is a little shut-eye, so, as I was saying, I was not either hungry or bouncy, this morning. Half way through my chaff (spit), I just walked out and just stood. I wasn’t in the middle of a groom or anything, so SHE couldn’t shout at me. What SHE did do, though,  was almost worse. You see, SHE thought that what I needed was some amusement and HER idea of amusement was to run up behind me, flap her hands about in the air and shout ‘Whoooossshh!’ in a loud voice. You’ll be surprised to hear that I didn’t find this half as amusing as SHE did. I tried to move away, politely but she only did it again. And again. Finally, I understood what it was that she wanted and the next time she did it I bounded away and bucked and kicked my back legs high into the air. That did it. SHE was satisfied and then left me alone. Really, I do worry about these humans, sometimes.

 We spent the rest of the day on the look out for ‘Ten Tors’ stragglers. For those of you who don’t know, the Ten Tors Challenge is an annual event run by the army from Okehampton Camp, on the northern edge of Dartmoor . Teams of youngsters are entered by various schools and organisations to spend two days crossing the moor, over 10 tors, carrying all they need to survive (tents, bedding and cooking equipment) on a hike of from 35 to 45 miles (depending on age). Physically disabled youngsters have their own 15 mile course. A lot depends on the unpredictable Dartmoor weather. The teams train for about 3 to 4 months beforehand to prepare themselves for the sort of problems they’ll come across and to hone up their map reading and survival skills. One of the most important skills is team work, depending on and supporting one another.

So, on the end day of the event, we look out for any teams that might lose their way and come down on our side of the moor. It hasn’t happened yet but we can hope, cant we!

.

An early summer mornMonday 17th May 2004

When I used to walk up and down the Throwleigh Road , in the winter, it was always a problem if it was icy, for the road would become pretty slippery. You may also recall that not so long ago, HIS car was crashed into by another car, which skidded on the slippery road surface, when trying to brake. Well, today, should put an end to all that for the road menders were out with their tarring and surfacing machines. We couldn’t see close up because THEY still keep the Throwleigh Road field shut off to us with the bar across the stream ford entrance. However, if you go up into the field above the field shelter, you can get quite a good, although rather distant, view of the road. It did occur to me that it would mean the last of seeing the place where that car caught fire, just by the bridle path entrance. The heat then was so intense that lead from the battery, together with broken glass fragments had been trapped by the melting road surface and left as a pattern in the road. Now that will all be covered over. Still, a small price to pay for not slipping next winter. However, let’s not think of that for now, let us enjoy summer first.

There was a small improvement in our diet today. SHE has put a little short feed back into our chaff, so it is, at least palatable. However, HE whispered to me that there is a reason for HER apparent kindness. See, what has been happening, is that I have been leaving about half of my chaff and now Treggy has started doing the same. First of all he started squeaking as he ate. I don’t know why. I think he tried to cram all that chaff into his moth to get rid of it, after he had sorted all the apple and carrot out of it first. Anyway, everyone started laughing at him so, in the end, he started leaving it, just like me. He would eat it up if HE either held the bucket up to his face or HE picked it up, a handful at a time, and fed it to Treg. But after a while, HE lost interest in that, so now Wicky finishes up both buckets.

So, back to her plan. It turns out (ssh! don’t tell Treg) that SHE is going to give us wormers, at the end of the week. No, as you probably know, old Treg hates wormers. But this lot are not the ones in the syringe, they are in powder form so, of course, it is important that the feed bucket is emptied that day. So, SHE has gone out and bought some very low calorie short feed to entice us back to emptying our buckets before worming day. How devious humans can be! HE has me on my honour, not to tell the others. It wouldn’t matter to Wick. He ever thinks the syringe ones are nice. ‘Anything that you can eat, must be good.’, that’s Wicked’s motto. No, the problem with telling Wicky is his mischievous sense of fun. He would tell poor old Treg, just to get him wound up. So, I must just wait and be prepared to stay and eat everything up that day, to encourage Treg to do the same. Aren’t I just wonderful?

 

Treg puts his tongue outTuesday 18th May 2004

I was half asleep when they came with breakfast this morning. Then, just as HE arrived at the gate with my breakfast, I saw Harry, being led up the Throwleigh Road . I can’t remember taking my carrot from HIM, as I was too busy watching Harry the Hunter, but I must have done because I found myself chewing, as I wandered up the slope after HIM. The trouble is that, because the weather is so kind at the moment, it is just too easy to keep on the go all night. Of course, then, in the morning, as the sun comes up and the world becomes nice and warm, well, when better to have a little doze. I think it must be THEIR rigid schedules that make THEM so precise in THEIR   timing. THEY never seem to have time to hang around more than the usual amount before THEY are off again, to reappear at precisely the correct time in the evening, whatever the weather. I’d hate to be so organised. Of course, I had to be, to a certain extent, when I was racing. But, there again, I was having to work to a human schedule. I can’t help feeling that there is something rather unhealthy about it. More like a machine than a living creature. I shall have to have a word with HIM, that is, if HE has the time.

Treg has been getting more and more lively and more and more independent every day. It really is lovely to see. There was a time when he just didn’t do anything unless I told him to do it. He used to just stand and wait for orders. Now, I am free to wander back to check on the field shelter, for example, and not have to worry that he is just standing there waiting for his orders. As soon as THEY go away, Treg makes his move to wherever he wants to go. Sometimes it is not all that far, maybe just over to the hedge for a bite of leaves. Other times, though, he will head off, as if nothing in the world will stop him, up the hill and away. I used to think that when he saw that he was all alone he would stop and wait for me or Wick to catch up with him, but not so. If we don’t follow, he carries on regardless. He thinks nothing now of going right up to the top field on his own. The only problem that he seems to have, these days, is coming down. I don’t mean he can’t come down. It’s just that he has to tread fairly carefully. Treg has never been what you might call an elegant walker. Very good at stubbing his toes and stumbling. So, now that he is, let’s face it, a very senior fellow, he has to take his time and watch how he walks, when he is coming down. But he does it. There is a saying – ‘slow but sure’. It fits old Treggy perfectly. It is lovely to see him enjoying his twilight years so much.

 

Penny & Tuppence at SWEPWednesday 19th May 2004

“Where’d THEY say THEY were going today, Alli?”

“Back to that SWEP place, you know, the place for rescued horses.”

“I wonder if THEY will rescue one for us, Alli?”

“I don’t think so, Treg. I think we keep THEM fully occupied, at the moment. Anyway, why would you want another horse or pony here?”

“Well, you see, Alli, I get so tired of being the third horse in the herd. Don’t I Wick?”

“Ay, laddie, you do so. You see, Alli, if we got another horse here Treg could be the fourth horse in the herd.”

“Yeah. That’s right Wick. Er, I think?”

“Well, you can both put the thought out of your minds. It’s not going to happen, and that’s that. HE told me the reason that THEY are going over there is to take some photographs of a couple of the horses that need re-homing.”

“I expect HE will have to take a pocketful of carrots and mints then. Just to make friends, won’t he Al?”

“I don’t think it matters how many carrots HE takes. I think that these are wild ponies, off the moor. They may take HIS carrots but that won’t make them any more friendly. They are much too timid for that. Also, quite often, those poor animals have been mistreated by humans and are very wary when a person approaches them.”

“Were you mistreated by humans, Wick?”

“I’d like to see the human who’d try it. No, I could just wind them round my little foreleg, like taking milk from a colt only easier, dealing with humans. But then, I wasn’t always as, how shall I put it, as mature looking then. And I had all my own teeth. Makers a lot of difference to humans, how you look. I used to draw my tummy in to look a bit on the hungry side and smile at them in a very attractive way and out would come the treats, just like that.”

“A bit like now, then Wick, eh? Just as well you don’t have to smile any more though, isn’t it?”

“Oh, you’re very funny, old Tregony Bay . And what winning ways do you have then?”

“I just have to be myself. THEY can tell a genuine senior citizen when they see one. I am rewarded for my long years of honourable service to the human race. At least I let them have a good ride. Not like you, Wicked. You throw them off. No wonder they called you Wicked.”

“Ay laddie. And that’s not all they called me although I don’t expect that HE would type those words up in Alli’s diary, would he Alli?”

“Well I think that THEY are doing a good thing, helping the poor abused and homeless equines like that. After all, THEY couldn’t be blamed if THEY thought that THEY had done enough already.”

“Why’s that Alli. What else have they done?”

“Looking after us old rescues, you fool. Looking after us!”

 

Down the field with HERThursday 20th May 2004

Today was the day. I knew. THEY knew. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wicked knew. But none of us told Treggy. Today was the day for wormers. As I told you before, they were not the bad ones. Not the syringe full of yellow, foul tasting and foul textured muddy pasty stuff. No, not that. Just a powder in our feed that, if you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t taste. Treggy didn’t. He just finished up his bucket as usual and then went over to the corner that I had left in case a morsel or two might have been overlooked. He’s taken to doing that of late. You see, I like to tip my feed out of the bucket and onto the floor. That way, I can take the tasty bits out and not have to bother with the rubbishy bits. This does have the effect of leaving a certain amount of chaff with a few bits of grain and the odd apple fragment, laying on the floor. Now normally Wicky would polish this off but, with his lack of teeth, Wicky has trouble eating quickly. I always finish in racehorse speed and tend to just walk out of the door, especially if SHE has some silly notion of grooming me. (Doesn’t she know that I am a wild Dartmoor horse now?). Anyway, Treg finishes next and while I am off down the field with HER and Wick still has his head in his bucket, finishing off, Treg takes this moment to wander over to my corner and do a bit of housework. He has to time this just right. You see, while SHE gives me some treats, Treg gets his from HIM, that is, until I come storming back to bully HIM into giving me some more. If Treg takes too long on his hoovering, I am back before he has had time to get his treats. He sometimes tries to brave it out and stand with me and share but if he does, you can be sure Wicky will finish and come up behind Treg and chase him away. We all have our own sort of etiquette (you can tell I have a French background).

Talking of Wicky, he really annoyed me this morning. Sometimes he can be amusing but, at other times, his messing around can be just downright irritating. And this morning was one of those times. He had come up and chased Treg away, as I told you he does sometimes and then he was very pushy to get treats while I was being treated by HIM. I didn’t say anything then although I did give him a few warning looks. Then, when HE said ‘bye Alli, bye Wicky’ as HE does when HIS pockets have been completely emptied and HE goes off to wash the buckets out in the stream; when he said that, I turned and went straight up to HER while SHE was feeding Treg with sugar lumps. Normally, Wick will go into the field shelter himself to do some tidying up but, as Treg had already done this, he followed me down the field to her. Well, this was the second time that morning that I had had to share my treat time with a pushing little ugly, foul smelling, scruffy coated midget – so I just exploded. My ears went back, my teeth went forward and I bit his neck hard. Then I turned on him and, making sure that he was not in range, I lashed out with my back foot. And , do you know what? He just ran around me to the other side of HER and laughed at me. You know, I don’t think he takes me seriously, do you?

 

Dartmoor bluebellsFriday 21st May 2004

I know we get irritated by the sheep sometimes, especially when they come into our field shelter and try to eat up our hay. But often, we enjoy watching their antics. A bit like the other morning. There was this little lamb. Well, I say little. It was only little in comparison to us or it’s mother. They are all getting quite mature now. At least in size but not in their actions. Well, this particular lamb had been trying to get its mother to feed it and she wasn’t having any. She told it so too, in no uncertain manner. As it went down to feed at her side she did a very neat dodge, put her head down and gave the lamb an enormous nudge in the side. Of course, the lamb was knocked over and came back to its mother making a very pitiful noise. It did it now good however and the mother just kept nudging it away until the poor little thing finally got the message. At first he just stood there and looked at his mother. Then, when he didn’t see any improvement in her manner, he started to look around. It wasn’t long before he forgot about his mother and something about the hedge caught his eye. He made a move towards it and then hesitated. Nothing changed so, encouraged, he moved forward again. There was a gap in the hedge and that was where the lamb headed for. When he reached it, he stopped and peered into the gap, trying to make out what was inside it. At last his curiosity got the better of him and he moved forward into the gap. Well, I don’t know if he suddenly felt tired or if it was the heat of the day that made him sleepy. Whatever the reason, once the lamb was inside the gap, he fell asleep.

All this happened just before THEY came along with our evening buckets and soon there was the sound of THEIR car approaching. HE carried our buckets up to the field shelter as normal but HER eye was caught by something white poking out from inside the hedge. SHE walked over towards it and then saw that it was the rear of the lamb that had fallen asleep there. SHE moved very quietly after that but some sense, maybe smell, got through to the lamb and he poked his head out. His face was a picture. It slowly dawned on him that he was alone and possibly in danger. Where was his mother, his protector. He scrambled out of the hedge and gave out such a cry – Muuutheeer! She hadn’t really gone far while he was asleep and she gave a response that gave him direction. From being a sleeping ball of wool he was transformed into shouting blur of energy and he ran back to safety as fast as his fat little legs would go.

We got new, smaller carrots for treats tonight. They were sweeter but you have to work very hard to get your fair share. I hope they don’t think that this is another way to cut down our rations. I’ve never seen old Treg so lithe. He often beats me up the hill these days. Still, we do our best to make up for it with the spring grass. I don’t expect any of us will waste away!

 

 

Treg looks into spaceSaturday 22nd May 2004

“What do you think of space, Treg?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, Wick. Was I getting in your way? I’ll move over.”

“Come back, you big clown. I was asking you if you ever think about space?”

“No.”

“No! What do you mean, no? Do you know what I am asking you?”

“Of course I do, Wick. I’m not silly. At least, not as silly as you think I am. You wanted to know if I think about space and I said ‘no’. That’s alright, isn’t it? It’s not mandatory to think about it, is it?”

“No-o. It’s not mandatory. But it’s funny if you never think about it, isn’t it? I mean, it’s only natural. Maybe on a starry night when you pause for a moment in between mouthfuls, what do you do then Treg?”

“Oh, then. I don’t have time to think about space, I’m too busy looking up at the stars and wondering about them. There’s not much point in wasting ones time thinking about gaps in between things. I mean, there’s nothing there to think about, is there? No I’d rather look up and wonder what the stars and sky and moon and all that are all about and where we come from and where we’re going and stuff like that. Space is just silly.”

“Er, yes Treg. I see what you mean. Well then, let’s start again shall we? Do you ever look up spa… er.. the sky and wonder if there are other horses up there, just like us?”

“I think that they might be just like you, Wick. I mean, when you look up you don’t see any bay coloured stars, do you. They are all white, just like you. I do often think that if there are any horses up there, they must have a funny life.”

“Why’s that Treg?”

“Well, for a start, all the grass must be white or silver, mustn’t it? Can you imagine walking along the Throwleigh Road field and all the grass was silver? No wonder they are white themselves. They say you are what you eat, don’t they?”

“Well, some do. But is that true? Look at you, or me or even Alli. We’re not green, are we? So your theory about the star horses isn’t necessarily true either. Is it?”

“You’ve got me there, Wick. I didn’t think of that. But whatever colour they are, they must be very small, just like you, else they wouldn’t fit on those little stars, would they?”

“I’m not sure that is true, either Treg. But even if it were, there’s nothing wrong with being what you call ‘small’. It is really just the correct size but it looks a bit out of place next to some overgrown specimens.”

“I bet you think about space a lot, Wick. Ponies your size don’t use a lot of it, do they. Very economical with space, Shetlands are, aren’t they?”

“But not with biting, Treg. Shetlands can be very lavish with biting, if they’ve a mind. Especially knees. Especially knees of as certain bay colour. If you get my meaning old lad.”

“Er, yes, Wick, I do indeed. Tell you what, let’s go up the hill and look at the stars. I think that there must be a lot of space up there!”

 

Sharing a joke with WickedSunday 23rd May 2004

I promised my self I wouldn’t talk about the weather or the sheep or food or any of the boring things that I normally talk about.

Well, that’s it! Bye!

No, come back. I was only joking. You see, we horses do have a sense of humour, even if you humans don’t recognise it as such. Often I have been told off for something that a human thought was being bad and was, in fact, a joke. One of the more obvious examples is when I appear to bite Wicky or when I turn and pretend top kick him. Do you see him fight back? Or does he run away and try to get away from me? No, of course not. He knows it’s a joke. He will, of course, get out of reach. He may even pass the joke on to Tregony. But that is just so as Treg doesn’t think that it is a private joke and that he is left out of it. You should see us in the evenings, when we wander up the hill. Just like a lot of silly yearlings, we are, racing past each other, calling each other names and generally mucking about.

We do have a more sophisticated form of humour, too. It often consists of very subtle movement and breathing games – the equivalent to your word games, I suppose. The three of us will be standing together, either in the field shelter or maybe under the big tree, in the middle field and we may appear to be drowsing or even asleep. Then, one of us will sway very gently or breathe in a certain way that may make the others take notice. The game is to come back with the correct response, a movement or breath that complements the one given, and to do so within a certain amount of time. Of course sometimes old Treg really is asleep or Wick will misread the signal, seeing it differently from his shorter perspective. Then there is either a lack of response or an inappropriate one and we all fall about laughing. You’d be surprised how little games like this can help to pass away the evenings.

When we were younger, of course, it was much more a physical sort of humour with a lot of running and bumping and pushing. I still fancy a bit of what we call ‘horseplay’ now and again but I am afraid Treg is a bit too senior for it and Wick is, let’s face it, a bit short. But don’t let me catch you thinking that all we horses think about is eating. It’s not – well not all!

 

Fun with a dogMonday 24th May 2004

“You know what today is, Wick?”

“Surprise me, Treg. What day is it today?”

“Well, it’s a ‘very nearly’ day.”

“Very nearly what, Treg? It cant just be a very nearly day without it being very nearly something. You do know that, don’t you?”

“Of course I know that, Wick. That’s why I was testing you, to see if you knew the very near what thing.”

“I see, Treg. So it’s testing now, is it laddie? And why do ye think that I need testing? D’ye think that I am getting past my mental best? Eh, laddie?”

“What was your mental best, Wick? Were you really clever once?”

“Back to the nearly something day, Treg, before you get into very big trouble. Now. Let me think. It’s another bank holiday next Monday. Is that it? It’s very nearly the Spring Bank Holiday?”

“What’s a spring bank, Wick. Is that like that little hill just above the stream ford that is always leaking. That could be a spring bank, couldn’t it? Or is it a place where the humans keep all their springs. You know the things they use in balances and motor cars and the like?”

“Er, to tell you the truth, Treg, I’m not really sure. I’ve just heard THEM talking about the Spring Bank Holiday and I know it’s next week. Anyway, I gather that it’s not that that is ‘very nearly’.”

“Your right, Wick. It’s not that.”

“Then .. er.. could it be ..could it be very nearly, er tomorrow?”

“Not only could be Wick, but is. Very nearly tomorrow, that is. But that’s not what I was thinking about.”

“Are you sure ‘thinking’ is really the correct word there Treg? I mean, that assumes that you have the correct equipment in sufficient quantity to be able to think. You know what I am saying?”

“You had me going there for a moment, Wick! I was just about to say ‘I think I do’ but then you would have come out with another of your smart reared remarks, wouldn’t you?”

“You know, Treg. Sometimes, just sometimes, I get a little weary of all this chatter when I could be grazing. Do you want to tell me what it ‘very nearly’ is or don’t you ‘cos I can think of a million things that I am ‘very nearly’ about to do if you don’t.”

“I won’t tell you now, you old grump bum. If you’re going to be like that you can just go off on your own and do what you want. Go on, off you go. See if I care. Oh! Alli, Alli. Glad I bumped into you. Do you know what day it very nearly is ….?"

 

Penny at SWEPTuesday 25th May 2004

I wonder where all the sheep go each year? We see a lot of them, now, in the spring, I might even say too much of them when I look at Wicky’s back where he has been laying down. Mind you, none of us can talk. I’m glad I’m not HIM, having to pick our feet out every day. We can’t help it, I know, there’s sheep poo everywhere, you just can’t help treading in it. I expect it’s the same with HIS wellies, only he doesn’t pick them out. I wonder why not. Humans are just not logical, one rule for us and another for them. I never see HER grooming HIM in the mornings. Just because HE wears that silly hat, it’s no excuse for HIM to get away with it. I expect that it is exactly the reason why HE wears it. But then, humans really are illogical. Comes April  and, if the weather is clement, off comes our coats. And the humans? Do they take their clothes off? Never! In fact, it’s all SHE can do to persuade HIM to stop wearing HIS big padded coat in the mornings, rain or shine, cool or heat wave. HE says it’s because it is the only coat that has enough pockets for all the treats – carrots, apple biscuits and mints. If that really is the reason then I am one hundred percent behind HIM. But I am not really convinced.

I was talking about sheep, I think. What it is, we sometimes see the same mothers year in and year out but never their children. They stay with their mothers while they are dear little lambs, they still stay with them when they are big fat silly lambs. And then, one day, they are gone. And we never see them again the next year. Treg has a theory that they all go to a land full of sheep, he says he’s heard of somewhere called Hostralia or something and that’s where they all go. Wick says that’s silly as if anyone went to a place called Hostralia it would be horses, wouldn’t it? I stand and listen out for them sometimes as I think that, being good Devon sheep, they wouldn’t go so far away and they might be just a few fields away, just being kept separate from their mothers to give the old girls a bit of peace and quiet. However, I have to admit I have never heard them, once they go. It’s a mystery but then, quite a lot of life is a mystery. like where does all that food go that Wicky eats, it can’t all turn into wind?

 

May flowersWednesday 26th May 2004

“Oh no, it cant be that time already”

“I’m afraid it is, Treg. That’s definitely THEIR car you can hear. Better get up old lad.”

“But, I’ve only just laid down. I really am very tired from all that grazing up the hill last night. Do you think they’ll just let me have breakfast sitting down?”

“Come on, Tregony. Time to get up. Be a good chap.”

“Alli, I can’t. I’ve just sat down and my knees are killing me. It must be old age, I expect. I just can’t take it like I used to.”

“Well, I won’t be responsible for you then. I might have some influence with HIM but I’ve got none at all with HER, where discipline is concerned. It would be more than my life’s worth to try and protect you against HER. Watch out, here they come!”

“Oh, hello old Treg, having a lay in? Better get up now, it’s bucket time.”

‘Why’s HE always have to be so jolly? I’ll just ignore him, pretend I didn’t hear.’

“Old Treg’s laying down, Carol. Shall we let him rest?”

“He’s got to get up to have his bucket. It’s not good for him to eat it sitting down. Come on old fella, raise your stumps, now. Get up. Breakfast time.”

‘SHE sounds worse than him. How can I tell her that my old bones are aching? I’ll just have to brazen it out.’

“What have you done to Treggy, Alli? You’ve worn him out, last night. Come on Wick. Here, here’s your biscuits. Your not as lazy as old Treg, are you.”

‘I’m not as old as old Treg, either. Poor old man. He just needs a rest, that’s all.’

“Pity you don’t talk, Wick. You could tell him to get up, I’ll bet. Come on, Treg. Look, the others have got their buckets. You’ll miss your breakfast if you don’t get up.”

‘What’s HE think that I’m trying to do? As soon as I get a bit of strength back in my legs, I’ll make the effort. HE could always bring the bucket over here, he used to do that sometimes, when I was having a rest.’

“Here, shall we let him have his bucket there?”

“No, give it to me, I’ll entice him up.”

‘If SHE thinks that I’m going to fall for that old one, SHE’s got another think coming. Hold it in front of me to get a sniff and then move it out of the way. Very funny. Look, now SHE’s left it just out of reach. Well, it can stay there all day, as far as I’m concerned.’

“He’s not moving. Ah, I know what will get him up.”

“Do you want his head collar? Are you going to try and pull him up. He doesn’t usually get up that way.”

“No. Not a head collar. Watch this.”

‘Oh oh. Look, she’s getting a stick. She’s going to beat me. Fetlocks! OK, OK, you win. I’m getting up. Hold on, don’t wave that stick about. Here I come. But don’t blame me if I fall on you!’

“What is it. You’ve got a stick? That made him get up pretty quickly, didn’t it?”

“It’s not a stick, it’s a length of straw. I couldn’t wave it about very hard or it would have folded up. Worked though, didn’t it? Here you go Treg. Have your bucket here, for being a good man.”

‘If running away from a beating is being good, I must be a saint. Still, here’s the bucket so it’s not all bad news. Nose down, here we go!’

 

Twopence at SWEPThursday 27th May 2004

Alli was feeling a bit jumpy last night and then this morning, all HE did was to lay one of her sponges on her back, as HE always does while he cleans her eyes and nose, and she went ballistic. Talk about thoroughbred! It’s alright for old Treg, he stands well clear of her while we are eating. But I stand right next to her. She has been known to snake her head round and give me a nip on more than one occasion, so I am always ready to get out of range, which is why I am quite happy to stand half in and half out of the field shelter when I am eating. I don’t know if it is her hormones (Treg calls then her hot moans) or what it is. Mares are a strange lot, I’m glad I’m over all that, makes life a lot simpler. That is, apart from the ones that you have to share your life with, like Alli. It would be bad enough if it were just a simple little Shetland/Dartmoor cross mare but at least we’d be of a size. But a thoroughbred and a redhead at that! You should hear Treg and me sometimes when we are on our own, having a moan about Alli. We managed perfectly well without her when we lived at Winkleigh, I tell him. He sort of agrees and then says but… You see, with Treggy, it was love at first sight. He’d never had a female friend all to himself before. You should have seen the two of them, from the moment Treg and I were unloaded from the horse lorry into the field. They just melted together like some great big magnet was pulling at them and went straightaway int6o a sort of synchronised grazing routine. And it has lasted to this day. Treg may have a bit of a moan now and then but he would be lost without her, and he knows it.

Later on, after making me, HIM, HER and Treg jump because she jumped, Alli went down the field with HER as usual and spent the next ten minutes frantically getting HER to notice the mini digger that was standing in the bridleway. I expect it was this that had put her on edge all along. She just can’t stand anything being out of place, it drives her marish!

 

 

 

 

One O'clockFriday 28th May 2004

I knew I was right to be a bit jumpy yesterday. It was a very dark night last night and we were high up in the top field having a bit of a rest before we set back to work keeping the field looking trim. Just as I finally got both eyes closed, I was rudely awakened by a strange noise, coming from the direction of the Throwleigh Road . It was far too dark to make out (or who) what was making the noise but it was a bit unsettling, to say the least. I saw that Wicky was awake too and that he had heard it. When I spoke to him, he was all for going down and seeing if it was THEM bringing our buckets early but I thought that rather unlikely. I woke Treg and told him what was going on. He got a bit official and said that it was probably a matter for the Force and that he would get on the blower (it’s his way of using the scents on the wind) to find out what to do. In the meanwhile, he suggested that we all remove ourselves to the darkest corner of the furthest part of the field and then go back to sleep. Old Treg does have some good ideas sometimes, I have to admit. We took a vote and did just that! In the morning, we came down to be ready for buckets, only to find the gate over the stream was open so we went up to the top field to welcome THEM. It was a nice surprise for everyone.

 

 

Saturday 29th May 2004

The Mystery of Ninefields Ford

Alli’s Story : Did you ever see such a little rotter as Wicky. I’ve watched him, many a time, leaning over that gate on the other side of the ford. Standing there, with his little hooves in the water, tears coming out of his eyes so you didn’t know which end was wettest, as he stares at all that uneaten grass in the field up to the Throwleigh Road . You could almost hear his little brain ticking over, as he schemed and dreamed of getting his lips round those succulent green blades. I should have expected it sooner, I suppose, for Wick is not A friend at SWEPknown for his infinite patience or finesse. When he hatched the plot, I don’t know but I do know when he put it into operation. I watched him yesterday , from just above the field shelter, as he targeted those two ramblers, coming down from the Beacon, along the bridle path. He positioned himself by the second of the two gates and put on his ‘I’m a poor starving pony’ look. Somehow, he persuaded them to climb the gate and follow him along the stream to the ford. I couldn’t say if he managed to get them to understand that THEY had absent-mindedly left the gate shut or if the ramblers just forgot it themselves as they exited the field. Whatever the case, Wicky got his way and, in about two seconds flat, his crooked little jaws were chomping into the grass.

 

Treggy’s Story :I was proceeding in a Northerly direction along the perimeter of the lower field, when I heard a suspikious noise coming from the area known as the top gate. Being the Hossifer On Duty at the time, I turned and secreted myself behind a convenient nettle patch, so as to get a better look at what was going on. From my hideout I could make out the forms of two very kriminal looking characters, climbing over the metal gate. I was rather surprised as they may very little effirt to stay congealed and they appeared to fall over as they came down on our field side. They then staggered up and proceeded to help each other down the hill towards the stream. Having in mind the need for security, mine in pertickular, I retreated back up the hill a little way until I was able to hide behind the big middle tree. They reached the stream gate, only falling down a couple more times and I saw them deliberately open the gate wide and let it fall on the grass. At this, they started to larf and to sing some rather rude rugby songs. I saw them struggling to climb right up toward the moor as I took a cirkooitus route down to urgently put the hincident on my log. By the time I had made my recording, the hintrooders had disappeared.

 

Wicky’s Story : Those rams have got a nerve. You cant trust them for a minute. It’s bad enough that they eat the bark off the trees and come into our field shelter to steal our hay (although they are welcome to that), they have now taken to rearranging our pastureland. I have always hated the fact that they and their sheep could get under all the gates that separate our fields, at certain times, and go and eat the grass that THEY were keeping for us. But now I’ve seen everything. I was having a bit of a doze in front of the field shelter when I heard a funny noise. I opened one eye and, do you know what I saw? That great big show off ram had put his back under the ford gate and had lifted it out of its catch, one end. He then, cool as you like, proceeded to walk round in a semi circle to open the gate and slid from beneath it. And all because he couldn’t be bothered to duck a little bit when going in and stealing our grass. Well, I couldn’t just stand there and watch this vandalism so I called on Alli and Treg to join me and run into the field to chase the rams away. Of course, having done our duty like true brave souls that we were, we needed to stop and sample the grass to make sure no harm had come to it. And that’s the truth!

 

 

 

Down in the mouthSunday 30th May 2004

A beautiful morning. A peaceful morning. I had seen it much earlier, grazing along our hedge. But they were very surprised and delighted. We were all in the field shelter having our breakfast, at least we horses were having our breakfast, the humans were doing all those irritating little things humans do to try and spoil our breakfast, when all of a sudden HE noticed it. ‘Look, Carol, HE said and THEY both watched in wonder as the deer calmly walked along the bank of our stream and exited over the ford and the front field into Clarence’s field and beyond. What is so lovely about those creatures, is hard to say. Humans are entranced by them and even us horses admire them. They have a grace and beauty but then so do most four legged animals. They can be very fast and fleet of foot but again so can many of us (except Treg!). No, I think it is their secrecy, their timidity – not even a rabbit is so shy. And so, when they do allow themselves to be seen it is like an honour, somehow. This one had horns unlike most we have seen in the surrounding fields. We can’t help wondering why we only ever see a single deer. They are herd animals, like us, and yet I have never seen a herd around here. Do we only ever see a scout that is sent out from the herd? Does the herd stay secluded in the woods on the edge of the moor? I don’t expect we shall ever know. None of them will ever stop to tell us. They are not only shy of humans they keep well clear of other animals as well. All we can do is watch from a distance and admire them. And wish them good speed.

 

Monday 31st May 2004

“Wicky?”

“Yes my old troglodyte, what can I do for ye now?”

“It’s Spring Bank Holiday today, HE told me.”

Not only time ...“Ay, I know, my son. HE told me too, HE told all of us.”

“Why do the banks have a holiday, Wick? Do the hedges have one? And the fields? I hope the fields don’t have one, Wick. What should we eat?”

“Er, I’m glad you raised that question, Treg. When HE told us, I thought something on the same lines myself. But I didn’t want to show my ignorance by asking. I wonder if Alli knows?”

“I expect so, Wick. She’s very clever is Alli, she knows everything.”

“Well, not everything, Treg. I bet she doesn’t know what goes on in your head, for example.”

“It’s not really an example, Wick. It’s not really much at all, to be honest. Sometimes I look in there myself and end up very confused. There are a lot of gaps in there, Wick.”

“You surprise me, Treg. A grand old Cornish gentleman like yourself. I wouldn’t have thought that you could get to your ripe old age without accumulating a great deal of knowledge and experience.”

“Wouldn’t you, Wick? You do have some very deep thoughts, don’t you? I think that I have been blessed by not filling my head up with a lot of that junk. I mean, everything that I knew then would be quite out of date now, wouldn’t it. It would be a bit like HIM keeping all the daily newspapers instead of putting them out for the re-cyclers, wouldn’t it?”

“Are those the guys we see go by in shorts on those two wheeled things?”

“Could be, Wick. I’ve only heard HIM talk about them, never seen one. To my knowledge, that is.”

What were we talking about, Treg, I’ve quite forgotten?”

“I shouldn’t worry, Wick. Let’s just relax and enjoy the day, it is a Bank Holiday, after all!”


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