Alezane's Diary Archive September 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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berriesFriday 1st September 2006
HE always sings to me “The big ship sails on the  Alley, Alley Oh” which has a last line “On the last day of September” only HE always sings (On the first day of September”. It being the first day of September today, HE decided to try and find out where the song comes from. HE knew it is an old children’s song and, on first searching, HE came up with a load of websites which carry the complete set of words and they were mainly children’s sites. Then HE found a reference to the fact that the song is a child’s skipping chant, which would seem correct as you can just see the child skipping as the accent is placed on ‘big’, ‘sails’, ‘alley’, ‘oh’ and so on. Then, somewhere else, HE found that the song is probably a reference to the building of the Manchester Ship Canal, where the big ships went along the canal (alley) on their way to and from the sea. Interesting but will that stop HIM singing the wrong words? I doubt it.
HE left our fly masks off again this morning as we had rain and wind overnight and it was very overcast when HE came along with our buckets. Then, round about (THEIR) lunch time (ours is all the time), HE turned up again and drove right into the field. When HE stopped by the field shelter where we were having a bit of a rest, HE unloaded a sack of rolled oats that he uses to feed the birds with. Of course, we all crowded round him and, surprise, surprise, HE just happened to have some Polo mints in his pocket. Of course this made us crowd round HIM all the more and HE had trouble getting in and out of the hay store. Then HE found that there was still a little bit of oats in the previous sack so we all came in for a handful each. By this time the sun had come out and the whole day had become much brighter so HE took the opportunity to put our fly masks back on. I will forgive HIM though as HE did also manage to find an apple in another pocket.
The other thing HE did today was to go and pick up all our rugs which had been away for mending and cleaning. I wont tell you how much ten rugs cost (even with the discount the nice lady gave HIM) but, at least, it’s nice to know that we are prepared for the winter now, even if it left HIM crying!

Alli watchingSaturday 2nd September 2006
It’s only just over a month ago when we were all sweltering in the heat of the hottest July on record. THEY have still got two giant fans that THEY bought, standing in the living room and bedroom. Now, on the second day of September, we have had continual rain and high winds, making it seem much more like February. I really cant see how some people are putting t down to global warming. I will admit it is not very cold as yet but it certainly is miserable.
Which reminds me. I was, to put it in HIS words when HE got back home last night, in a real strop at supper yesterday. I know, I was a real horror to be near but it was the incessant irritation of the flies. HE came along and put our masks on at mid day, or which I was grateful but that didn’t stop them from crawling all over my body. I tried to get rid of them by rolling in the mud but that seemed to attract them even more. I was so ratty that even Wicky and Mims formed a self protection alliance. When I was eating my supper, I just had to storm away and then come back to try and escape from my tormentors. HE reported that I was much calmer this morning after the night’s rain had cleared the air though. Quite back to my old self, HE remarked.
For a long time now, since THEY moved down to Devon, HE has been collecting and reading a set of novels by someone called Eden Phillpotts. This author wrote in the 19th and 20th century and produced this set of novels based in towns all around Dartmoor, including the place where HE lives. HE has been tracking them down on the internet and buying them from places all over the world. However, now THEY are moving to France, HE is giving the collection to HIS daughter as she is a big fan of Thomas Hardy who was a friend and contemporary of Phillpotts. So, today, while the wind an rain hs raged outside the window, HE has been gathering together these books and some other family items that wont be going to France to give to her husband and son who are coming to pick them up tomorrow.
THEY will also be busy tomorrow as a friend from Australia is coming to stay for a few days and she is being brought along tomorrow by another friend and will all be going out to lunch. THEY have determined when things quieten down again next week that THEY will start to clear things out again and I expect HE will be paying many visits down the tip again.

barnSunday 3rd September 2006
Busy, busy, busy. My what a day we’ve had today. HE brought our breakfasts in the pouring rain and so we ate indoors for a change. Well, to be accurate, Wicky and I ate indoors and Mims, as usual, stood just outside. She must like getting wet, I think. Then HE went away without putting our masks on which was just as well as it was so dark that we would not have been able to see with them on.
However, after lunch, THEY turned up and stood in the top field calling to us. Wicky, always eager for a treat went running but I held back and looking up at the gate saw that there were others, strangers, coming in the gate. THEY didn’t seem to mind but I was not so easily convinced. Strangers often mean work or even something more unpleasant. So while Mims allowed herself to be wooed with a handful of oats, I stayed on my side of the stream and just looked. There was a man and a little girl and two women in the field besides HIM and HER. They looked harmless enough and Wick and Mims were getting through all that oats at an alarming rate so I finally gave in to his calling and held out hand. HE did also have our fly masks in the other so that was another good reason for crossing the stream as the flies had started being a big nuisance as soon as the sun came out. Soon, we were all just hanging out together and moping up the oats that had spilled to the floor. We also got quite a few pats and some deep scratched from THEM. Then, I knew it, HE asked if the little girl would like a ride. I should have known. HE then went and got my head collar and put it on but fortunately the little girl did not want to ride on anything as big as me.
However, SHE saw a cyclist pull up at our gate and asked HIM who it was. HE went to investigate but as HE was still holding me on a head collar, I went too. By the time HE got close enough HE recognised the fellow who is in the process of mending the shower in THEIR bedroom. HE stood, chatting for a while when HE realised I was having to stay too and so he undid my collar. At the same time, some horses with riders went by and I was very pleased to show them that I did not have any harness on.
As I went away, another man came up and started chatting to him. Then the visitors in our field came out as they were going to drive on to the seaside, leaving just on lady, an old friend of his, behind to stay with THEM for a few days. As they were getting ready to get in the car, the kids from across the road came along with their mum and dad and some other family. It turns out that the man HE was chatting to at the gate was the little girls granddad and they had come along o look at our field with the possibility of buying it in mind.
HE told me tonight that before all this had happened, He had also had a visit from his other daughter and her husband who had come to pick up some things that they were not going to take to France. Because THEY already had the other friends car in the drive way, HIS daughter had to park in the neighbours drive. Then the neighbours father turned up (that’s right, the one HE spoke to up at our field) so HIS daughter had to rush off. As I said, a busy day today.

heather and poniesMonday 4th September 2006
SHE was looking at a photo of Mims’ ancestor ‘Hyperion’ today. SHE said if you look, you can see where Mims gets her funny conformation from. And it’s true. Even if you didn’t know of the blood relationship between them, if you looked at that photo you could see, right away, the same body shape. So what you might ask (if you are not a particularly ‘horsey’ person. Well, Hyperion was a chap with not one white foot like me, not three white feet like Mims but four white feet and, you may possibly know that, in a horse, two white feet are barely acceptable. It is a wonder that Hyperion survived to be the wonder racehorse that he was. What with four white feet and a body like that, he was quite likely to have been put down. Mind you, looks is the only similarity I must add. Mims has never raced in her life. The only speed she shows is when she is chasing Wicky away from her food. As you probably know, even though she is ten years old she has never been properly ridden. She has had at least one boy on her back but tacked up and ridden, no. The hope is, of course, when SHE gets better, Mims is in for some very gentle training with a treeless saddle and bitless bridle. Probably with a footless stirrup and a sugar free Polo mint as well. The youth of today (or, in Mims case, of a few days ago) just don’t know when they have got it easy.
Nothing to report from the Ninefields front today. No afternoon visits or spying trips although HE told me that HE took his Australian frind Doreen up to Ramsley Common to look down on our field but, as it was only late morning, we were still having a rest in the field shelter and so couldn’t be seen. THEY have now had conformation of our long let on the farm in Normandy. It is just up to HIM now to pay the agents the money and it is ours until April next year. Apparently they wont start paying for our livery until we arrive which is pretty sensible seeing as how we have no idea when we will be going.

 

 

Mims and carrotTuesday 5th September 2006
No more Mrs Nice Alli. That’s what I told Wicky and he knew that I meant it. Often after I have eaten most of my breakfast/supper I stop for a handful or two of treats during which time Wick walks over and starts to clear up what I have spilt. But, lately, as the year has gone on and there is not a lot of keep in the grass, I am enjoying my food all by myself. This is what Mims does. She walks away from her leavings and joins me for carrots. Then when HE goes away, she goes back to what she has spilt. Now that is what I decided to do today and when Wicky came round I lunged out at him and let him know that he wasn’t invited. And he knew it. Usually when I warn him off he just goes around the other side and continues eating. Today he stood a metre or two away and just watched and waited. Maybe tonight I’ll be a bit kinder. Maybe!
SHE went to the doctors for a breathing test today and then THEY went off to the bank to transfer the money to pay for our farm leasing. So now it is real. Anytime from 1st October we could go over there although in practice as I am sure I said before, the end of November is a more realistic date and that is given that all goes well.
Doreen is still doing the cooking for them. Yesterday it was a Chinese pork dish for lunch and mushroom soup for supper. Today it was chicken curry but, instead of rice or nan bread it was with puff pastry. Clever eh? At least, that is what HE said. I was going to say you wouldn’t catch an animal giving you a thank you for such spicy stuff but then I remembered Tom the cat. I should say tom the Burmese cat. Now I know he has never been to Burma. Probably never even heard of the place. But something in his genes makes him love spicy and curried food. For the last few days he has been hanging around the kitchen watching Doreen cook and then sitting up at the table for his share. So, maybe it is only horses that would not give you a thank you for such stuff. But then, I must admit I have no idea what horses eat in China or India!

Wednesday 6th September 2006
Sorry about this. What I mean is, I’m going to talk about THEM again. Not horses but humans. Although actually, it’s not even humans. No, it’s felines. Todays diary is about two felines in their lives, one of whom I’ve not even seen.sky patterns
First Tom, the one I do know. I know Tom from the times that I am brought home to my stable to shelter overnight, (which used to be every night before my lovely daughter came and started to share everything with me). Tom used to come and climb all over the woodwork of my stable and we used to pass the time a bit during the night. THEY always say Tom is lazy and sleeps all the time. But that is because THEY only see him during the day. Tom, like most cats (and horses) is nocturnal. Yes, he does sleep most of the day but that is because he is so busy at night. Anyway, Tom is who the story is about. Tom has fallen in love! Not with another cat, you understand. No! Tom has fallen in love with a human. To be more exact, with a cook. To be even more exact, with Doreen. Doreen is staying with them and she is from Australia. But before she went to Australia, Doreen was in England. But Doreen doesn’t come from England, she is Chinese and comes from Malaysia originally. This means that Doreen, who only seems to like her own cooking, has been cooking lunches for THEM. I don’t remember if I told you before, but Tom always has lunch with them. I don’t mean that THEY pass him a few scraps. Tom sits up at the table with THEM and has his own plate on his chair. As I say, Doreen is Chinese and Tom is Burmese. As soon as she starts cooking, Tom positions himself in the kitchen to enjoy the smells. And then, when it is time to eat, Tom is in heaven. He has always liked HER curries but Doreen’s cooking just makes him melt. He will miss her when she goes tomorrow!
Cat number two is Mutley. Poor old deaf and starving Mutt, who has started coming in more and more now. Sometimes he doesn’t even want any food but just stands or sleeps on the table or just sits watching and wanting to belong. The problem is of course that we are going to France in the next few months. However THEY feel about him, THEY just cant take him as well. He came in today because HE took Doreen for a drive over Dartmoor and SHE took over the cooking of lunch. Mutt came in and kept her company and stayed hanging around while THEY had lunch. He had already had lots of off cuts from the meat and then, when Tom walked away from his because it had no Chinese spices in it, Mutt had Toms share as well. THEY have been talking and decided that they will take Mutt to the vets before we go to France and have him doctored to whatever his needs are and then, if THEY are sure that he is a homeless stray, THEY will contact the cat’s rescue to see if he ant be homed. It seems it’s not just horses that they are suckers for.

new hayThursday 7th September 2006
I think HIS hand must still be stinging. I know my bum is! I was in such a good mood this morning. When HE turned up with our breakfast, only Wicky was down by the stream to meet him. Mum and I were up above the field shelter having a good time in the sun, it was such a nice morning. Then, when HE turned up, I left mum and came cantering down the hill to meet HIM. Mum came in a fast but dignified walk behind me and we all settled down to eat. I did give a little buck of exuberance before I settled down because I was feeling so good but nothing wrong there. The trouble started because our food has been changed to a very scrummy mix including some very tasty sweet chaff. So, I’m afraid, I ate it up rather quickly. Too quickly for HIM. HE was still in the middle of doing Wicky’s sponges when I finished and I thought it might be a good idea to go over and give Wick a hand (or rather a mouth) to finish his. Now, while I might have thought it was a good idea, HE most definitely didn’t and HE started waving me away and shouting at me. I do have to admit that when this happened, I just automatically turned round and threatened to kick. It is only a threat and usually Wicky just ignores me. The trouble was that HE didn’t find it at all funny and HE gave me an enormous clout on my bum with the flat of HIS hand. Wow! HE can hit hard when HE wants to. It made me forget all thought of kicking and I just ran away from HIM as fast as possible. I will admit though, HE was very nice afterwards and we both had a cuddle and made friends again. Maybe I shouldn’t go to steal Wicky’s food again. At least, not while HE is watching!
WE had a real good day today. It is nice to have our masks on and to get away from the flies in our eyes because, apart from them, it has been a real good day. HE was more relaxed this evening as THEIR visitor has gone now and THEY have the house to THEMSELVES again. HE toldme , it is not that THEY don’t like the visitor. It is just that there is so much to do to get ready for our move that THEY need to concentrate on that without the distraction of someone else’s needs. Still, HE said, THEY have enjoyed seeing an old friend again but now THEY have to get down to getting cleared out and organised. One other factor has been delaying this and that is that there is a postal strike on at present and so, important letters that THEY have been waiting for, have not yet arrived. SHE spoke to the postman today and was told that there is still an enormous backlog of post to come. What makes it worse is that THEY cannot be sure that the letters have been sent in the first place so THEY will now have to get down to phoning people to find out what is happening.
I am afraid the next few months will probably be more full of THEIR problems than the happenings of us equines until we get this move out of the way.

the herdFriday 8th September 2006
“Why do you think She never writes about us?”
“I don’t know darling. Maybe because we are not equine, She thinks we are of no consequence. Maybe you should ask Her.”
“Easier said than done, love. She is very, very tall you know. I’d have to shout pretty loudly. Then She might not see me in the dark.”
“It’s funny that, isn’t it. There night vision is so poor compared to ours and yet they still stay in that shelter thing all day and come out at night to eat.”
“I’ll say one thing. Her daughter does have a proper stripe down Her nose, even if She hasn’t got matching ones on Her face. Makes you think that She might be a bit more sympathetic to us then her mother. Maybe you could try talking to Her?”
“Hm? Maybe dear. Another time maybe. Too much to do today though. Where’s those kids. I was going to take Brake with me today. Teach him a few things about the world. Where have they got to when I want them?”
“Don’t you think you ought to take Brende with you as well? It’s not really fair to just favour the boycub. Girlcubs have to know about the world as well you know.”
“Now my dear, don’t you go putting those new fangled ideas into her head. A sow’s a sow and a boar’s a boar. They are both as important, well nearly. It’s just that they each have a different role in life, that’s all.”
“If you say so Bruck. You know, I was a bit worried about Brake. Caught him giving a bit of a cough the other day. You don’t think he’s gone and got that …”
“Oh, no, no, no my dear. Don’t you worry your pretty little snout about him. To my knowledge he’s never been anywhere near those bovines. I had a chat with them both just a week ago. Stick to the equines, I said, if you want to do a bit of inter species fraternisation. But just you leave those cows alone. Unhealthy, most of them, I said. And they both promised me that they would. So think no more about it Brace. They’ll both be fine.”
“Well, a mother can’t help worrying, can she. Anyway, where are you going to take him then?”
“Thought we go and visit our outlying sett. Not been there for ages now and there is a pretty good bit of short grass there. Plenty of good worms. That’ll feed the lttle chap up. That and the peanuts.”
“Peanuts? Really dear. How do you know? I love peanuts.”
“Heard a couple of the lads talking about it the other day. Their run goes right past the place where those equines shelter and they said that HE throws peanuts all over the ground there.”
“HE? You mean that human who looks after the equines? Why’s HE do that? They don’t eat peanuts do they?”
“No. Least, I’m not so sure about that small white one but the two red ones don’t. No, I think HE does it to feed the birds. Or the rats? Who knows? Never can tell with humans. Mad lot, aren’t they?”
“Well, just you be careful dear. You look after my cub and I’ll show Brende how to start to dig in the hedge. Oh, and Bruck?”
“Yes, my love?”
“Just you bring me back some of those peanuts, you hear?”
“Your wish is my command dear sow. Bye.”

Wicky9th September 2006
SHE has been on the phone to what sounded like a very nice man. THEY thought it was time to start making plans for our move and, as THEY had already chosen the firm that looked the best bet for the job, SHE decided that SHE should contact them to find out how much notice they would need, what they would charge, etc. That was a couple of days ago. Then, yesterday, SHE got a phone call from this very Irish sounding gentleman, who was following up on her email. They chatted for a while and then SHE found out that the reason that the firm knew so much about horses was that they used to be in show jumping in Ireland. Then, because they needed a big lorry to move their own horses about but found that there were lots of times when it was just sitting doing nothing, they decided to start the business of moving other peoples horses about too. When she said where we were going, the man said that he knew the place very well because he has a friend who lives there and he goes there quite often. It’s reassuring that he shouldn’t get lost on the way then. They now have two or four horse lorries and because there are three of us (well, two and a half really), the man said that there will be plenty of room for all our tack and stuff, both in the spare compartment and also in the half of Wicky’s box that will be cordoned off to make sure Wick is safe and comfortable. The other good thing is that they will handle all the export paperwork. SHE will just have to sign some forms once THEY know the date of our departure and then the firm will apply for the export licences at the appropriate time.

Well, that seems like us taken care of. The next animal event will be on the 15th of this month (next Friday) when they have to take the three cats back to the vets to have a blood sample taken. Then these samples have to be analysed to make sure that the rabies injection that they had last month has produced the correct results. Then, assuming that all is well, the cats will get their travel passports. SHE has also contacted the firm that they think looks good to transport the cats. When THEY moved to Devon from Essex, HE just put the cats (and dogs and canary) in HIS car. However, to go to France, THEIR car will have to be in the hold of the sea ferry for about 5 hours so it would not be satisfactory to move the cats that way. Instead the specialist firm will have a properly equipped vehicle for the cats to sleep through their journey in. No doubt they will have a little sedative to help them sleep as well although I am not at all sure that Tom will need that!

Chings the saddlersSunday 10th September 2006
Today HE found out something that we have known all along. HE stood and watched at the gate, after HE had given us our breakfast and saw how Wicked ran round trying to eat what we had spilt.. As usual, Mims chased him off and Wick had to stand and wait while we finished our own breakfast ourselves. It was then that it came to HIM that it is never us who try to steal Wicky’s food. HE had always felt sorry for the little squirt when HE saw one or other of us chasing him or nipping him. But, as I say, he deserves everything he gets because he is such a naughty little pony. Why it has taken HIM so long to realise this, I just cant imagine. It probably has to do with Wick being so small and the tradition of siding with the under-pony. What’s worse is that now we are all getting a bit more food, Wick is taking longer than ever to finish his and we all have to wait for him. I hope he considers himself very lucky to be included in our herd at all considering that he is both the wrong size and the wrong colour.

THEY spent the day sorting out all of the books and stuff that has accumulated over the years. They had a three part system – bags for stuff to be thrown away at the local re-cycling centre, bags for stuff to be given to a friend who collects for charity and boxes for those items that they will take to France. Yesterday HE took two very full large plastic sacks of books to THEIR friend and today HE took six more. There are about nine sacks, in my stable, waiting to go the rubbish tip tomorrow together with an old television set and some large cardboard boxes. In the front room there are now seven boxes of books (two of which are equestrian) all taped up and ready for transit. HE told me this and HE also told me something that has puzzled me greatly. Many of these books came out of a large wooden bookcase. Now, what is going to happen to this bookcase? IT is going to be thrown away. Fine, that’s OK if that is what THEY want. Just one question though. What are THEY going to do with the seven boxes of books when THEY unpack them in France?

Monday 11th September 2006
There is a whole technique in being dominant mare. This morning, HE was watching how Wicky came up to steal the food that Mims had spilt (see yesterday). Now Mims gets very upset about this. There are three parts to her response. The first is to put her ears back and to run up to Wicky and try and grab him by the neck. Of course, Wick is too old a hand to be caught like this often and as soon as he sees her starting to move, he is off.bubbles alias mutt Having missed biting him, Mims next chases him up the field. Wick obliges by running a little way away and then goes round in a circle to arrive back at the food scraps that he wants. So Mims has to now run back and she does so and then turns her back on him and kicks out with her back feet (making sure that he is well out of range first). By the time she does has performed these three actions she is worn out and Wick just gets on eating the scraps.
Now HE noticed that I have a slightly different technique which I performed on Mims this morning. You see, she had given up on her own food and thought that as Wick was eating that, she would eat mine. My technique is not quite as flamboyant as Mims. I also put my ears back. Then I stretch out my neck in their direction and just look them in the eye. Having got their attention, I just raise a back leg and wave it about a bit in a sort of ‘do you really want me to get nasty’ way and Mims and Wicky just move out of the way and stand there and watch me clear my food up. Simple really. Maybe it just comes naturally.
A pretty hot day today. It made a funny start with a very thick fog. I call it a fog, but for those of you who don’t know Dartmoor, what it really is, is a low lying cloud. You see, we are pretty high up here and our clouds are lazy. They cant be bothered to fly any higher so when they come to the Beacon, they just fly right through it and everyone’s world turns white. It only took about half an hour before it has passed by and a really sunny day popped out. Fly masks on and that was a relief and then we stood about in the field shelter for the morning.
Our friend the rat poked his nose out of one of his holes this morning as soon as HE put the peanuts down. It is pretty obvious that he has moved his family into new apartments in the wall besides our field shelter. Every day we notice new entrances (or they could be exits) appearing in the wall or in the ground just in front of the wall. He will need the safety of multiple escape holes as we saw a really fine fox trotting over the field yesterday.
 Foxes, badgers, rabbits and rats. This field is getting pretty crowded. It’s probably a
 good thing we are moving on soon.

Mims watchingTuesday 12th September 2006
I didn’t tell you about my limp, did I? This must be about the third day now. HE never noticed it on the morning of the first day. To be honest, I am not even sure myself that I had it then. If I recall, I was up above the field shelter and came walking down when HE arrived so I must have been alright. But I wasn’t by the evening. HE came along with our supper buckets and we were all up in the gate field. When I turned to walk down to get my food, HE noticed that I was moving awkwardly but thought that I must have stepped on a stone or something. Yesterday morning, again HE didn’t notice anything but then I hardly moved as HE brought my bucket right up to me. However, last night we were again in the road field and I again hobbled down to get my bucket. This time HE was really worried, worried enough to put a bandage round my ankle (it’s not really my ankle but that is the best way to describe it to those of you not familiar with equine anatomy). HIS theory then was that it was not my foot this time but some sort of arthritis as HE felt and squeezed my foot and got no response and HE thought HE could feel some heat further up my leg. I have to tell you that the bandage, apart from starting to feel a bit tight and uncomfortable by today, had absolutely no effect whatsoever. Or maybe I should rephrase that. The bandage had absolutely no effect on me whatsoever but it did make HIM feel a lot better. It made HIM feel as if HE had done something positive about my pain – and for that, I do feel grateful. HE was trying.
However, this afternoon, we had a rare visit from HER. The weather had turned from rain in the morning to very hot by the afternoon and THEY had been along to see the solicitor about selling the house and then had been for a fish and chip lunch. We were all standing around outside the field shelter and when THEY came along, THEY came into the top field and SHE started calling out to me. At first I told the others to ignore THEM. I mean, why should I have to limp all the way over there just because SHE deigns to come and see me? But, I am afraid Wicked decided that there might be some treats in it and so started to cross the stream. Then Mims couldn’t stand the thought of Wick getting something and not her so she started to cross as well. So, in the end, I had to follow, didn’t I? And it was then that SHE watched how I was walking and said that SHE was afraid that I was on the way for another foot abscess. Oh joy!

Dartmoor poniesWednesday 13th September 2006
But then, I wrote that yesterday. Let me now tell you how I made HIM cry yesterday. HE has told me that when any of us is not well, particularly when I am not well, HE dreads to come to bring our food because HE can’t bear to see us suffering and not be able to do anything about it. That was why HE put that (admittedly useless) bandage on my leg the other day. HE felt that there was just a chance that HE may have helped to take my pain away.
So, it was with dread that HE set out to bring our buckets last night, expecting to see my foot abscess having got worse. When HE drew up, we were all in the top field watching Maxwell, who had been brought back to his field next to ours after his summer holidays. The car drew up and Wicky started to walk towards HIM as he always does to get his couple of biscuit treats. And then, I started to walk quickly towards him as well. Notice I said ‘walk’ and not limp. HE couldn’t believe HIS eyes. My limp had gone completely away. HE gave me my little bit of carrot treat and we all walked down towards the home paddock. Mims was in one of her silly moods and gave a run and buck as she does when she is happy and ran past us to cross over the stream first. Then, to HIS surprise, I broke into a run and followed her over the stream. Well, that did it. Seeing me run just broke all the tension HE had been feeling about my lameness and he had tears running down his face. The rest of our supper time was embarrassingly taken up by HIM coming up to me and giving me a cuddle and a hug and telling me how much HE loves me.
While this was going on, Mims sort of lost interest. Not just in us but even in her food. She just stopped and stood looking over to Maxwell’s field. Then, she couldn’t contain herself any longer and she called out to him. I am ashamed to say that he called back to her. She just has no morals at all that daughter of mine. I can only think that she gets it from her father.
HE tells me that HE has spent a lot of HIS day preparing an application to open a French bank account. HE had read that there was much bureaucracy in France but, in contrast to in England where banks appear to be falling over themselves for your business, HE has had to go to enormous lengths to prepare the supporting documentation for his French application. HE needed to go to the bank and get copies of THEIR passports verified and also copies of bills from utility companies. Then HE spent most of the afternoon making copies of documents to support the statement of THEIR annual income to go together with copies of their bank statements and copies of the evidence of the rental agreement in France. And, on top of that, the British Post Office is now charging by size of the packet posted. THEY will be lucky if there is any money left after they buy the stamps for all that!

spiderThursday 14th September 2006
SHE had to send more information about us to the people who are going to drive us there. It was all to do with identification as the carriers have to apply for our export licences. I wont bore you with the details other than to say that HER remarks about Wicky’s dental features may well be good for the purpose of identification but there was no need to include the word ‘gurning’. For those of you who know what the word means, I need say no more. For the others, I leave you to look it up.
We had loads of heavy rain last night which left HIM with a bit of a puzzle when HE brought our breakfast buckets. Wicky was soaking wet (or, at least, the top of his impenetrable coat was) but Mims and I were just a bit damp here and there. This, in itself, is not unusual as we normally hide in the shelter when it rains heavily. No, what was a puzzle for him was that the shelter was perfectly clean. There was evidence of some hay munching in the corners as the floor under the hay nets had its own hay piles. But nothing else. Usually HE has to spend the first ten minutes of HIS visit with the broom and fork but this morning HE was just able to relax and watch us eat. HE can only guess that we were high up in the field when the rain came and that we just sheltered under one of the big trees instead of trying to make it down to the shelter.
The stray cat, Mut, is becoming more friendly by the day. HE told me that today, just before it was time to prepare our supper, HE was sitting in the living room when Mut just walked in and looked around. HE picked him up and started to stroke him and Mut just sat on his lap purring. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to be used to good experiences because when HE got out a little ball on a string to see if Mut wanted a game, he jumped off his lap in fright and ran away. It would appear that with a very little amount of kind loving treatment, Mut would make a very nice pet. When HE was in town yesterday, HE had a word with the vet’s nurse and the lady, Elaine, from the Cat’s Protection Society. HE said that THEY would pay for whatever veterinary treatment Mut might need and Elaine will look into taking him with a view to finding him a good home before THEY have to leave him and go to France.
If you’ve noticed that my diary ages are getting a bit shorter lately, it’s because of two things. First, we are just spending pleasant, nothing much happening autumn days in the field and second, THEY are very busy putting things in boxes, taking stuff to the rubbish dump and dealing with paperwork. I suppose I should feel grateful that HE finds time to type my stuff up at all (or so HE says!).

Alli having an itchFriday 15th September 2006
Like a lot of days recently, today started off pretty cool and dark. Because of this, HE left our fly masks off. However, it quite quickly warmed up, the sun came out and with it the flies. There was nothing we could do about it. Wee stood around in the field shelter for a while but then our tummies started telling us that we had to go out and crop some grass and that was when the flies pounced on us.
We were standing up above the field shelter flapping our tails, kicking our feet and shaking our heads when we heard a familiar sound. Looking up we saw HIS old jeep coming through the gate and across the stream. We couldn’t see but could hear that HE was delivering us some more hay and, after a little while we heard the car door being banged shut. Mims was looking over the fencing when we saw the jeep heading round the bend and up towards us. We could see that SHE was in the cab as well as HIM. Next thing HE stopped and got out and started to put our fly masks on. So we spent a much more comfortable afternoon. I don’t know why but as they left, Wicky decided to have a roll, almost as if he was grateful that he doesn’t have to wear one.
I cant remember if I have remarked on this before. If I have you must put it down to losing ones memory in age. I was just about to say that we appear to be enjoying what the humans call an ‘Indian summer’. Then it sort of struck me that I didn’t know why they called it that. From everything I have heard, the summers in India are raging hot and yet we (and I am really speaking for humans here)  are just grateful for a bit of warmth in the autumn. You would have thought that they would have found a much more temperate climate to name this occurrence after, but then, if humans were like that then we would have no trouble in understanding them.
I mean, why do they find it necessary to keep flinging their arms around ones neck? Or rubbing ones nose? Or, what is probably even worse, giving us a hearty series of smacks on the side of our necks? You have to accept that they mean well but it does take a bit of tolerance. I have also found that if we want to show affection or respect and start to give their disgracefully long hair a good strong grooming with our teeth, they squeal and run out of the way instead of just enjoying it. And, if you politely ask them to move out of they way or to stop doing something by waving your kicking foot in the air, they seem to take offence and start to tell you off. My goodness, if Wicky got offended at that he would spend the majority of his life in a strop.

Alli and MimsSaturday 16th September 2006
I tried to think about what I could tell you today that wasn’t to do with fly masks. Then it came to me. HE told me some more news about that cat I’ve not met yet, the one THEY call Mut (or Mutt, I really must check with HIM over the spelling. Oh! HE doesn’t know either! That I find strange as HE was the one who gave him that name. Oh well, humans!) Anyway, Mut is becoming more and more one of the family. It all started about four or five months ago when THEY would here the cat flap opening or shutting and yet THEY thought our three cats were elsewhere – on the bed or somewhere. Then the dried cat food that THEY put down seemed to vanish quite quickly. About three months ago, HE started just catching the glimpse of a vanishing cat when HE would walk down the stairs from HIS office and then HE made a point of creeping down very quietly to see if HE could see who the intruder was. One day HE forgot and came down the stairs quite noisily but still found this black and white cat busy eating the dried food. Even when he banged deliberately, the cat made no move until he turned his head normally, caught sight of HIM and dashed out of the cat flap. It was then that HE realised that the cat was deaf. HE didn’t know how deaf but HE did see that the cat only had one ear.
Over a period, HE had the chance to observe the cat more frequently and tried to catch his eye and blink to show that HE was no threat. HE also had the chance to try several experiments, as SHE did too, to try and determine the extent of his deafness. It was somewhere during this period that the cat was given the name Mutt (HE has decided on two ts). THEY are not really sure what happened next. Sometimes THEY think that Mutt has grown more confident as he gets used to THEIR kind behaviour whereas at other times, THEY are sure that Mutt has satisfactorily  progressed with THEIR training. Whichever it is, last night HE found that Mutt had progressed from just coming in and sitting on the kitchen table to now finding a nice warm place to sleep under the hi-fi in the lounge. Ihave mentioned before that THEY are unable to fully adopt him and bring him to France with us but THEY have made arrangements for him to be homed by the Cats Protection Society. THEY have therefore decided that it will do no harm for Mutt to learn the comforts of a home before he is moved on to the care of someone else. The only concern is that he may always retain the wandering streak and revert to the life that he had adapted to. If anything else happens, I will keep you informed.

fieldSunday 17th September 2006
THEY paid us a visit today. Strangely, THEY came in the scary green car but still drove in and drove over the stream. I suppose they can do that because the ground is still dry and hard. Anyway, THEY drove right up to the field shelter and then HE opened the gate to the hay store while SHE greeted us all with a few treats. That’s the difference between seeing us twice a day instead of once or twice a week I suppose. However, after we had eaten our treats, SHE also went into the hay store. Then THEY started to pick the stuff off the shelves. By stuff, I really mean either medicine or grooming bottles and jars. THEY seemed to have worked out some system because HE had two big plastic bags. Some of the stuff went into one and the rest into the other. While THEY were doing this, Wicky decided it would be advantageous to go in the hay store with them. I am not sure whether he was hoping to fool THEM into thinking he was trying to be helpful but, if that was the case, he was sadly mistaken. THEY just locked themselves in and it took all my powers of persuasion (what HE calls mugging) to get either of THEM to stop what THEY were doing and give me a mint.
After THEY had cleared the shelves HE started looking around the floor for old feed bags and bits of paper. I noticed these all went into the same bag and when HE also took the rubbish bag and emptied it into that same bag, I understood what was going on. They were collecting rubbish in one bag and stuff we are going to take to France in the other. I waited until HE came along this evening to ask HIM if I was right and HE said that I was. HE aid that the stuff that is going to France will be sorted out together with some more medicines and grooming stuff that THEY have got in the tack room at home and then a proper collection of necessaries will be prepared and brought back to our field shelter.
The other thing we talked about tonight was why I have been in such a bad mood since last evening (HE actually called me a grump-bum). I will admit that last night, no-one could do right. I snatched the carrots that HE held out. I bullied Mims off her food and I bit Wicky when he came anywhere near me (which was only once). And then again, this morning, things weren’t much better. When HE had finished mine and Mims; sponges, HE walked over to clean up Wicky. When HE looked up, Mims had followed HIM over and HE thought that she was going to try and steal Wicky’s food so HE shooed her away. It was only when HE looked up properly that HE saw that I had pushed poor Mims off her breakfast and I was eating it. Yes, I know, I should be ashamed but I was still in a bad mood.
The cause of it was the flies. Not the big ones this time but those horrid little midges which just buzz and buzz around you and irritate you all over. In fact, I made Mims jump by doing one enormous body shiver all over to try and get rid of them. However, the weather has been so dark and miserable today that I am hoping they will go away and I do promise to make it up to my two companions. After all, it’s not their fault!

berriesMonday 18th September 2006
I do love living with my two big red females. Life is just one endless round of laughs. (Is that alright Alli? What else must I say?) Oh., right!
Seriously, I do have to say something because it would seem that more people than we realise actually read the old girl’s diary. This means that if I say something like “Mims bit me today” or “Alli chased me away”, people who care for a poor old, few toothed ex-Dartmoor Shetland cross, get worried about me and don’t realise that it is all a bit of a joke. Not that they don’t sometimes stretch their necks out and warn me off or even turn round and wave their back legs at me, they do. But you can tell how worried that makes me by the fact that I have to run all the way around the other side to get to the food I am stealing. Yes, I’m afraid I do steal their food. Well, they don’t need it do they, otherwise they wouldn’t throw it all over the ground. When I eat, not a drop escapes the bucket, not a drop gets wasted. Actually I do consider most of what goes down those great long red throats is a waste. It must be quite old by the time it gets to their bellies whereas with my short neck I am always eating fresh food.
Enough of that. What else is news?
We have been going right up to the top fields a lot more lately now they have some time to grow again both with the autumn flush and the sheep being taken off. Apart from some very tasty green grass up there, we also have some really nice views. If we look to the west we can see the end of South Zeal village and to the south is Ramsley Common where we often see horses out for a ride. As well as the green of the Common you can also see the spills of the old copper mine that used to be sited there but hasn’t worked for over a hundred years now. Because of the minerals (including arsenic) that were mined out of the ground and deposited as waste making those large mounds, not much grows on parts of it and the sides make a nice colour change from the grass and bracken of the common.
If we look to the north, we can’t really see very much as that it looking uphill towards the moor and the top of Cosdon. The way the ground slopes means that after the field just above ours, all we can see is the sky. However, often in that field there are some of Michael’s cows or sheep so even there we can see something, though to see the sheep you need to be near the open metal gate as they are too small to be seen over the wall.
May favourite view is eastwards. First you see the big trees in our own fields which are glorious when they are in full leaf. Then past them, the land drops down to the road and then over the road is Michael and Sue’s farm. You can look down on their house and barn and then past them to the filed where their horse Lily often stands, usually together with sheep and cows of varying ages. Then, as you look up, the fields above the farm buildings are full of trees and animals. We are lucky here to have such views and we will miss them when we go to France. Maybe sometimes we will get HIM to reread this page to remind us of the place where we are leaving our old friend Tregony. We may need to remember the place but we will never forget him.

DartmoorTuesday  19th September 2006
HE came along last night and found that Mims was limping. HE told me that HE thinks that HE can tell by the way we limp if it is an abscess or if we have jarred our feet on a stone or something. Nevertheless, HE got the hoof pick and cleared her hoof out and gave it a good looking over and squeeze, just in case HE could find any obvious cause like a stone or something. But no, apart from saying that she has a very small hoof which appears to be lop sided, HE could find no obvious reason for her limp. So, HE spent a lot of the time HE was with us making sympathetic noises and giving her big cuddles and stuff. Poor Mims had to let HIM do it because it makes HIM feel a lot better but, as she said to me afterwards, “As if it isn’t bad enough having a sore foot without having to suffer all that!”
So anyway, this morning, HE decided to put a sachet of Bute powder in Mims food to try and ease the pain a bit. ‘Bute’ is the common name for it, and it is a well know treatment for horses with arthritis. In fact, HE only has some because HE is using up the remains of a box that was purchased for poor old Tregony. So, HE comes along with our buckets this morning and HIS eyes were only for Mims. Again HE was uttering those meant to be consoling words and HE puts her bucket down just where she stood so she shouldn’t have to walk any further than necessary. Then HE goes about feeding the birds and so on, all the stuff HE does while we are eating and then HE comes back down to where we are to give us our treats. First he cleans our eyes and then puts on our masks. Then we get an apple and some sugar lumps. HE goes first to Mims, then to me and finally to Wick, who doesn’t get the apple because of his teeth but has some biscuits and mints instead. Then on HIS way back, HE gives me some mints and goes on to Mims and gives her some.
After a while, so that we have time to clear up our feed, it is time to give us our carrots. HE decided today that HE would hand them out where Mims was standing so that she wouldn’t have to walk on her bad leg. So, HE held one out to me to come over and was HE shocked when I LIMPED over to HIM! Now HE has two of us to worry about. I expect I can look forward to some Bute in my feed tonight. Ok, just as long as I don’t have to endure all that cuddling stuff as well!

walkingWednesday 20th September 2006
The news for today is the wind. No, I’m not talking about Wicky here. It’s the edge of a dying hurricane called Henry or some such human name. When HE brought our breakfast, HE noticed how windy it was in our field. Apparently, for a change, THEY didn’t notice it much down by my stable but here at Ninefields it was pretty strong and quite cool. So cool in fact that HE left our fly masks off today. It didn’t really matter this morning because we were all pretty tired from being up all night grazing on the top fields. So, instead of being out in the wind (or in the flies when the sun eventually came out) we just dozed away in the field shelter.
Just saying that last little bit about Ninefields made me wonder what we shall call our new pastures in France? I expect they already have a name in French or maybe they don’t do that sort of thing there and just call the field the same name as the whole property. In which case, I wonder what the property will be called. I shouldn’t expect it will just be, for example, number 7 rue de la chevaux, or something like that. Probably it will have a name to do with what used to go on there such as  Strawberry Farm (only it’s French equivalent) and so on. Still, thinking about it, as long as the grass is good and the ground is softer on our feet that this Dartmoor Granite, I wont really mind.
We have both been hobbling about again today. HE put some more of that medicine in our food and that did help a bit but we still have a noticeable limp. It’s strange that this year it has been the turn of Mims and I and Wicky seems to have escaped with no problems so far. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the fact that we don’t have shoes any more. Mark (the farrier) is coming on Friday and SHE did have a passing thought that maybe we should be shod again. The funny thing though is that our hooves are now much sounder than when they were splitting with nails in them. It just seems that our thoroughbred shape foot is just not tough enough for this ground. Or, at least, that is the theory.
THEY have had a couple of people round to give them quotes for moving THEIR furniture now and what with the cost of moving us and then the cost of moving the cats and now this, it is going to be a very expensive time to just get to France even before THEY buy our new place. Still, it only has to be done once, thank goodness. Let’s hope it is all soon over. Someone is coming to survey THEIR house tomorrow so that is another step in the right direction.

stone crossThursday 21st September 2006
It’s a funny sort of set up because HE used to wait and type up what I had told him the that evening, when HE got home from bringing our supper. Now, because of the nights coming sooner, HE doesn’t have the time afterwards so HE types the page just before HE brings our supper, meaning that it is always now a day late. It probably doesn’t worry those of you who read it on the monthly web site but it does somehow seem like ‘have I got old news for you’ so to speak.
So, what happened last night was this.
When HE came along with supper and drew up outside the gate, we were all up in the road field. Usually Wicky is standing waiting at the gate and Mims and I are lurking about further off. Then, when we see HIM, Wick waits for his biscuits treat while we stride away down the field, ready to cross the stream. But, last night, Wick was a bit away from the gate and both he and I strode up to meet HIM and get a treat. Now, HE was delighted to notice that I was walking almost limp free, just a very, almost imperceptible, sign that I had ever had anything wrong with my hoof. But when HE looked at Mims, she was still limping although not as bad as the day before. So, HE set off down the field with Wicky, feeling a bit sorry for the poor girl who must still obviously be in pain. HE had just crossed the stream when HE heard a noise and then my darling daughter came cantering and bucking past him as if there was nothing at all wrong with her. HE left us last night feeling an awful lot better about us after all.
This was confirmed this morning when he brought breakfast and neither of us was limping. In fact I was up in the top field and had to come hurrying down. Mims hoof was in the same state mine was last night. You could still see just the fraction of a funny walk. But with Mims, she has got such a funny walk anyway, it really didn’t notice. Mind you, if you think her walk is funny, you should see her run. Not trot or canter but run, just like a silly schoolgirl who has not got full control of her growing limbs.
We are having to expect to batten down the hatches tonight. I think I mentioned yesterday how the weather forecasters were promising high winds. Well, we had stiff breezes but they say tonight will bring gale force together with rain. We will wait and see. One thing about this particular part of Devon is that, being sheltered by Cosdon and being on the eastern side of the moor, we get our own little brand of weather. Often when foul weather is forecast, we have the sun. I think it all depends on the wind direction. Anyway, we have a very nice tasting and smelling variety of hay in the field shelter at the moment so we wont be worried. We have already had the army practicing making big bangs on the moor over Okehampton all day today so a little bit of wind won’t worry us at all.

coltFriday 22nd September 2006
Funny day today in several respects. First us horses. HE came along today with our breakfast and that was alright and normal. But then, after we had eaten, instead of giving us our treats, HE crossed over the stream into the road field and just stood there waving carrots. I just stood and looked at HIM. I think HE got the impression that I didn’t know what HE meant. I knew alright. HE wanted us to go across the stream and into the road field. But why? That was what I was trying to work out. Call me suspicious, I just cant quite trust humans. Nice as they appear to be there is always a hidden agenda, trust me. Of course, Wicky let me down again. As soon as he realised that the handing out of treats was going to take place in the road field, he was over like a shot. And then, when Wicky had gone, Mims had to follow suit, didn’t she? What could I do but follow? But, and this is the funny bit, once we had eaten our treats, HE just left. Just like that. Oh no, one thing he did before leaving. HE closed the gate over the stream so that we were shut in the road field.
It’s not so bad there and we set about grazing, wondering about the mysteries of humans. We had only been there just over an hour when HE was back. All HE  did was to come into the field, stride down and open the gate, pass out a couple of polo mints and HE was off. And there the mystery remained until early evening. HE turned up again with Mark the farrier who, HE explained, was due to come this morning but then couldn’t make it until five o’clock. One last funny thing was that after we had our feet attended to, HE brought our suppers in early but where we stood up near the gate. This meant that HE had to stand down in the paddock waving carrots in HIS hands to get us to cross the steam to where we normally have supper so that he could , now, shut us out of the road field. As I said, a funny day.
The other funny thing which HE told me of over supper is about Bubble. Yes, that’s right, Bubble. Let’s start at the beginning. After letting us out of the road field this morning, HE went off down to the shops. Before HE got our carrots and stuff, HE popped into the vets to make an appointment to take Mutt to have his teeth done and his ears looked at, together with a general overhaul, so that he would be fit to get the Cats Protection League to arrange a home for him when we move to France. HE made the appointment for next week, did HIS shopping and went home. When HE got home and was just about to tell HER about the appointment, SHE said that the vets had phoned. Just after HE left them,  lady had phoned saying she was worried about her cat which she had not seen for a couple of days. She described him and, to cut a long story short, the description was Mutt to a T. Not only that but the lady lived just about a hundred metres from THEIR house. THEY and the owners have decided that here is not much they can do but to let the cat live in and out of both houses. As HE types this, Mutt (sorry, his real name is Bubble) is sleeping on THEIR indoor windowsill.
For the day, then – Animals 2, THEM 0!

masked AlliSaturday 23rd September 2006
Just for the record, to follow up on yesterday’s story, HE has decided hat Bubble is too girlie a name for a male cat like the ex Mutt so HE has decided to call him Bubble Wrap because of his liking for sleeping on the packing material that is laying around at the moment.
It seems that we cant have a day without HIM coming along to our field during the day. Today, we had only had about an hour on our own after breakfast when the familiar noise of his old jeep was heard. He wandered into our field and walked up to the field shelter and ignored us. We also ignored HIM as we were up above the shelter and buy eating. After about twenty minutes, HE reappeared and started walking around taking photographs. I was all for keeping out of HIS way but, as usual, Wicky thought that there might be something to eat involved so he went rushing up to him. And then Mims, who cant bear Wick to get anything that she doesn’t, had to follow. So, at last I went down too. But all HE did was ignore us, just giving us a pat on the nose before walking off again up the hill.
We could see what HE had been doing while HE was out of sight. The bins and bags and stuff had been taken out of the field shelter and everything  inside was clean and tidy with pallets lying on the floor ready for hay bales. Then we heard the sound of a tractor and HE came rushing down the hill and went up to open the gate to allow Robin, the hay man, to drive his trailer of hay bales up to the shelter. He got a bit stuck when he got there because Wick was investigating the bin with the oats in, seeing if he could knock it over and have a second breakfast. Robin revved his enging and inched the tractor forward but Wicky didn’t move until HE got a handful of biscuits to tempt him out of the way.
We all stood enjoying the sight of Robin and HIM working to unload all the hay bales and load them in the shelter after which they stood talking for a while and then HE went up to open the gate and Robin drove off. HE had to come back to check all was secure and we did all get a few polo mints as HE made his way out of the field.
Even that wasn’t enough though as THEY did a drive past to spy on us after lunch. This time we were not in a very good position to be seen so THEY didn’t stay long. A bit of privacy wouldn’t come amiss but not just yet until HE has brought our supper!

road and skySunday 24th September 2006
All day on our own today. The weather was really good this morning with very large, cloud filled skies lit up by glorious sunshine. But, the afternoon was rubbish. The clouds got lower and bigger and the sun vanished and there were some very heavy showers. Still, it gave us a chance to go into the field shelter and sample some of the new hay that HE got yesterday.
You know those bald patches or scrapes that keep appearing on Mims’ coat? Well, a few days ago, HE noticed another one, a rectangular patch about 6cm by 2cm (or one and a half inches by half an inch for you non Europeans) right on the round left cheek of her bottom. Apart from being slightly funny, this was also a bit puzzling. THEY have always put Mims’ bald spots down to her clumsily bumping into things. But how does she bump into things there? Did she sit on a rock or gate hinge? It does not seem likely. The other thing that has been puzzling HIM is that none of these bald spots have broken skin – just missing coat with the skin showing through.
Anyway, HE thought no more about it until today. This morning after we had eaten out bucket feed, HE was giving us some carrots when HE noticed that now Mims had another patch on her flank which was an almost perfect 2cm triangle. In fact, most of the patches are pretty regular with straight edges not ragged ones which you might expect if they are the result of collisions. But, not only was there this new triangle but HE also noticed that there was a flap of the soft black skin of her muzzle hanging loose. It seems almost impossible that she had bumped into something with her mouth and caused this damage.
The best thing in the whole mystery is that the patched don’t seem to hurt her in any way, although there have been some bumps noticed under some of the scrapes. When HE told HER about this latest puzzle, SHE has decided to have Mims coat tested for any fungal or bacterial infection. It is strange that Mims didn’t have these patched when she first came to us but she did have very bad rain scald which required a lot of treatment to get her coat back to condition. It is possible that the new coat that has grown is a very delicate one that is susceptible to easy damage. No doubt in time THEY will get to the bottom of it. Let us hope that Mims doesn’t completely fall to pieces before that!

WickyMonday 25th September 2006
Today it was – guess what? Peanuts! No, I am not talking about Wicky and his funny shape. No, it’s peanuts, ground nuts whatever you call them. That is what HIS visit to us was about today. HH just drove up, through the gate, over the stream and deposited the sack of peanuts in the field shelter and left. Not even a ‘good day boys and girls’. Nothing. Mind, I did tell Mims to keep her head down in case HE was after doing anything to us, so maybe we deserved to be ignored. But, if HE was only delivering stuff, HE could have driven up the hill with a few polo mints. It wouldn’t have hurt HIM or taken up much of HIS precious time. Ah well!
I should explain for any of you who haven’t been following this diary page by page, day by day, for weeks and months now. I can’t remember how it started now but I think it was when HE was putting fat balls (balls of fat with bird seed studded in them) up in HIS garden so that THEY could watch the birds feeding. I think it was then that HE decided to try putting one up at Ninefields, just outside our field shelter in the hedge. Of course it proved very popular, not only with the birds but also with the squirrels. HE would stand there while we were feeding and watch the blue tits hanging on the fat, pecking away to dislodge the seeds or just get a warming mouthful of fat. When HE caught the squirrels hanging down the string and feeding as well, HIS first thought was to stop them. So, HE bought some ‘squirrel proof’ bird feeders and put some peanuts in them to supplement the fat balls. Well, I must say, the squirrels were ever so grateful for this addition to their diet. In fact, peanuts were just the thing to go and bury in readiness for the winter months.
HE went and bought a feeder in a cage to keep the squirrels away and was amazed when HE found that this was just the thing for the squirrels to sit in while they were feeding. And so, not being a complete fool (as opposed to being a complete mug) HE gave in and instead of buying bags of peanuts HE graduated to sacks. This was supposed to last much longer but actually it just meant that many other species, including large birds and rats, came along to feed as well. In an effort to reduce expenses, HE decided to have a go at buying a sack of rolled oats to feed the other birds with as this was both bigger and cheaper than the peanuts. In line with my comment about HIM being a mug, it was, of course, just an additional expense not a cheaper option.
Now HE is worried what is oing to happen to the complete wildlife population of Ninefields (if not Devon) when THEY move to France. Is it going to be an ecological disaster of immense proportions? Should HE be starting to re-train the wildlife population to go back to eating nature fare? You know, life’s never easy if you are a human, we have decided. Thank goodness we are of the noble equine strain instead!

blackberriesTuesday 26th September 2006
“Ere, Wick?”
“My god. Treg? Where’ve you been old boy. We’ve not seen you in ages?”
“Yeah, well, I’ve sort of been training.”
“Training? Training for what?”
“Er, dunno Wick. We’ve not got to that bit yet.”
“Treg. Treggy. You’ve not changed at all, have you?”
“Well, I had a bit of a wash before I come out. But, no. I suppose not.”
“So, what’s been happening? What’s this training all about then?”
“Well, you see, it all started as a bit of a lark. Some of us was getting a bit, well, a bit bored with it all being so good an’ that. So, we got chatting and decided that we’d like top do something. Something a bit different, you know?”
“Yes Treg. I expect being in equine paradise can be a bit, sort of samey, after a while. So, what did you decide to do?”
“Er, I think ‘decide’ is a bit too strong a word for it really. It just sort of fell out natural like when none of us could really think what might be best.”
“What did then? What fell out naturally?”
“A rain on the heavenly hay store.”
“A what? What’s the heavenly hay store? Don’t tell me that hey lock the food up, up there?”
“Not exactly. But they are concerned about our fitness. There is such a thing as paradise laminitis and that can be pretty bad you see so they do keep a bit of a strict eye to make sure we don’t over eat.”
“Well I never. I would never have thought that you could get laminitis without feet. It goes to show what we’ve got to learn down here. So, what happened then Treg?”
“I think the thing got a bit out of hoof. We was all getting excited (did you notice that I didn’t say hexcited? I take hellocution lessons now) and we started running around and larking about and telling each other what we was goi… sorry were going to do. An’ then we got overheard by an equine angel.”
“What, do they act like policehorses then?”
“Yeah. Cushy number really. Not a lot of crime up there. Really it just comes down to a bit of horseplay now and then.”
“Well, it would, wouldn’t it?”
“Anyways. We was all taken up before the chief muzzle and he said that we all needed a bit of training. We all had to learn how to make the mostest of being here and not getting any more bad thoughts.”
“So, what are you doing here then? Obviously the training hasn’t finished yet or they would have let you know what you must do in the future.”
“Half term.”
“Oh, half term. I see. So you’ve got to go back for the other half later?”
“S’right. So I thought I’d come and see how youse all was getting on. Thought you would all be busy packing by now. When you off to France then?”
“Don’t really know mate. Probably before Xmas, that’s all we know. Still you said it makes no difference to you. You can come and see us wherever we are. That right?”
“Course I can. And I will. Couldn’t let a lot of such good mates get away, could I? So, at least I’ve seen you now. I better be off and go back to learn how to be a good boy. Should be fun. Give my love to the girls, will you?”
“Sure Treg. And Treg?”
“Yes mate?”
“Bon chance, mon vieux.”
“Oh, don’t worry Wick. You’ll soon pick it up!”

big skyWednesday 27th September 2006
HE noticed last night that, by the time we had finished our supper and HE was getting back in his car to go home, it had grown quite dark. And last night, the weather was quite fine too. It is noticeable now that the nights are starting to draw in quite rapidly and so, HE has decided that we should have our supper a bit earlier. Now this is just as well because today the weather has been quite nasty with heavy rain and some strong winds to go with it. Even an hour before our normal supper time, the light as fading fast.
Mind you, HE must have known something because, this morning, HE filled our hay nets. To be honest, they were not really empty but the hay in them was some of  that stuff He had bought some weeks ago which was fairly hard and yellow. What HE did was to empty the old hay out on the ground (because HE knows that we like to walk it about and make a real good old mess with it) and, in its place, HE filled our nets with the lovely new, green and fragrant hay that was delivered last week. The hay store has driven us nearly mad with its lovely aroma. We really didn’t mind, at all, standing in the shelter this afternoon, watching the heavy rain come down while we munched away on this lovely stuff.
HE tells me HE had a call from the estate agents today, the first time they have contacted THEM since the offer was made and accepted. When HE heard the agent’s voice HE was afraid it must be bad news, that the sale had fallen through or something, but no. It was not bad news, it was not good news either. It was just no news at all. Just an apology for not keeping in touch. However, they are getting quite used to this now. HE sent an email to the agent in France for some paperwork a couple of weeks ago and has heard nothing. HE also, at about the same time, sent off a very comprehensive application for a French bank account. Even just to post it cost a fortune. And yet, HE has heard nothing more of that either.
So, THEY are spending THEIR time packing a little more of the house contents every day. HE said that the bad news about that, is that HE has virtually completed packing up the office, apart from the computer and some stationery that is used with it. This means that HE will no longer have any excuse for not tackling the sorting out and packing or throwing away the contents of his shed. I think we must all be prepared for some grumpy times to come!

MimsThursday 28th September 2006
Hi guys. Mum needed a break and was going to ask Wick to write today’s stuff. He cried off saying that he had done his bit with his chat to Treggy the other day. So, being the really good girl that I am, I volunteered and here I am.
Um? Well, let’s see. Oh yes, why is mum looking so sad lately? I didn’t say it, SHE did. SHE was going to update the website and asked if HE had any photos of mum to publish for a change. Well, HE looked through the stuff HE had taken lately and really couldn’t find much. Either we were all wearing masks (well, not all but Wick’s forelock is much the same thing) or mum was always somehow in the background. HE explained to HER that when HE takes his camera with HIM, either we are eating (HE has so many photos of us all with our mouths glues to the ground , it is not true, HE says) or, if we see HIM pointing the camera at us, we have a tendency to walk right up to HIM for a mint or biscuit and all HE gets is a shot of our noses. HE did manage to find a few, which HE sent on to HER. And that was when SHE said that mum was looking sad.
 I suppose it is possible that they may have been taken when she was lame or it may just be that mum was looking serious at the time. Of course, the real answer is the sad but true fact that mum is getting older now. HE thinks that the only time that HE stands a chance of getting a nice shot of her is when HE has his good camera with HIM (not just his little one which is OK for static shots but not so good for movement0 but, more important than which camera HE uses, HE says that HE needs something to excite mum and get her running around with her head held up. The only sure way that he knows to achieve that is to take Wick or myself out of the field for a walk along the road. Then mum usually panics and runs snorting along the hedge, up and down, until we return. HE thinks that, just for the sake of a photo, that would be a bit cruel.
After the bad weather yesterday, we had quite a good night last night and also a good day today. Which, in a way, was a shame as HE has been filling our hay bags with some glorious tasting and smelling hay. Still not as good as grass but nice nevertheless. Oh, I just remembered one interesting thing. There was a rainbow this morning. Not too exciting you think? But this was an unusual one as there was no rain. In fact, I cant be sure that it even can be called a ‘rain’ bow, rather a mistbow it was. As I say, there was no rain and not even any discernible mist but there must have been so much moisture in the atmosphere that the coloured semicircle was formed. At first it was only a half a bow (demicircle?) but then gradually the arc spread from one side of the horizon to the other.
And that’s it. Please don’t forget to tell mum what a good job I did and what big words I’ve been using. It might even put a smile back on her face, you never know!

Alli seeing through maskFriday 29th September 2006
Well, this sad faced Alli thing is still going on. Today THEY both came over in the late morning while we were sheltering from the rain in the field shelter. To be exact, I was sheltering from the rain, Mims was half in and half out and Wicky, as usual, was standing outside asking what was the matter with us ‘girlies’, staying indoors on such a lovely day. So, when THEY came into the field, obviously Wicky started towards THEM just in case there might be some sort of edible about THEIR persons and then, because she can’t bear Wicky getting anything over on her, Mims also went out to greet THEM. I did actually turn round , so that I could watch as THEY approached the shelter and I was very polite when THEY reached me but I wasn’t going to get wet for no good reason.
THEY did provide a few apple biscuits and some polo mints and then SHE gave me a rather nice scratchy sort of grooming that made my neck stretch. HE set about clearing the shelter out so that we could mess it up later when THEY had gone and then HE got his camera from under HIS coat. I understand that the whole idea was to try to get some photos of me not looking sad. I just ignored HIM at first and when HE turned HIS attention on Mims, she just kept going up to HIM so that HE couldn’t get a shot of her anyway. Now, HE didn’t attempt to take any photos of Wicky and when I asked HIM why, tonight, HE just pointed at this rain sodden, fly covered mess and said ‘would you?’. I saw his point, I’m afraid.
There actually is a bit of a problem with Wicky. SHE was on the phone to Pauline, the lady who SHE does the web site for in return for Pauline giving Wick the occasional clip. First they discussed arrangements for when we all go to France and then the conversation turned to Wicky. SHE has had to arrange that she will give Pauline as much notice as she can, if Wicky ever gets dry enough to clip. The problem is that the only way in this weather would be to put a rug on Wick but then, as has happened previously, Wick gets so hot that he sweats and gets wetter than he is without one. That was what happened that year when his coat got so matted that is was a real problem to clip. When his coat got hot and sweaty, it sort of curled up and then went hard and, you may remember, it took the lady then about four hours to cut through, with THEM helping out with scissors.
When HE got home , HE found that HE had only taken four photos, one of which I spoiled by moving and the other three in which I look sad. Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!

roses on wallSaturday 30th September 2006
Wet and cold today. Not raining all the time but in heavy showers with breaks in between. Pretty miserable whatever.
I think I have told you before about HIS terrible habit of singing to me. In particular, singing “The Big Ship” which is a kid’s song anyway. Today is the last day of the month. The last day of September. And that, of course, is when the big ship ‘sails on the alley, alley, oh’ so HE had to sing it to me this morning. The only good thing was that we were not walking along the Throwleigh Road where other people could hear HIM. I just gritted my teeth and smiled. And HE has the cheek to say I am looking sad!
Because of the weather, this morning we had a little bit of fun. At least, I found it funny. I’m not sure HE or Mims were quite so amused. We were getting to the end of our breakfast so HE started to dish out the carrots. HE has taken now to throwing them on the floor for us to eat rather than holding them while we take them. I can’t be a hundred percent sure but I suspect that it may have something to do with the way I have been snatch biting at them lately. Anyway, just as HE started to deal out the carrots, it started to rain heavily. HE hadn’t got his hat on this morning and HE knows that I don’t really like getting wet so HE starts of towards the field shelter, calling us to follow HIM. I was quite happy to do so but Mims followed on a bit cautiously. I went right inside, behind him but she just hovered outside. Wicky, naturally, was standing outside in the rain finishing his breakfast as if it was the best weather in the world.

So, I think HE was feeling sorry for Mims and HE tried to entice her into the shelter with a carrot. At first, although she stretched her neck as far as it would go, she didn’t take a pace inside. So then HE made me go over to the other side of the shelter and then Mims timidly came in. I waited until HE was holding out a carrot to her and then I did a great start and stamp with my head held high. Mims was off and down the field like a shot. He jumped and I just relaxed and smiled. Maybe HE will think twice about singing to me now!

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