Alezane's Diary Archive July 2006
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The day to day life of an ex-racehorse and her companions in Dartmoor UK and Mayenne France
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Throwleigh Road tidied upSaturday 1st July 2006
Worms, aliens? I don’t know what’s up with them. What’s wrong with nice equine stories, I’d like to know. I suppose I should count my blessings that we haven’t had a football or tennis story. At least that’s one area where animals have more sense than the two legs. Sure, I know I was a racehorse so I was involved in sport. But it wasn’t my idea. It wasn’t a sport invented by horses. Just one where we get exploited by humans for their own enjoyment. I expect if I asked Wicky what sport he as most interested in, he’d say eating. But then, if you asked Wicky for his favourite kind of music, he’d say eating. He has a sort of think about it, you know. I secretly think that he is hoping that if he eats enough, he will grow as big as a normal horse. Or even a pony would do, I suppose.
The rooks were making a deuce of a racket yesterday. We couldn’t see anything but it sounded as if their colony was being raided by the raven or buzzard or something. I suppose they could just be squabbling amongst themselves. Birds are funny creatures as well. Very vocal and now I come to think about it, they seem to be given a bit to sports. Or, games, at least. I suppose there is a difference between sports and games. Games are for fun, for enjoyment, for pleasure. But sport, the way the two legs do it seems to be all about winning. They get very earnest and worried and don’t seem to be enjoying it at all unless they are beating their opponents.
I’m trying to imagine our rabbits playing football in the field. They could do, you know, there are enough of them. They could make enough teams for a whole Ninefields league. Not sure what they would do for a ball though. Maybe a small rat all curled up or a large mouse. Of course there are nuts but they are two small really. If only we had some fir trees around here they could use fir cones. They could nibble the ends off to make them round and they are a good weight, not too light and not too heavy.
You know what? I think it is the heat. Midsummer madness or something. I started off moaning about the other two and here I am raving just as badly. You see, it’s trying to find something to do all ay in the heat. Dozing is good but it doesn’t last long enough. As Wick would say, eating would be good but we can’t go out in the heat. So, for a good long part of the day, we are left wide awake and being made irritable by the flies, thinking all sorts of silly things. First of the month today. Month seven. All downhill from now on. Soon be Xmas!

Young swallowsSunday 2nd July 2006
I’ve got a bit of a limp myself, now. One of my rear feet has sustained some damage and now clicks when I walk. We will make a fine pair, Mims and I, hobbling about in the field.
This morning started with some very loud cracks of thunder and flashes of lightning. Wick and I were watching Mims very carefully in case she spooked (as she I supposed to have done when she was young). But, I was very proud of her. In fact she seemed to take no notice of it at all. The heavens opened and I ran for the field shelter but Mims and Wick just walked about enjoying the rain. I suppose it was cooling for them. When THEY turned up, our breakfast buckets were arranged so that there was room for all of us in the shelter. Mims settled for this at first but them went outside again to finish her food.
Not a lot to talk about today. Because of the rain and the breeze, we didn’t have to wear out fly masks and we all just grazed, me near the shelter and the others near the trees in case it got too heavy. We could do with the rain in fact. Our stream is getting smaller and smaller. Still plenty to drink, I’m pleased to say, but as the water gets lower, so the gravel bed gets harder and harder to walk on.
Our swallows have at last given birth. Or, at least, they may have done it a while ago but now the youngsters can be seen with their white beaks over the edge of the nest. The parents are very cautious when they fly in and out. I tried to tell them that THEY know all about the young and wont hurt them but I am not sure that they trust us either.
So that is all I have to report for the second of the month. No more signs of the farrier or the guy who looks after our fields. Just long, lazy days with hard ground and hobbling. Ah well!

Monday 3rd July 2006
“Wick. What’s up with mum now?”
“She’s not very good with the heat, lass. That and her foot. All she wants to do is stand in the field shelter. I don’t blame her really.”
“It is very hot today, isn’t it. Did you see those men with their lorry up on the road. I was watching them. They were throwing sand all over the road making it just like the seaside where I used to live.”
“That’s because the tar in the road was melting in the heat. If you look just outside the gate there are marks where some sort of heavy lorry started to sink into the road where it melted.”
“Do you think our rocks will melt? It would be funny if our feet got stuck in the tracks up the field, wouldn’t it?”Wick and Mims
“No chance of that lass. The only way our rocks would melt would be if it got so hot that we fried up first.”
“Oooh! Don’t say things like that Wick. Makes me scared.”
“Did I ever tell you about the time we had that really hot heat wave when I was a lad?”
“No, I don’t think you did. Did the roads melt then?”
“Where I was then we never went near a road. Right up high on the moor we were. You see, the higher you go, the cooler it gets so our herd leader took us right up one of the highest tors.  Trouble was that if you go too high you run out of forage so we had to hang about halfway up.”
“Did you get lost in the clouds up there Wick?”
“That was half the trouble then. There weren’t hardly any clouds so the sun just beat down on us all day. There was another problem being so high up. Can you guess what it was?”
“You got dizzy?”
“No, think lassie. What does a horse do if he’s not eating?”
“Sleeping. Look at mum there.”
“But that doesn’t last very long. No, what I meant was what does a horse need apart from food?”
“Er, …. Oh, I get it, water.”
“That’s right lassie. You see there’s not much water up the tops of the hills. In a normal year you might find some pools but in a heat wave like we had then, the pools dry up. So we had to go down the hill again to find a stream for a drink. But, at least we could do that at night when it wasn’t so hot.”
“Funny, aint it? We are the other way round. We stay down here in the home paddock, near the stream in the day and then go up to the top field overnight when it’s cool. Hey, I just had a thought. Was it all the going up and down, down and up the hills that wore your legs away?”
“Oh, ha, ha young lady. I think it’s time for you to go and see if your mum wants anything. Go on, off you trot while I burst my sides laughing at your little joke.”
“OK grandpa, see you later if we don’t all catch fire. Bye!”

Alli in shelterTuesday 4th June 2006
Hi guys. Quit a day today. I went for a walk this morning after breakfast. Mum didn’t notice my going at first because she has been stuck in the field shelter with her bad foot. HE came up and put my head collar on. I was a bit reluctant at first but then, once we got outside on the road I got more interested in what was going on there beause thus sort f tractor thing was going up and down trimming the hedges and grass on either side of the road. He was a very nice man because he stopped working while we passed by. Although I was pleased, I was also a bit sorry for him because he still had one of those red and white flags on his tractor and HE had told me that the football team had lost and had come home so the driver must have been very sad.
When we got under the bridge, I realised where we were going although I had no idea why. You see, last time was when I was really badly lame and they put me in the stable with all that deep bedding. I was still limping a bit now but if THEY had let me out when my foot was worse, surely I wouldn’t be put in again now I am getting better?
When we got home, the stable door was open but SHE stopped me outside and proceeded to hose down my feet. I jumped at first but then remembered my old human used to do it and anyway, on a hot day like today, it was actually quite nice and cooling. Then I was led into the stable and who should turn up but Mark, the farrier, in a brand new van. To cut a long story short, he trimmed all my feet and then proceeded to fill the hole in my sore foot with some plasticky stuff that set had in a little while. SHE will tell you that I was a bit naughty as I did jump about a bit but HE will tell you have very brave I was. I mean, it’s not nice having your sore foot messed around with and I couldn’t help jumping when Mark hurt me, could i? HE told me what a good girl I was although HE did hold onto my nose quite firmly. Also Mark didn’t let go when I tried to snatch my foot back so in the end I just gave in and it was all over.
While we were walking back, Mark passed us in his new van and then SHE passed us as well. When we got to Ninefields, we found that Mark had looked at mum’s foot and released a lot of puss from an abscess there. That must have been a real relief for her. I felt so much better that I had a little roll on the grass. Maybe now mum and I will be able to go up the hill for a little graze tonight. I’ll let you know later.



Looking for a treatWednesday 5th July 2006
Three (no, four) cheers for Mark the farrier. My foot is feeling a lot better today. I was able to leave the field shelter and go out last night and do a spot of grazing and I was out to welcome HIM (well, my breakfast, really) this morning. Of course, I am not 100% fit yet but compared with having my whole leg swollen and being filled with pain, life is looking hundreds better.
And another three cheers for Mark from Mims. She is now getting used to her plastic leg (well, foot really) and is getting around very well now too. In fact, the dangerous duo ride again. Look out any stray stallions, here we come.
HE came on HIS own this morning because HE was taking HER to the vets after our breakfast. SHE was going to have a blood test. Now, I don’t know if farriers do that as well but that is what I would recommend. Always go to a specialist, that’s what I think. If your foot is hurting why go to someone who deals with anything else?

Well, I started this diary entry this morning while we were waiting for Wicky to finish up his housekeeping. Then we all went up the hill to graze and to have a good day. The weather was a bit cooler today but we still needed our fly masks on because nobody told the flies. Anyway, what I started to say was that, when THEY came to bring our supper, HE told me that the blood test was OK and SHE doesn’t need to have anything lanced or poulticed or to be put on deep bedding (although SHE says, SHE wouldn’t have minded that). So, alls well that ends well as somebody once said. It may have been Treggy, I can’t remember now.
So, a good day, a nothing happening day but sometimes those kinds of days are the best, aren’t they?

Thursday 6th July 2006
“I used to ‘ave a lot of that, didn’t I?”
“Oh my god. Treg, you made me jump.”
“Yeah, only you can’t wiv bad feet, can yer?”
“True, old friend. But I’m feeling much better now, thank you.”
“I used to suffer somethin’ awful from that. Remember I was nearly always having poultices and things. Still, don’t have to worry about all that now.”
“You never get sore feet now Treg?”Wet Mims
“Na, course not. No feet, eh! Can’t get sore feet with no feet, can yer?”
“Oh yes, of course, I forgot. Well, how are things old man. How are you doing?”
“Mustn’t grumble. In fact that’s sort a literal. It’s against the rules to grumble where we are. You know – always look on the bright side, and all that.”
“Still, I don’t expect you have anything to grumble about, anyway, do you?”
“Cant say I do. Course, I miss you lot sometimes but then I can always pop down for a chat and at least this way Wick doesn’t get to bite my knees, eh? Cant anyway cos I ….”
“…. Got no knees, yes, I see Treg. Tell me, have you spoken to Mims lately? She’s had bad feet too, you know.”
“Can’t say I have, Alli. It’s been a bit busy up there recently. We’ve been getting ready for Ghosthorse of the Year. It’s a show we have to sort of show the newcomers the ropes an that.”
“That sounds interesting. What do you do. Trot around a ring? Showjumping? That kind of thing?”
“Well, not really. You see its pretty hard to trot around a ring or jump a fence when you aint …..”
“… any feet! Right, yes, of course. Silly of me. That was worthy of Mims, wasn’t it? So what do you do?”
“It’s more like mind games. You know Scribble and that. You have a load of letters and you have to make up horses names or other equines things. Then there’s Fetlockoly. You have this himaginary square and its made up of loose boxes and you have to go round and tighten ‘em up and then you can buy them. If you get enough you can build a ménage or an exercise pool on them and all that. Stuff like that.”
“Sounds really interesting Treg. It’s improving your vocabulary I think.”
“No, you can’t have no vocabulary wiv no feet, we all flies about a lot.”
“Er, yes Treg dear. Do you enjoy all those games, they sound like fun?”
“Well, to tell you the truth Al, I don’t really understand them. Can’t really see the point. But it keeps the others happy. I just like to watch them enjoying theirselves. I don’t find I need to do a lot. I’m quite happy just thinking. Spend a lot of time remembering the old times here. They were good old days, weren’t they Alli?”
“They certainly were Treg. I often find myself remembering them when I am alone and grazing up the hill.”
“Still, mustn’t look back too much, eh. Plenty of time for that later. When you came to join me again. You’ve still got a lot to enjoy, you and Wick and Mims.”
“So we have Treggy dear. But, it’s lovely to see you. Have a good time at your Show. I’ve got to get the herd together now for supper.”
“Yeah, righto Alli. Be seeing you. Love to everyone. Bye!”

Alli's bad footFriday 7th July 2006
I reckon it must be old Treg putting a jinx on me. My foot has swollen up again and I am limping as bad as before. SHE did the only thing SHE can, this morning, and put a poultice on it. I guess we all just have to wait for it to break again, probably out of the top of my foot again. In the meanwhile I am afraid it is agony. When on earth will all this stop? IT would be lovely to have several weeks of normality again. Maybe it is just down to keeping thoroughbreds on Dartmoor Hill country. We just don’t have the feet for it and that is that.
The other thing SHE has started is painting Mims feet with a hoof hardener. SHE would have done mine as well but it was painful to lift them all so THEY are waiting until at least my abscess is better. Mims is funny. For all intents and purposes, she is better but she is still, well, not exactly limping, but walking funny. It’s a cross between a limp and a stumble – lets call it a lumble. Mimble with the lumble. But she is a happy little soul. Even when she has a go at Wicky it is more in fun than temper. And she loves people. Doesn’t understand them but she loves them a lot. Especially as scratching posts. When HE takes her fly mask off she likes nothing better than to rub her head up and down HIS body, nearly knocking HIM over. It’s a good job they are both as daft as each other really. HE doesn’t mind a bit, just laughs and ruffles her forelock.
THEY were discussing her this morning. SHE thinks Mims is ‘wilful’. Whereas I am stoical and will tolerate most things, Mims goes along with things for a while and then says ‘right, that’s enough’. And that is wilful, apparently. I must say that if something is hurting you and you take your fut away or move out of the way, that seems sensible to me. Oh well, it depends on your point of view, I suppose.
Now Wicky is a candidate for ‘wilful’ or worse. No, maybe ‘opportunistic’ would be a better word. Take this morning. SHE went into the hay store part of the shelter to get the stuff to paint on Mims feet. And then, HE held Mims feet up in turn while SHE painted the stuff on. Now Wick noticed that the gate to the hay store had not shut properly and while THEY were both engaged, he decided to go and explore for edibles. Edibles are, by the way, his favourite food. HE saw what was happening but could only shout as HE was holding on to a foot. Of course Wick know that a shout doesn’t stop anything. It was only when HE was free and ran into the store that Wick just shrugged and said ‘fair cop’ and just sauntered out again.
He’s a rogue but he’s a loveable old rogue. He always waits for us to go up the hill, even if he has finished cleaning up all our spilt food. A real gentleman is Wick.

Alli in fly maskSaturday 8th July 2006
I think that poultice worked because I was back walking nearly normally this morning. It is getting quite funny when you see Mims and I hobbling up the field and are able to say that is normal. Still, I don’t mind a bit of a hobble as long as I can go without the pain.
Funny, we had our masks on again this morning and yet it has been quite cool with very few flies about. I suppose it is  case of better safe than sorry. So, what can I tell you about that might be in the slightest bit interesting? I am sure that you are bored to tears hearing all about our aches and pains.
The swallows are getting bigger by the day. If you didn’t see them you could gues by the volume of droppings that are accumulating on the floor. This is the first time they have used this particular nest which is right in the middle of the roof of the hay store so when HE goes in to get the bird food or our collars or hoof pick, HE sort of has to run the gauntlet in case he gets poo’d on. Cant remember if I told you that HE tried to take some photos of the chicks the other day but every time HE got on the stool so that HE had a good view, they all ducked down behind the edge of the nest.
SHE said something I didn’t know the other day. THEY were talking about vegetarians and HE mentioned the squirrels and their nuts. Then SHE said that squirrels are not always vegetarian. They are also know for stealing baby chicks! So, our swallows had better be careful. I heard HIM warn the squirrel that if she as much as dares to look at our birds, HE will cut off her peanut rations. She is actually getting very tame and just sits and wait and watches while he gets the nuts ready. Best f all is the way she sits in the cage that is specifically made to keep squirrels away from the birds nuts. She just uses it as a very handy place to sit down while she I eating.
Haven’t seen Maxwell for quite a time now. I don’t know if he has gone away for more jumping lessons of if he is just over at his other pasture. There were cows in his field a while back but now they have eaten all the grass, they have gone away again.
Funny how we have sheep and Max has cows to clean up our fields. Wicky says he doesn’t see the need for it as he would volunteer to eat it all up himself!

Sunday 9th July 2006
“Where we come from, there’s loads and loads of water. But it is good because the weather is bright and warm and it’s nice to bathe in the water.”
“What? Bathe in water? Ugh, laddie, it must be very strange where you come from, I tell ye. We bathe in good Devon mud. Does ye the world of good. Anyway, if you think it is so good there, why do you fly all the way here in the summer?”
“We fly here to breed because it’s too hot to raise our young there. We do bathe in dirt, well dust, as well as water. It depends on what we are trying to achieve.”
“What does anyone want from a bath, my son. To get dirty, that’s what. Now, tell me, how can you do that in water?”
“Mr Wicked, sir, I think that birds and …er…whatever you are have different ways of looking at things. We definitely don’t bathe to get dirty. We rub the dust all through our feathers to get clean. As it falls out, it takes all the mites and other irritants out with it. Then we bathe in water for refreshment. Tones you up for the day and makes a great improvement in your singing voice.Still, you don’t have one of those, do you?”Five swallow chicks
“There’s nothing wrong with my voice, laddie. It’s just that I save it for important things like welcoming my feed bucket or sometimes saying rude things to yon great big red monster . Why would I want to sing?”
“Oh, singing is part of the joy of living. When that dark old sky starts to lighten up and you can feel the sun coming up over the horizon, doesn’t it make you want to sing your heart out?”
“When the dawn comes, my lad, I can start counting the hours until breakfast time.”
“Tell me, Mr Wicked, where do you build your nest? I’ve looked all over the place but there’s nothing inside that shelter and I’ve not seen it in the field, either.”
“What would I want a nest for?”
“Well, where do you lay your eggs and bring up your young and all that?”
“Apart from being a bird, you’re also a bit of an idiot, aren’t you? Firstly, you called me Mr Wicked which means that you know I’m male so you should also know that I wouldn’t lay eggs even if I could, which I don’t, if you see what I mean. Horses have foals not eggs.”
“But I’ve heard those red ones say that you’re not a horse. They call you a Po Knee, although why they should say that while they are limping about all over the place I just don’t understand.”
“OK, so I’m a pony. That’s an honour not a disease. I still don’t lay eggs.”
“So where do you keep your foals then if you don’t have  nest?”
“We hor … equines .. don’t need nests. Our young get up and walk after a few hours. We just keep moving.”
“Oh, that’s probably why those red ones have worn out their legs, I expect. Anyway, Mr Wicked, it’s been nice talking to you but I’ve got to rush now. Got to catch some flies for my babies to eat.”
“Laddie, that’s the best thing you’ve said all afternoon. Off you go. Catch loads!”

Mims eatingMonday 10th July 2006
HE told me today that if we can print what birds, rabbits, rats and others have to say, we should let HIM have a go as well. When I asked HIM what he meant, HE said that HE just wanted to say that HE had a bit of a cry today. HE was sorting out some folders on HIS computer, when HE came across some that HE makes temporarily for his web site each month.
(I am just this once, going to relax using the CAPITAL LETTERS thing for him and her otherwise we will use up too much ink)
So, anyway, he starts looking into each folder to see what he must save and what he will delete, when he came across the folder of the photos of Mims’ arrival here. Just in case anyone has forgotten, that was on 20th October last year, nearly nine months ago. (only that long, it seems like forever!). So he starts looking back and sees Mims being led out of the horsebox, sees her being set loose in the home paddock and sees me running down the hill to greet her. Really nice memories. But then he come up to the other photos which show Wicky and Treg watching and then later all of us eating together in the field shelter.
He said that it was that picture particularly that brought a tear to his eye – just four horses all together. And then, to make things worse, he came across a picture of Max, taken from up on the Throwleigh Road and there, in the background, was Treg again, laying down as he did a lot just before the end. He told me he just sat looking at his screen with the tears streaming down.
Isn’t it amazing how Treg can have that effect on someone. Yes, he was lovely but he wasn’t clever and he wasn’t particularly good looking, as he got older, a bit of a scruff, in fact. But he had the kindest, nicest nature of anyone human or horse, that you could ever want to meet.
He told me afterwards that, in fact, although he was crying, it was not really with sadness. Funny, isn’t it. Some things just get you like that but it is really a very happy memory. A bit like Wicky looking back on this morning’s breakfast, I guess!

Tuesday 11th July 2006
There I was, listening to HIS problems, and all the time I had a big problem of my own brewing. Sorry to sound like a cracked record (hey, I just realised, there must be thousands of you youngsters out there that have no idea what that means – I’ll explain later) but it’s back to feet problems again. Not the same foot, of course, the one next to it – my nearside rear. By the time THEY came along last night with our super, I could hardly stand up, let alone walk. The pain was dreadful. I hopped into the field shelter and very nearly fell over trying to move into position to eat.
SHE bandaged my leg again and by the time I staggered out of the shelter, SHE was in tears (very emotional these humans). I could see that as THEY walked away that THEY just couldn’t leave it at that and, sure enough, about an hour and a half later, THEY were back with a vet. A new vet this time, the sister of the guy who came before. She came along with her little Jack Russell, Tanya, who had a marvellous time running about our fields and looking for rabbits.Alli tips the bucket
The best thing that the vet did was to immediately give me a pain killing injection. That was the good thing. Then she had to carry out her detailed examination and that wasn’t so good. But. I do understand the need for it so I just stood there and bore it as best as I could. HE did HIS best to take my mind off things by feeding me treats of carrots, sweets and biscuits. I didn’t get so many biscuits though because Tanya decided that she wasn’t against horse biscuits even though she was a dog.
The outcome was the same old story, a crack in the hoof which had set up an abscess. The good news was that the vet decided that she would not cut back my hoof until she caused more problem than she solved as happened with Mims. She strapped it and said that THEY should give me a foot soak in warm salt water and then poultice it until the abscess burst – the traditional but effective treatment.
So, that’s what happened this morning. I did spend a much more comfortable night once the painkillers kicked in and then I was given my breakfast where I stood this morning so that I should not have to walk much. After breakfast, HE got a couple of vacuum flasks and made my saline bath and then I stood there eating mints while my foot soaked up the warmth. There was one problem. The special bandage that is used for all this sort of work had been all used up between Mims and myself so I had to make do with an ordinary leg strap around the poultice held together with adhesive tape. I know where HE will be going today to buy lots more bandage.
I think it is a close thing who is most fed up with all these foot problems, THEM or us. HE has just paid the previous vets bill and is wondering how HE can put us to work to earn our keep. I told him we do it just by looking beautiful and really, HE had to agree!

Mims looking at WickyWednesday 12th July 2006
If I said I was going to tell you a story at bedtime and then, every night, started with ‘Once upon a time there were three bears’, you would very soon get fed up, I know. So the fact that I am going to tell you that both Mims and I had our feet poulticed this morning, will not fill you with a lot of excitement. The only good part was that after shouting at, smacking and pushing Wicky away from my food while I was being attended to, THEY finally tied the little terror up on a head collar and he had to stand and be good for a whole ten minutes.
I should have told you, the other day, HE was really surprised that when Mims and I were getting treats from HER, Wicky came up and bit Mims and made her cry out. It was a quite unprovoked attack. It gave HIM a completely new slant on Wick’s behaviour because HE had always felt sorry for him and a bit protective.
On the other hand, if I am to be perfectly honest (and not a rather prejudiced mother), I think they both give as good as they get and, in fact, neither takes the slightest bit of notice. It is only the old softy humans who seem to get worried by it. You should see the way HE walks down the hill from the Throwleigh Road gate with a protective arm around Wick, just in case Mims runs up and gives him a playful nip on the way to breakfast or supper. What HE doesn’t see is the sneaky ‘ha ha’ look that Wick gives to Mims as he goes along.
There has been the smattering of talk about what the equine property market is like in Normandy where I come from. I mean of course the market for land and houses and not that THEY are thinking of selling me back. That would be a bit of fun, wouldn’t it. I would have to try and teach Mims and Wick to speak French. I’m sure Wick would quickly pick up the words concerning food. What a couple of Devonians might make of living in France, let alone the flight over there, I just don’t know. Anyway, if anything does ever come of it you will remember that you heard it here first!


Cat Flap consoles TomThursday 13th July 2006
THEY are not having a very good time at he moment. Yesterday morning HE didn’t remember seeing Tom, the brown Burmese cat but HE didn’t worry as Tom is quite a lazy cat and often lays in while the other two rush down to get their breakfast. One thing Tom does do though is eat lunch with THEM. He even has his own chair at the table and always has some of the meat or fish that THEY are eating.
Well, yesterday, Tom didn’t turn up for dinner, even though he must have smelt that it was one of his favourites, liver, that was cooking. After lunch, which SHE cooks, HE always does the dishes and usually there is a bowl of left overs or peelings or something to go out to the compost bin. As HE made his way out to the bin, HE noticed Tom, asleep on the roof of the tool shed. This is one of the cats best places for sleeping because it catches the sun most of the day. HE climbed up beside Tom to talk top him but the cat wasn’t very responsive so HE went away a bit worried.
HE checked up on Tom a bit later and was pleased to see that he was no longer there and HE felt a bit better that Tom was active and had climbed down from the roof. Later THEY were coming to bring our supper and were just going to climb into THEIR car when THEY saw Tom, sitting hunched up in a very unhappy looking manner in the herb garden next to the car. THEY lifted him up and carried him in and shut him in the house until THERY could see to him after feeding us.
It was decided that Tom, who has a tablet every other day for his breathing, should have a double dose of tablets and then be laid on the bed and watched to see if he was getting better. After a couple of hours, Tom appeared a bit brighter but by 10 pm he appeared to be quite ill again.
SHE made an emergency appointment with the vet and they picked Tom up and took him down to the local town to the veterinary clinic. During the examination, the vt, Charley, found that Tom had a temperature of over 41 degrees (a normal cat temperature being 38 degrees). He was given two shots, one to lower his temperature and the other an antibiotic to combat the infection, whatever it was. They took Tom home and he slept with them on their bed for most of the night.
The next morning, the other two cats rushed in for breakfast but no sign of Tom. Then, while HE was getting our breakfast ready, Tom walked in to HER and brought HER a mouse. He was taken back to the vet for a check up this afternoon nd was found to be fine. So, at least, some stories have a happy ending. I wish I was a cat!

A dark evening skyFriday 14th July 2006
And talking of cats, let me introduce you to Mutton. Now, I have to admit, I have never met Mutton so I only have HIS word for all this. Still, If it keeps the subject off my foot for a while, I think we will all be happy. HE first became acquainted with Mutton several weeks ago when HE heard the sound of the cat flap but didn’t think it was any of our cats because they were all indoors, laying on HIS bed. HE went out to the kitchen to investigate but saw nothing, so whatever or whoever it was had been going out of the cat flap not coming in.
This went on for quite some time and then, one day, HE was coming down the stairs from HIS office which leads into the utility room when HE saw this flash of black and white just hurtling through the flap. HE didn’t get a good look but at least it confirmed that there was a stray cat coming in and eating our cats food. After this HE saw the intruder a few times and, strangely enough, HE saw him going out while one or other of our cats just sat and watched him. HE assures me that Mutton is not a handsome cat. In fact, he is quite ugly, a bit battered about and with one ear missing. It was only when HE one day came in to the utility room and saw the intruder eating without looking up at HIM, that HE realised that this ugly black and white cat is stone deaf. HE did what most stupid humans do and quite forgot this revelation and made welcoming noises to let the cat know that it was welcome. Of course, it didn’t hear him. Then HE must have moved across the light or something for the cat did look up and dashed out of the flap again.
HE tried to follow it out of the house and make welcoming gestures to it but it goes of like a shot. Over a period of time however, the dash for the cat flap when discovered has got slower and slower until it is now no more than a dignified walk. The reason that I am relating this to you today is that last night, HE went to bed and forgot that HE had promised to take HER a bottle of drinking water when HE came to bed. HE therefore had to go back downstairs and, when HE opened the door to the kitchen, PC was sitting on the table eating (HE always feeds the cats on the table at night) and the intruder was sitting watching him on one of the chairs. HE purposefully did not look at the cat but walked through to the fridge in the utility room and then walked back through again and the cat did not run away.
HE thinks that maybe THEY have finally convinced him that THEY will not harm him and do not mind feeding him. THEY are very sorry for him as it must be a hard life being a deaf cat, not hearing any danger coming and all that. The only unkind thing that HE has dome is to give him a name. THEY had been talking about him as ‘the deaf cat’ or ‘deafy’ but now HE decided to call him Mutton. It, of course, has nothing to do with sheep or meat. If you hadn’t already guessed, it is from the Cockney rhyming slang for ‘deaf’ = ‘Mutt and Jeff’ or Mutton for short!

Supper timeSaturday 15th July 2006
Or now, just Mutt! Enough of cats.
We need to talk about feet again, I’m afraid. This morning when THEY came with breakfast, THEY caught me having a lay down to rest my painful foot. I am afraid it upset THEM for it reminded THEM of Tregony who was always laying down towards the end. Anyway, after bringing my bucket up to me and giving me a small basin full of feed (with medication in it), HE went away to go and look after the birds and I got to my feet and started eating. At least, SHE was reassured to see how easily I got up. While I was eating, SHE inspected my bad foot and told HIM it had all the appearance of a gigantic bruise. Whatever it was, THEY decided to call the vets in again.
I should tell you before we go on that SHE had put in a phone call to Mark the farrier yesterday but had heard nothing from him. So, when THEY got home, SHE phoned the vets, ony to be told that both vets that had seen me were not available until Monday so SHE had to make do with an appointment for then.
Some time just before lunch, the phone went and SHE answered it to find that it was Mark the farrier who said that he would come and look at me on Monday morning!
Wow! That should be a good day, Monday, if I last that long. With a bit of luck, the abscess or whatever it is will have cured itself by then. If not, SHE says she will wait until Mark has been on Monday and then decide whether to cancel the vet or whatever.
I don’t remember telling you that our swallows have flown. Luckily HE took some quite good photos of them all in the nest a couple of days before they decided to go. HE says it would have been nice to see them all flying about as a family before they went. This has happened other years but this year they just vanished. Maybe they will come back before they finally fly of home at the end of the summer. Other families have one that in the past.
The weather has been warm and is getting warmer and the stream is drying up very rapidly. The problem is that we have to walk on all that dry gravel now to get a drink. Since my foot has been bad, HE does bring a couple of buckets up, one to the field and the other outside the field shelter, to save me having to walk too far. The trouble is that the other two share it as well and two buckets don’t go very far.
Right, I’m off to give the other two some French lessons (or lecons as we call them). THEY have be researching the possible move and, so far, have not found anything to put them against the idea. I would have thought not knowing what anyone was saying might have influenced them but so far – rien!

The swallows just before they flew offSunday 16th July 2006
Good news Sunday. Or actually Saturday first. By the time THEY came with our suppers last night, I was able to walk quite well or should I say limp quite well? Whatever, it was noticeable to them that I was moving better than I have been for a long time. And then, this morning, THEY didn’t know what to think because we were all spread out. Wick was in his usual place just behind the tree by the stream where he always calls out to greet THEM. Mims was standing in the field shelter and I was up in the field above the shelter. What I was doing was trying to show THEM what I had seen in the next field but, to THEM, it looked as if I couldn’t move again.
HE had first to solve the problem of Mims being in the shelter because if HE put Wicks food down there where it normally goes, if was quite likely that Mims would have a lunge at him when he barged in to get his bucket. You see Wick will go anywhere and do anything for food and if it means shoving Mims out of the way, well, so what! On the other hand, Mims had quite enough of being shoved out of the way by Wick when she first came here and now considers that she doesn’t have to take it any more so she takes the opportunity to have a bit of a bite as she is being moved out of his way. So, what HE did was to decide that we would all have picnics. HE put Wicks food down on the path some distance away from the shelter, took Mims her food to where she stood and then started off up the hill to find me.
I was still standing where I had been and SHE kept calling me to come for my breakfast so it became obvious to HIM that SHE wanted to see if I could move at all. So, instead of walking up the steep path to the field, HE took the long route going round the wall. I decided that THEY weren’t interested in what I was trying to show them so I started off to meet HIM half way. When HE saw that I was walking and, in fact, walking well, HE turned and I had to follow HIM into the home paddock.
Kindly, HE decided to put my bucket down halfway I into the paddock at a place that was still in the shade. So we all sat and ate out breakfast separately while THEY discussed how nice it was to see me walking so well. If THEY had asked me I would have told THEM that it was an awful lot nicer to be able to walk so well with far less pain than of late. I gather that THEY will still have Mark the farrier come and have a look at me tomorrow and, depending on what he has to say, probably cancel the vets after all.
I forgot to tell you about the new game I have invented. To save me walking down to the stream and over the hard gravel, HE has been bringing a bucket of water into the paddock for me. I have found that if I first have my drink, I can then shake my head about in the water and shove my nose up in the air to enjoy the coolness. It’s quite nice but not nearly as funny as it looks to THEM apparently. If I get time tonight, I will then be able to tell HIM all about the deer I saw walking through our top fields. However, when they have gone and HE cant see them for HIMSELF, it loses a lot of its point.

Mims leaving the shelterMonday 17th July 2006
I think the heat is getting to HIM. HE’s definitely loosing HIS cool, that’s for sure. Breakfast went as normal this morning except that Wick had to eat outside as Mims and I were hiding in th field shelter from the heat and flies. Wick didn’t mind. As long as he was eating, it didn’t matter to him. In fact, he may have preferred it as he had less time to wait before his bucket was put down. So, we all had breakfast and a few treats and then off THEY went.
I hadn’t forgotten that this was the morning that Mark the farrier was due but, as I was feeling better anyway, it didn’t trouble me. In fact, when THEY did turn up with Mark about half an hour later, I was having a bit of a doze and HE took the mickey out of my drooping lower lip. Wick, by this time, was right inside the shelter behind me and Mims was in front of me. This gave Wick a bit of a problem as to how to get out past us both in order to see if they had brought anything else to eat. Still, he managed it alright because both Mims and I were just to sleepy to take much notice.
HE went and got my head collar and then stood at my head while Mark started to inspect my foot. HE still had a few carrots in his pockets left over from breakfast time so Mims and Wick joined me in order to get some treats. Pretty soon the carrots were all gone though and that is when the trouble started. HE had a few apple biscuits in his pocket but, even dishing these out one at a time didn’t make them last very long as Mims can just suck one in and be instantly ready for the next.
Finally, HE resorted to mints. But, with three of us to cater for, HE didn’t go fast enough or Wick who pushed his head forward in front of Mims. Well, Mims wasn’t going to take that so she lunged out at Wick. Instantly, almost as a reflex action, HE gave Mims a clip around the ear. I could see she was hurt by the way she moved her head right back. Not physically hurt, you understand, it was only a little tap really. No, it was the fact that HE would do it to her, as she had always thought of HIM as her own special friend. I think HE felt guilty as well because HE hastened to give her a good cuddle and a rub on her neck to say sorry. Now, all this saying sorry dried up the supply of mints and Wick was less than impressed so he pushed his nose forward quite aggressively. This was a mistake. HE gave Wick a sharp tap on the nose which made him jump a good three feet away. Again, not very hard but unexpected because it was so uncharacteristic. As I said, I think it must be the heat.
Oh, by the way, Mark couldn’t find any abscess. He packed the hole in my hoof and said that he is sure that it is bruising from treading hard on granite. Time will be the complete cure.

Grass on the wallTuesday 18th July 2006
Hi there. Mum’s having a bit of a doze so she asked me to do today’s bit for her. I can tell you one thing, it’s not going to be a long one. Why? Because it’s too hot, that’s why. Yesterday was hot but today is boiling. We all have spent most of the day in the shelter but even in the shade there it is hot and stuffy and, I have to admit, a bit smelly too – I won’t bother to tell you why.
Yesterday HE got one of the feed buckets HE had been washing in the stream and poured it over Wicky’s back. Instead of being grateful, silly old pony ran away. Now if he could do that for us, I think we’d love it. The trouble is the stream bed is too rocky now to go and stand on and the rocks are hot too. I’ve watched how HE staggers when he brings a full bucket of drinking water up to the shelter so we shouldn’t have to walk don to the stream. In fact, this morning, HE had to bring two buckets up because I was very thirsty and I gulped it nearly all down when HE brought the first bucket and mum had to tilt the bucket up to get any at all.
Now, the bad news is that the weather forecasters are saying that it is going to get even hotter tomorrow before it starts cooling off later in the week. HE told us that THEY just sit in doors with fans going all the time and THEY have to have them on all night as well. HE says it is a choice between not sleeping because you are too hot or not sleeping because of the noise of the fan.
We are maybe luckier in that respect because it does get a bit cooler here at night and then we can go out and have some grass. That’s how we are regulating life at the moment. Dozing all day and eating all night. The trouble is that, at this time of the year, the nights are not long enough.
Right, that’s it. I’m off to move Wick over and get back into my position in the shelter. Time for another few little sleeps before THEY come along with our suppers. Keep cool guys, see ya.

After breakfastWednesday 19th July 2006
HE was n his own this morning. Apparently SHE had a bad night with the heat and couldn’t breathe very well so HE brought our breakfast and did all that although HE let us get away with not having our feet picked out.
Actually, we were very good. No one pushed or barged. Mum and I ate in the shelter while Wicky had a picnic outside. We had our sponges then HE put our masks on and finally our sun blocker. I can’t remember if I have told you before about our sun blocker. I never used to have it until Mims came along. She has a very large blaze on her forehead which ends up with quite a sizable pink bit on her nose. I also have a pink area on my nose but not as much as her. So what is happening is that the suns rays are getting through some holes in the sky (so HE tells me. I’m not sure HE really knows what HE is talking about because I have looked up and cant see any holes). The idea is that if we put this while cream on our nozzles then the sun cant hurt the pink bits. If you ask me, HE would be better finding some cream to put on our feet so the granite cant hurt them but humans will be humans, wont they?
It came over quite cloudy this afternoon so that should fill up all the holes in the sky. It doesn’t really feel that much cooler though because the humidity has risen. We have been promised thunderstorms. That would be quite a relief as we have not had any proper rain for ages. And to think that SHE used to worry about me getting mud fever.
HE’s tried to explain things to me but I still don’t understand why things stick to the ground. In trying to explain about the holes in the sky, HE said that the world is just a great big ball and it is the fact that it is spinning that stops us from falling through those holes. Now, what I know about spinning things is that the more they spin, the more bits fly off them. Because he is lighter than us, I can imagine Wicky flying up into the air as the world spins and then, if the holes in the sky are not very big, he would get stuck in one and all we would see would be his feet kicking away up in the sky. HE said it’s not lik4 that but Mims really caught on to the idea and keeps urging Wick to go and take little jumps up in the air. I wont tell you what he replies to her but I don’t think it is either Scottish or Devonian – just plain rude!

Thursday 20th July 2006
Every day another drama, will it never cease? Not, for a change, an equine drama his time though. Let me explain.
The normal routine in THEIR household, when THEY get up, is for HIM to go down stairs and open the dividing door between the living room and the kitchen, which has been kept closed ever since the cats started bringing little furry or feathered presents home after their night’s escapades. As HE opens this door, usually PC, the old cat, will dash through closely followed by Cat Flap, the youngest. Tom, who I have told you about before, usually takes a little time to wake up, being the laziest creature in the world. HE then gets the dishes and puts out a drop of cream for PC and then tries to open a packet of cat food while Cat Flap prances round and around in panic unless he starves to death. In the same way that Tom is the laziest creature, Cat Flap is the greediest. He has an enormous appetite, always claiming that he is a growing lad.PC and Cat Flap eating
This morning, HE opened the door and no-one rushed through. Sometimes they might be a minute late if HE gets up a bit early so HE proceeded to get the cream and cat food as usual, when HE noticed that Cat Flap is sleeping on the scratching post stand by the door. HE was sure that he would rush to the table when he saw the food but instead Cat Flap just opened one eye and curled up again. HE decided that an eye must be kept on Cat Flap as this was definitely ‘unwell’ behaviour and HE continues to make HER tea and HIS coffee as usual. While they were having their drinks, Tom came strolling in but no sign of PC yet.
By the time it was necessary to get our breakfast ready, HE was getting really worried. HE went up into the computer room, where PC and the others often sleep, but still no sign. And, worse, Cat Flap sill lay inert beside the door. After giving us our breakfast (we were angelic, as usual), THEY had decided that PC had done the honourable thing and had gone away to die somewhere. He is an old cat (just gone 18 years old a few days ago) and has been getting thinner and thinner and more frail in the last few months. HE felt rotten and SHE was in tears but HE had to deal with Cat Flap’s illness so he made an early appointment at the vets and took him along. His temperature was high, though not as high as Toms had been, and he was given the same treatment, and injection to lower his temperature, another of anti biotics to kick start the treatment and a course of pills to continue the treatment after that.
When they got home, there had still been no sign of PC and the day proceeded in a state of gloom. Cat Flap went outside to sleep in the sun to get over his ordeal and they worked silently until lunchtime.
After lunch, HE had a neighbour come round with a computer problem and they went up to the computer room to work on it while SHE went for a sad lay down on the bed. HE had been working for about an hour and talking to the neighbour when his eye was caught by something creamy coloured at the top of the stairs. That’s right, it was PC, walking in a little gingerly but definitely alive and well. The consensus is that he must have got himself shut in somewhere. HE grabbed PC and took him up to HER on the bed. After the celebration was over, HE took PC downstairs and opened him a packet of food. Just as he was about to eat it, Cat Flap flew in the door and up on the table to help gobble it down. So, ten hours later, all back to normal. And you thought horses feet were a problem!

PC in tyhoughtful modeFriday 21st July 2006
OK, yesterday’s page was nothing about horses – just cats. Well, I have news for you ….
HE was busy working upstairs on his computer when HE heard HER calling HIS name mid morning. HE came down to find HER crouching over the kitchen table holding PC the cat who had blood coming from his mouth and his tongue sticking out as he was unable to close his mouth properly. They had apparently been playing and he had caught his claw on a tooth and something had gone awry. After a brief inspection, THEY grabbed PC up and drove, as quickly as THEY could – guess where – to the vets. HE often says it would be easier if HE just left his wallet with them.
Luckily it was pretty quiet when THEY got there and THEY got seen quickly. With four of them (the vet, the nurse, HIM and HER) holding him down, the vet was able to ascertain that it was a back tooth that had got bent crooked and he went and got some pliers and had it pulled out in a flash. PC was able to shut his mouth again so he then opened it wide and complained loudly at his treatment. What he didn’t know was that there was even more to come.
When HE was there with Cat Flap yesterday HE had enquired about the process necessary to get cat passports, necessary if it is decided that we go to France. When it was assumed yesterday that PC had gone away and died somewhere, the question hadn’t arisen but now that he had come back from the dead it was necessary to ascertain if he was up to all the injections, tests and microchipping involved. So after asking the vets advice, it was decided to do a blood test to find out if his organs were up to the process. This involved shaving a part of his neck and then taking a blood sample. You should then have heard all the complaints that he made. He was also given a heart test which appeared normal.
Before HE brought our supper, THEY got the news that it appears PC may not be coming to France, if we go, and there was a general air of sadness. However, nothing is certain and THEY are taking him back to the vets tomorrow to start on a course of steroid treatment which will help him to put on some condition and have a better life.
Even though it will be another cat/vet day tomorrow, I promise I will go back to equine news unless something drastic occurs. Who knows?

View to the bridle pathSaturday 22nd July 2006
In the early afternoon, we heard the sound of a vehicle stopping at the Throwleigh Road gate. Now, we know the sounds of THEIR two cars and it was not that. But also, cars, lorries and tractors quite often pause there to allow each other to pass so we didn’t really take a lot of notice at first. Then we heard a sound we did recognise. It was HER green car. We know that THEY usually go to the pub on Saturday for THEIR lunch and then often come along to see what we are doing but THEY were stopped for a longer amount of time than usual. It is most normal for THEM to stop at the gate and then, if THEY cant see us because we are resting in the field shelter or we have gone up the field and the trees are in the line of sight, then THEY drive up to Michael’s farm and turn round to get a better view from up the hill.
As THEY didn’t drive off, we came out of the shelter, expecting to see THEM appear by the stream at any moment. Instead, we heard THEM drive off. But, we also heard the sound of our gate being opened. Then it all became clear as Adrian, the guy who looks after our fields by praying and weed topping, drove in on his quad bike with a spray tanker in tow. HE had told us a few weeks ago that Adrian was coming but then we heard that he had had an accident when his alpine quad bike, which is specially designed for hilly work, had turned over. He was coming to spray particularly the thistles which get blown in onto our fields but he had been afraid that he might miss the best time to do this because of his accident. Apparently you cant spray too early before the thistles start growing vigorously but also you mustn’t leave it too late when they have started seeding. This ear has been a funny year because of the drought and the heat and everything is starting to dry up so the thistles don’t appear to be growing vigorously, just wilting. But they still need to be killed before there are thousands of little seeds parachuting across the fields. Let’s hope Adrian had caught them in time.
Yes, PC went back to the vets today but this time he wasn’t in trouble in the car so he spent most of the journey shouting defiance. He got his revenge in the waiting room by shedding three or four pounds of white cat hair all over their floor but he was a gentleman in the surgery and showed no sign when he had his injection. He appeared to be ravenous when he got home, as steroids are supposed to make you, but this may have just been an illusion. The vet weighed him so that they an check that he is gaining weight when he goes back next. When I told Wicky, he insisted on knowing the name of this vet as he says it is just the treatment he needs too. The trouble was that HE brought the weigh tape along with our suppers tonight so I’m afraid Wick stands no chance of any more to eat.

Two food and one water bucketSunday 23rd July 2006
It felt a little fresher this morning and so it was the turn of Mims and I to have a picnic while Wick had breakfast in the field shelter. To be honest, a lot depends if we have had to spend a lot of time in the shelter in the hours before we eat. If we have. HE has to spend the first ten minutes clearing the place out and it is much more pleasant eating outdoors. We had had a bit of rain early this morning so it was very pleasant on the grass.
I will give HIM HIS due, HE has got the routine down to a fine art now. In a way, it is much better if we three are spread out as it gives HIM much more space to operate in. HIS first job is to greet Wicky at the gate and give him his couple of biscuits. HE then has to find where HE will put Wick’s bucket down. If this means passing Mims and I before HE can do it, HE also has a half carrot each for us.
Once Wick is eating, HIS next job is to give me my bucket. Sometimes, if it is in the evening and I am a bit slow in coming along, HE will put Mims bucket down first but normally she has to wait until I have mine. As she is busy chewing the carrot, she doesn’t mind at all. Anyway, she is a really good girl and, I have to say, she has a very soft spot for HIM.
As soon as we have our food, HIS next job is to feed the birds and squirrels. First some handfuls of rolled oats (if we are lucky, we get a mouthful as well, as HE passes) and then they get peanuts, on the ground and also in the feeder if it is empty.
Job number three (or four, if HE has had to clear out the shelter) is to go round, first Mims, then me and lastly Wicky and sponge our eyes and noses clean and then, with another sponge, lean under our tails. (Didn’t I phrase that delicately?)
If SHE is there, SHE will deal with me and this lets HIM pick out our feet as well but lately, while HE has been on HIS own, HE has let that job go by the board. There is a conflict of opinions on this process anyway. Some say that, as our feet get packed with mud or dirt, they are best just left alone as they then cant pick up any troubling stones. The other side say that the process is as much about just checking over the feet as picking out stones and the handling can tell them a lot about how we are. Whatever, HE says that if HE doesn’t have the time, it will just have to be missed out. We are limping about anyway so what would HE learn?
By the time HE has finished these jobs, we are near to finishing our food. Before we do that, HE has to fit the fly masks on Mims and myself and then, since the stream has got so low and stony and we have had poor feet, HE goes and gets two buckets filled with water for us to drink from. At least that’s what HE thinks we should do with them. I use mine for a good old face wash and chuck around. Any flies that are silly enough to sit on me have a very wet bath.
And then it is time for him to go from one to the other of the three of us with – apple, then biscuits, then sugar, then carrots, then mint sweets and then more carrots until either HE runs out or HE can make HIS escape while our mouths are full to overflowing.
Who says that we are spoiled?

Wicky tidies up (his bucket is yellow)Monday 24th July 2006
‘Je mange, tu mange, nous ….. ‘ Oh, hi there. I was just putting in a wee bit of practice with what Alli has told me. Nothing fancy. Just the essential stuff, you understand. Mims says she wont bother, she can always ask her mum if she needs to but I like to be prepared, at least where food is concerned.
I have been wondering what will happen about having my coat clipped. Can’t be too careful. I’ve seen some of those French poodles. Wouldn’t want to be a laughing stock. Don’t fancy having bobbles round my knees and tail. Of course, nothing may come of it. We’ll have to wait and see. They tell me Brittany is quite like Cornwall and even not unlike Dartmoor with granite and stuff. Alli says that Normandy is better for lots and lots of lush pasture if you can find somewhere that isn’t eaten away by cows.
Talking of eating, the most terrible thing happened this morning. When HE came along with our breakfast, we were all standing outside as it was a nice fresh morning. If it is hot, Alli normally stands in the shelter and Mims just outside it but today, Alli was standing down by the stream so when HE came up to her first, instead of making her walk behind him up to the shelter, HE decided to give her the bucket where she stood. That wasn’t a bad idea but what HE actually did was to give her MY BUCKET! Well, you could have heard me cry out down at Dry Bridge. What was worse, she took a great big bite out of it before HE was able to rescue it. And HE didn’t make up my rations by taking any out of hers. I tell you, I sulked all the while I was eating. Another thing that rubbed salt into the wound was that HE has been giving her extra rations since HE discovered that she has lost weight with her bad leg. But, instead of leaving the last few mouthfuls for me to repay the food she stole, she went and ate it all up.
Still, mustn’t keep on about food all the time, must I? There must be other things to think about. There must be. Er … I wonder what the French for grass is? Or hay? No, I’m not talking about food now, this is educational. Actually the Scots and the French seem to have quite close ties. Don’t know why. Maybe they will take to me as a mascot or something and give me extra treats. Ooops. Food again. Tell you what. I better get back to my learning and we’ll make this a short diary page today to make up for the extra long one yesterday. Au revoir. ‘Je voudrais mange un … oh bother, how do you say bucket?’

GrazingTuesday 25th July 2006
Today is supposed to be the worst and the end of the heat. If things run according to the forecasts (and don’t they always?) we should be having thunderstorms tonight and tomorrow. And wouldn’t that be a relief? I know we aren’t the only place. In fact many other parts of the country are supposed to be much hotter. Somehow that doesn’t make us feel any cooler though.
We all had a picnic this morning. Again though, HE had Wicky worried. Not on purpose, you understand. What happened was that we were all just standing about just up from the stream so HE decided to give us our food there. Now, the way he stacks the buckets is that Wick’s is on the bottom, mine next and Mims’ is on top. They are stacked this way so HE can drop them down in order. Anyway, Wick was following HIM as usual so HE bent down and loosened HIS grip on Wick’s bucket and then proceeded on to me. When HE looked up, HE couldn’t make out why Wick was still following HIM and thought that he was after my bucket. Then HE saw what had happened. Although HE had let go of Wick’s yellow bucket on the bottom of the pile, the handles had got caught so the bucket hadn’t been put down at all. Wick was quite relieved when that was sorted out.
A strange thing happened after we had eaten. While we were eating, HE didn’t want to put our fly masks on so we could eat in comfort. As it was first thing in the morning, it was still quite fresh so there weren’t too many flies around so we weren’t very bothered as we ate. When HE came along with our after breakfast treats, HE first brought the masks and put them on. As soon as HE did, the masks became covered in flies. It was if they knew that hey were called ‘fly masks’ and that they were just doing their duty.
HE hasn’t brought HIS camera along lately. I suppose there are only so many shots of us eating or us with our faces covered that he needs. And with the drought there are not even many flowers about for HIM to photograph. I would think that this month’s diary is going to look pretty boring as far as illustration is concerned. Saying that, with all the heat, I’m surprised that we haven’t had a common fire for HIM to photograph. I know we had one early on in the year but I’m sure that was started deliberately. We only need a broken piece of glass to magnify the sunlight onto the dried up grass and the whole of Ramsley Common could go up in flames. Still, if it did, I expect HE would miss it.
So, another long, hot boring day with nothing to do but hide in the field shelter until the cool of the evening. Oh, just one last piece of news. Michael and Sue, our farming neighbours have gone away for a week’s holiday. I hope they have a good time because they deserve it for all the hard work they put in all year round.

Me and my shadowWednesday 26th July 2006
“Water, water, rain, rain, rain
water, rain now, water, rain now,

“Ere, Wick?”

“Wate … what? Oh, my goodness, its you old mate.”
“Yeah, It’s me Wick. Just in time, it looks. Come over here in the shade. Feeling a bit queer, are we?”
“Queer? What? Oh, you mean the dancing? Oh no, I’m OK Treg. It’s a rain dance, that’s all.”
“A rain dance, that’s all? Never used to have them when I was here. What’s a rain dance then mate?”
“Well, you see Treg. We’ve not had any proper rain for months now. The stream is getting smaller and smaller every day and the girls fret are getting very sore from the dry hard ground.”
“When I was here we needed a dry dance, not a rain dance. THEY used to worry about mud fever and moaned at us when we rolled in the mud and got all ucky. Things have changed around here, haven’t they?”
“I’m afraid so Treg. It’s not a happy place like it used to be when you were with us.”
“So, where did you learn this dance? Been watching that television programme, have you?”
“Don’t be daft. How could we watch a television programme stuck out here in Ninefields. No, It’s one I made up myself. You see, HE told us that some humans do a rain dance to bring down the water so I thought I’d have a go.”
“Can anyone join in?”
“How d’you mean Treg?”
“Just thought I could give you a hand, well a foot, anyway. Maybe if there was more than one of us it might make it work faster or stronger or something.”
“Well, it’s an idea. I wasn’t having a lot of luck on my own, I will admit.”
“Didn’t the girls offer to help you and join in?”
“Nah. Alli can hardly walk and I wouldn’t want old ‘daft as lights’ anyway, she’d probably step on my feet or something. Oh, it is good to see you again Treg old mate. You don’t know how much I’ve missed you. Oh, did you know that when HE goes after giving us our buckets, HE always says goodbye Alli, goodbye Mims, goodbye Wick, goodbye Treg. Even now.”
“Oh, that’s nice of HIM. I think? HE’s not just getting old and forgetful, is he?”
“Well, HE might be that as well. But I think HE really misses you to. Really.”
“Nice. Well then. Come on. Let’s get dancing. Show me the steps first and then I’ll join in with the words after you.”
“Okay Treg. Here we go. Offside fore, nearside hind, offside hind, nearside fore. One two, three ….. Oh, sorry Treg. I forgot you can’t count up that far, can you?”
“Can now Wick. Been to classes. You see, there’s not that much to do up there so we quite often go to classes on things. I just finished my Rocket Science Part One the other day.”
“Wow Treg. You really did that now did you. Wasn’t it really difficult?”
“Nah, easy peasy Wick. An’ now I’ve done the ‘R’ we’re going on to the ‘o’ next week. Anyway, come one then. La la, la la, la la, la la ……”
“Treg. Stop! It’s not ballroom dancing. This is much less smooth. Jerky tribal dance style. Like this. Ra-in, ra-in, do-wn, do-wn. Got it?”
“Ere Wick? You do look funny. You sure you’re alright? It’s not heatstroke, is it?”
“Oh alright Treg. Maybe you’re right. Tis a bit silly, really. Never mind. It passed a bit of time. Staying for supper old mate? Come on, let’s walk up to the gate and meet HIM …….”

Red Lion Yard OkehamptonThursday 27th July 2006
HE told me tonight to talk about something to do with Okehampton. ‘Why should I do that’, I asked him, I’ve never even been there and hav no idea what it I like. ‘Oh fetlocks’ HE said (or something like that), ‘I’ve gone and taken a lot of photos there and I wanted to use one to illustrate today’s diary page.’
Well, I think I have done enough for HIM. At least I’ve mentioned it. I don’t have to talk about it though, do I? Something else HE mentioned, I do know about though. Where my stable is, you have probably seen the photos of me going in the front door for some sugar lumps on the kitchen table. Well, on either side of this front door are some yucca plants in pots which were at the house when THEY moved in there, ten years ago. Now, I don’t know whether you know what yucca plants look like but they are not very pretty being more suited to the desert than Devon. They are just boring old spiky leaf things that just sit there and prick you if you get too near to them.
Apparently, SHE was leaning over the stable door in the kitchen (I’ll repeat that, shall I. ‘The stable door, in the kitchen’. Yes, THEY have gone and copied me and have two half doors on their kitchen, which is also the front door of the house) to get some fresh air while SHE was cooking breakfast. SHE happened to look down to HER left and noticed that one of these boring old plants had burst into bloom. There, on a very tall stem, was a great sheaf of creamy white flowers. Very elegant and very beautiful. All THEY can think is that this very hot and dry desert weather is responsible. The desert plant has suddenly decided that conditions are right for it to reproduce. The problem is that THEY haven’t noticed that any of the other yuccas round the door have shown any inclination to do the same so it is up to our local bees to fly around and find a suitable partner.
Of course, this gives HIM a dilemma because HE now has two photos to use, Okehampton and yucca. I expect HE will cheat and use one today and one tomorrow. At least it will make a change from photos of my bad leg or us in our fly masks.
That reminds me. HE had an idea yesterday after HE found that Mims had taken her mask off and was covered in flies. HE decided to take the masks home and wash them overnight but the HE got this bright idea. HE decided that after washing them, HE would rinse them in water with citronella in as HE had use this in the past to deter flies in my stable. Was it a success? Did it keep the flies away from our faces as well? Early indications are that they made us smell a little prettier than normal but the flies don’t seem to have a highly developed sense of smell. For the moment, the jury is out. I’ll let you know more after we have given it a fairer trial. I mean, HE does try, the poor boy!

Yucca in flowerFriday 28th July 2006
First HIS idea about the citronella on the fly masks. Good idea? Rubbish! When HE came to bring our buckets, the masks were swarming with flies as bad as ever. I suppose the best you can say is that HE tried.
Now for the good news. Mark the farrier came this morning on one of his normal routine visits. If you remember, the last time he came was to try and sort out my bad foot. At that time he dug out the hole and packed it so that no more stones could get in but he couldn’t find any abscess. What he hoped therefore was that I just had a bruise and my foot would improve with time. As you know, my foot has not got any better and THEY have been very worried for me. HE always gets me buckets of water from the stream to save me having to walk over the stony ground down at the ford now that the water levels have fallen so much with the drought.
So, this morning, when Mark came to trim my feet, he naturally asked how I had been. HE told him that unfortunately, I was no better and that THEY didn’t know what to do for me. Mark always starts with the front feet and, while he was trimming those, HIS eye was caught by a fly landing on what appeared to be a small open wound on top of the coronet on my bad foot. HE pointed this out to Mark who got hold of my foot and made me jump by squeezing this open sore place to see if any pus would come out. He said he thought that this might be the location of my problem and prodded around a bit more while HE gave me some mints to try and take my mind of things a bit. Then, when Mark looked at the hole he had plugged last time, he noticed that this had pus running quite freely from it. I’m sorry if any of you are squeamish but that is the nature of abscesses – an infection in the foot which gets very painful as the pressure inside builds up until it can find an escape somewhere.
Anyway, hopefully, this has been the source of my foot problem and Mark says to allow it to run freely until it is all out and then to plug it again with cotton wool to prevent anything getting in and setting up any more infection. So, everyone has fingers crossed that I will be able to move about painlessly soon. In addition to that, the heat wave has broken and HE tells me that the forecast is for rain tonight. Next week should just be pleasantly warm without being hot.
One last thing. The grandchildren Ben and Rachel are coming or a visit tomorrow. They were coming with Mum and Steve but Steve knelt on a nail and got an infected knee so he can’t drive so they will maybe come along some other time when he is better. I’m afraid the kids wont get any rides this visit but I m sure it will be very nice to see them again.

AlezaneSaturday 29th July 2006
Oh my foot does feel better. In fact, I was in the far field when HE brought breakfast this morning. I looked up but decided that he grass was too nice to be bothered to rush into he home paddock. Then Mims let me down. As soon as she saw HIM, she went rushing along to meet him so eventually I had to follow. By the time I got there both Wicky and Mims were well into their breakfasts. Mind you, it was just as well that I was taking a long time as HE wanted to put a poultice on my foot. HE said it was mainly to protect that open sore place from the flies but also to help draw any last bit of pus out if it was there. By the time HE had finished that, Mims had finished. At least, she had not eaten all her breakfast but she had dropped a lot of it on the ground and had got bored so she decided to come over to see what I was doing. I think she must have thought that I was getting treats or something as no-one should take so long on breakfast. Then Wick finished his – all of it, of course. He never knocks any over onto the ground. So he set to work clearing Mims’ left-overs in case she changed her mind and came back. Then, HE stood looking at my foot and, remembering that SHE had told HIM not to make the poultice too tight, HE knelt down again and made a cut in the back of the bandage.
Then HE went away and we all milled around, wondering what to do. It was not at all hot and the skies were very grey. It looked as if we would be able to go for a prolonged graze. Then what happened? The skies opened, that’s what happened. So, we spent the rest of the morning as usual, standing around in the field shelter.




Sunday 30th July 2006
If yesterday’s diary seemed a bit short, it was because HE didn’t know what would happen at our supper time and HE thought HE would finish it after we had been fed. Well, as it happens, HE came along with Rachel and it was pouring with rain so we all had our supper in the field shelter. Not that we had been hiding in there. We three were all up at the Throwleigh Road gate, all soaking wet but happy when THEY came along. But, you know what humans are. They hate a little drop of rain so we had to follow THEM (Rachel is an honorary capital letter person) so THEY could keep dry while we ate.The three - our herd
This morning though, HE came on his own. I gather that the children were exhausted by having to watch TV and play computer games so they couldn’t get up in time for our feed. It was a lovely morning. It had strted off quite cool, which is very nice for us, being hot blooded. Then, while there was a nice breeze, the sun came out to make it nice and bright without being too hot. I did think for a minute that HE was going to let us off having our masks on but after taking a look at the way the flies were still hanging about our faces, HE decided that they should go on after all. Actually, HE feels that HE scored a little victory this morning. When HE came along, Wicky was at the stream as usual to greet him but Mims and I were up the hill in the middle field. I had hoped that we could make HIM bring our breakfast up to us but HE gave Wick his breakfast and then ignored us and set about feeding the birds and cleaning out the field shelter and so on. In the end, I was forced to go down to breakfast and a little while later Mims followed me.
There was another alteration in our newly acquired routine too. When we had got all the treats out of HIM, HE just went down to the stream to wash the buckets and then proceeded up to the gate. We just stood there in disbelief. Where was our water bucket? Just because my foot is getting better now, HE expects us to go down to the stream to drink. And I had got used to washing my mouth out as I ate. I can see that Mims and I are going to have to try to train HIM all over again.

Monday 31st July 2006
Do you know that HE is sitting in front of the computer saying  ‘What can I wrote today?’ You would think that HE has done nothing today when, in fact,  HE has done a lot today. It is just that HE doesn’t know how to work it into the diary.
OK, I can tell you now what HE did. Nothing. Well, nothing at that time. HE told me that HE will write it up later on, after HE has seen how we are this evening when HE brings our suppers. And how we were is? Wonderful! That was HIS comment when SHE asked HIM. I think HE is a bit keen on us so HE might be biased, of course. While we are eating and after HE has done our sponges, masks, sun stopper cream and our apple treat, HE usually steps right up close to us in turn and gives us a great big hug round our necks and then a big kiss on the cheek.Alli tips the bucket - again!No wait, I need to qualify that. You see, the only way HE could do that to Wicky is to go down on his knees so, for Wick, HE gives him a big cuddle from the top, round his belly and substitutes a couple of pats for the kiss. To be honest, I think Wick prefers that as being more manly. “None o’ that nancy, girly stuff for me, laddie” he often says.
Anyway, we were all very good this evening. The weather was very pleasantly cool with a little breeze to keep away the worst of the flies. In fact, the only ‘fly in the ointment’ (ha, ha, my little joke – wasn’t it? I wonder why we say that?) was the fact that we had to go and get out own water now that he has stopped doing it. But, that is a small price to pay for having my foot pain free again. Mims and I can wander where we like again. When I say Mims and I, I don’t mean that Wick is not with us, it is just that while Mims and I walk almost side by side, Wick moves with us but some way away, usually trailing behind because he has to stop to tidy up any food we have left.
I don’t know what photo HE may use to illustrate today because what HE did was to take the grandchildren to a place called ‘Diggerland’ where they drove all kinds of earth moving diggers or stayed in one place but moved earth from one side to another. HE took loads of photos but when HE showed them to HER, SHE said that they reminded HER of Treggy so that was a bit sad.

Well, that’s the end of what THEY are calling the hottest July ever. We are certainly glad that it has got cooler although THEIR weather forecasters are saying that next month is going to get hot as well. We will see!

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