Alezane's Diary Archive June 2006
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Cow grazingThursday 1st June 2006
I’m getting quite used to these fly masks now. It was a very pleasant warm day today and we had our masks put on straight after breakfast. And, do you know, both Mims and I looked forward to it. They only protect our eyes. The flies still torment us by landing on our muzzles and the rest of our bodies. But, at least, we don’t get those runny, infected eyes and you get into a routine of head shaking and body shivering and tail swishing. After a while, you don’t even notice it. It is funny though, that after a day of living with your eyes behind a perforated mesh (which, incidentally, also keeps the glare of the sun out, rather like humans wear sunglasses) to have it taken off and find oneself in the bright sunlight again. Anyway, a good day on the whole to start off a new month.
The sheep are now becoming more adventurous. They haven’t quite got to coming into the field shelter and eating our hay, although it won’t be long now, but they are getting to graze alongside us. Their constant calling, the ewe to her lamb and the lamb to its mother, is quite a pleasant sound an quite relaxing. It makes you feel that you are right in the middle of a busy world that still doesn’t encroach on what you are doing. I am very proud of the way my Mims is adjusting so rapidly. I’m pretty sure that she is beginning to enjoy it too.
Talking of Mims, she has one very funny trait. She loves being groomed! Even while she is having her supper, she will stand there and let THEM groom her and enjoy it. Now, I will tolerate it in the morning because that’s when it has to be done although I would rather that THEY didn’t do it while I am eating. I suppose THEY think that if THEY wait until I am finished, I will see no point in waiting and be off. Tell you what. They could be right there!
SHE has started coming along all the time now and is doing more and more which means that SHE must be feeling better now. I am having to change my bullying routine now because it’s HER and not HIM who has the apple which Mims and I share. In fact, HE isn’t that much use any more apart from picking out our feet. SHE took to doing Mims and my sponges today although HE said it wasn’t fair to leave Wick out. I don’t see why not but there you are.
OK, that’s it. Boring I know but we prefer to think of it as serene.

sheep around a treeFriday 2nd June 2006
“Ere, Uncle Wick?”
“Wha’? ‘Oos tha? Oh, it’s you lassie. Gave me quite a shock for the wee while there.”
“I’m sorry Uncle Wick. I just saw you standing there, all alone, and I thought you might like a bit of company.”
“Oh, you did, did you, my girl. Well, I’ll tell you ….. you’re right. I know it’s not your fault that you get on so well with your ma, but it does sort of leave me out in the cold, so to speak.”
“Surely you can’t be cold in this weather. The sun has been positively boiling today.”
“I didn’t mean it literally my girl. Where were you brought up? It’s just a saying ‘being left out in the cold’. It means excluded. Understand?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t want to upset you or make you feel worse. What say I get round mum to get you to come along with us when we go off up the field?”
“I’m sure your mum would have no objection, lassie, although it’s good of you to offer. Alli doesn’t not want me around. She doesn’t stop me from coming with you. It’s just that she has no need of me. D’you see. She has you for company, for mutual grooming and playing with. She just doesn’t need me. No-one does.”
“Oh, that can’t be true, surely. You’re good to be with, game for a lark and everything. Surely lots of folk need you.”
“Do you, Mims? Do you need me?”
“Er, well, that’s different. You see, you’re a lot older than me. You’ve got different values. We would forever ne getting on each other’s nerves.”
“See, you don’t need me. You make lots od excuses and you are too kind to say it outright, But the truth is, If I were to drop dead right now, you wouldn’t miss me.”
“Oh, Uncle Wick. Don’t say such horrid things. Of course I’d miss you. We all would. Come on, how about all those folk that walk bye and say ‘ooh, what a lovely pony’. They’d miss you, wouldn’t they?”
“Aye, maybe they would lassie, for a while. But you see, I wouldn’t miss them.”
“Who would you miss Uncle, then? Would you miss me, if I had to go back where I came from?”
“Well, o’ course I would lassie. O’ course I’d miss you. You’ve quite brightened up the place since you came here. And you helped Alli over the shock of losing Tregony. Of course I’d miss you. And Alli. And THEM, of course. I’d even miss old Max up there. Or young Max I should say.”
“Well, there you are then. And we all would miss you too. So stop feeling sorry for yourself and come and join us. Oh, and Wick, sorry Uncle Wick?”
“Aye, lassie?”
“How did you do that last night? You know. Getting that gate to the road field open like that. I thought that was ever so clever.”
“Did you lassie? Well, there’s life in the old pony yet, m’dear. You stick with me and I’ll show you all sorts of tricks.”
“Oh, I bet you can, Uncle. I’ll bet you can!”

Wicky and MimsSaturday 3rd June 2006
Strange happenings in the fields, today. First, Michael and Sue came and took the sheep away. They hadn’t even been here very long although, Wick says, long enough to eat all his best grass. Then, this evening, they brought them back again. The lambs were all looking a lot tidier but also they had rather shorter tails. I gather that they had someone stick a needle in them and when they didn’t deflate, they just cleaned them up and allowed them to come back.
The other funny thing is that Wicky has been keeping really close to us all day. I say us, actually it’s Mims he’s been close to. It’s as if those two had finally decided to bury the hatchet and become friends. It’s very nice really. I was starting to feel guilty about the way Wick was excluding himself from us two. Nothing had been said but, take the other day. Mims and I were messing about near the shelter and Wick went and opened the gate across the stream and took himself off up into the road field, all by himself and stayed there all night. We made a joke about him having the grass all to himself but really I was a bit worried. Well, whatever it was is gone now and he is joining in with us again.
We’ve had a load of walkers going along the Throwleigh Road today. There has been some sort of charity event in the playing field behind my stable and one of the things was this walk come treasure hunt. I must say they have had glorious weather for it although they might say it was a bit too warm for walking. Still, they seemed a cheerful enough bunch, I hope they found the tresure.
I dictating this to HIM over supper but I have a strange feeling I might have some more to tell you tomorrow because, before HE went, he very mysteriously said to me “See you later”. We shall have to see if HE really meant it or if it was just another of HIS funny old age turns!

Sunday 4th June 2006
OK, I know Wicky is one of us now and we should be happy to include him, but I can’t help feeling it was all his fault. I’m talking about last night, of course. We had just moved up above the field shelter in the cool of the evening, for a bit of gentle grazing when I heard a familiar sound. Very carefully, without moving my head, I glanced over to the Throwleigh Road and, sure enough, it was that green car again. THEY got out of the car and, to my horror, I saw what they were carrying – it was a load of tack including a saddle. My god, a saddle! I’ve not seen THEM with one of those for I don’t know how long.
Of course, Wick goes rushing up to meet THEM while Mims and I continued munching away as if we hadn’t seen THEM arrive. That didn’t last long because HE went into the field shelter and emerged with a head collar.sheep in field Still, we lasted out until HE came right up the hill and approached me. HE is a cunning devil. HE put the collar on me, knowing that Mims would follow me whilst, if HE had put it on her, I might have stayed where I was. So, down we went and then SHE started to put all the tack on Mims. First a new sort of bridle. This was interesting because THEY had forgotten the bit. (I later found out that this was because it is an ingenious new sort of thing called a ‘bitless bridle’ because SHE put one on me as well and told me what it was.). Then SHE put a funny kind of numnah thing on Mims and then the saddle. Again, this was a funny sort of saddle. It wasn’t very heavy and really, it wasn’t very substantial. When I asked HER about this SHE told me it was a ‘treeless saddle’. Well, I hadn’t noticed that my old one had trees, but it was certainly heavier than this one. Then what?
Well, then, as I told you before, SHE put a bitless bridle on me as well and we were led down the paddock, over the stream and up to the road gate. Then things got a bit complicated as Wicky came with us. To gloat, I thought. But the problem was that we couldn’t get out of the gate without moving him along or he would get out too. Eventually HE appealed to Wick’s better nature (mint sweets) and got us out whilst keeping Wick in. And this is where the problem started which, as I said before, was all Wicky’s fault. The idea had been (as I later learned) that SHE would mount and ride Mims for the very first time, while HE rode me alongside to give Mims confidence. Now, why this didn’t come about and why it was Wicky’s fault, is this. SHE took Mims to the mounting block on the wall but SHE couldn’t mount her. Why? Because the leg that Wicky kicked and broke, didn’t have enough strength to lift her up. In the end, we just went for a little walk being led by the reins while Wicky went mad because he thought we were leaving him and then we had to go back.
It’s funny, because after my initial shock at riding again, I was really looking forward to it. I was so proud of Mims not causing any trouble at all when she was being tacked up. And then, all for nothing. SHE was disappointed, so was HE and so was I. Mims just thought it was another strange thing that we do here and let it go at that. But, I heard tonight, that HE is going to build a higher mounting block next to our field shelter so we can all go for a little ride after all. While HE is doing that, I will be teaching Mims what to expect. It’s going to be really good fun.

horse riding along Ramsley LaneMonday 5th June 2006
Very strange, very strange. I happened to watch from the field above the shelter. We were all split up today. Mims was down by the bridle path gate and Wick was up in the Throwleigh Road field. I heard it first and then saw the green car pull up. But instead of just stopping for THEM to get out, HE got out, opened the gate and drove in the field. Of course, HE had to stop again to close the gate and Wick came up to see if HE had any treats. After HE had dealt with Wick, HE drove down the hill, across the stream and them up to the shelter. I lost sight of what HE was doing then because, from where I was standing, the car was sheltered. I did see Mims walk over to HIM so I expect she got some treats too. HE hadn’t been here more than ten minutes, if that, when HE drove off again. Must have been bringing more peanuts for the birds, I thought and just went on grazing. Mims didn’t come back so she must have decided to stay in the cool of the shelter.
Only ten more minutes could have passed before HE was back again. HE had to go through the same routine giving Wick treats to get in the gate and, at the same time, keep an eye on one of the sheep who was staying in the road field as well and did not run away. Then, HE drove down to the shelter again and was there about another five to ten minutes before HE drove off.
When I came down the hill to get ready for supper time, I saw what all the to-ing and fro-ing was all about. Up against the side of the field shelter were a load of concrete blocks, put together in a sort of stairway affair. I recognised it instantly. A mounting block. HE has been building a mounting block so THEY can mount up and ride from in the field. I had to smile because THEY had obviously forgotten why THEY had the mounting block built in the wall outside the field. If THEY mount in the field, THEY will have to dismount again to get through the heavy top gate. Oh well, THEY will learn, I expect, in due course.
It wont be soon that THEY are riding anyway. Mims has gone lame again. I am sure she is not faking it so she doesn’t have to ride. She must have stepped on a lump of granite again and either bruised her foot or ricked her leg or something. SHE has promised to bandage it again tomorrow. I tell you, if ever a mare was accident prone, it’s this one. Oh well, it doesn’t stop her eating so that’s something!

Alli, Wick & MimsTuesday 6th June 2006
HE did give us a fright this evening. We were having our supper in the normal way hen HE went back up to the Throwleigh Road and drove the green car down. It wasn’t the first time that HE had driven it down today as, earlier, HE had driven in with some more of those concrete blocks which HE put on that mounting block HE is making. But this time, no more concrete. Instead HE took out a long shiny stick and some boxes of tools. The next minute, just as we were getting to the middle of our buckets, there was a terrible screeching sound. I ran right down to the middle of the home paddock. Mims wasn’t so lucky as she is still lame, despite having her leg bandaged this morning, so she could only move as far away as she could limp. And Wicky? Well, there must be something deficient n Wicks survival instinct because he just looked up and saw two unprotected buckets and proceeded to eat the rest of our suppers.
Eventually, we could see that HE was just drilling holes and screwing this shiny thing (I learned later that it is a handrail) to the side of the shelter. But, it wasn’t funny. We lost a good part of our supper and anyway, we don’t like things to get out of routine. We live by routine and it makes us feel safe. Now HE has put up HIS handrail maybe that will be the last of this silliness and we can get back to normal.
THEY are using the green car because the white jeep blew up again. This time it was yesterday when HE was bringing the load of concrete blocks to the field. That was why we saw the green car twice. You see the jeep could just about carry fourteen blocks but HE had to transfer them in two loads of seven each to transport them down to Ninefields. The jeep spend the night in the road where it had broken down and has now been towed away to the garage to be mended. SHE keeps telling HIM to get another one but HE says that THEY might be buying just as much trouble with another one for the price HE wants to pay (as near nothing as possible). HE swears |HE is not being mean but there is not much sense in spending a lot for a car just to carry one pooh bag from the stable to the field in the winter and two lots of feed in the summer. Apart from that (and the occasional trip to get some hay) it just sits in THEIR drive. The last time HE took the old blue jeep for a service the garage man said he couldn’t do anything for it hadn’t done enough miles.
I bet HE wishes they could say the same about him!

Mims & Alli at streamWednesday 7th June 2006
Hi, mum asked me to jot down some thoughts today as she is having a bit of a rest. I expect she wants me to tell you about me getting caught this morning. See, after THEY had gone away with the breakfast buckets, mum and I decided to have a bit to eat in the home paddock. We had our fly masks on so it didn’t matter that it was near the stream and we set about tidying up that grass with a will. As we worked, the sun became hotter and hotter and I started feeling a bit drowsy. So I asked mum if it would be alright if I had a little nap. She was a bit grumpy at first as that very same idea had passed her mind but I had spoken up first. You see, we can’t both have a lay down at the same time as one has to stay on guard. Yes, I know Wicky was there but he had decided to have a sort of standing doze in the field shelter.
Anyway, mum agreed that she would stand on guard while I slept. She told me after that I had been sleeping for about five minutes when the white jeep appeared at the road gate. HE stood there for a while, mum said, then got back in the jeep and drove in the gate. I sort of semi woke then with the noise of the engine and sat up and watched as HE drove over the stream and parked by the shelter. HE just ignored us though and got some tools out of the back of the jeep and then started playing with the bricks of the mounting block. I looked up at mum and I could see what was going on in her head. If HE was here, she no longer had to stand guard as HE would be herd leader. The next thing she was lying down beside me and we both went of soundo, leaving HIM in charge.
When we woke, HE had rebuilt the mounting block so that it was stable and was pushing mint sweets into Wicky’s face so I got up and went over to thank him for looking after us. At least, that’s what I told HIM. In the process I did just happen to get the odd sweet or three.
THEY put me on painkillers today to help with my leg. The morning ones did seem to help a bit and this evening, I had another dose and SHE told HIM to cut off my bandage.
Oh, that’s the other confession mum told me to make. When we were rolling about in the field for a second time after HE had gone, I managed to get my fly mask off. At the time, I thought that was really very clever but by the time THEY brought our supper (and THEY were an hour later tonight) my poor eyes were covered with flies and were very irritated. I will have to promise not to do it again, mum says.
Well, that’s it, I can go up the hill with mum now. Oh, one last thing. THEY are putting sun blocker on our noses now. Mime particularly needs it as I have quite a big pink bit. Mum’s is smaller but we both get done. I don’t like it but I suppose it’s good for me. Righto. Off I go now. See ya!

sheep on hillThursday 8th June 2006
I just don’t know how long this weather will last. I might not have to wear a fly mask like the lassies because my mane is so long but I do know that the rest of my coat is growing as well and it’s getting mighty hot in here. SHE was talking this morning about having my coat trimmed again and a good job too. I wont look forward to the walk down the road or the time I have to stand around being pushed this way and that. But I do know it will feel really good with the breeze running over my back and my legs being nice and slim again.
I’m quite enjoying being with the girls. I mean, I am not as lose to them as they are to each other. That’s only natural both being mother and daughter but also them being horses and me a pony. But I do go with them wherever they go and I even take a turn on watch when one is having a rest. It does quite remind me of Treg sometimes but without the worry that they wont be able to get up. Mind you, with all this new found friendship, I have to say Mims has been a bit short with both of us lately. It’s because her leg hurts so I can’t blame her. I’ve been like that myself (although not this year) and it can make you a bit miserable and short tempered. That and the flies although they both agree that those masks do the trick.
One thing I’m not so happy with is THEY have put supper time back an hour. Instead of coming at just after five it’s now more like six fifteen. I suppose it doesn’t make much difference really as we get the two feeds a day, whatever the time they come. It’s just that when you get into a routine, it’s a nuisance to have it changed. Come o think of it, it does have it’s down side. With it being a bit later, I’ve noticed that Alli is eating nearly all her meals now and leaving less for me to tidy up. I suppose its swings and roundabouts though because if I am not eating her left-overs I get given treats instead.
Whoops, there off, as they say in the business. At last, Alli’s old business. For all her bad foot, Mims is in the lead. Anyway, I’ve got to go and get a drink in the stream before we go up the hill for the night. Have to dash now. Talk again later!

Friday 9th June 2006
I know I am just a visitor here but I thought you might like to hear things from our point of view. Really, it’s a bit of a holiday. I’ve been here before you see. Last year Michael let us into these fields and I came along for the first time with my baby lamb. looking down on the three horsesWhat is nice about it is the amount of grass available and, in weather like this, the nice shady trees and walls where we can lay down and stay cool, well relatively. You see, we’ve not had our coats taken off yet and you should try walking around in this heat with a thick covering of wool.
I can’t help noticing that one of the residents of this field is not so dissimilar to us except that he has no markings on his wool. A bit bigger as well but that is probably all the grass he eats. I mean, we all have good appetites but he is relentless. I think it probably gives him indigestion because he is a bit grumpy. If we invite him to come and stay with us he gets really indignant and says ‘who d’ye think I am lassie?’ and then just puts his head down and ignores us.
The other two big red things are at least polite. We don’t have a lot to do with them but we exchange a ‘good morning’ or ‘good evening’ on passing. The best bit apart from the grass is just watching our lambs having such a good time. There is so much space to run around in and, because of the layout of the place, we can keep an eye on them if they wander a bit and just call them back when we need to without fear of them getting lost.
We sheep do move around a bit, you know. Sometimes we are in fields quite a bit higher than this one which can have its good points too depending on the weather. There are some wonderful views higher up but it tends to get a bit misty some days. I see in the field below there is a whole load of cows. Now there is a funny lot if you ask me. Not these particular ones but cows in general. Very nosy beasts they are. Can’t  mind their own business and sometimes you look up and there is one just gawping at you. If you ask her if you can do anything for her you don’t get any reply. I’m not sure if they are all a bit deaf or just plain stupid. Big lumbering creatures and a timid but too inquisitive to run away very far.
Mind, we sheep have a bit of a name for silliness. Don’t you believe it. It’s an act we put on to let us get away with all sorts of naughty behaviour. Anyway, nice talking to you. I better get back now ‘cos my sister has been looking after my son and I expect she’d like a bit of a rest now. Bye!


Mims & Alli get treatsSaturday 10th June 2006
Terrible. terrible. THEY came and took my Mims away today, We were standing above the field shelter, front to back to try and keep the flies off with our tales when THEY turned up in the green car. It was at least an hour before our supper time and first HE got out of the car and started roaming round the road field with his camera. Then HE crossed the stream and for a while, we lost sight of HIM. After a few minutes, HE appeared coming up the hill towards us and Wick went running up for a biscuit. HE then held HIS hand out for us to come for a treat. What a traitor! We should have ignored HIM but Mims started off towards HIM, limping on her bad foot. The next thing, SHE appeared in the road field with a strange woman and called out to him to put Mims on a head collar.
The two of them came along and the stranger started to feel all around Mims’ feet. It turns out she is a new vet, one we haven’t seen before and she starts putting poultices and tape on Mims’ two front feet. Then, when we thought they had finished, HE leads Mims across the stream and out of the gate. HE put the gate across the stream so I couldn’t follow and all I could do was watch in horror as HE walked Mims down the road.
Later, HE came along with our suppers but all I could do was to stand at the stream and call out for my Mims. In the end, HE had to stand and hold my bucket for me at the stream and I took a mouthful in between calling. Funnily enough, there was a cow doing the same thing, calling out for her child as well. HE told me that Mims won’t be coming back for a month. A whole month! I don’t think I will last that long without her. I know there was a time when I didn’t have her but that seems a lifetime away. Now my herd that used to be the four of us is down to just me and Wick. Even he is worried and missing her already and she has only been away a few hours. A month! Oh dear, what will I do? A month without my daughter. Terrible. Terrible. I hope THEY look after her properly. I am so sad now.

Sunday 11th June 2006
Hi guys! This is the prisoner in the Ramsley Lane jail smuggling a message out. I have been calling myself hoarse (oh yes, ha, ha, good joke – so I am a horse) but no-one has come along to rescue me. You would have thought that on a Sunday, the road would be packed with passing equines.sheep up the hill Even if they couldn’t spring me, they could have offered some moral support. The cats keep coming along to see what all the noise is about. That brown one, Tom, even said he was pleased to have me home which didn’t thrill me too much.
I had a rotten night. It’s bad enough that THEY lock me up in here but THEY are trying to starve me as well. You have no idea what muck they gave me in a bucket last night and expected me to eat it. And water! You should taste the stuff THEY give you in here. At first I decided that I just wouldn’t drink until they took me back to the field and my stream but it was such a hot day I had to give in. At least I held out long enough to make HER bring me some new water in a bucket rather than have to drink out of that contraption that THEY have on the wall there.
To start with. I thought THEY were bringing me something good to eat, but it turned out to just be straw to walk about on. Then, today, THEY went and changed THEIR minds and took all the straw out and replaced it with some really strange stuff that smells of eucalyptus (whatever that is?). I saw HIM moving it all about over the floor with some strange pink (PINK mind you!) sort of fork so I joined in and started digging it myself. For some strange reason this just made HIM laugh. I couldn’t see what was so funny. At least I was doing something. You have no idea how the time drags in prison. If this goes on much longer I will probably end up even  missing Wicky.
I have to say the food has improved marginally – very marginally. THEY replaced that dry old muck with some sugar beet (sugar free sugar beet I do believe!) and some little green tubes of stuff. It does taste a bit better than it sounds – but not much. Also I’ve noticed the treats have dried up. At first HE gave me the odd carrot or bit of apple but now HE has been told that this is bad for me as well. I wouldn’t mind if the length of my stay was shortened by everything I give up. I’d stop eating altogether if it would get me out of here. That would be worse though. I just don’t understand all this medical stuff, do you. Seems funny to me how what you eat makes your feet hurt but that’s what it is. Wicky used to tell me about it. Laminitis it’s called. So, be warned. If you eat too much that’s what you’ll get and then THEY put you in prison for it.
Must stop now for I hear the sound of my quarter full bucket of green tubes being prepared. Prison concentrates the mind wonderfully. God I’m hungry!

cows grazing in the next fieldMonday 12th June 2006
Yo, it’s me again. I thought I’d start by telling you about those green tubes that I was calling prison food. HE told me today that HE just found out that they cost six times the price of ordinary food. SHE has taken to calling it gold dust. Somehow I cant see us getting any more once this bag is used up. AND ANYWAY …
HE told me today that I might be getting out in a couple of days! Wow! How about that?
You see, what happened was that while HE was out ordering some more special (but a lot cheaper) laminitis food and getting some more deep bedding, SHE was arranging for the vet to come along and give me another check up to see how I was doing. No wait, first things first or it will spoil the story. The place where they went yesterday.. uh? I didn’t tell you where THEY went yesterday? Oh gawd, this is getting real complicated.
Right. When the vet came on Saturday afternoon and said I had laminitis, she said I must go home to the stable, only eat rubbish and stand on a deep litter bed, at least 18 inches deep. It being Saturday late, THEY could not get to a shop to buy the special food or the special bedding. Luckily Max’s human gave them a bale of straw so that did for my bed on Saturday night and all I had to eat was haylage.
First thing Sunday morning, THEY went off on a twenty mile drive to a shop that THEY were told was open on a Sunday. When THEY found it, THEY had to wait nearly an hour for it to open and this was where THEY bought the gold dust together with two bags of bedding because that was all that would fit in their little green car. So, while THEY were there, THEY ordered the other 10 bags of bedding (yes 10) together with some other food and stuff to be delivered today. Then, when THEY got home, HE had to bag up all the straw (did you know that one bale of straw, with a bit of supplement from me, fills up five bags) and cart it down to the field and dump it.
This morning, SHE got a phone call saying that the delivery couldn’t come until tomorrow which is why HE was sent out to get another couple of bags of special food. Now, HE found out that this food was only available on order so HE ordered it for Wednesday. Later THEY both went out and got two more bags of bedding to hold me over until tomorrow’s delivery. The final bit of work HE had to do was to make a cover for each of the two doors, 18 inches high, so that the deep bedding wouldn’t fall out. That was good fun because I got to supervise HIM while HE was working and fixing them inside the stable.
Right, are you following me so far? My laminitis had caused a lot of work, travel and expense with more to follow when my full bedding arrived tomorrow and my special food the day after. Some time during all this, SHE had a phone call saying that the vet who saw me on Saturday had to be at a foaling so a different vet would be coming to see me. Well, she came and she pushed me and she prodded me and she cut me and then had to sedate me because she hurt me. But am I moaning? NO! And why? Because she doesn’t think that I have laminitis at all. She thinks that I have the usual common old abscess that Wicky, mum and Treggy had at one time or another and that a couple of days of poultice will probably see me well enough to go back out to Ninefields with mum! Wowee! How about that?
If I had fingers, I’d have them crossed now but as I haven’t I have to ask you to cross yours for me. OK? Oh, I forgot. SHE got straight on the phone to cancel the bedding delivery. THEY can’t do anything about the special food but, if I haven’t got it, THEY can mix it in with the other stuff and use it up slowly. Only one more problem for the moment. What do we do with the 40 packets of sugar free mint sweets that HE bought today? Answers on a postcard, as they say!

view over NinefieldsTuesday 13th June 2006
Hi there. Guess where I’m writing this from? Yeah, right. I’m back with mum and Wicky at Ninefields.
This morning started as normal. SHE brought me my muck (sorry, breakfast) while HE drove off to take the food to mum and Wick. I did notice a more relaxed feeling in the air though but, apart from having a couple of carrots, everything else was the same. THEY got in two cars, which was a bit odd, and drove off and pretty soon THEY were back in just the green car. Apparently HIS car had to go and be tested so SHE just went to give HIM a lift back. THEY also stopped in the shop to get some bandages for me but I didn’t know that at the time.
After THEY had been home just a little while, THEY came out and put me on a head collar and brought me out of the stable. Then SHE started messing with my foot. I stood it for a while but then decided that I had had enough so I started walking around. THEY then walked me back into the stable and SHE sat down and started again. Every time SHE got the bandage started, I would whip my foot away very sharply. In the end, SHE gave me a loud but not very hard smack on my bum but that just made me more naughty. In the end, SHE got out of breath and HE took over.
The trouble with HIM is that he is stronger and HE held my leg and wouldn’t let go. It did mean that I had a very messy bandage on as HE is not very good at it but, at least HE said it was on. I didn’t know why all the fuss. With my thick bedding I didn’t need a bandage at all. And then, the next thing, HE starts to walk me up the road. We soon stopped at a bank and I grabbed a mouthful of grass, the first one for four days. It took me a little while to realise what was happening. Then, as we went under Dry Bridge and started up the Throwleigh Road, I knew. I was going back to mum. I stuffed myself all the way up the road. I even had a mouthful of dirt to replace the minerals I had been missing.
When I got to the gate it was Wicky who called out to me first and came running over. I run down the field but had to wait because THEY had the gate to the stream shut. By the time HE had opened it, mum had heard (she was round the corner) and we both run up to greet each other. We stood there, heads together, for quite a while and then just turned and started to walk into the far field. We then came back again and I was so happy I snake necked Wick a little bit and gave a half buck of joy.
Tell you what, we had a great day today, the three of us. It rained quite a lot and none of us took any notice at all. Well, that’s not quite true. Wick had a roll in the mud!

Alli, Mims & HER legWednesday 14th June 2006
About time I took my diary back, I think. Mum this and mum that. You’d think she was a child instead of a full grown mare now. And she doesn’t know how to look after herself. She got another scrape on her side last night. It’s something to do with her lack of special awareness, I think. Must get it from her father. She just tears around sometimes without a thought of where she is going or what (or who) is in the way. Of course then she bumps into and bounces off things but not before leaving a little of herself behind in the process. Like the time when SHE was leading her down the field and across the stream. Then Mims decided to jump the stream and knocked HER flying. Didn’t even stop to say sorry.
Oh dear, I sound as if I am not pleased to have her back. Of course I am. It’s just that she does worry me so. Take her leg now. She is still limping a bit. It’s probably where the vets had to cut into her hoof to let the pus out and it’s still too sore for her to put her heel down. I have to say she’s a brave one. Doesn’t complain. Doesn’t even mention it. And if she canters, the problem seems to recede. It’s worse when she walks.
No, we’ve been having a real good time together since she came back. She’s been telling Wicky and I of her adventures in the stable and of how she first had straw bedding then hemp bedding and then even deeper hemp bedding. That she reckons was fun because she could kick it all up the walls and everywhere and out of the door and make a great mess. She wasn’t too keen on the food but she got used to the haylage in the end. I must say, I agree with her over those sugarless sweets that HE got. HE gave me a whole great mouthful the other day and I just had to spit them all out one by one – phut, pffut, pfut! Wicky didn’t mind, he just walked over and gobbled them up.
Speaking of Wick, I was surprised how pleased he was to see her back. It didn’t take long for her to start nipping his bum but somehow he doesn’t seem to mind. I think it’s probably because his coat has started growing thick again. I know I heard HER saying SHE was going to arrange for it to be trimmed again as soon as possible. Mims said ‘Oh good, Wick’ (she doesn’t call him ‘uncle’ any more since I told her to grow up) ‘you’ll be able to kick up that bedding in the stable. But be careful. It’s very deep. Make sure you don’t get buried on it and we lose you.’. Well, she thought it was funny. I have to admit, even Wicky gave a little smile. I think he has a soft spot for her. Mims says he has and its right on the top of his back at the rear!

long view of the horsesThursday 15th June 2006
A change of diet today, subtle but noticeable. There was less of that green pellet ‘prison food’ as Mims calls it and instead some more stuff that might possibly be some kind of grain mixed with chopped up straw. At least that’s what it seems to be. Not bad, not wonderful but, at least, different. Mind, HE warned me tonight that the next thing is to cut down on our sugar free sugar beet. I wont miss that in the slightest. As it is, I leave a lot of it for Wick to mop up. Having said that, I just realised, I do tend to help Mims with what she is leaving in her bucket. In fact, mealtimes these days are just one big get together.
I don’t want to go on about this but Mims has turned up with yet another scrape on her side. I can only thank heaven that THEY got rid of the barbed wire around the fields before she turned up. If she keeps on like this she will end up as a sieve or something. Her foot got bandaged again this morning and SHE used some special industrial tape as well as the bandage. And, luckily, it stayed on all day, so she will keep it on (we all hope) overnight as well.
THEY came along and spied on us mid morning but we were all in the field shelter getting away from the flies and heat. At least, Wicky had his head in but, with his thick coat, he didn’t need to bring the rest of him in as well.
The sheep are settling in well now. All of then have at least one lamb attached and they are wandering in the shelter, round the back of it and just laying down beside it. The lambs are still trying to figure out what is so good about grass when you can have a mouthful of nice warm nourishing milk. I feel quite sorry for some of the ewes when their strapping great babies head but them for a drink.
Well, that’s all for today. A nothing much happening day which is boring to read about but for which we at Ninefields are quite grateful.

Friday 16th June 2006
Do you know, Mims doesn’t know how to play ‘flying carrots’? I mean, even old Treg could get a handle on that. Well, OK, he used to duck a lot but that was because he did tend to be picked on a bit. But, when he looked up, he did know what he was looking for and would be off like a shot to retrieve the morsel before little Wick could pinch it.sheep among the stones When HE walked away tonight, strangely, HE still had quite a full pocket of carrots and so HE stood on the other side of the stream gate and waited. I knew immediately what HE was about and I positioned myself tactically so HE wouldn’t have to throw it too hard or too far. Not that HE can’t throw them quite far, it’s just that the harder and further they are thrown, the more likely they are to break and a broken carrot always poses a dilemma of which piece to go for first.
So, I’m standing looking at HIM and giving HIM the signal to go ahead but then I see HIM hesitating. I followed HIS gaze and saw that HE was looking to see if Mims was ready. Far from being ready, I’m not sure if she was even in the same world as us. It’s her own fault too. This morning, as it was hot and humid, THEY put our fly masks on. I have got quite used to the mask now, even appreciate what it same me from. Mims does as well, I think. It’s hard to know always just what she thinks. Anyway, whatever it is, quite early in the day, she somehow managed to ‘lose’ her mask. I don’t think it was deliberate. Maybe she was just shaking her head to lose the flies who settled on the rest of her face or neck that was not protected. Whatever, she lost her mask and, as a result, she had been harassed by flies all the rest of the day. Even while we were eating supper, she couldn’t stand still and when SHE went to rub some anti fly stuff onto her face, she just got cross and ran away.
So, Mims had come out of the field shelter in a bit of a mood and was in no way ready for any sort of game. However, when HE at last got her attention (or so HE thought) HE threw her the carrot. And what did she do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Just stood there like she had been insulted or something. HE had thrown mine first and, of course, I was standing there chewing while I watched her. HE could have walked away but I think HE was determined that Mims should learn the game. Whatever, HE climbed over the gate and walked towards her to pick up the carrot. As soon as HE got near, however, Mims strode forward and picked it up. She then stood there with it sticking out of her mouth like a cigar. Finally, she managed to eat it. HE walked back muttering. Neither of us were quite sure if she is absolutely silly or if she was just playing with HIM, making HIM walk over towards hr before picking it up.
I think the jury is still out on that one but it did mean that we both got another one and, I noticed that she was not so slow to get and eat this one.
As THEY walked away, I heard HER saying that we now had a proper replacement for Treggy. We will see!

Mims breaks into a trotSaturday 17th June 2006
Do you know, with all problems with Mims and all, I forgot to tell you something very sad and important. We lost Cal. It happened just before Mims was sent in although we only heard about it a little later. Apparently he got ill, then got colic (which is terrible stomach ache) and then got cast in his trailer and kicked it to pieces in his pain and then died, I think at the vets. Of course, his human, Annette, is far too upset to talk about it so we don’t know all the facts but we are all very sad because he was a lovely chap and was getting on so well.
HE painted the mounting block tonight (I did tell you about the mounting block next to the field shelter, didn’t I?) in a greenish colour to match the shelter. HE was standing up at the gate the other day and thought the white blocks stood out rather too much so HE deci……
“Ere, Alli?”
…HE decided to fi…..
“Is that you, Treg?”
“Yeah, Alli. It’s me. I thought I’d come and see how you are all getting on, you know.”
“But you’re not speaking in blue, Treg. You always used to speak in blue when you came back.”
“Ah, yes, er well, it fades you know. When you first gets here, all your talking is in blue. I think it’s a way of highlighting the new ones so to speak. But after a while it fades. If I remember it had gone when I last came back to chat with Wick. Pretty sure he mentioned it too.”
“So, how are you old fellow? We do miss you around here, you know. HE still says goodnight to you when HE goes home after feeding us. HE always says four goodbye’s and you usually come second, after me.”
“Wow, that’s a promotion. I was always third before Mims came and then I was fourth. Second now, am I?”
“Actually, I as talking about you only yesterday.”
“Yes, I know. I heard. Something bout Mims being as silly as me, wasn’t it?”
“Oh, I’m sorry Treg. It was only said in an affectionate way.”
“Oh, I know, Al. only kidding. I was a bit soft, wasn’t I. Funny, when you come up here, all that goes away. I can now see how I seemed to be simple to you lot. Funny really. I miss it sometimes. You know, I can count up to any number you like now. Only thing is I don’t need to. Words, numbers, they’re all less important now. For us that is. We rarely speak here, we don’t need to. We all know what the other one wants to say before they say it. Still, that’s enough about me. How about you?”
“Well, we went through a bit of a bad patch when the vets thought Mims had laminitis but now we’re all having a good time, easy and relaxed, just grazing and ambling around.”
“See you’ve got a mounting block here now. Going riding?”
“I think THEY plan to as soon as Mims’ foot gets better. It might be a bit of fun just going for a little walk along the road. Remember when we used to do it?”
“Yeah, you were alright, you had HER riding you. HE used to sit on me and have no idea how to make me go. Good job I had you to follow.”
“Those were the days, eh Treg. The good old days.”
“They still are Alli. You enjoy yourself girl. As they say … Oh well, best not! I’m off now to see some more of my old mates. I’ll keep in touch. Give my regards to the others. Bye Alli. Bye!”

sheep in the shadeSunday 18th June 2006
I’ve got to whisper this bit so that Mims wont hear, OK?
HE told me that today, HE has been out taking photos of some local gardens that have been opened to the public for the day. HE did it last year so this year, HE has only been doing those that weren’t open last year. Unfortunately, that only saved HIM from having to go to four gardens that he visited last year, the rest were new ones. Anyway, HE was just coming out of the third garden which (and this is where I have to whisper even quieter) was just along the Throwleigh Road from here, when HE noticed a horse through the hedge. When HE got out of the entrance, HE saw the horse by the gate of its own field but HE couldn’t get up to it to talk to it because a car was parked in the way. Then a man got out of the car and HE saw it was HIS friend Mehmet who lives in Sticklepath. HE then realised that this was Mehmet’s (and now I must go down to the quietest whisper of all) stallion, Şimşek. The word is Turkish and it means Thunderbolt. HE told me that Şimşek is a very handsome young man and is the very thing that Mims would like. He has such a fine mane that he doesn’t need a fly mask and he is a lovely rich brown colour. He is not very tall but then neither is Mims. HE thought at first that he was a very fine Dartmoor Pony but SHE says he is too tall for that and SHE thinks he is a Section C or D Welsh Cob. So, after they had given us our supper. THEY went along to his field so that SHE could see him because SHE knew of him from Mehmet and his wife Karen but had never met him. I am afraid to say that THEY gave him a couple of carrots that THEY had saved from our treats. They trouble was that he wanted more and got a bit excited and gave her a little nip. Not spiteful but enough to make her jump. Serves HER right for giving away our treats. While SHE was talking to him, HE got a few photos so you can see for yourself. Just don’t tell Mims or she will be over that gate and off up the road!


Mims eats her supperMonday 19th June 2006
Another day, another vet. This is becoming like, well…., let me start with the morning. Yesterday, we had Mims limping about with her front offside foot hurting. Oddly, that is the only brown foot, the other three are white. And you know what they say about horses white feet, don’t you? You don’t? Well, not putting it as poetically as the old timers do, its one white foot is OK (that’s me, you know!), two white feet is just about acceptable, three white feet and you are asking for trouble and four white feet are rubbish! Whether the lack of pigment makes for a lack of hardiness, I don’t know but that, anyway, is part of horse folk lore. Back to Mims. She was having trouble with the one foot that wasn’t white. And then this morning, THEY turn up to find her limping very badly but the trouble being with her offside hind foot. And, of course, a white one. It was obvious that THEY were going to have to call a vet in but after the two differing diagnoses that they had had from the new vet practice that THEY had gone to, THEY had lost faith with them too.
However, yesterday, when HE was going round taking photos of the open gardens, HE came across the human who used to look after Max. Not Maxwell, you understand, who has the field next to ours, but another very lively chap who used to be seen trotting away as if his life depended on it up and down the Throwleigh Road. Unfortunately, Max’s human had a couple of falls and lost confidence and decided to give up riding and so has let Max move on to a new home, which is why we have not seen him for a while now. So, HE was telling her about Mims’ foot problems (the old ones, not today’s one) and she told him of a vet she had used for years who she thoroughly recommended. HE mentioned it to HER when HE got home, little knowing that THEY would need to use the information so soon. And that is how, at three thirty this afternoon, THEY turned up in the field with a new vet.
HE had closed off the home paddock so that Mims wouldn’t get lost high up in the top fields but the way her leg was, she had hardly moved much all day. HE led her, limping into the field shelter and John, the new vet went to work. It was touch and go for a moment whether Mims was sedated (which John didn’t want to do) or whether she had a twitch (which I think nobody really wanted because it looks real cruel although actually it works – a noose round the nose – by releasing self made calming stuff), mainly because Mims is no good at balancing and new people don’t know this so they lift her leg high and she panics and pulls it away. She did it this time a few times, nearly knocking John over but he persevered and opened the hoof and a load of pus came out. That may sound gruesome but it releases the pressure and so the pain. He then left with instructions for them to poultice the foot but not before he had looked at my feet as well and said they were rubbish too!
Apparently it is the combination of the granite ground, the very dry weather and our pretty poor, thin racehorse feet. He suggests that THEY get Mark to maybe fit some stick on plastic shoes as Mims hasn’t enough sole to nail them on. Isn’t life interesting!

Mims runs to mum after separationTuesday 20th June 2006
A change in the weather today. It started off a bit cloudy but then brightened up as if it was going to be another hot summer’s day. But then, this afternoon, the wind got up very strongly (it even broke a branch off one of the trees in Throwleigh Road by Ramsley Common) and then, by this evening when THEY brought our supper, it had started raining. Not hard driving rain but very heavy strong drizzle, if you know what I mean. A sort of very wetting but soft sort of rain. After THEY left us, I was pretty reluctant to leave the field shelter, I can tell you. But, on the other hand, we do need some rain badly, if only to soften the ground.
Which brings me back to Mims’ foot again. I am very happy to say, she is walking, and even running, very well again now. SHE put another poultice on it this morning and Mims had a sachet of pain killer but I think the real reason that she is moving more easily is that she is actually getting better. Since that new vet, yesterday, let that pus out, things have been improving rapidly (here Wicky) touch wood.
I have told you over and over again about Mims’ clumsiness. Early this afternoon, HE came up to Ninefields to see us. We were up near the top of the middle field but as the weather was still fine then, HE made the effort and climbed up to where we were grazing. As HE was giving Wicky a few treats, Mims came running up and the first thing HE noticed was that she now has another gouge out of her side. It just didn’t break through her skin but it has definitely scraped all the hair off her hide. And, in such a funny pattern too. It looks as if it must have been made with a piece of metal at there is a very regular triangular shape with an oblong bar next to it and next to that a much thinner bar. HIS theory is that she pushes past Wicky or I when going through gates and scrapes along the gate hinges. Whatever it is, she is the clumsiest girl anyone here has ever known.
That’s about it tonight really. There has been some movements in Mikes farm over the road. Lots of noise and cutting machinery, I think they must be making silage. And also, lots of noise from Clarence’s field next door but the hedges are too high for us to see what is going on. Maybe HE will be able to see from the road on his way home and let us know. Right. I’m off now to brave the weather and get a few more mouthfuls in case it gets worse and I do have to come into the shelter for the rest of the night.

Mims tells her mum where she has beenWednesday 21st June 2006
The longest day! Actually, HE told me that yesterday felt like it. HE was playing about with something that HE had found on the web and it directed HIM to my diary page. HE noticed straightaway that it was a month out of date and asked HER if SHE had been making any changes (and so, inadvertently, re-published an old page). When SHE said no, HE went onto HIS own machine, only to find the reason. HE had forgotten to publish my diary last month! Now, how could HE possibly do that? What a disgrace!
Now, what HE does, when HE publishes the diary at then end of the month, is to look through HIS photos of us all at Ninefields and select those that HE thinks best illustrate each day (if possible). If there is no relevant photo then HE just chooses one that HE likes. When HE has selected 30 or 31 pictures, the next thing is to rename them to each day of the month. After that, it is a question of editing, resizing and saving each one in compressed for suitable for web publishing. Quite a little time consuming job even before HE starts to make the page up. So that is what HE had to start to do last night. It still isn’t finished yet but hopefully HE will get it done as soon as possible.
Now, back to the Mims saga. She was hobbling again this morning, the pain seeming to be back to the fore foot again. SHE had to apply two poultices while Wick and I stood around trying to be helpful and offering to relieve the weight of the treats in THEIR pockets. I gather now that Mark the farrier is going to come along next Monday and do something to build up her soles so that she is better able to walk on all this dry old granite.
One other mystery. She has now got a very large area of scraped hair with a thin line running down the centre. Fortunately it didn’t break the skin but Mims is now looking very battle scarred like an old street fighting tom cat. SHE thinks it looks like bite marks and who do you think is the only one tall enough to bite her as high as that? That’s right. I am under suspicion! Fortunately HE is not convinced but, on the other hand, HE cant find any sharp pieces of metal or stone around the field that could have caused it. HE has said that HE will have a walk up in the top fields to try and find any possible cause. Let’s hope HE can and clear my name.

Wicky swishes his tailThursday 22nd June 2006
Enough of Mims, it was Wicky’s day, today. Breakfast started as normal but then SHE put Wick’s rug on. OK, it was drizzling a little but nothing to make such a fuss about. And, Mims and I noted that SHE didn’t put ours on, not even our fly masks. We had breakfast and THEY went off and that was that. We slowly worked our way up above the field shelter and were having a good after breakfast graze when the green car drove up. I heard it stop but, as usual, didn’t look up. Next thing I heard it drive away again. ‘Just checking up on us’, I thought. But I was wrong. After a few minutes, HE appeared with a head collar in HIS hand. HE started to walk up the hill towards us but also held out HIS hand as if HE had some treats. Of course, it was too much for Wicky, who came running forward. He did get some biscuits but he also got the head collar put on. Then HE was walking down and over the stream, leading Wicky away. I shouted out and Mims, to give her credit, went running after them first. However, HE had got Wick out of the road gate before we could anything but shout. And that’s what we did as they made their way down the road. After that, Mims and I hung about by the gate for a while but then had to give up.
About an hour and a half later, we were back up the hill grazing when I heard the gate go. Next thing, I heard Wick shout out hello. I ran to the top of the hill and Mims followed me. I called out and Mims used her louder voice to shout back to Wick. Then we ran. Down the hill and across the field and right up to the bank of the stream. And Wicky. Didn’t he look smart. He had not only been clipped but he had a very stylish trace clip, leaving the hair on his back and the tops of his sides. HE said it was either to keep the flies off or to stop me and Mims giving him a nip. Wick insisted that it was all the fashion and that he was the smartest pony in town (or in our case, village). Whatever, it was a joy to have him back again and the three of us had a really good day after that. Mims didn’t even get any more scrapes (even though she deserved a few)!


Friday 23rd June 2006
There was a fox today, crossing over Clarence’s field next to ours. I don’t know if it was male or female but it appeared quite large so probably a male. Our first thoughts were for the lambs but, big as the fox was, those lambs are even bigger. You wouldn’t think so if you saw their behaviour, going down on their knees, wagging their tails like mad and bumping hard under their mother’s tummies for a drink of milk. Great big boobies they are, but till too big now, I should think, for the fox to be going for. Actually, what he was doing was following some scent, which appeared to be going round and round and back and forth in a very strange manner. Mims with bad foot and the othersI know we have rats, squirrels and rabbits in the fields but have never seen any of them moving about in the manner the fox’s nose seemed to be telling it to go. Still, whatever it was, it didn’t come into our field and we soon lost sight of him.
Not quite so cold today as yesterday because the wind has dropped. Not a lot of sun, just on and off, which has given us quite a fly free (and mask free) day. Mims’ feet appear to be easing (although it’s hard to tell with the pain killer medicine she is taking) and Wick is still strutting around in his new coat trim as if he is quite ‘jack the lad’. I can’t remember if I told you that Mark the farrier is coming first thing Monday morning to do something to Mims’ feet. It’s not exactly plastic shoes as THEY had believed from he vet. It’s more like a plastic substance that he uses to build up the foot and so give protection. I also don’t think that I told you that one of Mims’ abscesses broke out on the top of her hoof. Not very pretty but at least it took the pressure and pain away.
We have noticed a slight change in our diet again. This time for the better. Since it has been determined that Mims does not have laminitis, THEY were faced with the fact that THEY had two and a half bags of quite expensive (but tasteless rubbish in our opinion) laminitis feed that needs to be used up. THEY have decided to mix it half and half with our normal feed and cut down of the sugar beet that was being used to bulk out the nasty stuff. Actually, they would cut out all the sugar beet but until the opened bag is used up, we a getting a little to damp down the rest of the food. If the truth be know, we don’t need much (if any) extra feed at all while the grass is OK but as we are on the side of Dartmoor our ground is what is called ‘severely disadvantaged’ which means it does not produce lush grass. That combined with the running of sheep over the ground to help us keep the grass short means that we are not getting too much grass and also the supplementary feeding gives us the extra vitamins and trace elements not found in our soil. Or at least, that’s our story and we are hanging onto it for grim death!



Mims & Alli grazingSaturday 24th June 2006
A hot day today. When it’s hot, we don’t want to go out into the fields until night time or, at least, evening. So what do we do? We stand around in the field shelter. A typical day goes something like this …..

“What shall we do to night, mum?”
“Mum. MUM!”
“What? What’s that? Oh yes dear, of course.”
“She was asking you what we should do tonight. lassie.”
“I know, I know Wick. I was just thinking.”
“What were you thinking, mum?”
“Did I ever tell you the time I was off to the races at Exeter and the trailer g….”
“ ….got a puncture? Yes Alli. Several times. Go back to sleep, eh?”
“Mum. Mum! I asked you what we should do tonight?”
“Don’t push dear, there’s a love. And you don’t need to shout, I’m not deaf you know.”
“How about, Miss Mims, you tell us all what you would like to do?”
“Yeah, well. Oh bother these flies. That’s what I’d like to do. Stamp on every single fly in the world. Twice!”
“Temper, temper, lass. The flies have got to live as well. They’re only doing what they have to do.”
“Well, let them go and do it somewhere else then. Don’t you agree mum?”
“Don’t wake her lassie. At her age she needs all the sleep she can get. Ouch. Hey!”
“I heard that you little worm. Who’s talking about age then? Tell us what you did in the war, granddad.”
“There was no need to nip. I was only trying to get the wee girl to gi’ ye a bit o’ peace and quiet.”
“Oh, come off it Uncle. And drop that fake Shetland accent, you’re Devon born and bred just like me.”
“Children. If you must squabble, can’t you do it quietly. Either that or go somewhere else. If you want me to look after you tonight when we go up the hill, I need a bit of a nap now.”
“La, la, diddly, la. Dum ti dum ti dum ti la.”
“And Mims. Please stop that singing, if you can call it that. Tunes of today are just noise. Now when I was a girl, back in France….. Did I ever tell you about the time…”
“Yes Alli” “Yes Mum”
“Are you sure?”
“Have a little rest Alli. I’ll look after miss modern, here.”
“Any more of your cheek you little p p p pony and I’ll bite your scrawny little neck.”
“Ha. HA. Just you try it lass….”

And so it goes on. Me, I’m beginning to look forward to winter already when we can get out in the fields again. Oh dear, the joys of being herd mistress, eh?”

Alli in her fly maskSunday 25th June 2006
Hi! I’ve found a new game. I’d often wondered what that ball like thing was that HE hung up near the field shelter. But, I wasn’t even thinking of it today when I walked over there to have a look through the hedge and my head hit it. And, do you know, it swung and shooshed all the flies away from my head. I had to go back and have another try, didn’t I? Clunk, there it went again. Really, it was quite good sport, me hitting it with my head and the ball spinning and wobbling all over the place. I was right in the middle of my game when SHE turned up so I had to stop to see if there were any treats going.
Mum and Wick were standing in the shelter so SHE went in there first and I followed HER. SHE must have been doing a lot of work or something for, after a while, SHE stopped giving us treats and went and had a bit of a lay down in the shelter. We all went to stand around HER and when Wick got in my way, I had to give him a bit of a nip, didn’t I. Didn’t worry him though. He just went around the other side.
After we had all been hanging around for a little while SHE said that SHE was too hot and went and sat under the tree by the stream. Then, when we all went and followed HER, SHE complained that we had brought the flies with us. I would have thought that there were enough flies down by the stream that our few wouldn’t make a lot of difference but SHE said that is because I couldn’t see them with my mask on. Anyway, SHE said that all the flies came with Wicky.
So, restless soul that SHE is, SHE got up again and went over the stream and along under that weeping old tree. Mum followed first and then I did but SHE thought I was silly just because I brushed a few branches away with my head. SHE said that it was no wonder I get scratches and scrapes if I blunder about like that. I couldn’t see what the fuss was about. The quickest way to get anywhere is a straight line between two points, I’ve always believed. So, we all stood about in the shade until Wick’s flies got too much for HER and then SHE was off. Still, it did break up the monotony of the mid day heat.
Oh well, back to my ball game.

treat timeMonday 26th June 2006
Do you know what? It poured with rain all night last night and it rained very hard for most of today as well. But, last night’s rain was the most significant because, if you remember, Mark the farrier was coming this morning to glue plastic stuff to Mims’ feet so they needed to be clean and dry for it to work.
By the time THEY brought our breakfast this morning, we were all pretty well soaked through. Even me, who usually shelters from the rain, I was soaked too. The reason for that was because, until the rain started, it had been unbearably hot and sticky so it was actually quite a relief to stand out in it. Not all the time, of course. Not when it was very hard. But when it was just raining it was nice and refreshing. Wick’ new trim worked fine as well for it protected him on top while he remained the correct temperature below on the trimmed parts. So, we all stood around eating our breakfast this morning while HE had to clean out the shelter as it had got a bit messy while we had sheltered in the night. HE picked out Mims feet and brushed them as clean as HE could and then THEY went away to wait for Mark. Mark is very good but THEY can never be sure exactly when he will turn up. It wouldn’t matter if THEY lived in or next to Ninefields but as THEIR house is half a mile away, they have to wait about until Mark drives by and then scramble into THEIR car and follow him up the road.
As it happens, THEY didn’t have too long to wait this morning and so, first Mark and then THEM drove up to the Ninefields gate. Then there was a discussion as to where Mark would work. Normally, if it is dry and he is shoeing or trimming our feet, he works in the road field up by the gate. But this time it was raining so it looked as if he would need to work in the field shelter. First however, he decided he would come down to the shelter and have a look at Mims feet to decide how to proceed. We were all standing in or around the shelter anyway so HE just came along and put Mims’ head collar on and held her while Mark looked at her feet.
To cut a long story short, Mark decided that Mims feet weren’t all that bad after all (for a thoroughbred – they always say that about us) and that the problem was being caused by grit and dirt being packed into the holes that had been previously made in Mims’ feet to relieve the abscesses. HE said that it would be both expensive and counter productive to shoe Mims with the plastic. It would be better if she carried on and got her feet hardened to going shoeless like me. Similarly for me it would be silly to shoe me now and make my feet soft again having gone through the painful bit of toughening them up. He thinks and THEY agree that my feet have never been better (for a thoroughbred!).
So, Mims’ treatment was to have the holes in her feet thoroughly cleaned out of grit and stuff and have them packed with iodine soaked cotton wool to ensure that no infection remained and then he will come back in a week’s time to plug the holes so that they can’t get filled and painful again. And that was it for today. Treats and carrots all round and off THEY went to leave us to enjoy the rain. It really was good news for my Mims though. At last she has had the benefit of a foot expert and can look forward to (I won’t tell her yet) being ridden in the near future. Won’t we have fun?

Mims gets up after a restTuesday 27th June 2006
We’ve been rustled! I think that’s the word for it. First, they came and took some sheep and when they came back they all looked thin and super white having been trimmed even harder than Wicky ever is. Then, after we were just getting used to the new look lot they came and took them all away. They can’t have gone far because we can still hear them. Noisy lot sheep are, aren’t they. You get a field full of horses and ponies, you hardly ever hear a sound unless something is wrong. I agree that I do shout a bit if THEY take Mims or Wick away (hey, do you know that the j key is right next to the k key and if you hit the wrong one, it makes Wicky look Polish?) but that is only an emergency. Normally we are a very quiet, restful lot.
Well, with Mims, maybe restful s not quite the correct word. I don’t know what got into her this morning but she went back into the field shelter after breakfast while Wick was tidying up and started to help him. ‘How nice’, I thought. The next minute, she had turned her back on him and was threatening to kick him. I was too far away to hear but I can only think that he must have said something to upset her, he can be quite a tease at times. Mind, he really doesn’t take a lot of notice of her when she does threaten – just goes outside and round the back of her and then carries on.
The rain went away today and it got a bit warmer but it did, at least, leave us with some much softer ground and also a good supply of water in the stream. Tell you what’s funny about that stream. Even when the stream itself slows right down to a trickle in the very long dry periods, we still get water seeping out of the banks, particularly by the crossing gate. Oh, that reminds me. Wick did a very silly thing this morning. We were all waiting around in the home paddock for THEM to arrive with our breakfasts. Wick was waiting just round the corner under the tree as he always does. When we heard the car pull up, Mims and I positioned ourselves to go up into the shelter as HE brought up the buckets and Wick went round the corner, over the stream and up to the gate to make sure that he got his two treat biscuits as soon as HE reached the gate and before HE opened it. Then, for some very unknown reason, Wick reaches out his foot and puts it between the two horizontal planks on the gate. Of course, then he doesn’t know how to get it back. He just stood there, waving it about through the other side until HE came up and lowered the gate so that he could extract his leg. It was funny at the time but it wouldn’t have been so funny if THEY hadn’t been coming along to rescue him. SHE is now talking about maybe putting some netting or something against the planks so that Wick cant do it again. The funny this is that it was very reminiscent of old Treg who used to get his leg stuck in the netting above the shelter, which made THEM change it for post and rail. Maybe Wick is getting old and forgetful, who knows?

Simsek along the Throwleigh RoadWednesday 28th June 2006
Hey guys. Well, here I am, still limping but OK. There was an attempt to make a start on getting my feet ready for Mark next week. The trouble is, mum and Wick cant leave me alone. Well, not me – THEM. You see, when I am on a head collar, HE has to hold me and pet me while SHE works on my feet and then the others think that I am getting treats or something that they should have. This results in them crowding around and nearly knocking over HER stuff which is being used on my feet. This morning, the result was everyone being told first to go back, then to go away and finally, being shouted at and having arms waved in their faces. I found it quite interesting but the humans got a bit wound up I think. I heard THEM say that THEY will have to shut the others in another field while I am being worked on.
The problem is that because it is my feet and I am not very steady, I have to be in the field shelter to be on the level. And, of course, there is not enough room for all five of us and the seat and medicines and stuff at the same time. The other part of the problem is that the shelter does not have any doors other than the one that separates the hay store from the standing part. The other thing I heard THEM say was that it would be nice to have just a day or two when nothing was wrong. It makes me feel almost guilty at having a bad leg.
Weather’s been a bit dull but not too many flies around. And, of course, now the sheep have gone we seem to have a lot more space and can go right up the hill if we want. I mean, we could before but it seemed as if we were always getting in someone’s way. Oh, that reminds me. Our cat was back this morning. I think he has seen the hole in the hedge where the rat comes out to eat the birds peanuts. Wonderful patience cats have, don’t they? He sits and stares at the hole for hours. The rat has probably gone out of the back door ages ago and is roaming about the fields, going about his or her business. This gives the rat a great sense of security and it likes to think of the cat as stupid. But! Yes, but. The cat’s patience usually pays off. Ratty gets a bit too confident and, reasonable, expects the cat to have lost interest and gone away long ago. He pops his head out and BANG. Gone. It hasn’t happened yet but if I were that rat, I would seriously think of moving home before long.
Well, that’s it for now. I can hear THEIR car coming along the Throwleigh Road. Have to get in position so my limp gains me max sympathy. I mean, we’ve all got our little way, haven’t we?

the farrier sees to Mims' footThursday 29th June 2006
“Oh, me, me, mum, my turn, let me.!
“Oh Mums, wait. Don’t go on so. Well, Wicky, alright by you?”
“Aye lass, let her have a turn. As long as it’s not one of her silly ones.”
“They’re never silly. Creative maybe but not silly. Alright then mum? You want to hear my story? Wick?”
“Want is a strong word dear, but go on, it will pass the time till breakfast.”
“Right. Here goes then ……..

‘Willie looked at the walls of the tunnel. They were moist. If he looked close up, he could even see water running down. Must be careful. Don’t want it caving in, do we? He carried on digging, pushing the tunnel further and further into the dark soil. He was getting tired now, he’d been at it for several hours without a break. That’s the worst of these old tunnels, he thought. Never know where they might lead you. He’d started by entering just under the large rock where there was obvious signs that someone had been here before. Some parts were clear and others were showing signs of collapse. He had pushed on, digging, digging tunnelling after the original entrance stopped abruptly. Most of the work was dry until just a few minutes ago. He wondered if he were nearing some underground waterway or if this was moisture permeating from above. Feeling suddenly weary he decided to take a break and just collapsed where he was, breathing deeply.
He listened to the movement of the ground. He also could hear a steady drip, drip, drip of the water from the walls. Then, faintly at first, gradually getting louder he heard some other muffled but heavier sound. It sounded quite rhythmical for which, although puzzled, he was very grateful for it didn’t have the dreaded sound of an imminent collapse. No, it wasn’t the ground itself moving but something or someone else tunnelling quite close. He strained his eyes in the darkness. Was that a bulge n one of the walls? It was really too dim to properly tell but the wall did appear to be irregular. Yes. Suddenly, with the sound, quite distinctly of a thud, the wall moved towards him. He drew back in alarm. Another bump and the surface cracked.
The next moment the wall before him caved in and he saw a face. Stifling a scream, he managed to stutter a ‘who are you?’. The face did not reply. In fact it advanced towards him. Nearer and nearer it threatened. Terrified, Willie lashed out. Ow! At the same time he felt a sharp pain in his rear. He was being attacked from all sides. He lashed out again and this time the pain in his tail was even worse but the face in front of him gave now sign that he had hit it. Willie pulled his tail to him to examine it for damage and at the same time the face withdrew. After checking and finding only bruising, Willie tentatively peered into the hole where the face had been. Nothing. It was empty. He decided to push through and pursue his tormentor. After a few moments progress, Willie was puzzled to find himself back where he had started from. Then it dawned on him. The ‘face’ was actually his own tail which had been digging in unison with his own efforts. Well, he thought. Worms maybe aren’t the brightest creatures in the world, are they?

“Mims, I said not if it was going to be one of your silly stories.”
“It wasn’t silly, was it mum? Was it?”
“Don’t worry dear. I think that sounds like THEIR car turning up. My goodness how hungry I am. Let’s all go and eat!

Wicky's new trace clipFriday 30th June 2006
“The trouble with this hot weather is …”
“… we all have to stand in the field shelter …”
“… or, at least, with our heads in the shelter …”
“… to get away from the flies. So, then Wick, it must be your turn to amuse us.”
“I’ll no tell ye stories about wurums, lassies. All I can do is tell you o’ my own experiences, when I was a wee laddie.”
“Cor, can you think back that far granddad?”
“Look, Mims, I don’t have to do it you know. Why don’t you just hobble out into the heat and leave mum and I to have a wee chat?”
“Oh, come on Wick, she was only being funny, or trying to be.”
“Hmmph. Trying is what she is alright. Well, if there’s no interruptions, I’ll see what I can remember that’ll interest you…..”

‘I can remember one day, we were wandering up along the road, looking for cars to stop to get a bit of something to eat. It was a cold and miserable day and we had been walking all over the moor trying to find anything that was worth eating. I was only very small and was walking along beside my mother. The herd leader was an old guy who had been in charge for many years, long before I was born. He had been a fine chap in his day, nearly pure Dartmoor and as black as midnight. But now his grey hairs were more than his black and his eyesight was failing. I can remember my mother saying that she was not at all sure that he had intended to come up to the road but that we had ended up there by accident. Some of the younger males were grumbling that there was better grazing to be had further across the tors but he was still in charge so that was where we went.
We had been walking along, parallel to the road for maybe ten minutes or more when we heard this strange noise in the distance. It wasn’t the noise of a car, as we had been expecting, but something more rhythmic, a sort of drumming sound. The leader signalled us to stop and we waited, hoping that this meant that we might be eating soon. The drumming got loader and louder, more of a pounding but still we couldn’t see anything along the road. Suddenly the sky darkened, the sun vanished and a sort of mist gusted over us. I was quite terrified and nudged close to my mother. It was now so black that it was impossible to see anything and the noise had grown quite deafening. It was no longer coming towards us but seemed to be all around us and above us as well. No-one knew what to do. The younger males adopted defensive position not knowing which way to run and we all just froze in terror.
Then, the sound stopped and  a light appeared above our heads and , looking up, we could see a doorway, like the entrance to a stable, with two legged creatures like nothing we had seen before lowering a ramp to the ground where we stood. The two legs descended the ramp and one of them placed its hand on our herd leader’s head and he then followed the creature back up the ramp. It took only a few minutes for the ramp to be withdrawn and the door to close. All went dark again and the terrible noise resumed. It stayed like that for two or three minutes and then the sound receded and the sky lightened. When we recovered our senses, we saw that the grass where we stood was lush and green in a large circle about two hundred yards wide. To this day no-one knows what had happened but we never saw our herd leader, ever again.’

“Cor, Wick. Was it aliens do you think? That was a good story. Was it true?”
“Well, lassie. You see, I was very young at the time. I don’t really know. But it was interesting, don’t you think?”
“Wicky. You should know better. Filling a girls head up with …. Oh well, it passed the time. Lets graze now, shall we?”

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