Wednesday, 31 December 2008
Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Monday, 29 December 2008
These two are firm friends, provided William the big Black Welsh Cob doesn't feel like he has to compete for food, shelter or affection he loves having Apollo around.
There are clear designated areas in the yard, those that belong to Williamand everyone else's. William always feeds from the right hand side of the hay stack, Apollo, two goats and eight sheep share the left hand side. William has his own stable and is very happy for anyone to look at it, but if they even consider any form of physical encroachment on his turf he will teach them the error of their ways with a sharp bite or a stealthy hoof, unless they are humans bearing gifts or forks to clean out pooh he hates anyone or anything being in his space. Many a goat or poultry has been seen to fly out of the stable door sideways with an accompanying ooof as they overstepped the mark and out stayed their welcome.
Tonight World War 3 was averted by luck, darkness and the swift action of yours truly. Forget any troubles in the middle east, if this Welsh Cob had of spotted what was going on all hell would have let loose.
As always it started innocently enough, in an equine equivalent of did you spill my pint Apollo stumbled into William as he was taking huge mouthfuls from the haystack. William forgave that misdemeanour as Apollo backed off smacking his lips and apologising profusely. I was busy cleaning out the fresh mountain ranges of pooh from the stables and once done fetched a huge bucket of horse nuts for the beasts to share. Now Apollo has an annoying habit of smashing buckets at the moment and as tonight's remains were dragged out of his stall it was obvious the plastic container had met its match and was no longer capable of holding the horses dinner. So I went into Williams stall and tipped half the bucket of nuts into his intact bucket and took the new bucket into Apollos stall and placed it carefully in the tyre that serves as some form of bucket protector.
I carried on cleaning out the pooh form Apollos stall. It was quiet, the cliche too quiet. I should have with me a foal called Apollo kicking the crap out his new bucket and scoffing his nuts. I looked out into the darkness, William was munching hay. Apollo was nowhere to be seen.
Something prompted me to go and look for him. He was in Williams stable eating Williams dinner, a capitol offence if spotted by the big horse. Without drawing attention to the crime I tip toed in beside Apollo and gently frog marched him out of the stable clearing the door just as William spotted the intrusion. Placing myself in the line of attack I yelled, "Leave him, hes not worth it" diverting William into his stall while shoving Apollo up the backside so he lurched into his stable. I slammed the door just as a very irate Welsh Cob appeared at my shoulder wanting to settle matters having now discovered half his dinner was gone.
His pride severely dented he attempted to bite the dogs before going into his stall to eat the leftovers. Half an hour later he was still seething, his ears pressed flat against his head in temper.
Apollo on the other hand looked very pleased with himself.
Sunday, 28 December 2008
Saturday, 27 December 2008
We have had several walkers through our patch the last two days, all of which have been lucky enough to be made welcome by the Rock HQ gang, some of which are seen above giving Tracey some fuss.
The walkers have divided into the two types, the cheerful friendly types and the grumpy miserable head down types. Honestly, I ask you, would you really walk through someones garden, get within ten feet of them and still try to avoid any form of human discourse? The one chap had to be forced to say Hello after I made it quite clear that my cheery Good Morning was in fact directed at you mate, yes you who are now all of 8 feet away from me I am actually talking to you, have you heard me? He begrudgingly looked up and muttered what passed as a greeting before shoving his hands further into his anorak and glowering once more from under his hand knitted bobble hat the beardy walker stomped past and into The Cauldron. If being outdoors makes you that miserable stay at home mate!
Another chap was much more friendly and engaged in conversation whilst I struggled to keep hold of two Bernese Mountain Dogs who wanted to greet him with muddy paws, he was in fact so chatty that his diversion gave the Ryelands enough time to steal a bucket of food whilst Tracey and I politely agreed with the nice young man that yes there were more sheep dogs than dogs.
He set off into the sunshine of The Cauldron after the grumpy one. Takes all sorts, and we get them all here!
Friday, 26 December 2008
So once again there are ten dogs at Rock HQ, five of which are Bernese Mountain Dogs, all sat around the fire. We saw The Oracle while we were collecting the dogs, he was celebrating Christmas, full of Christmas spirit in his yard having just come outside to walk his dinner off as he missed it yesterday. I waved at him in the dark as I drove Rene through he jovially shut the gate for me. I didn't think to ask why he had missed yesterday, well you don't ask those sorts of questions round these parts.
Thursday, 25 December 2008
Dream on! Its as grey and dull here as the rest of the UK today, but this is how we can look in the snow so Happy Christmas to all of you.
It would be hard to choose the best bit of the day, its been great despite still suffering the effects of a chest infection after the flu. I am sure the doc was clear about the benefits of anti biotic and alcohol so I haven't held myself back and taken every opportunity to sample different offerings of festive spirits!
The animals were all well behaved and joy to be with today, the dogs have been spoilt rotten from sampling goats cheese to home cured hams they have loved the Christmas feast. The horses made pigs of themselves on the carrots, the pigs made er pigs of themselves on the fruit and veg offerings. The day has been a joyous family occasion and I have counted my blessings.
The best bits, well two really on top of everything, taking Mad Keith the technohermit a Christmas Dinner, the day is like any other day for him but you could tell he was happy to get a Turkey and all the bits dinner. The best bit, my present from Beth, a T shirt, the first of the Tales From The Rock Productions.
It has a picture of Trevor, Trevor is a cult, find him.
Wednesday, 24 December 2008
Instead of having a peaceful run into Christmas with everything well planned and prepared today has been a manic dash to get everything done whilst incorporating visits to doctors, chemists who closed, chemists who took half an hour to hand over a packet, food shop, card drop, sudden realisation that actually we hadn't bought the kids a present so back out from the ranch into town to sort that one. So not including the usual antics of the animals who all needed their every whims met it has been a full on day. I have baked the Christmas cake, better late than never, roasted a whole leg of ham, prepared the veg and stuffed the turkey. The cottage smells of Christmas spice not damp dog, a lovely change!
But now the fires lit, the dogs are quiet, the kids are out, I have stopped coughing long enough to sip my first g and t of the holiday and we are ready.
An advert has just been on the TV reminding us we don't have any crackers.
Cant get everything right in 12 hours!
Tuesday, 23 December 2008
Monday, 22 December 2008
Sunday, 21 December 2008
Saturday, 20 December 2008
Despite both suffering from flu, and it is flu, not a cold, Tracey and I have had to get on with the routine here at Rock HQ. The lives of some sixty animals depend on our ability to get out of the front door and tend to their needs. Some of them do come in the house from time to time and I must admit to having suffered a massive sense of humour failure today when Geisha came into the cottage undetected and started picking tinsel from the Christmas tree. Once spotted she panicked and instead of sensibly heading out through the open front door she leapt around the furniture bleating hysterically whilst yours truly pursued her with malice aforethought. The chaos only ended when she missed her hoofing on the coffee table and sprawled sideways taking the CD player, table lamp and assorted ornaments with her. Having been unceremoniously dragged back outside and dumped on the doorstep in the rain she rather pointedly poohed over and in my boots before setting off towards the stables to annoy the horses.
We might have a Caribbean theme to our Christmas lunch, a menu that curried goat would not look out of place on!
Friday, 19 December 2008
Thursday, 18 December 2008
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
Poppy busied herself with a toy lion practicing her retrieve by throwing it and then herself down the hill and then running down after it, running up and down to the point of exhaustion. The thought of putting panniers on the Berners to carry the water did cross my mind, they were after all used for such jobs in Switzerland. Eventually all the jobs done I got back inside to a hot drink and got on with house jobs.
Monday, 15 December 2008
Sunday, 14 December 2008
Maggie our Boer Anglo Nubian Cross Goat is a bit confused at the moment. She is a goat with baggage anyway as her mother died suddenly from entrotoxiemia when she was a very young kid, from that day on she made it her mission to be as annoying as possible. So far she has put a hole in the cottage roof, dented the roof of several cars, eaten a whole vegetable patch and got herself stuck in numerous fences in various locations, usually when we are in a hurry.
Every so often her bothersome behaviour reaches new heights as she comes in to season. For a while it was me she would stalk but she has found a new target for her amorous antics. Poor Crispen the ram has not been given a moments peace as she tries to persuade him to give her the special attention she thinks she deserves!
Saturday, 13 December 2008
The walking bacon factory instantly achieved pet status, as did her bigger little sister piglet who is now known as Patches.
The major task of the day then apart from prizing the gorgeous piglet from my beautiful wife's arms was to move the bales stored in the pig sty up to the stables. The usual barn the pigs are housed in are uninhabitable at the moment due to flooding. It seems the millions of gallons of water that fall on the hill all want to collect in the old barn. So I endured monster spiders, rotten eggs and an abundance of rat pooh to clear the building for the Stable Sprites latest offerings. Whilst Tracey cooed at and hand fed her latest rescues I began the task of shifting the bales uphill to the stables.
As you can see above Faith, Geisha and Daffodil were eager to help. None of them were any help though when a prehistoric rat showed its utter disdain for my authority by walking over the bale I was trying to manoeuvre out of the doorway. For a second we were almost nose to nose and then it lazily turned and flopped through a hole in the wall. Faith arrived in the nick of time to totally miss the rat but witness me try to exit the pig sty through the roof in my eagerness to put as much distance between man and rodent.
With no limit to my ingenuity to speed up the job I loaded the green truck up with hay and with Tracey's encouraging words of "You' ll never make it" I set off at a blistering pace pulling the overburdened trolley after me. It was easier than I thought, especially with Tracey pushing from behind.
My vision blurred from the effort, the finishing line was in sight, another fifty metres and we would be there, I dug out blind, we would have a crystal, we would get a gold medal, my arm was straining but we were going to get there, nothing was going to stop us now.
Suddenly it all went very wrong.
Perhaps it was a bale too far.
Friday, 12 December 2008
Thursday, 11 December 2008
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
As I turned from locking the stables I cast a glance over to Oak Bank where the Ryelands were waiting for their oats and I spotted a strange shape in the gloom where the bale of hay should have been. As can be seen Hercules had decided for whatever reason to jump the fence and crash onto the very battered hat rack. This had broken around him trapping him against the fence and it seems the poor lad had spent most of the night there. The other Ryelands including his parents had very helpfully either eaten or dragged away the hay that had supported him. I lifted him clear and he staggered away, I think grateful that the circulation was returning to his legs.
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
Due to the cold weather we have put the bird feeders out and loaded the bird table with all sorts of tempting goodies. Our garden has a wide range of bird life, from the usual sparrows and wrens through to the more exotic like redstarts, gold and fire crests and an amazing variety of tits. Childish I know but I cant help but smile every time I tell Tracey about the tits in the garden. We have even had a buzzard dive into the pond and take off with a very fat and very unlucky frog.
The only problem with enticing so many birds into the garden is pictured above. He and his three amigos are determined to boost their diet by depleting the bird population. We often return from work and find the remnants of some poor bird whose reactions were not quick enough to get them out of the way. Tracey once put her wellington on and found a dead blue tit in the toe cap.
Still, the ones that get away, they are a testimony to Darwin.
Monday, 8 December 2008
First thing this morning as Tracey and I walked the horses back to their stables from the top of Willow Rise, as we sloshed through the muddy swamp of the Cauldron and slithered into the stream at the head of our lane, not for the first time I thought I was turning into Mad Keith. I don't mean I was suddenly overwhelmed with the desire to strip off and run naked over the hill, or cycle down an insanely steep path on a decrepit Raleigh three speed, or talk to petrol generators that inexplicably fail to start after three years on one tank of petrol, no, I didn't even want to carry the bones of a dead cat called Tim in a box on the back of my bike (actually I made that last one up but Beth believes it still) No, today as we walked the Boys back to their warm and cosy stables I felt so at peace and so happy with the world that I never wanted to leave here. Just like the technohermit who pitched up on the hill 44 years ago and hasn't moved since. Admittedly he has subsequently wished he had chosen the sunnier side of the hill but in essence he is a happy man.
In fact it takes a lot to get me away from here, work is the main cause of my absence, today being no exception so I dutifully pointed Rene down the track and set off to load another 16 tons before the big hand pointed up and the little hand throttled Mickey and it was time to come home. All that time its a strange thought that all this, and by this I mean our animal inhabitants, carry on without us. So my day is spent doing my best at work, really enjoying my work but all the time wanting to be back here where the action is.
You see there is so much going on here at the moment, the kennels having had their revamp are being tested by the weather, so far so good the ditch seems to have thwarted the dogs plans to set off in an Ark, its dry and so are they. Good news as a new dog called Casper is due to land at Rock HQ by Saturday, he will be fostered by us until he can be re homed. The poor lad is homeless, credit crunch victim, and as we are totally unable to do anything the easy way he has to come with his own problems, he is totally deaf. God knows how I am going to train a deaf dog, a colleague suggested using a torch, not to beat it with but to flash at the dog every time I want it to do something. This seemed like a workable idea until I asked how would the dog react to car headlights if following the torch regime. The thought of deaf dog chasing night time traffic prompted a rapid revision of training techniques.
We have recently purchased a home publishing and printing kit. Some of you dear readers may know that Rock HQ is part funded by sales of my toys on Ebay, all my toy soldiers have been auctioned, the dregs of the vast collection is going rapidly so we have invested in a mug and t shirt printing set up so now you can read about the animals, visit them, eat some of them and wear the t shirt. Mr 20% is currently working on a famous first draft of the life and times of two townies who have set their hearts on living the good life which hopefully will be an all time best seller as the world reacts against the misery genre of tortured kiddies and embraces a new wave of feel good faction.
And then there are the pigs, or lack of, the smallholding is smaller without them, and as I have eaten bacon or pork most days since the last lot took the long walk to Mr Whirlpool I have been plotting to get some more. Luckily current sales of the El Cid range of toy soldiers has liberated enough cash to buy two more and the Stable Sprite, being the nice kind sprite that he is has come up trumps and is selling us two little pigs at a bargain basement price.
So today, while I was rushing round at work I went out during my lunch minute to make final preparations for their arrival. I went to see Stuart the butcher in Drapers Lane and bought a second hand bacon slicer.