Alezane's Diary Archive June 2007
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XT meets the herdFriday 1st June  2007
Extreme! Extreme what?, you might ask. Really. What kind of a name is that? And worse, you don’t even say it the way it is written. You say x-trem. We have a new, would be member of our herd called x-trem! Let me go back a bit and explain.

It had been a funny old day all together. The weather was good, really nice and sunny. After breakfast, SHE came and put our fly masks on right away. Wally comes along and starts to finish the outside face of the barn where there had been two doorways but they had been blocked in as they would have been right into Wicky’s new box and would have been draughty as they were. Then HE drives off to buy some more hay as we had made quite a dent in the two small bales that THEY had bought yesterday. Then, while HE was away, Andre came along with, not two big rounds of hay but one great big oblong which is so heavy it can only be moved by tractor.

No knowing where to put this big bale, it was decided that it should go in the sous sol to keep it dry if it rains. While this was going on, Joanna and James from our old farm gite came along with a refrigerated van to deliver some meat from one of their cows. I do hope it wasn’t on that we got to know very well. In the middle of all this, HE comes back with four small hay bales and is surprised to see the great big bale in the entrance to the soul sol.

HE had just started to make up some hay bales for us, when along the road and then into the drive comes Xavier driving a horse van. He gets out and then unloads this skeleton on legs. He hasn’t been well, Xavier says and, to be honest, it looks it. But, apart from his name, he does have some very good points, I will admit. He is chestnut (in French, alezan) and he has a blaze of white right down his face just like Mims and, like Mims, he is the same height as her. OK, he is thin but SHE reminded me that I was even thinner when I came to live with them. Rather unkindly, I thought, SHE said that he only looks thin in comparison with Mims and I.

Now, being humans, you probably don’t have much idea about herd etiquette. When x-ray, sorry Extreme, was led off the box and into our field, the first thing he needs to know is his place in the herd and, being a newcomer, that is nowhere. He will have to stay outside until we decide to let him in. So, we all had a good sniff of each other over the fence but as soon as he was let loose in the field, we three chased him. It was a pretty glorious chase, I will admit. He may be slim but he is fast. He doesn’t gallop like us, however, he lifts his head and he lifts his tail and he sort of floats over the ground. I guess that is what trotters do.

Eventually we had to stop as Mims and I were getting worn out and Wicky was losing concentration every time he saw a blade of grass as these are few and far between now that the field has been cut. So then we left x-it, sorry, Extreme, alone at the bottom of the field and we three grouped together over the hay. At suppertime, he was given special treatment and, funny fellow, he turned his nose up at the apple and carrots. Tonight will be the testing time. If he plays his cards right and shows proper respect he might get accepted enough for Mims to start chasing him. Then he will know he has arrived!

We welcome XTSaturday 2nd June 2007 (South Tawton Church House Ale Day)
The weather here has been glorious. SHE phoned back to Dartmoor and heard that the weather was overcast but that it was brightening up. Let us hope that the Church House Ale went well.

The reason that SHE phoned Dartmoor was to get a fly mask like ours for the newcomer. I have decided to spell it as you pronounce it other wise fork who get to read this later on wont know that it is pronounced X-trem (but spelled Extreme). THEY did go and get him a fly mask from Alencon but it is white not black like ours and it doesn’t fit as well. SHE phoned her friend Faith (Maxwell’s human) in Dartmoor to buy her one and post it here. They also had a long chat and update on what is happening there.

Wicky has started letting us down by already befriending X-trem. Mims and I are still keeping him away and chasing him if he comes into our personal space. Wick however has gone right up to him and eaten grass with him side by side. Admittedly he has also nipped his knees but that is a sign of affection as he used to do it to Treg too.

X-trem is very much like Treg in his ways. As SHE says, he is brighter than Treg but then, that isn’t hard. Treg knows I am saying this and quite agrees. It is him who told Wick to go up and befriend him. X-trem is a very gentle soul and just stays out of our way. So much so that we have to try really hard to get offended and chase him. I have a feeling that it will take a week before he is sort of accepted on a trial basis. We don’t want to go and make the same mistake we made with Arnie and fully accept him only to lose him again.

I don’t know if I told you yesterday but Wally the builder went to England last night and was going to go to the Derby race today. This prompted HIM to give Wally ten euros to bet on a horse for him. THEY sat this afternoon and watched TV for the first time since it was mended and saw HIS horse come in third. But THEY didn’t care as the Jockey Frankie Dettori won his first Derby race to make it that he had won every major race in the world. THEY were happy for him and didn’t mind losing. THEY also had a very pleasant and lazy afternoon.

Showing XT the fieldSunday 3rd June 2007
Another blazing hot day. What is it about geldings that attract the flies so much? I mean, Mims and I have flies on our face and masks but nothing like X-trem has. We used to call Wicky the walking dustbin (or, at least, the French equivalent) but, honestly, Wick has nothing on this new guy. OK, so we feel sorry for him. He is so skinny you could play a tune on his ribs. His coat is full of rain scald (memories of Mims when she first came to us) but THEY don’t dare to try and treat it until he has some sort of flesh cover on his bones. Although he is a trotter and they make them a different shape to us, he still looks ungainly at the moment. He has very long legs, probably as long as mine, but they are a different shape, sort of solid rather than elegant, straight rather than shapely. I expect the kind of work he has had to do would require that sort of leg, who knows?

THEY think that THEY maybe need a book about trotters to try to understand them better. Well, today Wick got to understand him better and he certainly got to understand Wicky an awful lot. THEY decided to try and force the pace of assimilation at supper tonight by putting Mims and I on head collars and SHE held us while HE brought XT up alongside Wicky to have his supper. Now I don’t know if he is just so hungry or whether he is greedy by nature but he had finished his bucket way before any of the rest of us. One he was in place beside Wicky, HE had taken XT’s head collar off so, when he had finished, he walked over to Wick, who still had his nose glued to his bucket. When XT offered to help Wicky finish his supper, Wick first snapped at him and then moved round to kick him. XT moved away a bit and then had second thoughts. After all, Wick had shown him some friendship earlier on. Thinking that he must have mistaken Wick’s intention, XT moved forward again. I have never seen a bucket moved from A to B so swiftly as it did when Wick just did a flick of his head. Not only that, when Wick had finished he took over chasing XT out of the herd as we have been doing all day.

It wont last, of course. XT has been getting nearer and nearer and we have been letting him, providing he doesn’t overstep the mark. I have my work cut out, not only in keeping XT in his place but also curbing Mims who would like to chase him for the hell of it. I remember how she turned on Arnie at La Chauniere and we can’t have that happening all over again. My job is to ensure everyone knows their place in the herd and also knows who is leader. When all that is sorted out without question, we will be able to get back to our normal lives. By then, I expect, our stables will be ready and we will be able to get some real; relief from these flies. And, not only flies. I have a hornet sting on my side and HE had to chase another one from Wick’s back this morning.

THEY have had a sort of lazy day today as the heat was too much to be too active. HE chased the hen house which was ordered on 18th May and has not been heard of since and SHE has ordered a pressure washer to be used to clean out our stables when they are in use. SHE had HER first drive of HER new car and HE had HIS first drive of the quad towing the remorque (trailer). HE found it hard enough just to drive but when it came to reversing back into the sous sol, HE found that it is an art that needs an awful lot of practice. HE must have gone backwards and forwards about twenty times before HE got it safely in. It will take quite a while, I think, before HE is driving down to the dechetterie with the rubbish on the trailer!

Thin XT on his first day hereMonday 4th June 2007
Do you remember yesterday that I told you what a glorious day it was? Today we had thunderstorms and rain like I have never seen rain before. And, to crown it all, THEY went out shopping so THEY weren’t here to put our rugs on. Admittedly THEY went to buy our apples and carrots and also to get some vitamin supplements for XT but still, we had nowhere to hide and by the time THEY got home we were all shivering (I cant vouch for Wicky as he is too short for me to see his legs properly but if he wasn’t he should have been).

THEY looked like drowned rats when THEY got out of the car so it as no hardship for THEM to come and put our rugs on. Well, it was a bit of a hardship for HIM as HE had to walk right down to the bottom of the field to get to XT and then had to lead him all the way up again to tie him to the fence as XT wouldn’t stand still to have his back leg straps done up. By the time the two of them got to the top is was difficult to tell who was wheezing the most. We know about HIM but poor old XT is not in the top of condition yet.

After seeing to us, SHE did the next most important thing and rescued the scotch bottle from the car to make THEM both a hot toddy to help warm them through. The rain didn’t stop but we were able to graze in comfort for the rest of the day. That is until about five o’clock when the rain went away and it became really hot again. HE had to come put and take all our rugs off again and hang them on the fence to dry.

Give or take a few skirmishes at meal times, we have finally allowed XT to join the outskirts of the herd. While he does show Mims and I a proper deference, I am afraid he is still trying (with complete lack of success, I might add) to help Wicky finish his bucket. In order to avoid the worst excesses of Mims’ temper, THEY lead him round us and get him to eat his breakfast and supper next to Wicky. He might be a bit poorly but he is a fast eater and usually finishes first. It is then that he looks around and sees that Wick is still eating. Often, so do we, but we have learned to leave him alone. He may only have three and a half hooves that they pack quite a hefty kick still.

One good thing about the rain. Our grass has started to grow again. Given a pleasantly warm evening I can see we are in for a good nights grazing. And you cant beat that, can you?

Tom in the windowTuesday 5th June 2007
I just don’t know about this weather. Today is bright and sunny and hot. The French have a way of  expressing disgust or whatever by waving the fingers of one hand up and down near their face. The more bad it is the nearer to the face are the fingers. There has been much finger waving today. Usually starting with a remark like “isn’t it a lovely day today but yesterday …” and then the finger waving starts.

HE decided that yesterday’s rain had brought our grass on again after it had been cut right down and so, instead of leaving us our daisy strew little bit by the barn, HE got HIS strimmer out and finished the job that the big tractor cutter had started. HE did relent a bit by opening the big bale of hay and giving us some but, to be perfectly honest, I think HE was right. We had a stab at the hay because it was new (there’s an oxymoron if ever there was one. Hay is ‘old’ grass by definition) but we soon went over to the field and started grazing the new but very short grass.

Wally and David worked really hard today laying a new path around the house. It took them away from the barn for a while but Wally wanted to get the outside work done while the weather was fine. The guy who is making the iron grills for our stable boxes phoned this morning. He didn’t actually apologize for not turning up the other night but at least he said he will come along tomorrow night. Let us hope that he remembers this time.
Another thing Wally did today was to teach XT to drink tea. Wally was having his tea break along our fence when XT came up and started to sniff Wally’s cup. So, he put some in his hand and XT just lapped it up. SHE thinks it is because Wally takes two sugars in his tea and XT liked the sweet taste. Of course we don’t know what habits he picked up where he came from. Do you know, there are times when Mims forgets to chase him now. Not many but at least some. And now his friend Wicky was caught biting XT’s bum. “Just like he used to do to me” said Treg. As I said yesterday, there is an awful lot of Tregony in XT.

daisiesWednesday 6th June 2007
Our ferroniere turned up today. Come on, it’s easy, just guess. ‘Fer’ like ferrus or ferric means iron and the ’iere’ bit generally means ‘something to do with’ like Cerisier, cherry tree, to do with cherries. So, ferroniere is a guy to do with iron, an iron worker or blacksmith as he would be called in England. He came to measure up where the grills will be round our stables. It’s HER idea. SHE says it is to stop us interfering with each other when we are eating. The end where our food and water will be is to be screened so we can see each other but not nip. The other end will be lower so that we can still mutual groom each other is we should so desire. I will be in the middle between Mims and Wicky so there is only one way I will want to mutual groom, even if I could reach so low.
The bars at the front I guess are just for pretty, to make it look like the stable boxes of the old days.

You might have noticed that XT doesn’t feature in this at all. That is because when the planning was going on, there was no XT, not with us anyway. His arrival has somewhat altered the looks of things. SHE is already looking around the inside of the barn to see where he could be housed. However, in practice, there may not be much of a problem. The idea of a stable was to give us somewhere to go during the hot days to get away from he flies and maybe in the very bad weather to have somewhere to shelter. The first thoughts on both these situations was to let us decide when to walk in and out by leaving the place open. Of course, the other need is for visits by the farrier and the vet or for housing any of us if we are sick. In those cases it is unlikely of all four of us will need to be housed at the same time. A third use is for grooming. Again, HE and HER can only groom any two of us at a time so the present boxes will suffice.
Of course, there is always the other option which is flitting about in HER head. Once we have these very super and expensive stables, we can ignore them and have a mobile field shelter (or two). That way we could just sort ourselves out and SHE could visit us on HER quad bike. I tell you, life for a horse human can be very complicated sometimes.

THEY went to the village market today and talked to the lady who has the dairy products stand. It was her farm that THEY visited last month for the farmers’ market. Since then, THEY have driven past the farm on the way to the ferroniere and noticed that there is a mare with a baby foal there as well as two other horses in the next field. So, when SHE had bought the milk and butter and cream today SHE spoke about the farm horses with the lady and, as a result, THEY have an invitation to go along and see them one day. The lady said that her husband, who looks after the horses, speaks English but I think SHE is more interested to talk horse with him!

Nougatine and Solide come to visitThursday 7th June 2007
If you look at our little Scottish friend, well Scots cross Dartmoor, you would not put him down for a hero, would you? Well, would you? No, of course you wouldn’t. Cute, yes. Naughty, of course. But fierce? Courageous?  Doesn’t spring to mind, does it? And yet, if you had watched our Wicky today, you would have been really impressed. Let me begin at the beginning.

A normal start to the day. Breakfast. And please note that we are starting to accept XT as one of our herd. This morning he was standing not at all far from us and, when his bucket was put down next to Wick, neither Mims nor I took any notice. While we were eating our buckets, HE went and got several armfuls of our new hay and placed them around so that we could all have a bite without intruding on each other. Even then, we did not object to XT taking his turn at one of the piles while we ate from the other. After breakfast then, we set about our hay piles while THEY disappeared indoors for THEIR breakfast.

After HE had eaten and done the dishes, HE decided that HE would go down to the village for the bread that THEY buy every day. It was still a bit of an adventure as the green car is away for service and so it would be his third or fourth trip in the new car. HE told me but I may not have told you that HE has been having a problem with the new car. Nothing wrong with the car. It is HIS special perception that is the problem. First he is driving in a left hand drive car for the first time and secondly, this new car seems to be a lot bigger than the old green car. The result is that HE has demonstrated a tendency to cut things a bit fine on the near side. To be more exact, HE has clipped the near side wing mirror a couple o times. Anyway, off HE went to get the bread and HE retuned feeling quite happy with HIMSELF in that HE had not hit anything when HE found HER getting on HER quad bike and heading out of the garden.

When HE looked, HE saw two great big Percheron horses, yes, Solide the stallion and his mother Nougatine, looking over the fence from the wheat field at Mims and I. SHE was ion her way to tell Andre the human who cares for them so that he would come and collect them. HE got out of the car and went to see what HE could do and HE was joined by Wally and David who had come to watch the fun. Then SHE came back to say that Andre was not in but she had told his wife who said ‘Merde ….’ and said she would phone him at once. HE then said he would lead Solide home and got Wally to lend HIM a pair of steps to climb over the barbed wire fence. HE got a lead rope on Solide and managed to persuade him to follow him, in fits and starts back around the edge of the wheat field. However, when they got to the first corner and started heading for the exit to the field, a neighbour’s dog started barking and Solide just ran. HE let go of the rope and Solide went back to our fence.

And this is where Wicky’s bravery came to the fore. Wick just decided that he would defend the honour of the herd. He placed himself between us and Solide and his mother and dared them to com any nearer. If you look at the photo of this heroic act you will see how brave Wick was being. Nougatine must be at least three times as high as Wick and weigh at least four times as much. But he stood his ground, right up until Andre’s brother came to lead Solide and Nougatine away.

It was an adventure and I am sure that Solide ill not forget it. And why not? Because this time, unlike the time when Mims ran away to be with him, this time she completely ignored him. So much so that he started making advances to XT! I think Mims was right in ignoring him. He is so immature that he doesn’t know one excitement from another. My daughter is worth more than that. If he is still around when he has grown up, maybe. Until then we will rely on Wicky to keep her out of harms way!

Taken awayFriday 8th Juin 2007
HE thought HE as going to get HIS car back from the garage today. When HE took it in, on Wednesday, HE first of all asked ‘what time shall I pick it up?’ and then, seeing the look in their eyes, changed it to ‘when do I pick it up?’. ‘Friday’ HE was told. So, when THEY went down to Celine’s bar for lunch, THEY thought that THEY might as well call in to see if it was ready yet, after THEIR lunch. The answer was, of course ‘non’. In fact, when HE asked ‘when?’ He was told ‘we will phone you’. There. Nice and vague, eh? THEY are now adding the car onto the list of things that THEY have ordered but which have not yet turned up. HE pessimistically thinks that this settling in, in France is a year’s commitment and that THEY will be lucky if THEY are settled by Xmas. In one way, it doesn’t matter in the slightest as it is all part of the life here. On the other hand, THEY are now longing for the time when all the building work and furnishing is over and THEY can just settle down to living a simple life with us horses as the hub of things.

Yesterday, a phone call told HER that someone was trying to deliver something and needed directions to here. HE got all excited and thought it was the hen house that HE has been waiting for since 18th May. However, when it arrived, it turned out to be a high pressure washer that THEY had ordered. Very nice but not needed until the stables are finished and in use so the box remains on the living room floor unopened. HE chased the chicken house again today after getting an email 72 hours ago promising a reply within 48 hours. Life is like that here.

THEY went own to Andre’s last night to take some photos of Solide and Nougatine and to ask if they were OK now after their adventure. THEY ended up being given a hot water and pommeau ‘grog’ drink and have been pretty quiet today.

I am ashamed to mention that SHE found a pretty bad great big bite on XT's side. Of course, no one knows for sure how it got there but Mims is the main suspect. Me? I’m saying nothing. Apart from his bite, which he wears like a war medal, XT is really settling in now. Except at meal times, he is accepted in with the herd and he and Wicky really do appear to have, if not exactly ‘chummed up’ at least found some sort of understanding. When the buckets arrive, XT is always last to get his as we all go to our positions and, although he knows he is always fed next to Wicky, he always pretends he doesn’t even know it is bucket time until HE goes along and calls him. Then giving Mims and I a wide berth, he trots along behind HIM and tucks in with the rest of us.

sunrise over the fieldSaturday 9th June 2007
THEY found another shop today selling some horse stuff. Not as much as Wally had said was there but SHE did find some lucerne chaff for XT and probably for Wicky later so it has added another source to THEIR repertoire (that must be a French word?).

Yesterday, SHE phoned the farrier to come out and see Wicky because the other side of the hoof that had already lost half was coming away and SHE didn’t want him to catch it on something. When he came today, the farrier was quite content with Wick’s hoof as the new growth is coming along fine. He just trimmed the flapping bit and said to call him again when it needed further adjustment as it grows. Actually, by the time that the farrier came, we had all moved right into the far end of the field. So what HE did was to get onto the quad bike and drive right up to us. Then HE left the quad and lead Wicky back to the barn gate. It was only when he was virtually there that I realized what was going on and had to leave my grazing and canter across the field to catch them up. Fortunately, the farrier didn’t take Wick out of the field but just treated him in the roped off bit that THEY use to take the quad in and out without letting us get out into the garden.

Another very hot afternoon today. The morning started a bit hazy but soon the sun came out and roasted us all. THEY laugh at me because when I have my fly mask off, you can see the line where the sun hasn’t got to my face. Anyway, that’s what SHE says. I think it is because I am always dipping my muzzle into the drinking trough to get away from the flies so that the bit without the mask is cleaner than the rest.

THEY are slowly getting used to both the new car and the quad. Now THEY are thinking about getting a smaller remorque to use in the field for cleaning up our mess and making a poo pile. The one that THEY have will be fine for towing with the green car to get feed stuffs and hay etc. but it is a bit large and ungainly for towing with the quad. In addition, because of the site of the tow ball on the quad, there is a tendency to jam against the wheels when reversing.

HE has had to make a start on weeding HIS little herb garden as the weeds were getting as bid as the herbs. HE had tried to spray the weeds but I think HE is too impatient to wait fro it to work. The trouble was that it was so hot that, even though it is only a small patch, HE had to leave it half done or HE would have fried. Maybe HE will finish it tomorrow?

Grazing at dawnSunday 10th June 2007
When we came here, there were certain things that we missed from England. I guess the top of the list was the mint sweet called Polo, which nearly every horse in England knows. However, after that, we found that chaff was virtually unknown here, Mims and I weren’t too worried about that but Wicky is used to having it in his bucket to give him bulk without raising his protein levels enough to give him laminitis. Probably you humans who don’t know an awful lot about horses would be surprised how much thought goes into feeding us with just enough of the right things to keep us healthy whether we are in heavy work, light work or, as in our case, at the moment, no work at all. We are weighed (by means of a tape put round our bellies, the girth reading being used to approximate our weight) on a regular basis, we are wormed equally regularly and our food quantity and quality is adjusted accordingly. This might seem an awful lot of trouble to go to but not if it helps to keep the vets bills down. If you humans took as trouble with your diets then it would save the health services an awful lot and, as you pay for them in taxes or health insurance payments, it would save you money also just like us.

Why am I going on about this? Well, in the same way that we missed certain things (and I have only mentioned food) so THEY also miss some things and top of the list are bacon and cheddar cheese. THEY have been told that there is an English shop in a town not too far from here which supplies these so, as the weather was glorious yet again today and THEY had nothing particular to do, THEY set off for a little drive. THEY had been told that there was another shop which also supplied bacon, on the way so THEY first stopped there but were disappointed to find no trace of any English stuff. THEY drove on and came to the town but then realized that THEY hadn’t checked up exactly where the shop was. THEY drove around the town but saw no sign or clue so THEY had just to drive home and put it down to a pleasant drive anyway.

The weather in the afternoon and evening becomes unbearably stuffy and fly laden and all we can do is to stand about swishing our tails angrily. The sooner our stables are finished the better. However, the nighttime and early mornings are wonderful. HE woke at 5.30 this morning and got up then to photograph the dawn. Even if the pictures are not as good as HE would wish, HE had a fabulous time with us just enjoying it!

A touch of sunMonday 11th June 2007
HE decided to take a chance and phone up about the non delivered chicken house. I am calling it a chicken house and not a hen house because HE put hen house in to his computer translator and it came back as ‘maison femelle’! Anyway, he woke up last night being both worried and annoyed about how many things that THEY have ordered which have not appeared. The problem is, when THEY email for an explanation, the email is not answered (ignored or not opened?). So, the only way that THEY can chase the order is to telephone and, because of THEIR lack of language skills, this means that even if THEY manage to make THEMSELVES understood to the person on the other end of the phone, it is most likely that THEY ill not understand the reply.

Still, he was so angry with the chicken house people that HE decided phoning was the only way. HE had placed the order on 18th May and the company had banked HIS money on the 25th May. He did have a confirmation of order email with an order number so, armed with this information, HE phoned the firm. If HE understood the young lady on the other end of the phone, by co-incidence, the chicken house is going out from the firm today. What a surprise! HE tried to confirm the expected date of delivery but, in the end, they both gave up and wished each other good day.

During breakfast (THEIRS – after ours) two cars arrived and it turned out to be the plumber who is going to do three jobs – to install a gas cooking hob, to replace the bidet in the bathroom with a hair washing basin and, most importantly, provide a sink in the sous sol for our food preparation and bucket washing with a tap (robinet – HE likes that word) outside to fill our drinkers and water the garden. The only problem was that the plumber wanted to start on the basin in the basement and HE had to leave HIS breakfast and go and move everything out of the way. By this evening, the plumber had the basin installed but not working yet as he has to fix the waste pipe, and the robinet outside which is working. HE has also drilled a hole in the floor to take the pipe for the gas supply. He did leave his tools and equipment all over the place so HE will have a bit of a problem making our breakfast tomorrow. However, I have every faith that HE will manage OK.

We had our new raincoats on today for the very first time. The weather forecast this morning had been for showers all day but nothing happened until our supper time. Then the heavens opened. SHE has been quite worried for me since I ended up shivering in the rain recently so, when the shower showed no signs of stopping, THEY got the raincoats out and put them on us. And then THEY got a real surprise because the rugs have also got high neck covers as well. Wicky, of course, didn’t need one with his thick cat but we three got togged up and looked really smart for a while. I say for a while because we did rather get them a bit muddy and then, in the early evening, the roasting hot sun came out and THEY had to hastily take them off again before we boiled up.

Finally, we had the weigh tape put on us this morning. I have come back up to my normal weight now and XT has put on a satisfactory number of kilos. You can still see his ribs and haunches but he is moving in the right direction now. And just to make sure he builds up his muscles, Mims is making sure that he keeps moving as well!

la cerise chez le cherisierTuesday 12th June 2007
The plumber (Eric) finished the basin today so that, after super, HE was able to scrub out our buckets. Up to now HE has only been able to dunk them in our drinker which just removed the surface dirt. The only thing HE cant do (with our buckets or anything else) is to use soap or detergent. That is because the waste water goes into the rainwater duct, from there into the ditch in the road and ultimately into the stream at the bottom of the poplar field. If detergents are used it would have to be drained into the septic tank and, as this is in the basement, it would mean draining uphill. Not possible.

Talking of our drinker, THEY are now regretting buying such a big one as we don’t drink enough water to keep it constantly refilling. This means that over a few weeks, all kinds of green stuff grows in it, especially when we dunk our hay in it as well. THEY have considered buying a smaller one or even mounting a few small auto drinkers along the back of the barn that release water when you put your nose to it but they have ruled these ideas out at present. The biggest problem is me. You see, I have said before that I like to dip my face in the water when the flies are bothering me. That wouldn’t be possible with small drinkers so what THEY have come up with is the same idea as is used to save water in toilet flushes. THEY recon that if you fill most of the drinker up with bricks or stones then it will contain less water which will refill more regularly. At first THEY thought of  building blocks but THEY were afraid that these might contain unpleasant chemicals so now THEY are going for washed pebbles and have asked Wally to order some. THEY figure if the idea doesn’t work, THEY can always use the pebbles at the entrances to our gates to avoid the mud in the winter.

Wally finished putting the fence up in front of the barn today. The cement was due to come tomorrow to make the apron and fill the floors of the boxes but Wally has discovered more jobs that need to be done before the concrete is laid so it has been put off until Friday. In another way that is more sensible as it will have the week end to harden without anyone working there.

alli and mimsWednesday 13th June 2007
“At last, you say. And you’d be right. I promised I’d be here when all you lot came and I ‘ave bin. So why hasn’t anyone heard from me? Where’s ol’ Treg, you’ve been arskin. Well, I’ve been ‘ere with everyone else it’s just that I ‘ave not done a diary page for some time. Why’s that, you might ask. Has old Treg been too busy for his friends or what? Well, the answer to that is no he aint. It’s just that HE has not let me get a word in hedgewise as we say. You see, HE has started using this ere diary as a way of noting fings down wot HE wants to remember. Then, when someone says ‘when woz that?’ HE can just go back in the diary and look it up. Well, that aint what this diary ‘s meant to be about. It should record the thoughts and deeds of our ‘erd and that’s all. But, we have no way of stopping HIM writing what ‘E wants as ‘E is the one wot does the typing. Not very well, I mite add but it is better than we could do with our hooves so we is stuck with it.

If you really want to read the diary at it’s best you should look at some of the archives before that red devil Mims came and joinded us, when we was a real three horse herd and knew how to ‘ave fun. Now the problem with that is that somehow our archives have been disappearing. You go to the top of the page and there are the links going back to April 2003. But when you click on them all you get is a message saying that the thing cant find them. To give HIM his due, HE is working to make them all available again. HE has copies on HIS computer and they just need putting on the web again. This is taking a bit of time however as HE is a bit busy right now trying to get all the things that need doing to do with the move all sorted out. Maybe when HE gets that orl done HE will finish publishing our archives again.

You may or may not have noticed ‘ow this newcomer, old XT is sort of a bit like me a lot. Wick noticed it right away and took over nipping ‘is knees just like he did mine. XT is not quite as old as I was but he has had a pretty rough time. THEY found out that he had quite a good career in the trotter racing game, winning quite a lot of money for people. Then, when he got old and wasn’t winning no more, he was just chucked on the scrap heap. At first SHE thought he had been ill an tried to find out what the illness was in case SHE needed to get the vet in. Then it turns out that he had just been neglected and is now all skin and bone and covered in rain scald. Wick and ‘im ‘ave now come to some sort of harrangement and they are getting’ along like two grumpy old men. At least, with each other they are. With THEM XT is getting very friendly and starting to enjoy life again. I will keep a sort of an eye on him and make sure that red devil doesn’t torment him too much. She don’t know what tricks we of the after life can play if we wants to.

So, that’s about all from a rather serious old Tregony for now. I just wanted to let you be sure I was back and now we really are a herd of five, even if one of us is a bit see-through-ish, so to speak. O revwah for now as us French ghosts say. Bon Journey!”

where our veggies are preparedThursday 14th Juin 2007
“ere Treg?”
“allo Wick. What’s up?”
“Just wanted to talk to you mate. You sounded a bit down yesterday. Not your normal self, well, not your normal abnormal spirit self, I mean.”
“Oh, did I Wick? Didn’t mean to. I’m quite happy really. I s'pose I just find it hard to do a monologue. Not used to bein’ a newsman, am I. I thought if I put in a few dropped (or added) h’s I’d get away with it. So no, eh?”
“I did appreciate the h’s Treg. It’s hard to hear you speaking normally without your fake cockney-Cornwall accent. Don’t sound like you somehow. Still, as long as you’re OK. That’s alright.”
“Course I am, Wick. Not much can wrong with you up here, is there? So old mate. Tell me, how goes it with you?”
“Oh, ca va you mean? Fine Treg. Just fine. Have you met my new mate yet?”
“Not actually met him, Wick. I’ve seen him of course and I’ve said hello and all that but he is French, isn’t he? I’m not sure that he understands me.”
“I’m not sure that he can see you, Treg. You see, he didn’t know you before so maybe he isn’t allowed to see you. What d’you think?”
“Could be Wick. I hadn’t thought of that. Be a bit strange though if he sees you talking to me but he cant see me, eh? He might think you were a little funny. Know what I mean?”
“If he did he wouldn’t say anything. He’s very kind you know. A lovely chap really. Reminds me of you a lot.”
“That’s kind of you to say so Wick. I am pleased you’ve found such a good mate. Bet you get along real well don’t you?”
“Well .. er  yes. Except maybe at meal times. Do you know he was silly enough to think that he would help me eat my supper the other day. Had to kick him quite had to let him know that I could manage ok on my own. He got the idea though. Hasn’t bothered me since.”
“I never used to bother you either, did I Wick? So maybe he is now a bit like me.”
“Except for one thing.”
“One thing, what’s that then?”
“Wormers. He eats wormers. Just like me in that way. You always used to go into the sulks for days over wormers, didn’t you?”
“I expect that’s because he’s French. They eat all sorts of funny things don’t they – snails, garlic, everything really.”
“Yeah, could be old mate. Tell you what. Next time you come along I’ll introduce you. Then if he can’t see you I will make up a story about you having eaten something and become invisible.”
“Shouldn’t that be hinvisible Wick? I better start talking like I used to when I meet him. Maybe I can get him to join the CG?”
“The CG what’s that, some spirit thing?”
“Nah, Wick. It’s the French Horse Human Watch-  the Cheval Gendarmes.”
“But he couldn’t become a Hossifer, could he?”
“Oh poo, no, I hadn’t thought. I’ll have to go away and learn a bit more of the language and then you can arrange for us to meet. Right, I’m off Wick. Bon something.”
“OK Treg, See ya. Bon esprit!”

Concrete deliveryFriday 15th June 2007
Well, this is one of those days. No, not one of those days when things always seem to go wrong. No. One of those days when it is tomorrow and I know a lot of things that I don’t know today, if you see what I mean. Maybe I better explain. I always tell HIM what to type for me while we are having supper. And then HE goes in and has his tea (the meal not the drink – with THEM it is usually something with a carafe of wine and not tea at all) and then, after HE has done the dishes, HE settles down with HIS laptop to type up what I have told him. But, last  night er…I mean tonight, THEY were invited out to watch Holly, one of the daughters from the farm we first stayed at in France, giving a performance of modern dance with lots of her friends at a theatre in Alencon. This meant that HE couldn’t type up my words until tomorrow (today – you see how complicated it is).

The problem is that, now it is today (tomorrow) there is a lot that I could tell you but I have to wait until tomorrow (today). Gottit? OK. To go back to Friday.

Wally came along in the morning, not seeming his usual cheerful old self. Today is the day when 1000€ worth of ready mixed beton (concrete) was to be poured to make the apron round the barn/stables. It was going to be on Wednesday but Wally put it off ‘til today to make sure everything was ready for it. Then today the weather forecast was for rain and when we get rain here we get rain – heavy rain. HE jokingly said to Wally that storms were forecast and Wally said if so, St Pierre des Nids would be under concrete then. Apparently Wally had not slept all night worrying that, if it rained, the concrete would all be washed away. The delivery was due at 2pm but when Wally saw the weather, he rearranged it for 11am.

In the end, it turned into a party. Wally called Sandrine, his partner, to come and help and HE offered HIS services as well and when the big lorry arrived, they all mucked in to rake and shoved the concrete into position. HE got pretty puffed but did HIS best and HE was really taken with admiration for the amount of work Sandrine did. Wally, of course did most of the work as he is very strong and fit.. Because of the amount of work, it went on much longer than expected and so everyone missed their lunch. You cant stop while concrete is drying out, it has to be worked while still fluid. So SHE decided to make dinner for everyone and, as I said, it turned into one big party. Eventually Wally and Sandrine had to get back to work on their own house and THEY were left to get ready for the evening at the theatre.

THEY met Jo and James in a bar near the theatre beforehand and then went along to the theatre for a 8.30 start. After driving round and round a couple of times HE managed to park. HE needn’t have rushed as the performance didn’t start until about 9.15. It was a lively show and THEY were home late (for THEM) but that didn’t stop HER worrying about XT as SHE couldn’t see him in the dark until HE went and got a torch.

I know I shouldn’t know on Friday but I can tell you, THEY were very tired when THEY got up on Saturday morning!

THEIR new carSaturday 16th June 2007
THEY went out this morning and came back with another remorque. This one was a tiny one unlike the other big one that THEY bought with the quad. We were just hanging about up near the barn as the weather was a bit unpredictable. It started off grey and cold and then alternated a few showers with some sunny periods. Since THEY have been filling a couple of nice big hay nets and hanging them on the fence near the barn, we have found it a good place to hang out during the day. We have a little doze and then a little munch of hay and then, well you can guess the rest.

So then, after THEIR lunch, first Gwladys turned up to help her clean the house and then HE came out and hitched the new remorque up to the quad and drove into our field. Then he started picking up all the old piles of hay that had got spoiled before they got the hay nets by being trodden on the floor in the rain. HE was in the middle of doing this when Morgan from next door came driving up on his sit on lawn mower. He had come to finish mowing the lawn that he started the other day and then had to leave because it started pouring with rain.

HE was just in the middle of clearing the hay when another car, looking very much like Gwladys’ one turned up with a lady and two little girls inside. By now the back of the house was beginning to look like a car park. When the lady got out, HE recognised her as someone THEY had met in Celine’s bar and invited to bring her daughters over to come and see us as they were mad about horses. Now things started to look up a bit. Before that we had only been able to have some fun by standing in front of the quad so that HE couldn’t drive it away. Now, HE had to go into the sous sol for some sweets and some carrots so that the little girls could feed them to us. That was pretty good. Then I was asked to give the two little girls a ride, one ride that is, the two up on my back at the same time. By then Morgan had finished mowing the lawn so SHE got him to lead me round.

By the time everyone went, it was nearly time for supper, so we just passed the time munching hay and having  bit of a doze. Almost the perfect afternoon really!

two grumpy old menSunday 17th June 2007
THEY came out together this morning to play with the new remorque. First SHE drove out with the remorque attached to the quad bike and spent some time trying HER hand at reversing. I don’t think I told you yesterday that HE tried reversing the quad with the remorque attached into the sous sol yesterday. At first HE couldn’t do it so HE got obstinate and tried an tried and tried for about half an hour. In the end, HE had to admit defeat and push the remorque in by hand. So, today was HER turn and SHE decided to practice in the field. However, just like HIM, after many attempts always resulting in jack knifing, SHE also gave up and got HIM to detach the remorque so that SHE could just have a play on the quad for a while.
While SHE was doing that, HE wheeled the remorque by hand and started shoveling up all our poohs that were in the bit of the field by the barn. Both Mims and XT came over to see what HE was doing and when they understood that he was collecting them, they did him another lot ach to add to his collection. HE was ever so pleased! Then, after a while, SHE drove up and THEY connected the remorque again and SHE drove it while HE shoveled. THEY decided when THEY had finished to leave the remorque in the field next to the pooh pile, then THEY wouldn’t have to bother with reversing it into the sous sol.

We had a funny day today. This morning was very bright, sunny and hot and we just lazed around eating hay. Then, after lunch (THEIRS, not ours, we have ours all morning), the sun disappeared and the rain started, light at first then heavier. We got soaked but it was no problem this time as there was no wind to speak of and what little their was came from the south so the rain was warm. HE came out to take off our fly masks as they were not needed in the rain and so we all got a treat. Well, all except XT at first as Mims was determined that he would not have one. Finally, after many false starts when Mims cut HIM off, HE managed to get XT alone and give him one too. Why Mims is like that, no-one knows. She was the same with Arnie at the farm and she was the same with Wicky until XT came along. It seems she just needs to have the lowest in the pecking order to pick on. She even went so far today to give him a bite on the bum and came away with hair in her mouth but when HE went to look, there was no mark anywhere so she must just have got his tail.

Mims herself isn’t doing so well now as HE found a distinct ring on the hair of her rump which can only mean an outbreak of ringworm. That was what the vet diagnosed for her when we were at the farm but it didn’t look like it there. It seems she must have retained some of the infection on her skin even after all the soakings in medicated wash then. It looks like next week we are due for another visit from the vet. SHE wanted to get him in to check over XT so they can both be seen at the same time.

the chicken house deliveredMonday 18th June 2007
The chicken house finally arrived today. Just as well really as HE was just getting angry after being told a week ago that it was on its way. When there was a knock on the window and a man appeared saying he had a delivery, THEY thought it might be the awaited lawn mower. The driver didn’t know what it was, just a delivery for HIM. HE followed the man outside and there was an enormous lorry parked at the end of the drive. The driver then drove up to just outside the sous sol and, when he opened the doors, the whole inside was empty except for a large flat package and a couple of small boxes. It was the large flat package, which was on a pallet, that he unloaded and it was obvious that whatever it was, it wasn’t a petrol engined mower.

HE opened the package and saw lots of green wooden parts inside and then, as HE usually does, HE searched for the assembly instructions. The thick envelope contained the firm’s catalogue but finally he found a single sheet of paper with a brief drawing of the parts and a list of screws. And that was all. HE took all the parts out of the package and lined them all up round the walls outside the sous sol. Next HE took the paper indoors to get a stiff drink and then to study it. When HE thought HE had some idea of what to do HE got some tools and made a start putting it together. HE was going to assemble the base, then carry it and the other parts over to where it was to be placed on the lawn opposite the barn, as the whole thing was too big and heavy to carry once it was assembled. However. Wally came to look and said to assemble it all in the sous sol and then he would give HIM a hand to carry it. And that is what happened. We now have an empty chicken house waiting for its occupants which, knowing HER, will probably arrive tomorrow.

And so will Sonny! Wally brought a photo of him with his two little sisters which Sandrine had got from the house where he is at the moment. HE is about ten or eleven weeks and is has virtually black fur with a white bib and white paws. THEY went out this morning and bought litter and litter tray, bowls, food and a little bed for him (which should be big enough for Tom as well). Tom has acted bored today, sleeping for the most part. Little does he know it is his last quiet day!

The vet came today and gave XT the once over. He listened to his heart and lungs and said they were OK and was not at all worried about his rain scald. Just brush it vigorously was his advice. He also checked XT’s diet and supplements and was sure that he was on the right road to recovery. Then h was shown the funny little circle on Mims’ hide and said that it was not ringworm as they had feared but probably an insect bite. Finally he inspected our unfinished stables and was very impressed, wondering where the TV would go.

By the end of the day, Wally had virtually finished the stairs in the feed room. It meant taking out more floor than expected so THEY are having the partial flooring extended to compensate. All in all, quite a busy day today.

Sunny arrivesTuesday 19th June 2007
Whoops! Oh dear. Sonny came to join us today. Except, on closer examination, he was not a Sonny but a Sonnette.. All the trouble THEY had taken to get a boy kitten was, in the end, a complete waste of time.

Sandrine went and got Sonny (THEY are going to keep the name) at 2m and turned up with him(her) about 3pm. THEY had quite a lot of playing with her until just before the time to feed us, when she fell asleep. After feeding us, THEY always have their own meal and Sonny slept right through that. Tom, who had been hiding all day because the men delivered the wardrobes and bookcases and then had to fit them together, came downstairs in the end and had a look at the kitten. Strangely he showed very little reaction at all, neither playful or hostile (although the kitten swore and hissed at him when he got too near). Then, after THEY had eaten, HE went to tidy up the bedroom while she played with Sonny. After a lot of play, Sonny settled down to a good long wash and it was when she was washing her undercarriage that SHE noticed that Sonny was not the little boy that THEY had thought he was. THEY decided that was why Tom was not aggressive and THEY found the whole thing a bit of a joke after all. Tom’s sister Harriet had been a really intelligent and lovely cat and THEY see no reason why Sonny should not turn out the same. The only difference is the cost of the little operation!

As I said, it was not only the arrival of the kitten but also of the long awaited furniture for the living room and bedroom. At first the men said that they would have to come back tomorrow to fit it together but then they seemed to change their minds and were here all  morning and into the afternoon as well. THEY had to move all the books from the floor to the table and all the clothes from the old wardrobe onto the bed. So, of course, when the men had gone, HE had to move them all back again into their new homes.

The other thing HE had to do today was to erect a wire netting fence to separate a fair portion of the lawn for the chickens. Fortunately HE had a roll of wire and some stakes left by the previous owner. The only problem was that it was a really hot day and everything seemed to be that much harder because of it. Then, after lunch and before Sandrine turned up with the kitten, THEY went off to get the chickens. First THEY went to the wrong house where the man thought THEY wanted chickens to eat. Then, when he had directed THEM where to go, THEY found the place shut, open on Monday and Wednesday mornings only. So, THEY will be going out again first thing tomorrow to get the four hens.

the hens arriveWednesday 20th 2007
And what’s new with us horses? Nothing, I’m afraid. Well, nothing, unless we were to claim a record for the fastest emptying of our giant hay nets. I don’t think I told you about them. When we were going to come to France from Dartmoor, SHE decided to buy us a complete new set of haynets to replace the old shabby ones we had been using. We had them for the crossing in the big horse trailer and then a couple of times while we were at the farm in Normandy but, after that, we just helped ourselves from a great big round bale in the barn there. When we were here and the field was cut, we needed hay to eat until the grass came through again. SHE then decided that the holes in the new hay nets were too small so THEY looked out for some better ones at the shops THEY went to and, in one of the shops, HE found just two but they were two great big nets made of rope with nice big holes in. In fact, they are the best hay nets we have ever seen. Each morning and night HE fills them up and each day we do our best to empty them. XT is the most consistent. He can be heard munching away most of the day and night unless Mims chases him away. And, for the first time this morning, we had managed to empty both completely. A record surely.

So what has been happening with THEM? First, Sonny has now been, not renamed but re-spelt. Her name is now officially Sunny. Humans are so strange. THEY were so happy when THEY finally saw her using her litter tray. THEY don’t seem to express the same delight with us in the field, ah well. Sunny has really come out today. When HE got up, she was just stirring in the bed THEY bought her. Since them she alternates between frantic bursts of energy playing with her many toys (the favourite is a blade of grass, at the moment) and then dropping fast asleep wherever she happens to be. THEY went to the vets this morning and have booked an appointment (un rendezvous) to get her vaccinations started. The sooner the better for HER as THEY have not been able to have the doors open in case Sunny gets out until she has had her injections.

The lawnmower was livered today. HE says that HE will soon run out of things that HE is waiting for if things carry on like this. However THEY have still heard nothing from Lapeyre about HER kitchen, even after sending them the cheque, so HE doesn’t have to worry yet. THEY spent a lot of the day moving books into the bookshelves but have not had the time or the energy to tackle the wardrobes yet.

The big arrival of the day were four hens. They were also the biggest disappointment as when, after they had been home and shut up in their hen house for about twenty minutes, SHE wanted to let them out, none of them wanted to be out. THEY put them on the grass and they bolted back inside, all except one who spent ages shivering under the chicken house until they took pity on her and put her back with the others. Later, when THEY went to get some sawdust for the hen house door, THEY were told that it was natural and they probably wouldn’t come out for several days as they had been bred inside and were not used to the freedom of running on grass. One consolation though – THEY got THEIR first egg!

a first look at their new homeThursday 21st June 2007
We were visited today by a giant cross between a giraffe and an elephant on wheels. It came early and unfortunately HE was going out to pay our vets bill and so HE didn’t get any photos to show you. It is equally a shame because of what happened later as Wally told him.

The monster came to deliver more concrete (beton) to finish off the apron around the barn and also to raise the floor in our boxes so that they drain away to the rear, The giraffe/elephant bit was a long arm with a tube attached to get the concrete right inside the barn where it was needed. Apparently the first thing that went wrong was that the driver said that Wally should have had two bags of cement for him to prime his machine pumps with. No-one had mentioned this when the concrete was ordered so they all had to wait while Wally phoned John to deliver some.

Then the machine seized up because the size of the stones was too big for a bend in the arm. This made the driver mad an he started screaming and shouting at the lorry and then got a big hammer from Wally to hit the machine with. Unfortunately, while he was running around the machine and hitting it, there had been some rain and the driver slipped on the wet grass and banged his jaw very badly on the bumper of the lorry. For a moment they thought he would pass out but finally all the concrete was laid and Wally and Sandrine put their backs into leveling and tamping it for a good finish. As there was nothing else Wally could do as he couldn’t walk on the floors until the concrete set, he went home to work on his own place.

THEY had some success today. After discussing the fact that THEY had the only agoraphobic free range chickens in the world over lunch, SHE took them some left overs and then HE spread them in the doorway and down the steps. One by one the chickens stretched their necks outside the door and then put first one and then another foot outside until all four came out several times in the afternoon and evening. It shouldn’t be long before they all come out for most of the day and start to enjoy their new life. Yesterday THEY had one egg, today SHE found two. Things are moving on apace in the chicken world.

Sunny apparently, kept them entertained for most of the night until SHE had to shut her out of the bedroom and close the door. This meant that Tom couldn’t get in and he started shouting loudly as only Tom can. SHE had to get up again to open the door for Tom but apparently Sunny kept away until it was almost time to get up anyway. She has started to take control of THEIR lives and Tom’s too. She even hit him once and when he had the cheek to put his paw on her head, she hissed and growled at him to make him turn away.

HE got the part for the broken lamp on the quad today and SHE took HIM to the paint shop to get some paint to start decorating the house. When it will get done is hard to say as HE feels that every spare minute HE has is needed for some little job or the other. HE says HE wonders what it must be like to be retired!

discovering the stablesFriday 22nd June 2007
We got our first taste of our new stables today. After our supper, SHE left the gate open round the side of the barn and then HE stood inside the boxes handing our mints. Wally had finished putting the gate on the front entrance and had also finished all the kick boards inside the boxes. He has put one gate on one box so we are waiting for two more gates and, of course, our rubber flooring tiles. However, SHE decided that it would be good for us to get familiar with the boxes and also that it would be good for me to have somewhere to shelter from the rain. The biggest problem, as far as we are concerned, is that there is no food in the boxes. She should have finally have picked up the hay mangers today after being promised them many, many times. However, when SHE went to the shop there were only two and they were of the wrong sort. They had two corner ones when SHE had ordered three straight ones. SHE has now told them to forget it and SHE will order them on the internet. THEY could, of course, put our hay nets in there but there is one problem. Mims. Poor old XT has yet to see inside the new stables as while we three went looking them over, XT was left outside and was afraid to come in as Mims is still chasing him and it would not be a good idea in such a confined space. SHE is planning to take him into the one box that has a gate on and leave him there while Mims is around but cant get at him to let her know that he belongs there as well. The poor chap was left to shouting out for us on the other side of the barn as he didn’t know where we had gone and even life with Mims is preferable to life on his own.

THEY had a scare today as when Glwadys was here doing the vacuuming, Sunny vanished and THEY couldn’t find her anywhere. SHE was sure that Sunny had gone the way of Cat Flap and just vanished. THEY searched the house high and low and HE drove the car about in the roads outside looking for her, all to no avail. They shouted and shouted her name which usually gets a response but nothing. SHE was sure that Sunny was gone and swore that SHE would never have another cat again. In the end, HE found her sandwiched between two temporary beds beneath another one. It was so tight that HE wasn’t sure if she didn’t come because she couldn’t or if she had just fallen asleep there.

And finally the chickens have slowly started to come out of their house and wander about a bit. However they are still ore forthcoming if one of THEM goes along to the house. HE thinks HE may have to make a scarecrow just to fool the hens into thinking that they can come out as someone is there. Oh, and another two eggs today.

Sunny makes herself at homeSaturday 23rd June 2007
For starters, there were four eggs today. SHE says not to worry as THEY always have a cooked breakfast on Sunday and, as the eggs are a bit on the small size as yet, THEY will have no trouble eating those laid so far. After that THEY will pursue the neighbours to take them.

We had a quite interesting day today. Now I know I can go into the stable when I want, I decided to take advantage of the fact. It was a showery day today so each time I felt a shower coming on. I would move into the stable out of the way. Of course, when I moved there, so did Mims. Now, Wicky was supposed to be XT’s friend but the little chap can see which way the wind is blowing with Mims and XT and, wanting to be on the winning side, he followed us into the stable too. When XT looked up, he found he was all alone. Now I know he hasn’t had the best of receptions into the herd but it is all he has got and he missed us terribly. He just stood at the fence and called out to us in his loudest voice.

THEY heard and then saw him and decided to interfere. Humans have a funny sense that THEY call fairness, which goes against all common sense of herd behavior. So, THEY decided that XT should go to the ball, in a manner of speaking. The way THEY decided to do it was to get him on a head collar and then lead him in, shouting warnings to Mims all the time. The phrase ‘a lamb to slaughter’ comes to mind (no disrespect to our ovine friends). There was XT standing in the corner, up against the gate and there was Mims getting more and more incensed by the minute. Then, the inevitable happened and, ears back, she rushed at him. Poor old XT, if he could have climbed over the gate, he would have. Unlike us mares (and even Wicky if pushed) XT has no concept of fighting back and offering to kick He just wants to apologise and get out of it.

But again, instead of letting things take their course, the humans had to interfere again. This time the plan was to shut XT up in the one box that has a gate and establish his right to be in the stable but to be where Mims couldn’t get at him. Unfortunately Wicky happened to be in that box at the time so we ended up with the pair of them in there. This was no problem as far as Wick was concerned except that the box contained no food. I have to admit that their tactic worked to a certain extent as Mims, deprived of her prey, soon got bored and went back out to the field. Now this gave me a problem. After all, I am herd leader and my job spec contains the bit about keeping them all together. Mims was outside wandering about the field and Wick and XT were locked on a box. All I could do was to wait on the corner of the barn with one foot in each camp so to speak. Eventually HE came and saw my problem and hastened to let Wick and XT out so we could all go out into the field together. After that, I think THEY had lunch with some wine and lost interest so we could just come and go as we pleased. Humans can be such hard work sometimes.

I suppose we got our own back though because HE had to get HIS broom and wheelbarrow and clean the stable and barn apron. Then HE hosed it all down but HE obviously wasn’t satisfied because, this evening, HE went and put his new pressure washer together. However, then HE couldn’t use it because we decided to go back into the stable!

HER phoning the farrierSunday 24th June 2007
SHE has decided that, now the bookcases and wardrobes are here, it is time to have that little welcome drink evening for friends and neighbours that THEY promised when THEY moved here. The date is set for next Saturday and so this morning THEY set out to deliver the invitations. The funny thing is that not only do they not know all of the neighbours but also THEY don’t even know how many neighbours THEY have. Now this may sound odd but, in this part of France, there are many old farmsteads that have been sold off bit by bit so, instead of discrete houses there are often just a lot of joined up buildings that may house one family or several. Quite often some of the places are second, holiday homes and don’t even have a mail box. No houses here have letterbox slots in their doors as they do in the UK.

So, armed with some named invitations and several open ones THEY set off down the road. Next door was no problem, David came out and took the invitation from HER. Next SHE went to the Chaprons and they were busy next Saturday so SHE said come the following Saturday then. There is an old lady living downstairs from them and SHE asked if they knew who it was. It turns out to the his mother who is in her nineties and never goes out so she didn’t need an invitation. There was what looked like one more  household at the end of buildings. There was no way anyone was around so an opemn invitation was put in what may have been their mailbox. On the way out, Andre appeared so SHE went to see him but he said his wife was indoors so SHE took the invitation to her. On the way out (reversing) THEY saw another mail box so an invitation went in there too.

Then THEY went further down the road. They one couple they have seen driving by were out but SHE left two invitations there, one in a letter box and one on a door that looked used. Then they found the house that HE had met a man doing the gardening in. It was all locked and shuttered up so she left an invitation on a door. The house that is being made into a holiday cottage for the couple who had a bit of THEIR field when the geometre came had no sign of life and nowhere to leave an invitation. Lastly they went back to see if anyone lived at the end of the lane but it appeared to be just the back of one of the house that THEY had already been to. So then THEY drove off to the farm on the other side of the field in front of THEIR house to see Madeleine who had helped THEM when we got out and played with Solide and Nougatine. She was out as well, so THEY left an invitation on the window cill. Then off to see Veronica and Terry. Terry was there but Veronica was in England visiting her sick mother. So another possibly can’t make it. It will be interesting who and how many do come but it is only the once so it will be good to get it over with (apart from the following Saturday) and get down to just living, which HE says is quite hard enough.

He probably says this because HE had a series of disasters today. HE started to paint the living room with a trial go at the chimney over the fireplace. HE thought the paint was a bit thick and when HE had finished and went to wash the roller out with water, HE realized that THEY had bought an oil based paint which needed white spirit to wash the brushes and his hands with and he didn’t have any. Then he made a place to dump the grass cuttings and compost and moved the old sites there and then had to clean up the stables after our residence and wash the floors after with the high pressure washer. Finally, we had been walking about in the garden to have a bite of really good grass and one or two of us had forgotten ourselves and made a bit of a mess so that was the final straw that broke his back. He went in after that work and just fell asleep.

Wick looks inMonday 25th June 2007
THEY went off on a search for some lucerne for us and some hay racks and drinkers for our new stables. Not so difficult you might think? Well, first the lucerne. THEY found it previously in a shop that THEY hadn’t visited before. Oh, good, THEY thought, we’ll buy two bags. ‘Sorry, that’s the last one’ said the shop assistant so that was what THEY bought. This morning THEY headed off to that same shop. THEY found one on the shelf so THEY said THEY would take two. ‘Sorry, last one ‘ said the shop assistant.

THEY also looked for the hay racks there but they only had racks for cows. THEY also stopped at another store on the back but they also only had huge steel racks that would have suited a herd of cows. Wally had said that he had seen suitable racks at a shop in Alencon. On looking into it, it turns out to be the same shop that THEY had the drinkers on order from. THEY hadn’t heard from the store but THEY thought THEY would go along anyway and look at the hay racks. Guess what? The hay racks were steel and huge and for cattle. One good thing though, the drinkers that had been on order for a month were now in stock. ‘Oh, did you want the holders as well’, the shop assistant asked. THEY told him that they were on order as well. When he checked, of course, they weren’t in. THEY drove home resigned and thinking that at least THEY had the drinkers.

This afternoon the new little kitten had to go for her first vaccinations. She shouted all the way there in the car but once she was there, she made no fuss at all, even when she had to have a thermometer inserted into you know where.

She and Tom have now chummed up and he is teaching her how to sleep. When they first met, she growled and spat at Tom but he just walked away. The next day, she hit him with her paw and he just tapped her back. Then she took a liking to his food and he let her. Two nights ago they were both shut in the living room together, the first time Tom has been denied THEIR bed since we moved to France. In the morning Tom was missing. The next morning they were both together waiting to greet HIM when HE go up. And then, today, they have been caught, sleeping together on THEIR bed. Tom has been a real gentleman about the whole affair and now he definitely has a new friend.

Mims being noseyMonday 26th June 2007
Weather forecasts here are a bit of a mystery. It may be that we live in a rather special place with its own micro climate or something like that. Whatever the reason, the forecasts that he gets from France Meteo for this particular village never seem to turn out correct. This morning, the forecast said that it would be raining all day. After the previous night when the heavens opened and we got drowned. THEY didn’t want to take any chances so we all had our raincoats put on at breakfast time. The day was grey at first and there was a bit of mist in the air but pretty soon the sun broke through and we started getting warm in our rugs. Eventually, it seemed obvious that it was not going to rain so HE came and took our coats off after all. There was a period around tea time when we had a little shower but again it brightened up to become a perfect evening with clear skies.

Wally and David were working on the drainage and gravel behind the barn this afternoon and Wally sent David to ask HIM if he could move the horses because he was worried that he would frighten them with the work. HIS first reaction was to say ‘move them where?’ but then he remembered that we had been perfectly alright on THEIR lawn the other day so HE came and, after shutting the drive gates, let us out into the garden. It later transpired that Wally told HER that it was not so much being worried about frightening us but rather that he was scared of Wicky, He said that he was fine with ‘those big horses’ but he was worried that Wicky might kick him. He obviously doesn’t know Wick very well. It’s not that Wicky wouldn’t kick him if he had reason but rather that, once Wicky is eating, not much else crosses his mind. Now, if Wally had gone and tried to steal Wicky’s food, that would be quite another matter.

After the other day on the grass, Mims allowed herself to be more curious about THEIR stable. She went up and walked on the tiled veranda and knocked over one of HER wooden ducks so she got shooed away. Then later, she got on the veranda again and had a good long look through the French door windows, steaming up the glass at the same time. Wicky watched her doing this and thought that it might be a way of getting extra food so he got on the veranda and looked through the windows as well. Unfortunately when he found that there was not a morsel anywhere, I’m afraid he rather disgraced himself and left them a little present on the veranda. And, of course, this led HIM to think that it was getting on time for us to all go back into our field.

Which we did but then XT decided to look round the corner of the barn at the stables and Mims walked right round although HE had not shut the gate behind him. It was a near thing when we all followed her round that we didn’t all end up back in the garden again.

hens at workWednesday 27th June 2007
No adventures today. We were locked out of the barn and couldn’t even use our own drinker as THEY have had it filled part way with stones to try and increase the rate of refilling. The problem was that it is a big drinker, big enough for a herd of cows but, with just four horses using it, there is very little new clean water coming back in. That, together with the fact that we tend to wash our mouths out and leave grass in it had given it a tendency to grow green stuff in it. However, now that THEY have put stones in it, the water has turned white and cloudy and THEY have had to cover it to see if it will settle or if this turns out to another of THEIR bright ideas that have gone wrong. I’m not really worried as they got our drinkers for the stables yesterday and today the man phoned up for THEM to go and get the supports. It wont be long before we all have our own individual drinkers anyway.

Wally wasn’t happy this morning. The wood he placed on top of the walls which was going to have the grills on was not holding in the building blocks. He has gone and taken all the wooden tops away and has now built a cement top instead. It’s probably just as well the man making the grills has not contacted THEM yet. However, now Wally has replaced the wall tops , THEY are going to visit the ferroniere tomorrow to find out what progress has been made.

HE had a morning off from shopping so that HE could finish painting the undercoat on the walls of THEIR living/dining room. It wasn’t meant to be undercoat (although it would have needed two coats anyway) but HE found out, after making the first test of the paint, that HE had ordered the wrong paint. However, as THEY have so much of it, HE is going to use it as an undercoat and then THEY will buy some more paint of the correct type and it also gives HER a chance to slightly change HER mind on the colour. I notice that we aren’t given any choice about the colour of our stables!

Tom with SunnyThursday 28th June 2007
THEY went out quite early this morning to visit the guy who is making the grills for our stables. Wally has now changed the tops of the wall from wood to cement so they were going to tell the man that fact in case it affected what he had to do to fit the grills. That was the said reason but really it was a chasing visit to find out when he would be going to fit them as THEY had expected them over a week ago. When THEY got here the man was very nice and polite and when asked when he was coming to deliver and fix he said ‘next week, I’ll phone you.’ Now, they have heard this before from others and have learned by experience that the phase often means ‘I have just made that up and it will get done when it gets done’. THEY left hoping that this was not one of those times but the fact that THEY were not invited to view any of the grills or even part of them made up does lead them to not be greatly surprised if THEY don’t get a phone call next week.

HE also had to go into town to find a connecter for the power pack on his laptop and the old one was broken off and HE only had about twenty minutes of battery time left. HE had to type up yesterday’s diary on another machine to conserve this battery time. HE had gone to two other shops yesterday but drawn a blank so HE went back to the shop where THEY got HER computer mended earlier in the year. Not only did the man have the necessary part but also he didn’t charge HIM for it. Some things do go right after all.

Wally and David completed the cement path up to the front door and round the house today. It did mean that very little got done on our stable but the day was quite a decent one weather-wise so we were quite content to stay out in our field. Really, there is not too much work left to do on our stable. The plumbing in of our drinkers, the installation of our hay racks, some ventilation holes in the walls and the fitting of the big front doors. When we got here, THEY hadn’t realised that the barn did not have doors. The front was always closed up when they had visited so THEY assumed that the doors were closed. Actually, the front was just boarded up with a big moveable wooden screen. So THEY decided that what was needed was a pair of sliding doors and this is what THEY were expecting was coming. Then Wally came along early this week with a catalogue saying that the doors he had been planning to use were of no use as the construction was not suitable for sliding doors. It was agreed that he would have to get a carpenter he knew to make them but when he came back from seeing him, he said he would take too long and cost too much so Wally said he will make them himself. Let us hope that it all works out OK.

SHE has had to call the farrier to come and see to us early as our feet seem to be growing very quickly on this ground. Whereas we could go eight weeks on Dartmoor, here it looks as if we will need him every six weeks. I don’t know if the Dartmoor granite wore our hooves down or if it is the change of diet. Mind, SHE had to leave a phone message for the farrier and by the time that he replies it may well be eight weeks after all!

the boxesFriday 29th June 2007
The end is in sight. Wally told HIM that he has to finish by Wednesday next week to go to another job. He and David have spent the day on tidying up jobs. With one exception. He called HIM over this morning and said ‘have you seen this?’ HE looked and could only see the drain pipe behind the barn that takes the waste liquids from in our stables into the drainage system. ‘I saw that yesterday’ HE said. ‘No, look, look there’ said Wally and when HE followed Wally’s pointing finger, HE could see that the drainpipe was smashed with a two foot hole in the middle of the run. Now, it may just be a coincidence that Mims has a habit of digging with her front hoof or, it is just possible that XT trod on in with his great big feet (he has already trodden on her and caused her to limp). Whatever did it, it decided Wally that he had to cement the pipe over to stop it happening again.

THEY are having an ‘evening’ for the neighbours and friends tomorrow night. Well, to be accurate, tomorrow night and next Saturday night as well, as some people cant make it tomorrow. Anyway, that meant that this morning was time for some shopping for some snacks and some drinks. When THEY got back, HE went off again to get some boxes for HIS workbench so that HE can tidy it up and be able ‘to find anything’. While HE was there, HE also bought the first of several lights to go into the stable. HE went over it again tonight to start to plan how HE will fix up the lighting. It doesn’t look difficult just  bit of work that HE doesn’t feel HE can start until Wally has finished and gone.

While he has been with us, Wally has got quite attached to us and interested in horses in general. He was dying to see us use his handiwork so this evening, when he had finished work, he opened the back gate. Not wanting to disappoint him, we all walked in and went into the boxes, that is, all except XT, who is still very wary of Mims. He came along the path but then just stood outside looking very despondent. This upset Wally who said it wasn’t fair and so SHE came and led XT into a box of his own while Mims was in another one. It’s funny how people who have had no dealings with horses seem to melt when they get to know us. Another victory for my herd!

an aerial viewSaturday 30th June 2007
A very warm and therefore fly-full day. HE came out o do something and called out to me while I was passing and I was so irritated by the flies that I just ignored HIM and walked on. At least HE had the sense to see that it was the flies and went straightaway to get our fly masks. Both Mims and I just bent our heads down to get the masks on with a great deal of relief and even XT, who is usually very shy of people putting their hands up to his head, was happy to lower his neck and get his mask on too. After that, however, the day started to get better and better.

I told you yesterday that THEY were having an evening to thank all the friends and neighbours for making THEM so welcome in France. THEY went out to do some final shopping after lunch and SHE spent all the rest of the afternoon preparing the food while HE devoted HIMSELF to the drinks and glasses and setting up the table and seating. When they came, the guests included Holly, Sophie and Cameron from the Livaie farm and Morgan, Ophelie and Corralie from next door, all of whom (well, maybe not Holly) are horse lovers which means that they love to give us treats. Cameron likes to give us sweets providing he can have one as well and Corralie’s favorite is to rush to the refrigerator in the sous sol and grab a handful of carrots to give to all the members of the family so that they can feed us with them. So, what with the kids and some of the adults, we had a field full of admirers which cant be bad.

Lots of the adults were much more interested in the building progress of our new stables and the kids were happy to show them the stairs and the upstairs of the barn with the view down into our boxes. Many thought it would make a real good hideaway or den, strangely for HIM and not HER. There always seems to be an assumption that it is the males who wish to get away from us females, something with which XT would agree,

Towards the end of the evening, the nicest thing was that Sophie, who is the real horse person of them all, and who looks after our old friend Arnie, came out and took our fly masks off for us. She also spent more time with us than the others giving us cuddles as well as treats. It was really nice to see her again.

Sophie also spent quite a bit of time with Sunny, the new kitten. I think she is a real animal lover. Sandrine also spent time with Sunny when all the other guests had gone home and the door to the room where Tom and Sunny had been hiding (TOM is really unsociable) was opened. The trouble is that Sunny remembers Sandrine as the one who took her away from her family and made her ride in the car with her. So, although Sandrine wanted to be friendly, Sunny was having none of it being much more interested in her new toys the moths and beetles that came in with the warm night air.

June has been quite a month for us all. XT came on the first, the new car, the hens, the visit of Solide and his mum and the new kitten together with the progress towards our new stables have kept THEM busy and us interested. I wonder what July will bring?