Alezane's Diary Archive February 2008
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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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Mutual groomingFriday 1st February 2008
I am continually astounded at the kind heartedness and generosity of my herd. Big Extreme heard HIM saying how the grass was getting long on THEIR lawn and, after discussing it amongst ourselves, we decided to help HIM out.

OK, so no, it wasn’t quite like that really. But you can’t blame us for trying. What really happened was this ……

HE had been down to Didier’s to get some more Floconné Classic (that is the short feed that we are on just now) as HE was afraid that there would not be enough to last us until Tuesday morning (just in case Didier was shut, like most shops, on Monday. When HE got back, it was raining hard and we were all standing around in the stable. HE decided that HE would not unload the four sacks until we had gone out as HE likes to drive right in to the stable front to save on the amount of carrying HE has to do. If HE drives in when we are there, HE has to be sure to quickly shut the gate behind him and also run the gauntlet of our inquisitive noses when HE unloads.

After lunch, HE was just about to sit down for a little doze when HE noticed that the rain had stopped and that we had gone out to the field. HE therefore decided to unload the floconné then and have a rest later. HE came and opened the gate and got into the car to drive onto the hard standing. As HE drove up the ramp, HE saw the Big Man come round the corner of the stable. HE drove straight at him, hoping to stop him from getting to the gate. But Big X was faster than HIM and slipped round the side of the car. HE leapt out and ran but X was to quick for him at first. Finally HE caught him and put the lead rope around his neck.

Now, the car was in the way so instead of leading the Big Man back up the ramp to the stable, HE decided to take him to the gate to the lower field and put him in there. Unfortunately for HIM, HE had not noticed that HE was being watched by Wicky, Mims and myself. By the time HE got the field gate open, we had cantered up to the gate. HE let Big X off the rope but, instead of running into the field, he ran, as he always does, away from Mims. And then Mims did what she always does and ran after him, followed smartly by Wicky and myself. HE tried to stop us by waving the rope at our heads but, by now, we had all realised that we were up for the most wonderful lark. We all cantered off over the lawn and round the house, Mims kicking and bucking for joy and all of us making the most impressive holes in the wet turf under our hooves.

I have to say, HE is a good sport. Instead of getting upset he just laughed and went and shut the garden gates to stop us from going down the road. SHE came out and also enjoyed it, making whooshing noises to make us canter and buck some more. Eventually, we calmed down and spent the rest of the afternoon until suppertime cropping THEIR grass for them. Mims did run away twice when HE went to bring us in for supper but then she gave in gracefully. A really good day for all of us.

RainSaturday 2nd February 2008
Another good sunny day. A bit cold but that doesn’t worry us. In fact, HE took our rugs off today so we had the first chance for some mutual grooming for ages. We have been able to do each other’s necks but that is all. Now we could reach the parts ….. as they say. When I say mutual grooming, I of course mean Mims and I. I am sure that the Big Man would not trust Mims to mutual groom him in case she absent-mindedly bit huge chunks out of him. But then, she wouldn’t want too anyway. And Wicky. Well, it would take a very brave or very fool hardy person to put Wicks coat in their mouths, even if they could bend down that low. I can honestly never remember Wick being involved in mutual grooming. The nearest he gets is when he has his annual bath and THEY have to rub him all over.

We not only had our rugs off but we were let back into the garden today. We were right at the other end of the field when we heard HER calling to us. We came back and up to the fence but then we saw that Wick had come into the stable hard standing and had gone out down the ramp where HE had left the gate open. I then went round to the hard standing and, after a few cautious moment to make sure it was not a trap, I too went down the ramp into the garden followed closely by Mims and finally by the Big Man.

Really, there is not much else to tell you today. We just roamed and roamed and ate and ate until it was supper time and HE walked across from the sous sol. Wicky followed HIM in, as if he hadn’t had a bite to eat all day and then HE got the lead rope and went and got Extreme into his box. We were on the point of coming in as well when HE came along and took Mims in so then I followed on. SHE came over as we had to have our rugs put back on and, to tell the truth we were not very hungry. In fact both Mims and the Big Man left a lot of their supper and even refused the carrot that HE usually ends up giving us. The Big Man did finally go back to finish what he had left and I went in to Mims’ b0x to help out while Wick tidies mine up.

We then ran out into our big field that we had not been in all day and settled down for a quiet evenings grazing. All this and no flies. Who says that winters are bad?

MatesSunday 3rd February 2008
It’s about time we had a word about the Big Man’s sense of humour. When he first came to us, he was at pains to now his place and keep out of our way. As he got fuller and more confident, he started to display little attempts at being funny. And I do mean little. I shake of the head here and even a little nip there (for THEM, he wouldn’t dare such a thing with us). When he found that we girls found his humour somewhat laddish and even puerile, he started to transfer his behaviour to inanimate objects. First it was our shower outside on the hard standing. Admittedly it is constructed of plastic tubing and so isn’t the strongest of  objects but the Big Man’s idea of whirling it around and slamming it against the side of the stable certainly wasn’t found so amusing by HIM. After mending it, HE has had to leave the flexible circular hose part, that Big X liked to rattle, off and stored in the feed room until it is needed.

Then the Big Man discovered gates. His nose and mouth are the perfect tools for getting the top of our metal gates and swinging those back and forth. This resulted several times in us being unable to get in our boxes when the Big Man had swung the gates shut. To counter this, HE has had to tie my gate and the one on the enclosure for Wicky, back to the wall with nylon string with a clip on the end. This always hampers HIM when HE needs to open or shut my door although the other one is kept virtually permanently ties open. This in itself has been the source of another game for X. If he feels that he isn’t getting enough attention he will bounce that gate against its string and onto the wall with a very loud clanging noise. And not once but over and over.

THEY bought him a ‘jolly ball’, a sort of football for horses with a handle so that X could pick it up and bounce it but he has left that strictly alone. THEY ended up giving that to Wally’s dog.

Then there is his behaviour in the field. I know I tell you a lot about Mims chasing him but seriously, he provokes it. We can be all grazing quietly when the devil gets into him. He will then trot-hover in that funny gait of his to aim at us and then just swirl by so that Mims is lured out to chase him. I will admit that he is fast and he likes nothing better than to prove to Mims that he can out run her just by trotting. If she drops back he will swing round and come back for a second attempt. In the end, Mims will give up taking him seriously and just join in the fun, her favourite action being to reverse on him and buck out, making sure that she doesn’t kick him of course.

In summary, Extreme is just like the little colty boy that he once was and I am sure that he would fit in perfectly into a herd with loads of other bachelors. SHE even thinks that he might even have a little harem of his own (or , at least, would have done, had he not been gelded). Oh, that reminds me. St Valentine’s day is coming up soon. I wonder if he will think of me……?

FrostMonday 4th February 2008
He cant claim that HE hasn’t many photos of us horses this month. HE came and took pictures of us on the first, when we were walking around the garden for the first time. Then HE came and got some more on the second, when we had our rugs off and were doing a spot of mutual grooming. And then today, he caught us having a little rest so out came the camera again.

The day had started normally. Not wonderful weather but we had no frost so the grass was not covered in ice from the start. We had breakfast as normal and then, after a bite of haylage, we wandered out to the back field. HE had to go out shopping and when HE came back, Wick was in the front field, for the first time in ages. Wick came back round to the back field when he saw the car but, a little later, HE looked out of the window and saw that we had all gone out into the front field. This made HIM think that maybe there was not enough keep in the grass now and, when HE saw that we had come back in to the stable, HE decided to let us out into the garden again. It may be the last time for a while as, if Wally turns up tomorrow, as promised, then the front gate will have to be kept open. THEY will also sort out how Wally wants to work on our fences so we may well be kept out of the back field with electric tape.

So, HE came along and opened up the gate to the ramp. Wick ran down at once but I had to check everything out first before I would come out and so let the other two out as well. It reminded HIM of what HE has been reading lately about the liberation of Alencon in the second world war. Apparently the French second armoured division arrived from Le Mans to the outskirts of Alencon and it had been planned to set up a fierce bombardment of the town. However, a member of the resistance knew that all the Germans had left the town and had set up in wait in the Forest D’Ecouvres nearby. So, to avoid the needles destruction of the town, he made his way to meet the liberators and told them it was undefended. They got him to lead them to the town and then go ahead and cross the bridge into town first to prove that there were no enemy troops there. This is Wicky’s role, to go ahead and prove it safe. If anyone gets eaten, we would prefer it to be Wick.

So, we all came out into the garden and, about the same time, the sun came out too, In fact, we were not starving at all, having had a good graze in the field. However, we set about enjoying the good grass in the garden and it was long before the food and the sun made us feel sleepy. Mims lay down first and then I sat down next to her. She rolled flat out and I lay down. Then she put her head up and I went flat out. However, she was too sleepy to keep her head up so she went back down again. Seeing that, Big X came along and threw himself down as well. The sun was shining directly into HIS camera so they are not of the top quality, but HE did manage to get some shots of all three of us having forty winks. I believe Wick was quietly eating somewhere!

RestingTuesday 5th February 2008
Well, it was not surprising that Wally didn’t turn up as promised today. No one could be expected to work in the weather we have had. Not even a builder.

HE noticed the weather when HE was awakened by a noise at about 3 am. Before that, as THEY were getting asleep, Wicky had done one of his shouting sessions. THEY are used to Wick giving a loud neigh or two at any time of the day or night but this time HE started to get a bit worried that something was not right. HE went and got a torch and opened the window for a look at the front field where the sound seemed to be coming from. However, HE couldn’t see Wick at all (usually it is easy due to his grey coat) but all HE thought HE saw was a large shape which could have been the Big Man. HE got back into bed to get warm again and, fortunately, Wicky then stopped calling out. Thinking that it might have something to do with this, HE was relieved at 3 am to find that it was not horses (or ponies) but just the rain on the window.

When HE got up however and had to come across to our stable to make our breakfast, HE discovered that it was not only rain but a very high wind as well. And that is how it stayed all day long. It wasn’t particularly cold but, as I have said many times, we horses don’t mind the cold. We just hate wind, particularly wind and rain. We spent most of the day in our stable eating haylage or just dozing. We did pop out briefly this afternoon when the rain stopped for a time and the wind became the cause of a bit of fun. Or, of course, it may just have been that we had been cooped up for so long indoors. We had a bit of a run and a laugh (at least Mims laughed when she chased Big X) but the  rain came back and we all went back in again, waiting for our supper.

One thing HE did notice when HE came to make up our buckets. All four hens were as dry as a bone. I don’t think they are very fond of wind and rain either and had stayed in the stable with us all day.

Cannabis - it's his name!Wednesday 6th February 2008
And today Wally didn’t come because ….? We can only think because he is a builder. The wind kept up through the night but just died out over breakfast time. Then the sun came out and it stayed out all day. HE said that maybe Wally was busy doing what he should have done yesterday but couldn’t because of the weather and that was why he didn’t come. Then SHE reminded HIM that what Wally should have done yesterday was to come here and do our fence, so that explanation was so good. I may have said this before but, as far as us horses are concerned, it makes absolutely no difference if the fence gets done or not. We are not so silly that we don’t know when to change fields, we did so this afternoon without anyone telling us or fencing the other field off. Still, that is what humans are for – worry. I am sure if they didn’t have that, they would find life very boring.

I have to say at this point that HE is amazed that, after nearly five years of typing up my diary for me, HE still manages to hit the wrong keys very often. Or, if HE doesn’t hit the wrong key, HE hits another one next to it as well so it still is wrong. One of his favourites is ‘op’. HE wants to type ‘stone’ so HE types ‘stopne’. Another is typing a ‘s’ for an ‘a’ such as ‘sn’ instead of ‘an’. HE is putting it down to his failing eyesight (HE is only partially a touch typist. HE knows where the keys are but has to see them for accuracy, of sorts). HE had hoped that the spell checker would solve the problems but it is amazing how many wrong words it lets through. For instance, if HE types an number in a word (e.g. fift6y), the spellchecker doesn’t care. That and having a US English instead of a UK English one causes HIM all sorts of problems.

I digress. We are getting all sorts of brownie points these days for our stable behaviour. Usually, when HE turns up to feed us, the Big Man is in my box and Mims and I are standing just outside. HE holds out Big X’s treats and he follows HIM into his own box. By the time HE comes out, I have walked into my box and then Mims will walk into hers. What HE doesn’t realise is that if we are in our boxes as HE walks past, HE is so pleased that HE gives us an extra sugar lump.

Agood rollThursday 7th February 2008
Builders!

So instead, we did get to go out into THEIR garden again. And without rugs on. Last night was a clear, starry one so we ended up with frosted grass again. However, the weather forecast was good. In fact, the ten day forecast was for sun every day, so HE decided to take our rugs off. I have to admit that this morning, it was alright while we stayed in the stable but when we went to go outside, before the sun got up, we did miss our rugs a bit. HE didn’t let us out into the garden straight away. HE had to go into Alencon to buy our carrots and apples (and also a few unimportant human things) and that is a half an hour’s drive each way with a bit of time in the supermarket. So, it must have been about ten thirty when HE got home, by which time the sun was good and up so HE came out and opened up the gate to the ramp. HE also opened the gate to the front field when Mims got it wrong and went that way instead of down the ramp. And then, like the blonde that she is, she went and stood on the wrong side of the gate until I came along and ‘rescued’ her.

Then SHE had to call out very loudly to Wicky, who had gone out, all on his own and was grazing in the middle of the front field. However, once he realised that it was improved grazing, he was here like a shot. And we did have such a lovely day. What with the grass and HER hanging out over the fence or from the kitchen window to give us some sugar lumps and then the sun which got really hot, we just had a really good time. So much so that all three of us horses (Wick was too busy eating) had to have a  communal lay in for forty or even fifty winks. Of course, being no respecter of privacy, HE had to come out with HIS camera. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this month’s diary had all photos of us, for a change, and no sunrises or sunsets!

Florist shopFriday 8th February 2008
We survived the night, even though the ground and grass was frozen. I have some small black circles in my coat called, I believe, ‘prophet’s thumbs. When THEY came over to give us our breakfast, the hair in the mark on my back was standing straight up which was an indication of my body’s attempt to keep me warm. When HE handed out our buckets, HE felt under the joints of our legs to our bodies (what you might call your armpits) to see how warm we were. Apparently, HE thought that we were all warm enough, although I was the coolest of the lot. I should amend that last sentence for HE did not feel under Wicky’s legs. But then, would you, even if you could get that low? There is no fear that Wick is not warm enough, his coat is so thick that he looks about twice the size that he really is.

Of course, yet another day without Wally or even any phone call from him. HE had to go out, this time to another town, Villaines, to get some more lucerne for us. HE always now takes the camera with HIM in case there is anything of interest. Last time that HE went to Villaines, a lorry had driven off the road into a stream in a deep ditch and HE didn’t have the camera on HIM. Today, quite near the site of the accident, HE saw a field with four very smart donkeys in it so I wouldn’t be surprised if a photo of them didn’t appear somewhere near today’s diary entry.

When HE got back, seeing that there was no builder, HE opened up the gates so that we could go into the garden again. As usual Mims got it wrong and went and stood on the wrong side of the gate until I went and got her. Somehow the novelty of the grass is wearing off though. I was the only one who had a lay down on it today but, what we all have taken to now, is hanging about by the kitchen window or the French windows into the dining room. As the weather was so beautiful, THEY had these open and THEY were easy targets for us to beg some treats from. After that, strangely, we got bored and made our own way back into the stable about an hour before supper time. HE came out and shut up the gates and we just stood around in the sun.

A quite lazy day but a very pleasant one. Lots of sunshine with no flies. That really can’t be bad!

Getting upSaturday 9th February 2008
Yet another lovely weather day. It wasn’t even so cold in the morning as yesterday although the grass did freeze over for a while until the sun got up. When HE looks at the hour by hour weather forecast, HE has found that the temperatures do not go down below freezing until about 4 in the morning so, when HE comes to us for give us breakfast, the most we have had to endure is three hours of frost.

This morning, I don’t know if Mims got it deliberately wrong or if she was just being her usual silly self. No one was in their boxes when HE arrived but, after a little bit of verbal persuasion, I decided to go into mine. Then, before HE could undo the string that keeps the Big Man from slamming my gate shut, Mims decided to come into my box with me. It took HIM quite a long time and many soft talking words before she decided to come out and then go into her own box. And then, in the confusion, while HE was shutting her door, the Big Man made a run for it and got into his before I had a decent chance to give him a nip. Then, after HE had made up the feeds and distributed the buckets, HE noticed that Mims has a quite nasty cut on her nose. It had dried up by the time HE saw it, although HE could see the marks where the blood had flowed, so it was too late to dress it with wound powder. Mims doesn’t seem bothered by it so she must have just banged it on something and now forgotten it.

We got our first taste of flies this afternoon and it made us (well, except for the Big Man who is French and probably used to it) go into the stable to hide from them. HE came over with a nibble of French loaf and then we forgot about the flies and went out again.

THEY are going out to eat with neighbours again tonight so I don’t expect that today’s diary entry will be very long. That doesn’t matter though as we have done nothing unusual today, just enjoyed the grass and the sunshine.

Sunlight and shadowSunday 10th February 2008
For us, it has been another beautiful day with wall to wall sunshine all day. For THEM it has been quite another matter.

Recently, THEY have been going through a bad patch where THEY have not been sleeping well. Yesterday, as I told you, THEY were invited out to dinner with neighbours. Now, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the food. In fact, HE said, it was rather nice. THEY had been a bit worried that there would be too much for THEIR old stomachs. I don’t think Wicky finds this but THEY definitely do not have such a capacity for food as THEY used to have when THEY were younger. But no, the food was very tasty and of just the right amount, with the ability to serve oneself. No, the problem is another one related to THEI great age. THEY cannot comfortably eat late any more. This is really a problem here in France where most people are only thinking of starting their evening when THEY are going to bed. And so, last night (or really, this morning) THEY just couldn’t sleep. THEY were in bed at a reasonable time (for THEM), about 10.30. But, after reading for an hour, all THEY could do was to lay and watch the clock projected n the ceiling, slowly, very slowly, tick off the minutes and the hours. HE reckons that THEY got to sleep at about four in the morning and then HE woke up again at just gone six, and lay waiting for the alarm to go at six thirty.

HE said that HE felt like death when HE came to feed us our breakfast but that, for a bit at least, we worked our equine magic. If you don’t know what this is, you need to experience it. What happens is that being around horses (oh, alright, Wick, ponies too) is a very relaxing experience. HE used to have it on Dartmoor as well. The last thing that HE wanted was to go to Ninefields and feed us in the morning but, once there, HE just relaxed and went home feeling good. The same happened this morning. The only difference was that THEY didn’t want any breakfast after eating so late. So instead, HE tried to sleep in the chair and SHE went back to bed. HE had to go out for bread and, being in the fresh air and sun did liven HIM up a bit.

THEY had breakfast at about four in the afternoon and then SHE went back to bed. All well and good but I bet SHE wont sleep tonight now!

Muddy AlezaneMonday 11th February 2008
When I stand and look about me, the sun shining on the stables, the trees all around the fields, the rooks squabbling in the poplars, everything seems to be perfect. What a wonderful place to live. No tall buildings with piles of rubbish littering the pavements. No traffic jams and CO2 fumes, no noise, no intrusion on one’s privacy. So what makes this place seem less than paradise? We seem to make our own problems wherever we are. There is really nothing wrong with the Big Man. OK, he is male and he does have a funny sense of humour but really, he is no problem. We just make him one.

HE has taken to ignoring he fact that Mims and I stop the Big Man from coming in to his box for breakfast. What HE used to do is to first put Mims and I away in our boxes and then put the lead rope around the Big Man’s neck and lead him in, ensuring him safe passage past me. Nowadays, HE just waits until Mims and I go into our boxes, shuts our gates and then gets on with making up our buckets, leaving X to get in as best as he can. And, of course, it works. I never more than threaten to bite him and it is fun o watch him rush to get past me. But, as soon as he is in, he sticks his great big head over the wall into my box and threatens to bite me back. It is just how we do things. If we really meant it, Wicky wouldn’t have survived for so long.

HE came up with a rubbish idea this evening. It probably had something to do with the fact that we have been rolling in he mud lately and have faces and bodies which are covered in mud. While we were eating our supper, HE went and got the wire brush. First HE started with Wick, who took absolutely no notice. Well, he doesn’t let anything disturb him while he is eating. Then HE came to me but HE knows how I feel about being groomed at any time but especially while I am eating so HE didn’t stay long there. HE next moved on to the Big Man. Now X doesn’t mind being groomed. In fact, I think that he likes it. But, after such a long time, I think it was a bit of a surprise at first. When Extreme doesn’t want anything, he has the habit of just lifting his head into the air. Now, X is a big fellow and, if his head is in the air, you cant reach it. However, HE took to brushing the side of his neck and the Big man then got the message and lowered his head. Lastly HE went along to Mims. Now, of the three of us, Mims is the most human oriented of us all. She just loves people and, silly that she is, trusts them as well. She let HIM start to brush her but her mane was quite tangled and HE got quite carried away, trying to brush it so that even Mims, in the end, rebelled and moved away.

We can only hope that this is not the start of some ‘tidy horse’ campaign. If it is, it is doomed to failure, I’m afraid. I will have to have a word with everyone tonight to workout a plan of passive resistance.

Thomas in the sunTuesday 12th February 2008
I mentioned on Sunday how THEY have not had such a good time lately in terms of sleeping. I think you may also have got the idea that SHE has not been very well of late, if nothing else, by the absence of mentions of HER in these pages. Well, last night, things reached a climax.

The previous night, SHE had a really bad night and, in the morning yesterday, SHE decided that SHE really had to go to the doctor. HE made an appointment for HER for midday and, when SHE explained her problem, basically severe tummy pains, the doctor wanted to send HER to hospital for tests. However, they agreed that the doctor would try first with some medication and only need hospital tests if that failed. She got her prescription and went into the pharmacy, to emerge with a big bag full of pills and powders etc.

When SHE got home , SHE started on the medication but, instead of making HER feel better, SHE spent a very uncomfortable evening of tummy gripes. THEY watched some TV and then went to bed. HE was very uncomfortable and couldn’t sleep and decided to get up and get dressed and try to doze sitting in an armchair in the living room. HER gripes got worse and worse and SHE called HIM into the bedroom at about three a.m. and THEY decided that SHE should go to the hospital. To cut a long story short, THEY drove to the hospital at Alencon and SHE was given several tests as well as pain relief. The good news is that the tests prove that SHE does not have anything sinister in her stomach and also that the pain was real and not ‘in HER head’ as SHE had been lead to believe by some doctors in England when SHE had similar problems before.

HE came home to make our breakfast and feed us and then went back to HER in the hospital. SHE was finally allowed to go home at about nine thirty a.m. with a further prescription and a letter for HER doctor together with the test results. It is still no completely clear what the pains were caused by but the x-ray, blood and urine tests will give the doctor some facts to follow it up.

In the meantime THEY both have spent the rest of the day trying to get a little bit of sleep after missing a complete night’s sleep last night. HE did let us into the garden again today but, by suppertime, we had gone back to the field, at least three of us did. I do believe the Big Man is geographically challenged as he stood at the fence and waited, even though two gates were open for him to come and join us.

The girls wont let the Big Man inWednesday 13th February 2008
Sorry about this but the news today is all about THEM again. After not getting any sleep on Monday night, THEY looked forward to catching up last night. SHE had not been bad during the evening and went to bed to read. HE stayed up to watch a TV programme and then joined her in bed at just after 10 pm. HIS problem lately has just been that HE has trouble getting to sleep because HE feels itching all over. THEY have a theory that was once true, that it could be the washing powder. SHE changed it in England but the powders here in France are different, so it could be the case.

HER problem is that the stomach pains come on worst, as soon as SHE lays down. So, HE stayed awake itching and SHE stayed awake, sitting up reading. That is until round about 2.30 am. The pain got so bad then that THEY both got up and HE drove HER back to the hospital. As SHE had already had an X-ray, a blood test and urine test the day before, they decided to perform an ultra sound scan today. The big problem was that whereas on Monday night, the Emergency Ward was relatively quiet, today it was packed. THEY were there from 3 am until 5 pm altogether just to get a scan, a diagnosis and a prescription. When SHE did get to see a doctor around midday, he said that he thought the problem was kidney stones and the pain, renal colic. The point of the scan was to reveal the stones and if there was any kidney damage. It did neither. But the doctor still thinks that is the cause but that the stones are too small to be revealed by the scan. He produced a letter for HER doctor and then a prescription for tablets to manage the condition and its pain and then THEY had only to wait another hour for the drip needle to be extracted from her hand so that THEY could go home.

As THEY had to stop off at the pharmacy to fill the prescription, HE was late with our supper tonight. But, if it helps HER get better then, of course, we don’t mind.

The PostThursday 14th February 2008 (Valentines Day)
Just to finish with (we hope) the events reported in the last two days, THEY both had a good night’s sleep last night (and again this afternoon). SHE still has some pain but is getting better at controlling it with the medication prescribed. THEY are going out for a Valentines Day meal tonight although SHE does not think SHE will be able to eat much so let us hope we are now turning s corner and my diary can get back to equine issues again.

So, what is to say about us equines? Ah …Um….Well …

Wicked. Wick continues to be what he does best – naughty little pony. Although ‘little’ is only true of his height. Now, if we are discussing girth, that would be another matter. However, before we rush into false accusations of over eating (a term Wick himself refuses to recognise) it has to be said that any photograph of ponies of similar breeding will show that it is a breed characteristic and not an individual fault that gives then the drooping, rotund belly look. Also, Wick’s over generous coat also adds to the impression. He does rather look like an overstuffed barrel on four thick tree trunk legs. It has been proved before that, when he is clipped, there is a slender, youthful looking pony hidden beneath all that hair.

Extreme. The jury is out on this one. There can be no doubting his kind and loving nature. One of the questions though is that which equine wants to be the objective of his love? No doubt humans love it. To them, he is nothing but a gentle giant. However, even gentleness comes at a price. When SHE was in hospital these last couple of days, she had to undress and sit around in a medical gown with her bare feet sticking out. HE looked down at her toes at the damage to both feet and it was explained that the bruises were the result of the Big Man’s clumsiness. Apart from Wick, Mims and I not always being overjoyed to be the object of X’s attentions, there is also the question of his intelligence. It is very difficult to judge whether Extreme is very clever in usually getting his own way or if he is just stupid and lucky. Our vote is that when the Big Man is standing with his head up against the stable wall he is not hatching up his next cunning plan, he is wondering why the air has gone stiff and he cant walk forward.

Mims. My lovely daughter. It is only when being compared to her that Extreme manages to look bright. Let’s examine her good points first. She is extremely loving both to me and particularly to humans. I think a lot of this is due to the way she was brought up. Not by me but by her human mother. Due to her various accidents when she was young, Mims never went out to work in the same way that Extreme and I did. Even Wicky worked in a riding school. But Mims was just ‘kept at home’ and looked after by her human mum. She has therefore acquired a close bond with humans. She has also acquired a quite wilful manner. I did say let’s look at her good points first. Well, we have. Mims does, or at least, tries to do, what Mims wants to do. I think, in Mims case, she is truly not a silly as she appears. She is told to do something but she doesn’t do it and so she is thought stupid for not understanding. Not a bit of it. She understands only too well. She doesn’t always want to do it.

Me, Alezane. I suppose it is not fair that I should appraise myself. So, let me just tell you a little of how I feel about things. First and foremost, I feel extremely happy and lucky to be living out the rest of my days here, at Le Cerisier, with my equine and human friends. I have had a good life. It was hard work when I was racing but it was exciting and interesting too. I greatly enjoyed my time as a mother to my two filly foals. I think motherhood becomes me, or, at least, it did. OK, so there was a rough patch after that before I came to live with THEM but since then I had the companionship of my beloved Tregony and my re-union with my daughter again after nine years of absence. I have also had the responsibility for Wicky, at first, and now the Big Man as well. Oh well, tell me anything in this world that is perfect?

Mims watchingFriday 15th February 2008
After what I said yesterday, it seems somehow wrong to have a moan about Mims today. But, if I have to truthfully tell what happens each day in this diary, I have little choice.

Suddenly Mims has changed from being the scourge of the Big Man to flaunting herself and flirting with him. They have still been running around the field today but, instead of her chasing him and threatening to bite him, they are running about like two playmates. However, I don’t think that everything has been going her way. I sort of feel that the Big Man has disappointed her in some way because she has also spent several times today, next to me on the stable hard standing, with her ears flattened, head tossing and leg waving, looking for all the world like her dear usual self. I have found that several times, as well, I have had to act chaperon between them, partly because that was what she wanted and partly to protect X, who was in danger of coming off bevy badly at the end of her temper. I fear St Valentine has much to answer for and we can only hope that things get back to normal soon.

Today has been pretty awful apart from that. The day rose to very heavy cloud and greyness except you could almost say that it didn’t rise at all. Its certain that the sun never did. Apart from all the greyness being very miserable, it has been one of those days when HIS weather forecasts say the temperature is 2 degrees but it will feel like minus 5. This was probably due to the fairly stiff north wind that cuts through one like a knife. It has been one of those very few days when one feels envious of Wicky, with his thick, curly coat and completely covered legs. We tried, several times during the day, to encourage HIM to bring our supper early by coming into the stable and standing and staring at their windows. I know THEY saw us as we saw THEM looking, but I am afraid that THEY didn’t take the hint.

However, after HE came with our supper at the normal time, we were pleased because it will not be so long to breakfast now. I should also mention that the hens also must have found the weather displeasing for there was only one egg today as against the four a day for the previous few days. I have told you before that they now lay their eggs in the stable. They have made themselves a nest in the hay under the stairs. Then, a few days ago, HE found only two eggs and thought that they were finally going off lay until HE discovered that they had made a new nest behind the current open haylage bag and they had been laying two in the old nest and two in the new one until today. HE is now left wondering, was it really the cold weather that produced only one egg today or have the hens found yet another good place for a nest?

Les poulesSaturday 16th February 2008
It must have been the weather. Four eggs again today. In fact, HE had no sooner opened up the chicken house when they were running over to the stable and making themselves comfortable on the nests, two under the stairs and one behind the haylage. When HE came over for our supper, there were three eggs under the stairs.

It has been an interesting day today, particularly for THEM. HE had to go shopping today to get us more carrots and apples and HE must have been in a buying mood because HE also returned with a new CD/DVD player (which also plays the kind of movies that HE can download from the internet) and also a new cabinet for the toilet to keep all the cleaners, tissues etc in. Humans are funny aren’t they? I wonder why they need a separate room? Still, it’s their choice I suppose.

HE also went along to the builder’s yard to get a piece of fencing. Now, why would HE want just one sheet of wire fence, do you think? I would have thought that it was obvious. To cut up and make tops for our hay racks. of course. When I was at Devon, I had a wire mesh lid on my hay rack and it stopped it all pulling out all over the floor and getting trodden on and spoilt (not only trodden on. Maybe there is some sense in THEM having a toilet in a separate room after all, if THEY spill THEIR haylage on the floor). When HE got to the hop, HE had to search around until HE found exactly the right kind of fencing (not too supple but not too thick). But, when HE found it, HE had another problem. It wouldn’t fit into the little green car. However, on the basis that going home without it and then having to find the time to come back again with the remorque (or, at least, a pair of wire cutters), HE decided to buy another pair of wire cutters and then cut the sheet in half before loading it into the car. Even then, HE had to do some careful manoeuvring with the two sheets before he could manage to get to the steering wheel and drive home.

After (HIS) lunch, HE cam out to fix the hay rack lids. We all stood around to offer HIM help, if HE needed it. When HE had fixed all the lids, HE decided to clear all the dropped haylage from the floor of our three boxes and needed to get the quad bike and remorque to do it. At one time, when we were being particularly helpful, HE drove the quad straight at me and we all had a bit of a canter about. HE then decided to wash out all three boxes and when HE got to part where HE thought it a good joke to spray us with the hose, we all ran off down the field and left HIM to it. This meant that, when HE brought our suppers out, we had to be called in from the bottom of the field. Another good excuse for a fast canter. As I said, an interesting day today, and sunny with it!

A walk in the gardenSunday 17th February 2008
This evening, when He came to bring supper HE found it. It wasn’t me, honest, but I can’t say who did it. One of the hay rack lids, just coincidentally, the one in my box, was hanging loose. HE had fixed clips to the front of the lids to stop us opening them and this lid was hanging by that. The back of the lid had been pulled completely off its fixings. Really, it was no problem for, while we ater our supper, HE went and got HIS hammer and some larger staples to re-fix it.

However, there was something else. When HE had got to the stable tonight, as it was still very sunny, we were all still out in the field. Mims was the first one home and so HE decided to put her into her box. It was then that HE noticed that she had a very large scrape on the right side of her face, just underneath the eye. Fortunately, it had not pieced the skin but just removed all the lovely red hair leaving a black leather gash. It was not until HE had noticed the broken hay rack lid that HE started to suspect that the two things could well be connected. I told you yesterday that HE had bought some wire cutters to get the grids into the car. The nature of these is such that they do not cut a vertical wire really close to its horizontal fixing wire with the result that there is a little stub, maybe half a centimetre high, projecting at each joint. Could these have caused the damage? To be on the safe side HE has decided to get rid of the stubs with HIS angle grinder tomorrow.

THEY are wondering how Wicky is appearing so clean these days. The weather has been cold at night and sunny all day with not a trace of rain. As a result, Wicky’s coat has dried out and all the mud has dropped off. It must be the nature of his coat because my mud and Mims’ and the Big Man’s as well has stayed firmly fixed to our coats. So what? We are happy and that is the main thing, don’t you agree?

Writing the DiaryMonday 18th February 2008
This morning, HE said that it looked like, well, some scene of destruction. HE was referring to the hay rack lids which we had made some alterations to. The one in the Big man’s box was untouched. Mainly because he eats in our boxes whenever he can. The rack in Mims’ box was still secured by the clip and tie that HE had put on the front but the rear had become completely unhinged and the lid was hanging forlornly over the front of the rack. But my box was the best. HE had tried to bend the wire mesh that forms the lid and could only manage it with a seven pound hammer. The lid in my box was still secured by the front clip and by the centre and right hand staple. But the whole lid was pivoted at the centre and was bent up at a 90 degree angle above the rack. And, of course, in all three boxes, we had managed to then spread haylage all over the floor.

HE had intended to angle grind the sharp edges off the lids today. Instead HE spent time securing all the lids, both with larger staples and with double twisted nylon cord. HE has refilled the racks with haylage and is now going to watch and seewhat happens tonight before He does anything else.

These last few days have been looking lighter, both in the morning and also the evening. We are having clear cloudless days with full sunshine but we have had these before and it has not been so light. Maybe it really is that the days are lengthening again. The trouble is, to fully enjoy the weather we could do with some real new grass. We have had no proper rain for quite a time now and we need it to both get warmer and for the rain to come to give the grass a kick start. We are not starving, of course. We still can find enough to eat in the field all day. But it is short, tough old stuff. The trouble with wishing the spring to hurry up and come is that the flies will come with it. At the moment we have the pleasure both of no flies and no fly masks.

SHE has not been at all well these last few days. SHE is taking the medicine prescribed by the hospital doctor and also the advice, which is to drink loads and loads of water. The problem is that, with HER heart condition, she needs to get rid of excess water and the two needs clash. So, for the last two days SHE has stayed in bed all day and HE can’t remember the last time she had a proper meal. It is worrying for all of us.

A treat for the Big ManTuesday 19th February 2008
HE says that He doesn’t know what day it is. That is, until HE comes to type up my diary for me. Life has certainly turned very strange for THEM. I think first, I must try and say something about us equines. Then. Yet again. My diary will be concerned with what THEY have been doing.

Actually, we are being very good and considerate to HIM. We come in without being called or lead in by HIM. we organise ourselves in our proper boxes (once HE has enticed the Big Man back into his own. Extreme is not being deliberately naughty, he is just being his usual silly self. You see, he makes such a fuss about going past me into his box and yet, when he gets in there, the first thing he does is hang his silly big head over my box and threaten to bite me. See, I told you he was silly!

Out in the field, we are defying all logic by getting thoroughly covered in mud while we have not had any rain for ages. How we find it, HE just does not know. But it brings HIM out in all kinds of loving phrases and cuddles. I think HE enjoys seeing us have such a good time.

Now to THEM. Having been in bed for the last three days, SHE asked HIM to get the doctor to call today. SHE also wanted him to get some cranberry juice for HER to drink. HE managed to stumble through in HIS pathetic French and arrange for the doctor to visit this afternoon. HE drew a blank with the cranberry juice though as this is not a normal product for the village (small) supermarket.

Then the doctor arrived this afternoon. By the end of he visit, HE had a list of to-dos that needed careful working through and SHE had prescriptions enough to empty the pharmacy. The short version is that she has very strong painkillers now, a visit from the nurse to take blood tomorrow. HE has to get the result of the blood test tomorrow afternoon/evening for HER to take to the hospital on Thursday for a scan. That is the short version omitting how many items were taken from the pharmacy.

It doesn’t look as if we horses are going to see HER in the very near future but we wish HER all the best and hope SHE can see us, out of HER bedroom window, having a really good time, and all due to HER!

At nightWednesday 20th February 2008
My goodness. Only Wednesday. That reminds me. Here in France, they don’t use capital letters for lots of things that we are used to. What I should have said is that it is only Wednesday, except that it should be mercredi. And fevrier and not February, etc. etc. So what? Nothing really. It’s just that I have a hard enough job getting HIM to type up my diary anyway. When HE is faced with such things, HE seems to use it as an excuse for not concentrating. Anyway, back to my point. With things all upside down at the moment, HER being sick and all that, it is difficult to know which day is which. Not that it matters very much to my herd but I have to remember because of the diary. It would be no good saying, for example, ‘this is what happened on, er …, one of the days in february’. Diaries would loser all credibility if that happened. So I need to keep track even if Mims, Wick and the Big Man don’t even know what year it is. In fact, as far as Extreme is concerned, I don’t think he knows what a year is. And Wicky? He divides the time into ‘eating’ and ‘waiting to eat’ so today might be ‘two hours before supper’ or ‘three hours since breakfast’ and, usually, ‘one hour into this graze’.

I don’t like telling tales but, if you had been around just before supper tonight…. You know Mims, the one with the reputation for chasing the Big man, for biting him and herding him up etc. If you had looked, as HE did, at the pair of them this evening, you would have seen altogether another side to her. There they were, nose to nose, then a little rising of heads followed by a frolic or two. I think you humans call it ‘flirting’. That is exactly what it looked like to me. And yet, just a few minutes after, the Big Man was in his box waiting for his supper while Mims was standing alongside me at the fence, just watching the world go by until it was time to go in.

We had a complete change of weather today. No more frost, the temperature this morning, before breakfast, as about 6 degrees. And no more sunshine either. We started off misty and it stayed that way, even foggy, all day and evening. That with a very light rain. All our lovely mud covering our coats has disappeared. I have to say that we are looking quite sleek and smart at the moment. However, where there is rain there is nice new sticky mud so I am sure we will get back to normal before much longer.

And lastly, an update on HER. Today the nurse paid a visit to take blood for a test before her scan tomorrow. But, when she came, she said that she had to return at eleven o’clock as something needed freezing (they never found out what) before she could finish taking the samples. However, although THEY waited all day, the nurse never returned. When HE phoned the doctor’s in the afternoon, the secretary said that she had no idea why the nurse needed to return or why she didn’t. THEY are hoping that it was not something that was necessary before the scan tomorrow.

WickedThursday 21st February 2008
Because THEY were going out early to first pick up the results of Her blood test and then go on to the hospital for HER scan, He tried to wok out what time THEY must leave home and how this fitted in with feeding us. The one thing that HE found out that surprised HIM was that it takes about 40 minutes in the morning to first prepare our vegetables and then feed us. As he cuts up the apples and carrots for the day in the morning, it probably only takes 25 to 30 minutes to just feed us, clean out the stables (if necessary) and top up our haylage, in the evening. Also, in this period, HE has to find time to have a few games of ‘chase the mouse (a bit of plastic on the end of a string)’ with Sunny, over the unopened haylage bales. Oh, and go and let the hens out in the morning.

The hens are funny in that they are quite happy to run in and out between our hooves with no worry about getting trodden on. They also come into our boxes to share our food and have no qualms in pecking the grains out of our buckets. One of the things that they like best is when HE brings the two buckets out of the feed room and puts Mims; one down, outside her door, while HE gives me mine. When HE comes back to it, there is always one or more chicken sitting inside it, eating Mims feed and often they are lifted up with it when HE picks it up. It works both ways. The chickens are not scared of us and we like and are friends with them. If another horse tried to take our feed there would be all kinds of kicking and biting. But when the chickens eat with us, we take no notice (although I must say that I have seen Wicky kick out at one but that was probably pecking at his tail.)

We had a nice surprise today when Joanna, Sophie and Cameron popped in and came over and fed us at suppertime. It is school half term this week and they were taking a break from the farm to visit the local Pre en Pail supermarket. Sophie, who is diabetic, has had a pump fitted to automatically give her the insulin that she requires, thus saving the many injections she had to do before. I don’t think she is as happy with it as THEY expected, probably because it so obviously marks her out as different, in her eyes.

SHE has been up all day today. First to go for HER scan and then, afterwards, to make lunch. Let us hope she will start to feel a bit better soon and that we might even see HER over here so we can start to work our equine therapy on HER.

Four donkeysFriday 22nd February 2008
Today’s and tomorrow’s diary is going to be a bit short. How do I know this? I see you can understand that I know about today, but tomorrow? Yes, you’ve guessed. This is being typed tomorrow and not today, if you see what I means. And why is that? Well, it is  a fairly long story, although, I will try to keep it brief.

When SHE first got HER own computer to use at home, it had to go through quite a few changes as SHE developed a taste for computer games which got more and more memory hungry as the graphics capabilities got better and better. First SHE tried installing new drivers but eventually it was a case of a new graphics board. Then, in order for HER to be more comfortable, THEY decided to change the computer for a laptop but it had to be a laptop with good graphics capabilities. Having read all the reviews and making sure that the graphics were up to the games that SHE was using, THEY settled on a suitable machine and bought it. Suitable it may have been, in terms of technical capabilities but otherwise it was a beast. It weighed a ton and was as noisy as the M25 (a notorious ring road motorway around London).

THEY finally replaced it with a desktop PC again and then, when this blew up in a power surge (moral, get a power surge protection circuit), SHE replaced virtually all of the insides including the operating system for a French one. Re-installing all the software was a nightmare for HIM because not only could HE not read half of the on screen instructions but also, French keyboards are laid out differently to US/UK ones. This made HIM type almost an error per stroke. Finally everything was back to HER satisfaction., even the keyboard, as SHE says that ‘when in France, do as …etc’. But then, recently, she has become less well and HE thought it would be a nice thing for HER to have one of the new, very slim portables so SHE could use it wherever SHE was most comfortable.

I will end today, Friday, by saying that HE has been trying to get to grips with yet another operating system and so didn’t have time to type up my diary today.

Spring?Saturday 23rd February 2008
Having spent most of yesterday, re-loading all the programs that SHE uses on the new machine, HE sat today and read all about a wonderful program that will transfer all ones data and settings over THEIR wireless network. But, I must go back a bit.

Yesterday I told you of the monster ‘lap-top’ that THEY bought. This time, HE watched a video of a couple of techies comparing ultra slim laptops and, from that, decided on a make that looked good. It was missing some facilities but, for the convenience of it, it was OK. It looked like HIS machine but much thinner and lighter, so that was fine. When HE looked up on the internet for somewhere to buy it, HE was pleased to find one of the same make but with a higher specification. It was quite a lot dearer, but so what? HE ordered it and waited for it to arrive. HE had been out shopping and just returned when HE saw the courier just leaving the house. Just inside the front door, HE saw the parcel. It appeared to be too small for what HE was expecting but, when HE opened it up, it was quite the opposite. It was boxes within boxes, within boxes. And, at the centre was this tiny little machine, more a cross between a PDA and a laptop. However, SHE appeared happy with it although, HE spent most of today and yesterday with HIS spectacles on.

As I aid at the beginning, a wonderful program to transfer ones data from the old to the new computer. It needed to be installed on both machines. And that was where the first problem arose. It installed very easily on the new machine but when HE copied it over and tried to install it on the old machine, it wouldn’t work. HE finally discovered that it wouldn’t work because itt didn’t speak French (join the club!). HE then downloaded another (French) version, and this installed perfectly. It would be boring to go into all the problems that ensued when HE tried to carry out the transfer. Suffice it to say that after an hour and a half of swearing and sweating, HE discovered that it wouldn’t work anyway because one computer spoke English (well American) and the other French.

The rest of today has been devoted to several attempts to find other ways of transferring the data. As we speak, what HE hopes is the final and successful method is chugging away over the wireless network. But you can see why the last two day’s diary has been a) late, b) boring and c) nothing to do with us horses. I promise I will get HIM to do better from now on (if HE survives).

Alezane's eyeSunday 24th February 2008
“Bun Journey, Alli”
“Treg, I’ve not seen you in ages. How are you?”
“Bearin’ up, old girl. Can’t complain. ‘Ere,what’s all this rubbish ‘E’s been writing in you diary these last few days?”
“Oh, well Treg, you can’t blame HIM really, HE’s got a lot on his mind.”
“You mean that ol’ beat up cap ‘E wears when ‘E comes to give you your buckets?”
“You know I don’t Treg. HE’s had that cap ever since I’ve know HIM. HE started out wearing it when it was raining (most of the time in Devon) or when it was cold. Now I think HE feels naked if HE doesn’t wear it when HE comes to see us.”
“Well, if it aint that cap, you must mean all that hair. When was the last time ‘E ‘ad an ‘air cut? When THEY was back in England?”
“You know Treg that here, in the village, you can’t just walk in and wait your turn like you could in Dartmoor. Here you have to make an appointment, a ‘rendevous’ as they call it. And, what with one thing and another, HE just hasn’t got round to it lately.”
“Lately? I should say so. I hexpect that is why ‘E don’t shave so much these days. Tring to make ‘is face look more balanced. Still, enough of ‘IM, how’s everyone else doin’?”
“Your mate Wicky is doing really well. I think his breeding and his coat are best suited for the winter. This year THEY haven’t insulted him by making him wear a rug. And, you know what? After all the rain and mud goes away and we have a few dry days, his coat is as white and clean looking, even silky and his mane is really the envy of any mare. No, Wick is really doing well and not looking his age at all.”
“Oh, got some dentures, ‘as he?”
“Well, apart from that. If he keeps his mouth shut.”
“Yeah, but he can’t, can he? That sticking out tooth makes it lok open all the time.”
“Now, that was when he was back in England. Here the vet rasped it down with that electric drill thing so now it hardly shows at all.”
“And what about my Mims? You know, now I am out of the herd, I feel a lot more kindly towards her. She did give me some trouble when she first joined us, didn’t she?”
“Oh, Mims is Mims. What can I say? She is my daughter after all. I think she does it to protect me. She chased you, she chased Wick, she chased Arnie and now she chases Big X. I think she sees it as a bit of fun. She is really not that seriously trying to hurt anyone, just to have a lark.”
“Mmm?  As you say, she is your daughter so you cant really say much. Mind you, I’ve seen the Big Man. He’s quite different from the way he was when he joined the herd. He is a very big boy now, isn’t he. I shouldn’t think he is very afraid of Mims. He could walk all over her if he wanted to.”
“Ah, yes, physically. But mentally ….? X is like a lot of big boys, a bit simple. I don’t mean simple silly, just simple and straightforward. And he likes a joke as well. Part of his trouble is that other people don’t find things as funny as he thinks that they are. You didn’t see HER laughing when he trod on her foot those couple of times.”
“It can’t be easy for him in a mare dominated herd.”
“No, nor should it be. You don’t know how lucky you were Treg when you joined me back in Devon. Mims wasn’t there at the time and you became my true companion. No tricks or games or flirting or anything. Just soul mates for life.”
“Yes, it was, as it turned out.”
“So Treg, how are things with you, really? Have you adjusted to your new way, I was going to say ‘of life’ but you know what I mean?”
“Best of both worlds my Al. I get all the convenience of not having to carry around those old aching bones that I had. Bit I can come and be with you and Wick (and Extreme, although I don’t know him so well) whenever I want or need.”
“That’s lovely Treg. And, I’ll tell you something else. When you relax and mix in again, you loser that phoney cockney accent. Just as well really as you never were a cockney.”
“I know that, Alli and you know that. But you also know that HE doesn’t know how to type a Cornish accent, does he?”

In the fogMonday 25th February 2008
The hens have finally revolted against having their eggs stolen. Yesterday, HE was at Didier’s getting our feed and the conversation got round to the hens and how they had not stopped laying all through the winter. HE said to Didier that, in Devon, THEIR hens went off lay when the nights got longer and the light diminished. Didier said that it was the same here but this year, for some reason, people were telling him the same, that the hens had just carried on laying as normal. Then, last night, when HE went to collect the eggs after feeding us, HE found that there were none. Not under the stairs or behind the haylage in the feed room nor in the laying boxes in the chicken house. As HE had got four the night before, HE thought that, alright, the girls needed a break. But tonight HE looked and again there were none. HE is now suspecting that they must have found somewhere else to lay, maybe in one of the hedges around the fields. HE had a brief look when HE went to empty the barrow but there were none by the dung heap. Maybe, if the weather is fin, HE will take a longer walk around the fields tomorrow.

HE came up with a very bad idea tonight. For months now, we have all enjoyed ourselves rolling about in the mud and getting thoroughly grubby. While HE was waiting for us to finish eating our supper, HE got the bright idea of getting a brush and giving us all a groom. All our weeks and weeks of lovely dirt ended up on the stable floor. I tried to walk away at first but he held the brush in one hand and some sugar cubes in the other so, in the end, I took a rational decision and stayed. The good thing was that, as there were three of us (I notice HE didn’t make any attempt at Wicky’s heavy coat) and there was only a limited time available, HE couldn’t spend long on any of us. HE did our body and manes but left out our legs and tails. I’m not that worried as I am sure that HE will grow tired of it just as quickly as we have.

The cats have dropped into a routine now. Tom often comes over and visits us once a day, probably when it is more comfortable to sleep upstairs in the stable on all our old rugs than it is indoors. Sunny always comes with HIM when HE feeds us, morning and evening. She also goes upstairs while HE is preparing and handing out the buckets and topping up the haylage but then comes down for a game with HIM when HE is finished. The game consists of chasing a long tailed piece of haylage all over the feed room, up the stairs and down, round the floor and over all the stacked bales of haylage. THEY were discussing her today, saying how she is not the most sure footed of cats, she just hurls herself at things and if she misses and falls down, she doesn’t care. Most cats if they lose their footing will stop to wash to regain their dignity. Sunny doesn’t know what that kind of dignity is. She doesn’t care what others think of her. She is just a little dynamo, hurtling from one game to another. That is when she isn’t outdoors murdering anything furry or flying. When she came as a kitten last year she brought in hundreds of flying beetles. THEY are wondering if she has grown to old for that now. THEY will wait and see.

The Big ManTuesday 26th February 2008
Yesterday, HE was waiting for the kettle to boil and so HE looked out of the kitchen window and was amazed to see yellow flowers in the shrubs in the hedge. HE went for a walk along the hedge later when HE went down to get the post and saw that all sorts of shrubs had started flowering without THEM noticing. With all the icy mornings and some very foggy ones and pretty low temperatures, THEY had given up all hope of spring arriving yet. And now, HE found, it has just crept up on them. HE also noticed today that there is a lot more bird activity. The weather has been quite a bit warmer or the last two days and the birds seem to have decided it is time to get ready for the mating season. HE remembered that there was an old tale of the birds pairing up on Valentine’s day. If so, maybe they are a bit late rather than early this year?

Well, if spring has come at last, it has come in the way spring used to come back on Dartmoor. The day started today with wind and rain, not particularly cold but fairly unpleasant nevertheless. When HE brought our breakfast, all our lovely mud had been replaced with a wet shiny coat. We had a bit of a mix up this morning too. Big X was nowhere to be seen and I decided that I would go into his box instead of my own. This made for all kind of confusion as HE couldn’t start breakfast until X was in and HE couldn’t bring him in until I went back into my own box. So I decided to to change back just to speed up eating. Mims was, as usual, very good and just waited outside until I had got myself sorted. She may be a bit wilful for some things but she really is a good girl when it comes to boxing.

This evening, after getting us all settled down to our buckets, HE looked for the chickens eggs and again found none in the feed room. This was the third day that there had been no eggs so HE was now sure that they are laying somewhere else. HE decided that HE would not check their own nesting boxes in the chicken house until HE went to shut them up for the night (something that HE forgot to do last night. What a good job the fox didn’t like the rain either). But, as the weather had improved by tonight, HE decided to have a little look in the hedgerow round the field after we had finished feeding. HE had only walked about fifteen metres around the hedge when HE noticed something brown under a holly bush. When HE bent down to look properly, HE found and retrieved eleven eggs laying under the bush. HE walked home triumphantly but there is always the worry what they will do now as there are about six kilometres of hedgerow left around our two fields.

Foggy viewWednesday 27th February 2008
We are all trying to be very good for HIM while SHE is not well. For the last three days, SHE has stayed in bed all day, just getting up for meals (although this is hardly worth it as SHE is not eating hardly anything). So to try not to add to the work HE is doing, we are trying to anticipate what HE wants us to do. So, instead of all hanging about in the field by the fence, so that HE has to come out and bring us in, one by one, we are now going straight into our boxes at meal times. Even the Big Man, who THEY say is a bit thick, is getting it right now. This morning, when he went into my box first, HE had only to say to X that he had it wrong and out he popped and went along to his own box so that first I could go in mine and then Mims into hers. You will notice, like always, there is no mention of Wick here. For a start, he hasn’t got a box, only a part of Big X’s corridor which can be used in an emergency. However, this is probably just as well as he wouldn’t use it. Wick likes to stand right over where the food is being prepared, just to make sure that everything is going alright and also that he gets his bucket first. We don’t mind about this though as, with his lack of teeth, it takes him longer than us to get through all his feed.

There is really not much to say about our day today. It has been raining all day although not very heavily. We just ignore it, as far as it raining on our backs but we do actually enjoy it when it turns the field muddy and we can have a really good roll. We have also noticed, like HIM, that the birds are pairing up now. We have quite a few couples coming into our stable both for the bits of food that have dropped but also, I suspect, for bits of haylage to use as nesting material. One thing I did enjoy hearing a couple of days ago was the sound of new born lambs from the a couple of fields away. Then yesterday, the sheep themselves were kicking up quite a din. I miss the sheep. We always had them on Dartmoor and also when we were staying at Jo and James farm in Normandy.

HE noticed that the farmer, who keeps a few sheep on the other side of the road to our poplars, also had some new lambs running about today. They look quite big so maybe they have been kept in until today. Anyway, when HE thought HE had lost HIS new mobile phone and went driving back to retrace HIS steps in the village, where HE had been shopping, HE took the camera with him so no doubt this months diary will have at least one photo of them. Out of interest, it occurred to HIM, when HE got back, not having found the phone, that the best thing to do would be to ring it. HE found it on HER bed, under a cover!

Sheep and lambsThursday 28th February 2008
Lets start with the weather. Nothing in the slightest remarkable. Not cold, not raining just a bit grey round the edges. But not enough to account for HIS feeling of depression today. On the way back from giving us our supper, HE really seriously, for the first time, considered ending this diary. If it does end, it will be at the end of April which will make it running for five years. HE had intended to keep it going until I died, a rather sombre thought but it does have some sense to it. The five year ending also is a nice round number. It really all comes down to who it is for. It started off as a bit of fun together with a learning curve in building websites. Then it just carried on for a while under its own momentum with HIM enjoying exploring our personalities, that is (or was) myself, Tregony and Wick. Once it had been going or a while, and when it was fun, the thought came that it might even make a little book that children might enjoy reading. That is children who were interested in horses. But then, events sought of overtook it. First the death of Tregony was a major blow and then all the pressures of preparing to sell up and move, the move itself and the aftermath turned it into more a HIS diary than mine. There was the idea that it might be interesting for the children and grandchildren to read but, even this is more and more doubtful in reality. If HE came across he tedious day by day account of the life of HIS grandfather, would HE bother to read it, other than just scanning it for anything of interest? Probably not. So, why carry on, with the pressure of trying to find something interesting to say and thirty odd reasonable photos each month to illustrate it? We have to months to decide. At least that might be of some slight interest in itself.

I have to tell you that the Big Man disgraced himself this morning. It was the first time that HE shouted at him and gave him a smack as well. We were just getting ready to come out of our boxes after breakfast when, as HE walked along to give X a treat, the Big man stretched his long neck over into my stall and gave me a bite on my neck. I don’t know if he thought it was funny, a sort of colty joke or what. I was incensed, even though it didn’t hurt very much. It was much more the cheek of it. I started kicking the walls and HE gave X a whack on the bottom. That didn’t do much but then HE shouted at him and that really did the trick. The Big Man went and stood with his head to the far wall and looked heartily ashamed of himself. HE continued to speak in a disapproving tone for a couple of sentences, just to get the message home and then HE gave him he sugar lump that HE had in HUS hand all along. I don’t suppose , in the long run, it will make much difference. However, mims and I paid him back this evening when he had to run the gauntlet again to get into his box.

One last thing. I already told you the weather today except that it was a bit foggy this morning first thing. So I am not sure that the weather can be the reason. But, whatever it was, the hens laid their eggs in the feed room again today. When HE came to make our supper HE found three eggs, still a bit warm, under the stairs. HE did go to check the holly bush just in case there might be a fourth there but they hadn’t used that today. A bit of a mystery. Trying to get into a hen’s mind is a bit like trying to understand one of the Big Man’s jokes!

Mims' injuryFriday 29th February 2008
Today has been pay back time for the Big Man. We started by keeping him out of the stable this morning, then we kept walking away when he came up to us and we finally ended by not letting him into his box for supper until HE came and gave him a protected passage. Really there was no harm in it. He just needs to know that just walking about with his tail up in the air doesn’t make him a stallion, or even, in our eyes, look anything like one. Even Wicky wasn’t impressed but he doesn’t express his feelings in any other way than just by ignoring him.

SHE went to the doctor this morning. It was officially a follow up on her scan and other tests last week and also to see how the prescribed medication has been working. The good news is that her kidneys and liver are fine with no problems found. The blood test was also good. However, this still leaves the ever present pain which now is even more of a mystery. One possible explanation is that it was a stone which has now passed and the pain if from the after effects of the damage it caused. However, the doctor has decided that another scan is needed for a lower part of HER body and SHE will be going for this next Monday, this time going to the doctor’s clinic and not the hospital.

HE has just moaned to me that when HE quite normally now uses the French word for some things (for example ‘clinique’) the spell checker tells him off. I suppose that HE could just add it to HIS custom dictionary but it is an indication of HIS cowardice that HE just went and changed it to the English spelling ‘clinic’. I must say that HE is not so quick to concur when HE is expected to accept an American spelling!

The other thing the doctor has arranged is for HER to have a heart check up with a cardiologist as it is at least five years since this has been done and, of course, never in this country. This is fixed for a couple of weeks time.

Apart from that, no news at all today. Weather dull with the occasional spot of rain but not cold. Oh, and the hens went back and laid under the holly bush again. Well, it keeps HIM on HIS toes, doesn’t it?


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