Alezane's Diary Archive June 2005
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at the gateWednesday 1 st June 2005

It was early afternoon, so none of us (except maybe Wicky) were thinking about supper, when all of a sudden we heard the noise of THEIR car pulling up at the Throwleigh Road gate. I could see a little light of expectation come on in Tregony's eye so I quickly extinguished it by telling him that it was usually bad news when THEY appeared at unusual times. I just murmured things like ‘wormers' and ‘vets' and the like and he marched swiftly off to the corner of the field.

I knew it wasn't anything like as drastic as that when I saw the whole family emerge from the car. How THEY all get in it, I don't know. It's a bit like Treg's mouth which he fills and fills until it all starts falling out in little pieces again. Then I saw HIM with a big green bag on his shoulder and, as I watched, HE proceeded to extract his video camera from it. Of course, then I fell in. HE was going to take some video footage of the grandchildren with us. How touching, I thought. Little did I know what was going to happen next.

I should have been warned by the way that SHE sent the kids to the field shelter for our head collars. Maybe subconsciously I thought that SHE just wanted us looking our best for the photo shoot. I should have twigged that it was only Tregony who was having his head collar put on, for the next thing I know, Treg is being led out of the field by HER. This grabbed my attention and I cantered over to the wall and shouted out to him. To my horror, he seemed perfectly happy with the arrangement. There SHE was leading my Treg away to goodness knows what fate and he was just ambling along beside HER, happy as he day is long and just having a nibble at the grass as he passed it.
Well, I dashed back to HIM but all I could see was the video camera jammed up against his eye. I shouted out and ran back to the wall. Treg was still just ambling along. The kids, I thought, they'll do something. Maybe go out into the road and rescue him or at least shout out to HER to bring him back. I cantered over to them but they just smiled and patted me on the nose as if it as a great joke. I as nearly demented and I have to admit that I lost control of my toilet training for a while. And then, looking all around, at all the smiling faces, then I started to understand. It was a set up. All done for the benefit of the camera. Do you know THEY did it deliberately just to get me worked up so that THEY could film it!

Of course, when THEY realised that I was not playing anymore, Treg was brought back into the field. It must have been THEIR consciences that made them take us all out along the bridle path so that we could have a good old graze on all the lush, uneaten grass and herbs that are found there. I think Wicky could have just stayed there for the rest of the summer but we had to get back so that THEY could go home and prepare and bring us our evening supper buckets.

Wick and RachelThursday 2 nd June 2005

“Ere, Wick. Funny old breakfast this morning, weren't it?”
”What? Same as usual for me, laddie. What? Did THEY put something funny in yours? You know, like they do to the tea in the army to stop the soldiers all becoming love sick?”
”No, nothing like that Wick. Least, I don't think so. Although come to think of it, I've not thought about fillies for a good long while now. I wonder ….”
”Oh, come on Treg. You know, everyone knows you are of a rather great senior age and they wouldn't really feel the need to inhibit your libido.”
”I should think not, Wick. At least, I think I should think not. What's it mean, ‘implicit my beano'? Is it rude?”
” Tregony Bay . You have got to this great age without worrying about things like this. Let's just not bother now, shall we. How about we get back to what you were talking about at the beginning?”
”Yeah, you're right Wick. Good idea. What was I talking about at the beginning?”
”You don't remember?”
”Worse, Wick. I don't think that I was even there anyway so I just will never remember, will I?”
”Look, Treg. You came up to me and said something like ‘breakfast was funny'. Does that ring any bells?”
”Er … ‘Breakfus was funny' … er, oh, yes. Gottit now.”
”Well?”
”Well? Well what, Wick? Do you mean ‘Am I well?' Yes, very well thank you, Oh, I forgot, Wick. I meant to tell you what a funny breakfast we had today. Did you notice?”
”I didn't notice you rolling about holding your sides, if that's what you mean. No.”
”No, Wick. It was just odd, that's all. Where was SHE? Rachel was here with HIM but where was SHE? See, funny, that's what I mean.”
”Not much funnier than this evening though, was it?”
“Why's that then, Wick? What was funny about this evening?”
”No HIM was there? No them either now I come to think about it. Just HER and only HER. Has SHE done away with them do you think?”
”Was that two questions or one, Wick?”
”Two questions?”
”Yeah. You said ‘ has SHE done away with them' and then you said ‘do you think'? You see, I could answer the second one but not the first but if it was just one question then – well – then, I'm confused!”
”Tregony. I think too much talking and thinking is not good for you. How about we settle down to a period of silent munching?”
” …………. “

Wick and collarFriday 3 rd June 2005

It was really one of my best days today. HE came on his own both morning and evening. It's not that I have anything against HER. Quite the opposite, in fact. I both love and respect HER. It's just that HE is such a sucker, I can get anything out of HIM. He stands there, holding HIS hands out and saying ‘all gone Alli' and all I have to do is to give HIM a good hearty nudge and HIS hand goes flashing into HIS pocket for another treat. So why was HE all on his own both times today? Come to that, why was it only Rachel and HIM in the morning and only HER in the evening yesterday? I like my routine and I don't like it when someone upsets it.
I don't think that THEY realise the burden of responsibility that I have looking after these two old men. If I take my eye off Treggy for a second he is liable to go into one of his prolonged sleep ins and if I don't keep a very vigilant eye on Wick he would eat everything in sight and we'd all starve. And he's a bully. You should see the way he keeps on at Tregony when I want to keep on at him. Such a load of cheek, he's always doing something to annoy me and then just running out of reach when I go to give him a nip for it. Mind you, I get my own back sometimes when he's not expecting it. If I look at him and he appears to be just enjoying himself, doing nothing in particular and if he is in range, I flatten my ears and swan my neck and give him a real good bite. Nothing to leave teeth marks you understand but just enough so he feels it and remembers who's boss.

So, you see, after a whole day or night having to exercise my authority over the guys, I am really justified in relaxing a little and getting what I can out of HIM. It's only for a pretty short time anyway. Give HER her due (you can't capitalise that twice!), SHE does at least just come and hang out with us sometimes. SHE does HER best to act like a horse (although that does unfortunately mean that SHE doesn't hand out treats) and SHE even sometimes lays down with us although I do consider that setting Tregony a rather bad example. HIM, HE only comes when either HE wants something like to take photographs or play with the jeep or HE comes for a particular reason, usually to feed us. Not that feeding us is bad but HE just does it and then HE's gone.
However. as I said, today HE didn't have HER to protect HIM so I will admit to a fair amount of bullying. HE has one defence, HE stands behind the post in the middle of the field shelter and whichever way I go, HE goes the other so that I can't get HIM. HE soon tires of that however, relying on a few more treats to aid HIS escape. I know it wont last, SHE will turn up tomorrow but I'm having fun while I can. Why not?


Abbie and AlliSaturday 4 th June 2005

Well, it was another day of just HIM coming to feed us. Now, as I said before, I quite like it because I can bully HIM and get more treats than when SHE is here. But, even so, it is worrying, isn't it? Where on earth is SHE? Has SHE left him? Even worse, has SHE left us? I'm sure, although HE is useful or handing out carrots and minty sweets, he wouldn't know how to make up our feeds or to order the correct ones to keep us healthy. I'm sure HE wouldn't be able to keep a check on when we needed the farrier or how to keep records of our weights and all that stuff. And then there's our field. SHE's the one who has organised for it to be rolled and harrowed and for the weeds to be killed and the fences to be mended and all the other stuff that keeps us safe and makes sure we get good grazing. SHE's the one who gets farmer Michael to put his sheep into our field to keep the grass short enough to stop Wick getting laminitis.

Of course, as Treg's just reminded me, SHE's the one who makes us take wormers. SHE's also the one who calls the vet in so she or he can stick things up your nose and make it bleed or who stick needles in your neck and make it bleed. Need I go on? I think the three of us had better have a session weighing up the good and bad points of having HER around before I go to HIM and demand that HE gets her back. In the meantime, I think I will just enjoy bullying HIM just a little longer.

Not much else to report today. The weather is a bit miserable and on and off rainy but not enough to make me stay in the field shelter. Treg has been teaching me has nice leaves can be to eat. To be honest, I have been eating so much grass lately that my tummy is getting a bit on the rounded side. Well, to be honest, a bit more than a bit! So when Treg said, let's go and eat some beech leaves I asked him about the number of calories in them. He looked at me in that way that Treg has, so that you don't know if he is thinking or has gone to sleep and then he muttered something like ‘who gives a poo about Valerie' and stormed off over to the hedge. I decided that what his answer really meant was that beach leaves are very slimming and I have been doing my best to get my weight down for most of the day.

It's amazing how virtuous one can feel after a day's dieting. I think I might just let go for a bit and give myself a little treat after supper. I know that's what Wick would recommend!

tractorSunday 5 th June 2005

“Ere Wick. What do you think about this global warming?”
“Couldn't rightly say, laddie, I've not tasted it. It's a new one on me. But then, I've not found a food that I didn't like yet. What makes you ask, Treg, are THEY going to change our diet again?”
”Er … I don't really know, Wick. No, I was asking about global warming, it's a thing not a food.”
”What's a thing, old man? Food's a thing, aint it?”
”Yer, but this is a thing that you can't eat.”
”I'm rapidly losing interest, Treg. You'd better be a bit more specific or I'm up the field for a wee bite.”
”Well, it's what everyone's talking about. It's the reason why it's so hot and sunny now.”
”Treg. Tregony Bay . Look out of the field shelter door for a minute. What do you see?”
”Er … not a lot, Wick, it's pouring with rain.”
”So do you really want to know what I think about this global warming? It's about as effective as a poultice on the wrong foot, that's what I think.”
”Oh, I see? It's a medical thing is it? Sort of what the vets use to make the weather better? I don't think I want to get involved in all that. I think I'll tell Alli that it's not really my sort of thing, after all.”
”What's Alli got to do with it?”
”If you are me, Wick, Alli's got to do with everything. It's just that she was trying to tell me about it and I had one of my headaches come on, you know, wot I get when people talk clever or numbers or stuff. So I told her that I would go back and listen later when my head clears. But now it's clear, I can see that it's not my kind of thing at all.”
”Have you finished? Never known you to say so much in one breath. And what's all this about headaches? Is it migraine?”
”No, Wick, no it's mine. I get them when …. “
”You daft old beggar. Migraine is the name for them. It's not mine, it's your migraine.”
”Wicky, Wick please. I'm starting to feel one coming on again.”
”That's probably due to all these greenhouse gases that we've been hearing about.”
”Our field shelter is green. I think you know most about the gases in it Wick. You know. When you're eating your bucket and you ….”
”That's quite enough about that, laddie. Some of us aren't blessed with such robust digestive systems as others. Is that a crime. Anyway, I don't think that is what is meant by the term. I think it has something to do with …”
”Global warming! I knew I'd heard it before somewhere. Thanks Wick. I must rush off and tell Alli after all. She'll think I am ever so clever, won't she?”
”Er, maybe Treg. But I wouldn't count on it if I were you!”

bridle path walkMonday 6 th June 2005

Bit of excitement this morning. I always have to tell THEM what to look out for when they come in the morning and evening. Sometimes it's a wandering sheep that's come down from the moor, sometimes some cows that have been moved into an adjacent field and so on. This morning it was something very important. Someone had driven a car down the bridle path and just left it outside our field gates and gone away. At first SHE didn't know what I was pointing at. If SHE were a horse SHE would understand from my head and body movements exactly what to look at but, being a mere human, SHE needed a lot more prompting than that. First I stood dead still and just pointed with my nose, head held high and ears erect. SHE looked all over the fields and saw nothing unusual and told me so. Then I had to run towards the gates and then run back again. This got HIM interested and HE looked up and saw the car parked in the bridle path and HE called out to HER what it was.
Well, I'm sad to say SHE was a bit off hand about it saying something pretty dismissive which indicated to me that SHE hadn't really taken in the seriousness of the event. Of course, I couldn't let it go at that. I ran towards the gate and cantered back snorting and waving my head about. I had to repeat this quite a few times before SHE decided to go and investigate for herself. Once I was sure that SHE had now taken over responsibility I was able to go into the field shelter and have my breakfast bucket, my duty now over.
HE saw her trying to undo the padlock on the gate to go and look at the car so, as we three were all settled eating, HE went over to help HER. HE climbed over the gate and went to look in the car which appeared to be abandoned. HE came back and said that the door was unlocked and that the car may have been stolen and dumped down the bridle path. HIS phone was at home being charged but SHE had hers and they were considering phoning the police to report the possible theft when a young man appeared from up the bridle path with a dog following on behind.. It became obvious that he had driven down the bridle path, parked his car and then got out to walk his dog.
I have to say the young man was a bit put out when she called out to explain to him that it was illegal to drive down the bridle path and park his car there and he drove off without a word but obviously not in a good mood. I don't know if it was just coincidence that later that morning SHE took a phone call from the Dartmoor National Park saying that they had had a report of an abandoned car in our field. Assuming that he was talking about HIS old jeep which is parked there, behind a tree waiting for Mathew or his friend to take it, SHE was fairly firm with the caller saying it was no different from a farmer's tractor parked in his own field and it was in no way ‘abandoned'. THEY still do not know if someone else had seen the car parked in the bridle path and reported it just like THEY were going to do or whether it was the young man with the dog reporting the jeep to get his own back for being told off. But then, of course, it could all have been just a strange co-incidence.

 

AlezaneTuesday 7 th June 2005

“Where did they go today, Alli?”
”HE told me THEY went to visit the Devon Horse and Pony Sanctuary.”
”Oh no. D'you hear that Wick. THEY're going to put us in a home.”
”Not us, laddie.”
”Oh, you think THEY won't?”
”I didn't say that old man. I just said it's not all of us that THEY have in mind.”
”Oh dear, poor old Wick. We won't let them, will we Alli?”
”Tregony dear. I'm not sure that is what Wicky had in mind.”
”Well. Oh no. Not you Alli? Surely THEY wouldn't do that. After all THEY've said about you. Surely not. Oh no. I'll miss you so much. No one to chase me about, no one to tell ….. “
”Listen, you old fool. No one's going to put Alli in a home. Pull yourself together. Now, who's the oldest one here? Tell me that.”
”I never was very good at sums Wick. Can't you ask me an easier one.”
”Do you know how old you are, you old duffer?”
”Yeah of cours … er…no. But I'm a big number more than three, I'm sure.”
”Oh shut up you two. No one's going into a home. This is a home. Our home. THEY went to the Sanctuary to meet the people and look at the horses, that's all.”
”That's what they tell you, lassie. I don't trust THEM. Anyway, I think Tregony should know that if anyone was going into a home for daft senile old beggars it would be him, not me. That's all.”
”If anyone's a beggar Wick, it's you. Isn't that what you told us you used to do on Dartmoor . Begging round the tourist's cars. That's how you spent most of your time, wasn't it?”
”That wasn't begging laddie. I was employed in the tourist industry, part guide and part picturesque icon. They used to flock to use my services and any little treats were just gratuities for services rendered. Beggar indeed!”
”Well, as I said before, no one's going anywhere. So let's just change the subject. It's a beautiful day, the grass is growing and there's no flies around. I don't know why you two always have to be squabbling. How about we go up the field and chase some sheep?”
”Oh, Alli, how could you suggest such a thing. If you was a dog they'd shoot you.”
”Tregony, if I was a dog I'd want then to shoot me. Have you seen what they eat?”
”Seen it, I make it, at least some of it.”
”OK lady and gent, let's go chase sheep. Seems good to me. Bit of fun never did hurt anyone.”
“Wicky, you're as bad as she is. OK race you!”

sparrowWednesday 8 th June 2005

Sparrows! You'd think they were just ordinary little birds, wouldn't you? Well, they are, I suppose, in one way. But in another, they are very, very remarkable.

Yesterday evening, when HE was waiting for Treg and Wicky to finish their buckets (I was over at the bridle path gates, with HER, for what SHE calls “a girlie moment”), HE heard a loud bird shouting on the roof of the field shelter. Now HE had heard this before and just assumed that it was a crowd of chaffinches squabbling, as they do. However, yesterday HE looked up and saw a little sparrow hovering up near the eaves of the shelter. And, as HE looked, HE saw several little very open mouths shouting at the sparrow. Yes, HE realised that the sparrows had built a nest in between the ridges on the corrugated iron roof and the under-roof insulation. He stood there for quite a long while to watch the sparrow parents taking turns to feed their young.
This morning, HE watched again, after he had done our feet and sponges and given the two old boys a bit of a brushing. I should say that while HE is doing this, SHE is giving a proper grooming, as befits a princess. You know, sometimes I just wish I was an ordinary girl and could get away with the kind of cursory attention that any normal wild Dartmoor horse gets. Anyway, as I was saying. After the grooming, HE went and watched the sparrows again. And, how they worked. No sooner had they arrived and put whatever food they had found down those great gaping chasms then they had to fly off to seek more while their mate fed the screaming chicks. As HE watched all this effort, he realised that the sparrows had some pretty pragmatic reasons for putting their nest where they did. It was actually right by the various sources of food HE provides. There is the rolled oats, the peanuts and the fat balls which also have seed in them. And as HE watched more closely, HE saw that quite often the male was just flying to the fat ball and returning to the nest with a mouthful of fat. The female seemed to be flying further afield as she returned often with some grub or worm. At least the chicks were getting a varied diet.

And then, this evening, when THEY came with the supper buckets, HE watched again and realised that this chick feeding was a job without end. The poor parents were still at it. HE doesn't know if there is a period when the chicks sleep and the parents can get a bit of rest or even get a bite to eat for themselves. One interesting thing. HE wants to bring his camera up tomorrow morning, when the sun is on the entry to the nest, so HE moved a bit closer to see exactly where it is. HE then noticed that the parents, after keeping away for a while because of HIS nearer presence, then had no choice but to carry on feeding their screaming brood but they did so by flying right up to the entrance to the nest and going right in so that HE could only hear but not see them.

As I said at the beginning, sparrows are quite remarkable creatures!

 

calfThursday 9 th June 2005

“Ere Wick. ‘ave you seen all them cows laying down in the next field?”
”Er, the hedge is a wee bit tall laddie. I have nor seen them exactly but I can hear them.”
”Well, what are you going to do about it?”
”What am I going to do about what, my friend? I can't do anything about the height of the hedge and it really is a bit late now to do anything about my height – so I guess I'll just have to miss this wondrous sight and that's that.”
”Yes. No. What I meant is what are you going to do about the cows. I mean, it's hardly fair them just laying about all over the place when Alli won't let me lie down for a minute, is it?”
”The difference is, I expect Treg, that the cows get up again whereas you ….. “
”Oh, come on Wick. Be fair. I only have a little nap now and again when I'm feeling sleepy. All this about not getting up is all HER fault. SHE doesn't seem to be able to tell the difference between a chap having a tiny rest and someone on their final death bed. If SHE hadn't panicked that time and gone and called that girl vet in these rumours wouldn't have started.”
”Six hours, Tregony. Six hours! One can be excused in thinking you were having a bit more than a nap. You were lucky that THEY didn't get the digger in and roll you down into the hole and cover you up. Six hours, Mr Bay. That's more than a nap in anyone's book.”
”That was ages ago and I was feeling a bit tired that day. I'd probably had to do some hard sums or something for the Human Watch stats. I can't quite remember now but it must have been something like that.”
“You mean someone had gone and asked you how many legs you have or how old you are or something. I can see that might be a bit taxing for you Treg. But, six hours. No wonder Alli doesn't want you to do it again. Anyway, did you know that those cows in the next field were horses once? You see, that's what happens to a horse if he lies down for too long. Turns into a cow. That's what happens.”
”No. Really? You turn into a cow just for laying down.”
”For any length of time, Treg, yes. I would say you were lucky to get away with it that time. Very lucky. must have missed it by an udder … sorry a whisker.”
”I never knew that Wick. Where d'you learn of this stuff?”
”University of life, Treg. Just the accumulated wisdom of the ages. If you live a good life and keep your wits about you, you can't help picking up stuff, you know?”
”Well I never. So all those cows in the next fields were once horses? My goodness me. Must be funny for them to be milked now, eh. Ooh, I wouldn't like that. Wouldn't like it at all. Are you sure about all this Wick? You're not just kidding, are you?”
”Now, would I kid you Tregony. Kid my best friend?”
”Well, now you put it like that, Wick. I am your bestest friend, aren't I?”
”Yes, Tregony Bay . You are. You really are.”

sparrow feeding youngFriday 10 th June 2005

The sparrows were not impressed by having their photos taken. They've not exactly gone away, they have just taken evasive action. To understand this, you need to know how the roof of the field shelter is constructed. There are wooden rafters over which has been placed, first wire netting and then second some sort of insulation covering. The wire netting is to hold this up. And then, on top of this all, the sheets of corrugated metal (probably iron or steel) are screwed onto the rafters. This construction produces nice little gently sloping hollow ridges running from front to back of the shelter. When HE took his photos on Wednesday the chicks were clamouring at the front entrance to one of these hollows. Now that the sparrows have realised that their nest has been noticed they have just turned round and made the bottom of the ridge into the front door, thus being able to carry on unseen unless HE goes round the back. We horses can hear the chicks and parents scampering around above our heads when we are in there.

Tonight, HE decided to go to one side of the back of the shelter to watch the parent sparrows continuing to feed their young. HE was, of course, immediately noticed and it became a stand off between HIM and the birds. They refused to go in and disclose their new front door and instead jumped about from twig to twig in the hedge, waiting for HIM to go away. HE, on the other hand, decided to stand as still as HE possibly could until the sparrows accepted HIM. HE had stood there for a very long time and it just looked by the way the sparrows were behaving, as if they might think that HE was no threat and go in, when suddenly there was a crashing in the hedgerow, causing the sparrows to fly about screaming warning signals and then a jay appeared among the leaves. It didn't stay long, not looking for sparrow nests but more intent on the peanuts that HE hangs up at the shelter front. And then, just before HE had to go back into the shelter to guard Tregony from being bullied off his bucket by Wicky, a fine male pheasant appeared through a gap in the hedge.
This morning, we were graced with not one squirrel but three, a mother and her two youngsters. At least we assumed it as a mother, knowing nothing about squirrel parenting arrangements. Maybe I should say it was a big squirrel and two little ones. It would seem fair to assume that the little ones were youngsters by the playful way they kept running up to the big one and attacking it. It also seems correct to assume the big one was a parent by the way it would keep boxing the ears of the little ones, even when they didn't appear to be doing anything wrong – a sort of ‘let that be a warning to you'. One wonders also if this was what humans call a ‘single parent family' or just if the other parent (mum or dad) was having a well earned rest. HE told me that he may bring his camera along again tomorrow morning. HE didn't bring it tonight because for some reason we only ever see the squirrels in the morning.

 

Wick's footSaturday 11 th June 2005

“Just don't mention it, alright, Treg. I went for a little walk and that's that, right?”
“But Wick, you're naked. Where's all your coat gone?”
“I am not naked, Tregony, just a little short of coat hair, that is all. If you must know, I had a very important appointment with my hairdresser. We had to discus what the latest styles were and what would suit me best, you know, that sort of thing.”
“And she decided ‘naked' was just the thing, did she? Or was it ‘naked and yellow'?”
“If you're referring to my chosen hair colour, Mr Bay, I think you will find that it is ‘Essence of Daffodil', a pretty exclusive artistic rendition found only in the best salons in Paris and Rome.”
“Na, yellow is what I am talking about Wick! Wot your coat is covered in. It's that cushion thing again, aint it, rearing its ugly bum?”
“Oh, Tregony, Tregony. You have no culture, have you? For a start, things rear their heads if they must rear anything at all. Secondly it's Cushing's not cushions, named after the actor who used to play all those Dracula parts in the 1950s and 60s British movies. And it definitely is NOT yellow. A slight yellowish tint, I'll grant you but more a hint of sunrise than a big blob of banana.”
“Yeah, whatever. So Wick, THEM dragging you away and driving Alli frantic is all to do with going and having you coat trimmed again. I thought it was. I told Alli not to worry, that THEY would bring you back again. But, you know what she's like. She wasn't watching when HE came and took you away. You should have seen the performance when she realised you were gone. Shouting, galloping up and down the field. Bucking, kicking. I had to make very sure that I wasn't in the way, I can tell you.”
“Oh, so she missed me, did she? How touching. And how about you, laddie. Did you miss me too?”
“Well, I didn't go running up and down the hills, if that's what you want to hear. I knew where you'd gone. You had done it before and , despite what you all say, I'm no fool. I guessed that you had gone to have your coat trimmed again. And I was right, wasn't I?”
“Yes, Treg, you were right. Mind you, it's no doddle. Standing there while they run that clipper thing all over you face, up and down your ears and even worse, under your belly and coming very, very close to your … “
“Whoa, Wick. No more. I can't stand it. Makes me go all goosey just to think about it.”
“Well, I'm back now. Must be getting very near to supper time, isn't it?”
“What already? I've only just had breakfast.”
“Yeah, you have. But that's because you had another one of your mammoth lie ins and had your breakfast at lunch time while Alli and I had to look on and had nothing. You're a real lucky old worm Treg. I bet they wouldn't have come back to give me my breakfast at lunchtime, if I'd been having a lie in, would they?”
“But then, you get taken down to the house to have a hair cut while Alli and I have to shed ours naturally.”
“Oh well, laddie. There have to be some privileges for us true Dartmoors .”
“Oh come on, Wick. You are neither Dartmoor nor true. Just a sort of a cross like most of us. Mind you, you are a true yellow, aren't you?”

helicopterSunday 12 th June 2005

SHE was looking at some photos that Sylvie at the Devon Horse and Pony Sanctuary sent to her for their web site and SHE came across a very interesting one. It is a photo of a mare and foal at one of the Dartmoor Pony Auctions and guess who the foal looks like? Well, it's obvious, isn't it? There's not many thoroughbreds or cobs running loose on the moor but Shetland Xs? Now, mind, SHE wasn't making any assertions about Wicky's morals or anything (I think we all know that his days of potential in that direction are very long ago and far away). No, what SHE was pointing out was the great similarity in many respects, particularly the coat markings which would indicate a kinship somewhere in the genes of them both. Not really so surprising seeing as how, until recently at least, they were all allowed to roam freely and interbreed as they fancied. It did lead to rather a lot of low quail … er … rather a lot of Wicky look alikes on the moor. They are now getting a lot more fussy and rightly so, in my opinion. Why only this evening, I was going down to the stream for a drink after supper and who should be in my way? That's it. Wicked! And, what do you think he did when I very politely bit him twice and told him to get out of my way? Will you believe it? Nothing! I had to wait on his pleasure before I could go and quench my thirst. Me, a French princess having to wait for the likes of him. It's outrageous!
Moving on to more pleasant matters, I've been teaching Tregony to compose poetry. I got sorry for him just standing there wrestling with counting all four feet and getting frustrated after three. Kept kicking one leg hard on the ground, as if it would help him to come up with the word for the next number. Of course it didn't. It just gave him a sore leg. So, it came to me that if I could get him into the gentler art of verse and away from the complexities of mathematics, he would be a happier and less irritable horse. The problem was, where to start? Wicky suggested some rather ribald lines starting with “There was a young Dartmoor named Wick …” but, after I pointed out to him the dangers of the rhyming possibilities (Treg might accidentally want to rhyme ‘Wick' with ‘thick') I think he agreed that something more Wordsworthian might be a good place to start. Now we have a distinct lack of daffodils in Ninefields but we do have our fair share of buttercups. I dropped the phrase “I wandered lonely as a cloud and watched a collie with her pups … “ into his ear and left him to ponder for a moment while I went off for a little graze. When I came back his eyes were lit up and there was a contented smile on his lips. “Well, Treg?” I asked. “I've got it, Alli, I've got it.” “I am pleased Tregony. Really pleased for you although I do, of course take some credit myself for the idea. Well, old lad. Come on, give us you rendition.”

Treg drew himself up to his full height, took a deep breath and said, proudly, “Four!”

 

squirrelMonday 13 th June 2005
The squirrels continue to give THEM amusement. However, there does now only appear to be two a parent (mother?) and junior. While we were eating our buckets tonight HE noticed that he peanut feeder was almost empty but the adult squirrel was still hanging onto it and having a good old tuck in. HE went and removed the feeder, causing the squirrel to disappear into the hedge, and brought it back full together with a loose handful which HE scattered on the ground underneath. It wasn't long before the adult returned, climbing along the very thin branches of the hawthorn bush which comprises that part of the hedge. Now, whether filling the feeder had altered the balance of the branch or whether HE had hung the feeder in a slightly different place, it now appeared that the squirrel couldn't reach it from the weak slender branch. It wobbled about on it and reached a hand over, just missing it by a few centimetres. Chattering away to itself, the squirrel turned and retraced its steps up the branch and then came back again and this time just managed to get a claw into the mesh of the feeder wire. It was enough. The technique is to then pull the feeder towards you until you can grasp the mesh in your teeth, let go and reach out further round the container with one hand and then hold it firm while you use your teeth and other hand to extract the nuts and eat. This must be a bit uncomfortable because every so often the squirrel lets go and goes back up the branch a little way before repeating the performance.
While this was going on, the youngster came out of a gap in the hedge on the floor and started to leisurely work its way through the loose peanuts on the ground. It would position itself within reach of several, pick one up and then sit up and clutch a nut in both hands and eat. This was going on quite happily while the parent worked a lot harder above, when from the side of the field shelter a cock pheasant came strutting along. When it reached the scattering of peanuts it started to peck, peck, peck getting through the nuts at an alarming rate. The next thing, the young squirrel hurled itself at the pheasant's face, there was a brief tussle and the pheasant beat a hasty retreat. Now, you can imagine the parent witnessing this from above would be feeling a strong sense of pride at its offspring. Well, if it was, it had a funny way of showing it for, in the next minute, the adult left its branch and in another flurry of flying fur, smartly boxed the ears of the youngster and chased it away into the hedge. It is not at all clear if this was a reprimand for fighting the pheasant however for a few moments later the parent appeared on the ground and proceeded to tuck into the easy pickings.

 

Alezane at gateTuesday 14 th June 2005

Do you know what HE did today? He hit me on the head – with a carrot! Worse, half a carrot. And not just held in HIS hand, HE threw it at me! Really though, as HIS mother always used to say of HIM – HE didn't mean it. Mind you, it still hurt and it did make me jump and regard HIM very suspiciously for a while. In fact, for as long as it took HIM to climb back over the stream gate, find the offending missile and give it to me to eat with his sincerest apologies.

You see, it's all Treggy's fault. He started it. You know what a wimp he is. You only have to look in his direction and he mumbles ‘sorry' and stumbles off out of your way. And when both Wicky and I are competing for treats, Treg removes himself even further. This habit of his has given rise to THEM being very protective of him and trying to ensure that he gets his fair share of the treats. It was HER, with HER great sense of fairness (which makes sure everyone gets equal amounts – even if you don't like it!) that first started the ‘toss a carrot' game. And Treg took to it like a pig to … whatever pigs take to. He would stand a good way away from us and do his best to look absolutely abject and forlorn. SHE would notice this and put HER hand in HER carrot bag (pockets don't hold enough), pull out a good thrower (you can tell that this has become more than a whim, almost an Olympic sport) and hurl it in Treg's general direction. Most times the carrot hits the ground and splits in half, each piece bouncing in a different direction. But Treg, for all he is not the most orange legume in the carrot bag, never misses where both halves go. He will amble up to the first part and nuzzle it a bit before eating it. Then, when you think that what remains of his mind has travelled elsewhere, he stumbles about until he gets the next half.
Now, Wick and I are equine and therefore pretty cute when it comes to eating games. What's good enough for the old guy must be even tastier for us. Our problem was to get the idea across to THEM. Humans can be really slow in picking up the scent when you are trying to teach them something. Eventually, by nudges, head movement, eye appeal and just plain luck we've managed to get THEM to understand that this is a game that we can play too. And, that's it. That's how it happened. Often Treg will wander quite a long way away and HE has to use quite a lot of power in his throw to get the flying carrot (as the game is called) to land near his target. And, I'm afraid, that's what happened tonight with such disastrous consequences. He misjudged both the direction and the distance. ‘Nil points', as we say in France , for execution but ‘dix points' for effort. And I'm such a wonderful person that I will forgive HIM. In time!

buttercupsWednesday 15 th June 2005

“Ere Treg.”
“Yes Wick. Something the matter?”
“I never knew it could be like this. You never told me.”
“Told you what, Wick?”
“The rain, of course. The rain. It's all cold and sort of runny and goes down your back and under your tummy.”
“Are you composing poetry again, Wick?”
“Of course not. I'm just telling you that I never realised, before I had my lovely thick, warm, protective coat trimmed off, how the rain feels on your body.”
“Oh. How did you think it felt then Wick?”
“I didn't know it felt at all. I've never felt it. That is until now. My coat was so thick that, even in the heaviest rain storms, not a drop ever reached my body.”
“Well, it must have reached something. How about your ears? Or your feet?”
“My coat was just as thick on my ears as on the rest of me and how is the rain going to get on my feet with my tummy overhanging as it does?”
“So you really had no idea what rain on your body felt like?”
“No, I keep telling you. None at all.”
“Oh, that's a pity, Wick. Think what you've missed. I love the rain. Nothing makes me happier than standing outside the field shelter getting soaked to the skin while you and Alli stand inside, all warm and dry. Of I love it, I really do.”
“You don't laddie. If you love it why do you moan so much?”
“That's not moaning, Wick. I'm just practising to be a weather forecaster that's all. I'm dying to stand in front of million .. er .. lots of people and wave a hoof at then and say ‘That's your weather' just like that Daniel does. So I practise a lot, that's all.”
“Well, you might like it but I don't. Although there is one perk with having no coat in the rain. You can roll in the mud and get really dirty. No woolly coat to keep the dirt off. Now, that I like.”
“Yeah, the trouble is though that the rain then washes it all off again. look at this morning. You had just worked up a really good dirty covering and then, when the rain started, it slowly dissolved and you're back to that grubby grey again.”
“That is not ‘grubby grey' my son. ‘Driven snow' has been mentioned or ‘pure pony'. My natural body colours, inherited from a long line of Dartmoor Shetland Crosses.”
“Looking around, I have to agree it is something less than unique. It's what that Sylve calls ‘short fat hairy ones' isn't it?”
“Alas, hairy no more, Treg. At least not in length. Although if you were to measure it by hairs per square millimetre you might get a very different story.”
“Ugh! I don't think I'll bother Wick, if you don't mind. Can we change the subject, it looks as if it might brighten up soon. Then you could come out from under that bush and join me.”
“Tree, Treg, not bush. I'm not that small you know.”
“No, I didn't know Wick. Oh well, bonsai then. ‘Ere, have you seen our new neighbours? over there in Maxwell's field?”
“Cows. Yeah, I've seen ‘em. Two mothers and two calves. Don't know what they are doing there.”
“Much the same as us, I should think Wick. Getting wet. Still, we need the rain. The stream was drying up fast and the grass was not growing so fast. Anyway, I wonder where that Maxwell has gone? Not seen him for ages now.”
“Could be off to school again, Treg. Or off to that other grazing field that Harry used to go to.”
“Hmm. Maybe. I heard HER telling HIM that that's not until August. Regular as clockwork, Max's humans. No, I reckon he is off to school somewhere.”
“Well laddie, we'll just have to wait and see. Right, the rain's stopped. Time to get some more grazing in before I need to shelter again.”

cowsThursday 16 th June 2005

You know what THEY are doing now? Trying to get those new cows in Maxwell's field to eat Polo mints! While we were having our supper tonight, I could see HER watching the cows. SHE made a sign with her hands looking like she was using binoculars. When HE asked what SHE was on about, SHE replied that one of the mother cows had two black eyes. It was obvious then that HER mind wasn't on us. And then, sure enough, when THEY went out of the gate and we walked away, round SHE went down the bridle path to a place that was low enough for HER to lean over the wall and wave a minty hand about. Of course, the cows weren't having any of it. They were interested, they always are at the strange things that humans get up to. Very inquisitive animals, cows. To look at them you would think that, in comparison, Treggy is a genius. But don't be misled. Remember I lived for the best part of a year with them and I learned just how clever they can be. They just stand there looking or chewing or more often than not, doing both. Because their faces don't show a lot of emotion, humans think that nothing is going on behind those big soft eyes. In fact, they are thinking all kinds of things. Not just things like ‘Why is that woman waving that white circle at me?' but more like ‘There must be a deep psychological need in that human that drives her to stand on tip toe and hold her hand out like that. I think I will need to ponder this question for a month or two and then consult with our herd leader and see if there is any answer in our herd knowledge database which might explain it. In the meantime, maybe I will go back to my poetry on the symbiotic relationship between the buttercup and the latent moisture drop of dew in a June morning.'
Now, you think I am making that up. It is far more comfortable for you just to look into their faces and think ‘stupid old cow'. Well, if it pleases you, there's not much I can do about it. But, just ponder this. As THEY walked out of the field, did the cow (her name is Rosebud, by the way), did Rosebud rush over to the wall to give THEM something? Who is it that needs to get a life?

Moving on, HE brought HIS small camera tonight to try and get some photos of the swallows feeding their young. At first nothing happened and all was silent. Then, after maybe fifteen minutes, the two birds flew into the field shelter and up to the nest. However, there was not a lot of sound. One bird went right up to the nest first while the other waited a little below. Then the first bird appeared to go into the nest while the second came up. THEY decided that the chicks must be very small as yet, maybe not even all hatched out, but definitely still featherless and weak. HE is going to wait before HE uses the camera as, being quite dark in that part of the shelter, it will need the flash and HE doesn't want to scare or disturb the birds until they are big and screaming for food. By then HE thinks none of them will be bothered or even notice a few flashes going off.

 

sheepFriday 17 th June 2005

My hero! What a wonderful fellow HE is. Regardless of life and limb and stinging nettles, HE clambered over the wall, down into the stream and rescued a poor little baby lamb. My hero!

Actually, it was not quite like that. Breakfast started as normal this morning, with one tiny exception. Yes, you've guessed it, Treg was having a bit of a lie down. In fact, Treg was having one of his major lie downs. HE brought the buckets up to the field shelter while SHE went over to the field past the gate next to the home paddock where Treg, for all intents and purposes was lying dead on the wet grass. Of course, when SHE got up to him, he opened one eye and waved his leg about in that feeble way he has, to show that he would get up if he could but extreme lassitude has him by the forelock. SHE did the usual of talking nicely to him and waving carrots in the air but, until one actually passed under his nose. Treg to no notice. Eventually, SHE realised that SHE was on to a loser and HER attention wandered. SHE could hear the sound of a lamb crying out as if looking for its mother. SHE looked around but could see nothing until SHE followed the sound o the bleating and discovered the lamb, in the gully between the two walls of our field and Michaels, caught up by its fleece in some very tough looking brambles.
It occurred to HER that this was a case for a strong pair of hands and so SHE reached for her mobile phone and called for Michael. She got Sue, his wife, who said she would get Michael to come out and rescue the lamb. By this time, I had finished my bucket and, as normally I walk down the field with HER to the bridle path gate, HE decided to take me instead and find out why SHE had not come back. HE was worried that, as Treg had looked so decidedly dead when THEY first came along, there might really be something wrong with him. When we got down to HER she explained what SHE had been doing and about the lamb. As HE had now delivered me and was on the spot, so to speak, HE decided to go back to the field shelter and get HIS gloves and then to have a go at rescuing the lamb HIMSELF. HE had done this once before when one of Clarence's lambs had got caught in brambles so HE reckoned that HE should be able to do it again. This was before HE knew where the lamb was or the size of it. You must think yourself that when you hear the word ‘lamb' you think of this sweet, cuddly little creature that Mary had. This one was not a lot smaller than it's mother and nearly as heavy. Then SHE showed HIM where the lamb was. A wall to climb over, a drop on the other side into a bramble and nettle covered stream with slippery edges and there was the lamb, caught up by brambles and bushes.

HE managed to climb over – just, and dropped gingerly down the other side, managing to stay upright, much to HIS own surprise. The lamb didn't move when HE approached, it couldn't, it was stuck fast. HE broke off the branches and brambles and then it could move, so it did – further into the undergrowth. To cut a long story short, HE managed to catch it and then tried to lift it up onto the wall. HE had no idea lambs came in that weight, it nearly killed HIM. And, when HE did manage it, with HER help and the lamb ran away telling it's mother all about HIM and not stopping for a moment to thank HIM, HE found he hardly had the strength to get back over the wall HIMSELF.

As I said at the start – my hero!

chess problemSaturday 18 th June 2005
“Treg?”
“Not now Wick, I'm thinking.”
“?”
“Don't look at me like that. I can think, you know.”
“Actually, I didn't know, Treg. What are you thinking about?”
“One minute. Er, right. Well, you know where HE went today?”
“No, Treg, I don't. But I expect you will tell me, won't you?”
“HE went to the Sticklepath International Chess Tournament. That's where.”
“Oh! Not playing Belstone again, are they?”
“Actually, I was working out my opening gambit.”
“You were what, Treg?”
“I don't expect you play, do you Wick. It's something us Bay's are renowned for, you know. Goes way back in our family history for generations.”
“Chess? You play chess? Get away. You expect me to believe that?”
“It's true, Wick. Honest. What do you think I am doing when you see me standing still with a far away look in my eyes?”
“Sleeping?”
“Working out my next move, Wick. It's a sort of virtual reality thing. In my mind's eye I have a whole array of possible chess boards with all the various possible moves for many, many turns ahead. And I am standing there calculating which move will be most advantageous in the long run.”
“Pull the other one, Treg. For a start, you can't count up to anything over three.”
“Chess is not mathematics, Wick. It is far more fluid and beautiful than that. My old grandfather used to tell me that us Bay's had chess in our blood.”
“And brains up your bum, Treg. Did he mention that?”
“If you are going to be crude, Wicked, I will just move away and continue my deliberations in peace, elsewhere.”
“You've never mentioned anything like this before, laddie. Why now? It's a bit like all the kids in the village suddenly walk about with tennis racquets during Wimbledon . Never see any sight of one at any other time. Now, just because HE went to this International Tournament, you've got chess on the brain. Er, I'll rephrase that, you've got chess … oh, why bother?”
“This is not simply a flash in the pan Wick. Not some nine day wonder that has occurred because HE mentioned it. It is my passion. My raisin deterrent. You never knew that, did you?”
“Does Alli know about this, Treg?”
“I've no idea. I don't discuss my private life with all and sundry, you know.”
“Keep digging Treg. Keep digging. All and sundry, eh. She'll be very interested to hear that, won't you Alli?”
“Oh! What? Where? Sorry Al …. Where is she Wick? She's not there.”
“A good job for you, my lad. Anyway, I wasn't asking if you shared your raisins with Alli I was wondering if she knew about this latest evidence of you dementia. You really ought to try to stop wandering off like this Treg. You don't need to invent things. Alli and I will look after you whatever you are like old lad.”
“You mean … you still don't believe me?”
“ Tregony Bay . How long have I known you?”
“Whew! It's a relief in a way. I was afraid you might ask me a question about how the prawns move or what king's night to queen's bishop seven meant. Then I really would have been in a fix. Still, it was a good story, wasn't it?”
“If you say so, Treg. If you say so, old lad.”

gardenSunday 19 th June 2005
“Ere Wick. D'you know what HE's been doing today?”
“From what you told me yesterday, I should think HE has been editing HIS photos of that chess tournament.”
“Na. More silly than that. HE's been out taking more photos.”
“More photos! There can't be anything left to photograph now, can there?”
“Oh yes there is. And it's given me an idea.”
“Oh dear. You're going to tell me, aren't you Treg. There's no way I can avoid it, is there?”
“HE's been out taking pictures of gardens. It's the South Zeal and South Tawton Open Garden Day and HE's been all round fifteen gardens taking photos. In the end HE had to stop because HE ran out of memory space in HIS camera. Took 225 photos all together.”
“Oh good. What with that and the 130 or so HE took yesterday, we may not see HIM for a few days while he edits them. You can say goodbye to your buckets Treg.”
“No, HE wouldn't do that. Would HE? No! Anyway, if HE did, SHE could bring our buckets so that's alright. But, no, listen. I got this idea.”
“There, I knew it. You just had to get to this, didn't you. Well, come on Einstein, what's this wonderful idea of yours?”
“No, I'm Treggy. Your mate, remember Wick. Oh dear, I do think your memory is getting bad these days. Remember, I'm Tregony. OK. Now listen. Why don't we have an Open Garden ? There! What d'you think of that?”
“Garden, Treg? G-A-R-D-E-N? Where?”
“Why here of course. Look. Lots and lots of room. And we could make it open. In fact, it is open. We could sell tickets at the Throwleigh Road gate. One carrot adults, one mint sweet child. How about that?. We'd make a fortune.”
“I'll say it again Treg. Garden! Where's the garden?”
“WE could tell them that's it's a nature garden. An eco .. you know ..cological whatsit. That'd bring ‘em in. Show them a few nettles and buttercups, you know the sort of thing.”
“HE's killed the nettles, Treg.”
“Bugger! Well then, thistles. We got them, aint we? Show ‘em a few thistles. And then. They've got rock gardens we've got poo piles. Very ecocomological, poo piles are, aint they?”
“Can't see them paying to look at one though.”
“Well, they don't have to look at one. Not close up. Just view it from a distance. Now, what else have we got?”
“Er, sheep. Not much of a garden ornament though, are they?”
“No, maybe not. Well, what other flowers we got? There's them mauve weeds. Never did know what they were called. And the foxgloves. Now, they're a winner. Just right this time of year, as well. They have foxgloves in their own gardens so they'll know what they are, won't they?”
“Yeah. Weeds! That's what they'll know they are, Treg. You know, the more I think about it the more I think it's a non starter.”
“You mean, you're not even willing to give it a go? Think of it Wick. Signs up all the way from here to Oke. ‘ Open Ecologickle Gardens , Ninefields, Throwleigh Road , Pay Wicky at the gate!' Doesn't that sound good?”
“The last bit has a certain appeal, laddie. Tell you what. Run it past Alli. If she thinks it'll work, I'll go for it.”
“Er, Alli? You sure Wick? Well, maybe I'll just leave it for now. Maybe later, you know? Lets go for a graze.”

 

nestMonday 20 th June 2005
I thought it about time that I took back control of my diary. I like to let Treg and Wicky have a go now and then but when they start getting silly, I know it's time to take back the reins.
We have been having a spell of very warm weather lately. Yesterday was particularly hot or appeared so because it was also very humid. Fortunately it has now turned fresher whilst still keeping the pleasant sunshine. And, what is most strange, there have not been the real plague of flies that one expects in the very hot weather. Yes, we've had a few, and they can be irritating enough but not really enough to make life a misery.
The baby swallows are now getting more vocal. We still have not seen them although the parents are having to do a constant stream of in and out the field shelter to keep up with their demands. It won't be too long now before HE brings HIS camera along I don't suppose. And the squirrels are eating the peanuts and (HE suspects) the fat balls too faster than HE can keep refilling them. There are two regulars now. One definitely a youngster the other probably also but it is hard to tell. It is certainly bigger than the other one but seems to behave as childishly as the first. The smaller one often just pops out of a hole in the hedge, garbs a peanut and runs back in while the bigger one just picks one up and sits and eats it on the spot.
The jay is still keeping up it's fly past. You will be standing their eating your supper or just looking out of the field shelter when, all of a sudden, whoosh it goes, zooming past the doorway from in between the shelter wall and the hedge. Next minute it has lifted over the trees by the stream and vanishes into the leaves.
Oh, I just remembered. I don't know why I am wittering away about all these other animals. We have a stallion within shouting distance. He is being looked after by Mathew and a fine handsome lad he is too. Bright shiny dark brown with a lovely gait as he goes by our field. Treg and Wicky tell me I should act my age and stop ogling him as he passes but, of course, they are just jealous. I haven't plucked up courage to call out to him yet as he passes but I am sure he has noticed me. You can tell by the look in his eye that he is not just watching the road. I would call up to his field but, as you know, I don't have a very loud voice. Anyway, it's not lady like to shout out like that and, if I'm anything, I am a lady!
And that really is about all for tonight. Not a lot happening, just warm days and nights and lots of nice dreams.

 

horses toothTuesday 21 st June 2005
Strange evening today. THEY drove up at the usual time but, for once, it was only me in the Throwleigh Road field. For some reason Treg and Wick were standing down by the stream. There were a lot of flies about so maybe they felt they could get some better protection there. Anyway, when they saw that THEY had arrived, the two lads made their way up the field. Now this is where the funny bit started. THEY came into the field but without an buckets! HE made HIS way down to the field shelter giving us all our usual treats as HE did so. We all followed HIM down although it was obvious HE was empty handed. I don't know if we expected HIM to suddenly produce our suppers from under HIS coat or what but HE has never let us down yet. But, instead of getting our food from the hay store, HE fetched a head collar and put it on Tregony. SHE came up behind and took the lead rein and walked Treg back up to the road field and Wick and I together with HIM followed.
Just as we got up the hill, I noticed that a strange car was parked behind THEIRS and, as I watched, out got Anna, the vet. It all started to make sense now although I wasn't aware that Treg was ill. I had noticed that from last night, Treg had been getting better food than Wick or me. I just put it down to favouritism at first until HE explained that it was something to do with Treg's tail. At least HE thought it was. Apparently, SHE had been looking at Treg's backside and tutting. When HE asked what was the matter, SHE just pointed to Treg's tail and put HER fingers either side of it. ‘Yes?' HE said and SHE replied mysteriously ‘gutters'. I give HIM this, HE knows when HE is defeated. Anyone else might have asked for some further explanation but HE knew that HE probably wouldn't understand anyway so HE just nodded sagely. HE did make the mistake of saying Wick's and my rear end were the same to which SHE just exploded ‘Nonsense!' After that, HE just accepted that this was the reason why Treg had to have special food, HE thinks to strengthen his tail.
But, that was what was strange. Anna didn't go to the rear end of Treg at all. She started looking in his mouth. Next she puts that gag thing on him and starts poking about. HE couldn't stand to watch and neither could Wick or I so we made our way to the field gate and started comfort eating. Wicky says all eating is comfort eating as it makes him feel very comfortable. But you know what I mean, don't you? We had only got through half of his carrot supply and nearly all the apple biscuits when Anna suddenly produced a tooth from out of Treg's mouth. Do you know, she actually pulled it out. Without an anaesthetic! Treg did wriggle about a bit and make a few pathetic grunts but what could he do, sandwiched between two women? Then the next bit of torture started. She got out this great big file from the bucket she had brought pretending it was food (beware vets bearing gifts, as we say!) and soon she was rasping away inside Treg's mouth. After a few minutes of this Anna and HER stopped for a chat and decided poor old Treg had suffered enough. Wicky said ‘and what about me. Where's my bucket, I'm starving.' and then SHE took Treg's head collar off and HE finally went and got the buckets out of the car.
After that, the evening went on as normal. Well, with one exception. You see, when it came to our after bucket treats, HE had hardly any left because Wick and I had eaten most of them while Treg was being tortured!

 

swallow'snestWednesday 22 nd June 2005
It's too hot. And worse, the flies have arrived in numbers. All this time I have been saying how we've not had many flies and now, well! Even Treg doesn't want to move out of the field shelter. Tell you what though, I've never seen so many rabbits. Running all over the place they are. Doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for their running. In fact, I saw two this morning, one following the other, who were so wrapped up in their game that they nearly run bang smack into a sheep. The lead one just narrowly managed to take avoiding action and the one behind skidded to a halt and then began running back the way it came. Others seem to be running as fast as they can across the fields from one hedge to the other almost as if they didn't want to be seen. I can only imagine it is so hot and stifling down there in their holes under the ground that they need to come up for fresh air.
We've not seen anything of the pheasants of late. Isn't it strange how they can crowd round you one week and vanish the next. I wonder if they are busy raising young or whether that finished a long while ago. All the birds appear o have different timings for their young rearing. The sparrows, which we first noticed feeding, now appear to have gone silent whilst the swallow chicks are just starting to shout out for food. HE brought HIS camera this morning but every time HE got ready to take a photo of the parent feeding the swallow just flew in and then straight out of the field shelter again. It wasn't so much as if they were frightened, as they will fly in other times when HE is standing there. It was more like they have decided that they would rather not be photographed feeding the chicks, if you don't mind! However, HE did get a couple of not so wonderful shots so they will have to do unless, when they are older, HE gets a chance to bring HIS big camera along.
SHE got news of Maxwell this morning. We haven't seen him in his field for a good while now and have been wondering where he had got to. Clarence has even put a few cows into Max's field so it seemed obvious he wasn't coming back for a while at least. Anyway, SHE run into Max's human this morning and learned that he has gone out to the other field in South Tawton early to graze and build up his condition. They do lead him home occasionally to give him a bath and then hey walk him back again. I bet he never knew what a life of luxury he was going to lead when he came here.
And that's about all for today. I am now getting hot and irritable with all these flies. I'm going to stand in the shade somewhere and try to have a doze until the evening when we can get some relief and go up the hill to the top fields for a nights grazing.

 

Treg investigatesThursday 23 rd June 2005
“Ere Wick, it's hot, innit?”
“You can say that again, laddie.”
“Ere Wick, it's h ……”
“Oh shut up Treg. I'm not in the mood for it.”
“Oh? Why's that Wick? What's the matter then?”
“Well, I know THEY meant well hen THEY had my coat clipped off, but did THEY think of the flies? That's what I'd like to know.”
“Oh, I shouldn't think flies would need clipping Wick. Much too small. And anyway they can always use their wings to fan themselves cool.”
“I meant, you great big loony, did THEY think about how the flies can now get to my skin and irritate me.”
“Well, I don't suppose THEY did. But, listen. How would you be feeling now in that great big thick coat in this sweltering heat?”
“Hot. But not itchy. That's my fate I expect. I can either be too hot or too itchy. Why I can't just be cool and content, I don't know. You'd think I deserved a little comfort now in my ol ..hrmm .. middle age, wouldn't you.”
“So you do, Wick. We all do. But I expect we are better off than a lot of horses and ponies. I was thinking only today …”
“Best way, Treg. Restrict it to a day now and then. Don't want to overdo it, eh, old man?”
“I was about to say that I was thinking, today, about all those horses out in Africa and Asia and Belstone and that. All them foreign countries where it is terrible hot. And they have to work, carrying camels about and turning things to make water come out of the ground and all that staff.”
“Don't have to do that on Dartmoor . Most of the time you want to stop it coming out of the ground. What's the matter with them over there then?”
“Well, you see Wick. We think it's hot now but over there it's like this all the time and worse.”
“Why do they stay there then? Seems daft to me. What's the sense of a place where you have to try to make water come out of the ground. They should leave it to them aliens. They're used to it. Do you know, I heard there's no water on the moon.”
“Golly. No water? What do they drink then?”
“Don't really know, Treg. Must be some kind of beer or something. I bet they are out of their minds most of the time up there. I expect you have to be to endure the conditions. I heard that you are weightless up there. You don't walk along, you bounce. That'd be one good thing for you Treg. You'd have no problem getting up. Need to be careful though. If you did it like you do here, you'd bounce right up into the sky. Right into the clouds.”
“No I wouldn't Wick. You said there's no water so there won't be no clouds either.”
“Cor, your right Treg. No wonder it's so hot there. Really makes you feel sorry for all the horses and ponies …”
“… and camels …”
“Yes, and camels. All those poor creatures up there. Still, as I said before, no ones making ‘em stay. If it was me I just jump right down here where there is water and everything.”
“Yeah. Makes you think, don't it Wick? We are lucky really, aren't we?”
“Yes Treg. Just need to get rid of these rotten flies and we be very, very lucky. I agree.”

Alezane in the mistFriday 24 th June 2005
And after all the heat, what do we get? Thunderstorms! All night thunderstorms. And very heavy ones at that. All three of us were forced to stay in the field shelter for quite a lot of the night and, after a while, that can make one quite peckish, I tell you. Treg decided to have a go at the hay bales that THEY have put around the walls but he soon spit it out claiming that he'd rather go hungry than eat that dry old muck. Wicky is not quite so fussy and came over to have a go causing Treg to panic to get out of his way. This in a tight space created quite a bit of havoc and the hay bale got kicked over and dragged out of place and my rubber tyre (which I don't use now for keeping my bucket in place) also got kicked to the centre of the shelter.
It's funny but we horses don't really bother about the thunder and lightening very much. Treg just thought it was the army starting their live firing exercises on Dartmoor again and Wicky thought it was just some low flying plane manoeuvres. And this is horses who live in a field which is not half a mile away from where another horse got killed by lightening only a few months ago. I expect it's some sot of fatalism in us. If a force of nature kills us well – it's natural, isn't it? It goes on all around us. Last year's swallows nest was wrecked and the young killed, we think, by magpies. The buzzards regularly take some of the rabbits that fill our field. And if not the buzzard, then the fox who also takes lambs and smaller creatures. We happily kill the flies when we can with our tails or teeth and (don't tell Treggy) I heard HER saying tonight that SHE is about to kill our worms tomorrow.

I forgot to tell you. Yesterday, just as THEY were going home in the evening, HE saw two red deer , one in our field just under our big tree and the other approaching the hedge to our field from Clarence's field. Something then frightened this second one and it turned and ran back towards Dry Bridge . The one in our field must have heard this and turned and just sailed effortlessly over the combined 2 metre span of the wall and hedge to join up with its colleague. It was so surprising that these big hedges are nothing to them at all. Of course, the other point is that it is the first time HE has seen more than one deer at a time in our fields.

HE noticed tonight that the new peanut bird feeder that HE had worried was too difficult for the birds to get used to was empty just a day after his filling it. When HE brought it back to fill up again, HE noticed that some pretty smart squirrel had bitten some holes in the wires enabling it (and all its little friends and relations) to eat peanuts at a much faster rate than the holder was designed for. HE thinks that we are going to have a generation of very fat squirrels and birds this year.

Thank goodness us horses are not like that!

 

Wicky's coatSaturday 25 th June 2005
“Ere Wick.”
“What is Treg?”
“Them sheep are back again and, guess what?”
“I won't bother to guess Treg. You will tell me in your own good time, I'm sure.”
“Yeah. Look at them. They've got no coats on!”
“Well, I suspected as much. They are notorious for being followers aren't they?”
“Followers? Yeah, I ‘spect so. But what's that to do with their coats?”
“Oh, come on laddie. Where do you think they got the idea?”
“You mean …?”
“Aye laddie. I'm just a leader of fashion. I can't help it. They took one look at my smart new coat and went rushing off to try and look like me. Just because we share a similar colouring and … “
“ … and height … “
“… and, I was going to say, because we feel the heat in the same way, they just have to look up to me in matters sartorial.”
“And there's not many that can look up to you, is there Wick?”
“Mr Bay. You are going the right way to getting your knees bitten if you are not careful.”
“Oh, I'm careful Wick. Always have to be to avoid treading on you. Ha. ha!”
“You're just jealous, admit it Treg. Tell me, how many creatures want to end up looking like you? For a start, there's not many as would want to copy all your grey hairs, is there?”
“Blonde!”
“What?”
“Blonde. Bleached in the sun, although I can understand that in a certain light that they could be mistaken for grey.”
“And tell me. How many years does it take the sun to bleach out all the colour completely? And when it does and there is not a drop of pigment left, isn't one being accurate to call that grey?”
“Let's talk about sheep again, Wick.”
“I win?”
“Oh, alright. But you have to admit that when THEY came along the other day and we were still up the field, HE looked up under the big tree and thought that you were one of the sheep.”
“Well, maybe HE did and maybe HE did. Is it my fault if old age has brought on failing eyesight. HE recognised me when I moved and HE got a better view.”
“Maybe that's when they got the idea.”
“What idea, Treg?”
“The sheep. When you were grazing with them they must have noticed that you were looking so smart and handsome and decided that they wanted their coats trimmed as well.”
“Are you feeling alright, Treg? Is there something that you want? What has changed your tune so quickly and made you become so complimentary?”
“Well, you're my mate, aint you? And I do think you look smart, really. I just like to kid you sometimes, that's all.”
“You're not such a bad old stick, Treg. In fact, sometimes you can be something approaching intelligent. Let's leave it there, shall we and go up the field for a little something?”
“After you, Wick. You leader, you!”

Wicky eatsSunday 26 th June 2005
I cant believe it. June is nearly over and we were still waiting for spring only a few days ago, or so it seemed. I will admit we have had some summer now but, in a way, not satisfactory summer. A few very hot and sunny days, a few cloudy and close days and even a few quite cold days. Nothing like a nice dry, bright and warm (but not too hot) spell lasting for a few weeks for us all to enjoy. Like we used to have in the old days. Or did we?
When we are young, although we have our fair share of worries, they are not of the same kind as you get when you get older. Your troubles then are all immediate ones. Will mum or dad be angry with me for doing this or not doing that? Will I get that thing that I want or not? But they are not the kind of troubles that stay with you all the time. You seem to have more time to enjoy the present or even just to notice it. As we get older we get preoccupied with other things and quite often go about with no thought or eye for the immediate. Our minds take us away to planning the future or regretting the past and we don't see the sun behind the trees or the ant on the ground.
And so, our childhood memories are filled with bright sunny days or, if they were wet, with splashing, rolling fun in the rain and mud. Rather like HE has been telling me about the Glastonbury Festival that has just finished. Apparently it was a complete mud bath with the skies opening up. The pictures on the television have been showing all the young people rolling about in the mud just like horses and having the time of their lives. When they get old they will remember these times as wonderful and forget the cold and not being able to sleep. Global warming and climate change or no, times are always much the same. Happy when we just enjoy what comes and less so when we worry about things. It's not the times that are good or bad but how we adapt to them.
Having said all that, none of us three are adapting to the flies very well. THEY have to keep well clear when THEY sit in the field shelter while we eat, as the air is filled with flashing, whip like tails. There is, at the moment, a debate going on as to whether Treg is dancing while he has his buckets. It would be very nice to think so but, if the truth be know, we really think that he is just resting his old joints and changing the weight on his feet. No one even thinks that Wicky might dance. He follows HIM over the stream and up the hill to the field shelter with his nose as near to the bucket as he can get it without tripping HIM up. From the moment the bucket is put down to the moment when Wick's head comes out of it, he just stands there, immobile, jaws chomping and head fixed. If ever I just enquire if he needs any help, he never even lifts his head out of the bucket so there is no chance of my getting even a taste. Wick doesn't dance because it isn't necessary to eat and that's that.
Like us, however, he does swing his tail to combat the flies!

Treg's bucketMonday 27 th June 2005
“I often wonder why I am the last one left eating our buckets. Alli, always finishes in record time but that is because she throws it all over the ground and then just picks out the bits she likes – the vegetables. Tregony takes a long while, like me, but he still manages to finish quite a bit before me these days. He then leaves his bucket and swiftly plods over to Alli's place and proceeds to sweep up all her leavings. THEY used to think Alli left it because she couldn't pick it up from the floor without it getting mixed in the dirt and dust. Well, Tregony seems to manage all right, He is able to pick up every last grain and flake and sweep the ground quite clean before he is satisfied that he is finished. They both tell me I am last because I have much more than them. To me that seems flawed somehow. I can't dispute it because I have no way of measuring each individual bucket. There again, knowing HER, I am sure the amount is worked out utterly scientifically based on body weight and energy expenditure and stuff like that. I can't say that I feel that I am missing out either as I do feel nice and satisfied after eating. But there must be some reason for the others finishing so much quicker than me. When I aske …. “
“Ere Wick, what you doing? Talking to yourself?”
“Tregony. I thought you had gone down the field with HER to get your sugar. I was just doing a piece for Alli's diary when you interrupted me.”
“Oh, sorry Wick. Was it any good?”
“Now laddie, how can you ask that when you know it was me that was doing it?”
“Er, well …, you just sort of have to say ‘Was it any good'. Like that. Not hard Wick. You should try it. Maybe you could work it into that thing you were writing for the diary.”
“Now, that's an idea, isn't it Treg. First one today?”
“No, second actually. Before I was thinking about how you is always the last one to finish your bucket. I was wondering if you didn't like it much and if you needed a hand at all. Cos you see, I'm pretty good at mopping up left overs. And, if you had any left over and you ne …. “
“Thank you Tregony but no thanks. I understand that SHE says you need building up but we do need to be careful you don't just go up and up like a balloon and just float away, don't we?”
“Ooh! Do you think that might happen, Wick? Me, floating all over the fields and valleys and coming down somewhere really foreign? Maybe France or somewhere. Might even get to see where Alli comes from. That would be something, wouldn't it?”
“I would think that there might be a danger of the French military shooting you down as an unidentified Treg. We wouldn't want that now, would we?”
“Oh dear. No. Now you've made me scared Wick. Do you think that I maybe should eat a bit less for a while?”
“You could eat a bit slower. Then maybe I could finish second for a change.”
“Not going for first then?”
“Best not, Treg. You know what a temperament those French fillies have got.”
“Not really Wick. But I'm willing to learn!”

Tom relaxes in the carTuesday 28 th June 2005
A little excitement tonight. It started this afternoon when the warm dry weather suddenly produced a heavy shower. Not for very long however and we just moved under one of the trees until it had passed. However, by mid afternoon the clouds started building up and then it suddenly went very dark with a very strong wind blowing. At first in the distance but then rapidly getting nearer and nearer we could see lightening flashes and hear rumbles of thunder. Then the rain really fell down and we were forced to move into the field shelter to escape it. Or, nearly escape it for, as it torrented down it poured off our roof and flooded the little passage behind the shelter. This filled up so quickly that before it could all find its way down the hill to the stream by the channel HE had cut around the side of the shelter, it overflowed and ran right under the boards at the back and into and through the shelter itself.

However, by about bucket time the skies lightened and the rain stopped and we were able to come out and move up to the Throwleigh Road field to meet THEM. As it happened it was only HIM tonight as SHE is still recovering from her cold. HE greeted us and we all went down to the field shelter together. Then HE saw the water in it. And, of course, it had to be my part that was flooded. Treggy's bit was dry and so was Wick's but mine was either muddy or still had puddles. HE decided that, as I tend to prefer to tip my bucket over to sort out the veg from the rubbish and eat that first, HE would put my bucket in the rubber tyre today. Then we set about eating. I honestly think I forgot, I didn't do it on purpose but in a flash my bucket went sailing out of the tyre and my food went splash into one of the puddles. Well, after that, there was no point in trying to keep it dry and I had a good old game hurling my bucket about. I can do it really easily with just a flick of my muzzle. I paid for my fun in the end because I had to try and retrieve what I could of my food from the puddle. Shame really as it was a new type of feed tonight. She has bought a special stuff to put some weight on Treg and we are all sharing it in various ways but have had our sugar beet cut out to balance it.

Anyway, I finished what I could and then set about bullying him. And then it started to rain again. Light at first but then heavy and very heavy. HE was watching in between filling my mouth with carrots and stuff when Treg finished his bucket too. Treg likes all that short feed stuff better than veg and with his new super food he was quicker than usual. Now HE had two of us to spoil. One carrot for Treg, two for me and so on. We'd had a few flashes of lightening and some thunder while this was happening but suddenly – flash/crash – loud and bright, as if it was right on top of the shelter. I reared and spun (making sure to miss him instinctively) and was out of the shelter, legs splayed apart and ears on stalks with Treg a short head behind. It didn't matter that it was pouring down, I had to be ready to flee. And, I tell you what, HE just laughed at me and handed me a carrot and Wicky lifted his head from his bucket and said ‘raining I think Alli' and then went on eating. How he survived to his grand old age I'll never know. Or Wicky!

 

over the fenceWednesday 29 th June 2005
HE's not been very well today. SHE has been ill for almost a week but HE had been telling HIMSELF that HE was not going to get it. And then, yesterday, HE was a bit off colour but what with thunder and lightning I didn't notice it. This morning, when THEY came along with the buckets it became obvious. HE normally shouts out to us all in turn. That is, if Treg is standing up within earshot. For Wicky, HE doesn't shout out, he neighs (or, at least what HE thinks is a neigh). But this morning – silence. Even when HE walked right up to us, all HE could do was croak. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. As long as HIS hand works to be able to go into HIS pocket and bring out carrots and stuff, I can live very well with the silence. But, it is noticeable. The other thing HE does, while we are eating is try to start a conversation with the birds or squirrels. They don't answer, of course. Far too clever for that. They know that once they answer HIM, it would be never ending. But this morning we all had a rest and were able to eat in peace.
This evening, HIS voice appeared to have returned but I was worried that HE would not reach the field shelter, carrying the buckets up from the stream. It was an evening when SHE finally got all our feed changed over to the new regime. But, in doing so, I think she overestimated the amount Wicky should get. Either that or Treg and I were super fast tonight. The problem was that we were all finished and everyone had to wait and wait for Wicky. SHE ran out of treats, HE ran out of treats (or, at least, HE said he had) and we all had to just stand around and wait. And, from the look on HIS face, I think HE just needed to get home and take some medicine.

Wick finally finished but only after we had all had a chance to watch some wonderful acrobatic flying by a couple of buzzards. It's amazing how they can just climb and climb on the thermals and then, in an instant, drop like a stone on their prey. Tonight, I don't think they were feeding, just playing because the bigger of the two would climb and them drop to just be alongside its partner. Anyway, when Wick came along, HE just grabbed the empty buckets and vanished up the field to the car. HE did just manage to throw Treg and I a carrot each. Pretty good for someone who had completely run out of treats. Now you know why I never believe HIM.

 

AlezaneThursday 30 th June 2005
Oh dear, I really blew it this morning. It's the loudest and longest I've been shouted at for a long time. You really wouldn't believe that SHE had lost her voice with this cold if you'd heard it. You see, the trouble is over this new feed regime. I'm never very good at change and SHE's gone and changed my feed. It's that Tregony's fault. SHE's worried that he is losing weight so SHE has gone and bought him a special food that is supposed to put weight on. You should have seen Wicky's face when SHE said that! So, because Treg has to have this new food and therefore not get any of the sugar beet we all love, SHE has gone and stopped the sugar beet for all of us and substituted this stuff full of garlic. Now, what with that and the fact that my place in the field shelter has got all muddy when the rain overflowed the other day, I didn't really fancy scooping it all up from the floor where it dropped when I accidentally knocked my bucket over. Well, no, that isn't true. I knocked it over deliberately to get the carrots and apple out of the other muck. Anyway, whatever, I didn't want to clear up that stuff so I left it.

And then it occurred to me that Treg was getting something better than that. And there he was happily munching away while I was having to go without. I just walked over to enquire how his breakfast was in a nice friendly manner and Treg stepped back as he does (he's very polite, you know), so I thought I'd just take a look in his bucket to see what it was that he was having to east. That was it! A torrent of abuse and arm waving as SHE pushed me off the bucket and indicated that I should go and wait outside, if I wouldn't mind and maybe go and hide myself in shame for a hundred years, or words to hat effect. Well, as you know, I am a very well brought up and shy lady and all that display of bad manners really upset me. I mean, it wasn't if I was doing anything wrong. I went out of the field shelter and went and stood down the field a bit and looked back with a very sad expression. Maybe when SHE realises what an injustice SHE has perpetrated, SHE will be sorry and apologise. But no. SHE just stayed where SHE was and stilled gave the impression that SHE thought it was me that was in the wrong.

Eventually SHE came and begged my forgiveness and, being the lady that I am, I forgave HER and allowed HER to give me an apple and a carrot or two. But, I didn't forget and this evening I just tossed the bucket about, ate the apple and carrot and, leaving the rest, just walked out. SHE needn't think that just because I forgave HER that I'm going to eat that muck any more. If it's not good enough for Tregony then it's not good enough for me either. When I talked about it with Wicked afterwards, he looked interested because it was about food but he couldn't see what the problem was. I'm afraid he's not very discerning, is Wick.

A sad note to end the month on but I did think I heard HER saying something about changing my feed tomorrow. SHE'd better. We'll wait and see!

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