Sunday, 4 May 2008

Just when you thought the day was over!

Sleep is quite high on the to do list after spending all day messing around in the garden and looking after the animals. We had quite a busy day, building the creep feeder, turning out the horses, cutting down all the nettles, bracken and foxgloves on Oak Bank, collecting a huge pile of dead wood that had blown across the field, the usual Rock routine regarding the animals and the household chores.

So by half ten we decided to turn in, just two more tasks to do before climbing the wooden hill, shut the birds away and put the dogs in their kennels. The birds have got into the habit of sitting outside the duck house, goose house and shed until they see the torchlight, then they do one of two things. They either calmly go to their beds or they run to the hills. As it was a still, calm, warm night they went to bed without any fuss, obviously theres no fun involved if your owner isn't exposed to hypothermia as he tries to round you up, so they tend to save running off for blizzards or hurricanes, within seconds all the birds were accounted for and safe.

The same could not be said for the dogs. We are used to them taking off at full cry when they suspect a fox is in the perimeter. Faith even came back one day with a six inch piece of tail from a slow fox. What was different about last night was the missing dog was a very ancient beagle, some fifteen years old called Passion, shes on the right in the picture next to her mental brother Preston. She never wanders off, and is a bit deaf now so perhaps she was still in the house, not having heard the call to go to bed. A quick check established she had gone out with the rest, I retraced my steps and checked I hadn't locked her in with any of the birds, no sign. Neither had she got into any kennel other than the one she shares with Preston and Pip the insane collie.

Tracey now joined the search and we split up keeping in touch via radio. I set off down the track while Tracey went into the Cauldron. After fifteen minutes we still hadn't seen her. I thought I had found her but it turned out to be "Ducky" one of Poppy's big soft toys she hides on the hill. She has to do this as Faith cannot stand any toy with a squeaker so destroys anything that has the audacity to squeak in her presence. Within minutes she can render toys sold as indestructible into a pile of stuffing and non squeaky plastic components.

Just a bit further on I saw a small white thing cross the track in front of me, I tried to keep it in the torchlight as I called Tracey on the radio, I was pretty sure it was our dog but whatever it was was now halfway up the hill and intent on putting as much distance between me and it. I stuck to the track not wanting to risk a tumble over the rocks and bushes that adorn the hill. I lost sight of whatever it was and began to doubt that it was Passion, perhaps it was a badger. We have lots of those on the hill, when we moved to Rock HQ we had a set in the garden but I think they decided sharing with the magnificent seven (our dogs) was just too much. They found quieter lodgings elsewhere. There have been clashes though, Preston got caught by a big male badger one night as he went to do a number two in the gorse bushes. He was left badly bitten and so traumatised that he refused to go outside for a week.

I was now on the track leading to Mad Keith's, I wasn't sure how he would take to me wandering round his shack in the dead of night shouting for a dog. I was glad we hadn't been watching a horror film before having to search the hill, my imagination is fertile enough without having to contend with the possibilities of flesh eating zombies stalking the hill or that every rustle of a bush is a werewolf waiting to pounce on me. Brave as I am I have been known to let Tracey put the birds away in case the foul demons that haunt the night get me.

I picked up the dog in the torchlight again, she wouldn't come anyway near me. This was unusual, I don't beat her, well not often, so couldn't understand why she was behaving so erratically. Tracey called me and told me to turn the torch off, perhaps that was scaring her. Great. Being on a hill next to Mad Keith's without the comfort blanket powered by Duracell was all I needed. I tried it for nearly five seconds before deciding she wasn't scared of the torch. Back in the spotlight she sat still about fifty yards up the hill by a pile of boulders. I could see Tracey's torch down below, she watched my progress as I stumbled over the aforementioned roots, branches and rocks to get to the daft dog.

She did at one point head back along the hill, much to my annoyance, but then sat and stared into space. Which is how I found her, just sat staring at nothing. She didn't seem to recognise me so I sat down with her for a few minutes gently stroking her and talking quietly. Rocky joined us and at that point she seemed to remember who we were and began to wag her tail. There was no way I could carry this fat beagle down the hill to the track, fortunately she followed me and soon we were with Tracey who made a big fuss of the old dog, not the brave one armed heroic rescuer. I know my place.

Soon we were back in Rock HQ, Passion was allowed to sleep in the conservatory instead of the kennel. She seemed fine but we are going to keep a close eye on her in case she has more senior moments. What had earlier seemed like an early night was now very late, actually an early morning. Animals have more of an impact on the love life of a smallholder than kids ever do!

So we went to bed, exhausted.

I slept, but had a strange dream. I dreamt I was a physiotherapist working in a town, I think it was Wolverhampton. But I wasn't me, I was called Ed. To make matters worse I was a vegetarian.


1 comment:

Mr Tank said...

I feel for you having to experience a dream nightmare like that. . . . only way of it possibly being worse would be for you to have an unhealthy obsession with danceoffs!