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Archive for the ‘cats’ Category

As you may recall we currently have four cats: Cinders, Thomas, Gizmo and Scamp.  Cinders and Thomas are both fairly advanced in years and have perfected the art of getting we humans to open the door for them rather than exert themselves by going through the catflap.  Of course if there’s no human to hand they will manage unaided.

This afternoon Cinders was meowing by the door, I opened it for her then turned to fetch Dan’s coffee.  The catflap rattled and she was back through again.  I cussed her for wasting my time, told her she should make up her mind where she wanted to be, opened the door and found myself face-to-face with a very startled fox in the porch. 

That would explain her reluctance! 

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Silly Thomas

When I started to feed the cats this evening there was no sign of Thomas. This is very unusual for him as he’s always clamouring for food come six o’clock. I asked Gordon if he’d seen him today and although we both thought hard about it neither of us could recall seeing him all day. Owners of old cats will understand that little moment of dread when you wonder whether he’s taken himself off to die especially since he’s so old.

We both called him – pretty much a waste of time as we know he’s as deaf as a post, then Gordon looked outside in his favourite haunts while I scoured the house. I eventually found him in the only room with a closed door upstairs – our guest bedroom where I keep my craft stuff.  He was fast asleep on the bed and gave a little jump when I picked him up.  The door to this room was open for maybe an hour yesterday but the door to the hall was probably open for five minutes while Gordon replenished the log basket. 

Good job we missed him or he could have been in there for the next week! I know that cats are often stupid, but Thomas should get a medal.

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Le Corsaire

For my birthday a few weeks ago Terri bought me a ticket to see a ballet called Le Corsaire at the Bristol Hippodrome.  She and some of her co-workers had arranged to go and thought it would be nice if I went too.  We went to Bristol in the afternoon and did a little bit of shopping, had a late lunch/early tea in Cabot Circus then made our way back to the Hippodrome where we met a friend who was taking her parents to see it.  We went to the Colston Hall for a glass of wine in their cosy bar then walked around the corner to the Hippodrome.

As Terri has now pointed out, that’s probably ruined future trips to see ballet.  It was truly superb!  It was performed by the English National Ballet with a live orchestra which was all very exciting and we enjoyed it so much.  This is only the second ballet I’ve ever been to, the first being Coppelia at the Weston Playhouse on a noisy, too-small stage which resulted in the dancers occasionally leaping into scenery whilst sounding like a herd of elephants – not their fault at all, but disappointing all the same.  The stage at the Hippodrome is much larger and certainly quieter, but the music was rousing and the dancers just so talented.  It was a wonderful present.

On a different note, I just came in from working outside to find one of our cats dragging tonight’s tea (steak) off the cupboard!  We usually defrost stuff by keeping it in the microwave but Gordon rarely follows the rules and often leaves it beside the Aga where he’s convinced it defrosts quicker.  I’m sure it does too although I’m slightly worried about the bacteria growth of such warmth.  Hopefully he will now realise that nothing is safe if left on the cupboard, especially after Scamp had a little lick of our best t-bone steak!  Fortunately it was still inside the plastic bag, but I suspect it wouldn’t have been for much longer if I hadn’t come in at that stage.  I consider this one of the worst things about it being so cold outside: all the cats refuse to leave the house and lie about making everything hairy.

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Personally, I’ve had more than enough of it!  We have maize in the field waiting to be cut and hopefully we’ll be able to salvage that before it’s had it.  It didn’t have the best of starts to be honest and grew in an interesting shade of yellow due to the excessive rain.  At the beginning of last year we were despairing about whether the 2011 crop would even germinate and this year we’re worrying that it’ll drown.  Gordon still talks optimistically about a second-cut of silage, but I can’t see that happening either.

We had to have Tiger put down last week and are still missing him a great deal.  Thomas especially keeps looking for him beside the Aga, but he’d reached the stage where there was no way he was ever going to improve.  I think he might have had something like leukaemia.  Since Gordon and I are both fairly wimpy when it comes to having animals euthanised, Daniel volunteered to take him to the vets for us and I was fine with that – until he brought him back afterwards.  I’d kind of resolved to be hard-hearted about the whole thing – after all, it was for the best – but I was under the impression the vet would keep him there.  Apparently they charge for that so Dan brought him home again.

Gordon had a birthday this weekend and both the girls came home for a few days for the occasion.  They bought him a little remote-control helicopter and a blu-ray disk.  He’s played with the helicopter a lot already and had to recharge the very small battery about ten times.  I bought him a pocket camcorder – dangerous really since it just fuels his paranoia!  He’s now talking about hiding it in his pocket and filming people when they’re talking to him.  As we often say here – “just because he’s paranoid doesn’t mean he’s wrong” even though he occasionally is.  It keeps him occupied, bless him.

I’ve been playing with my new camera and taken some very long-distance stuff as well as trying out the macro.  So far it’s an impressive camera.

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Thursday 7 June 2012

Several days ago Gordon and I walked down the road after milking to check on the dry cows.  Several were springing-up: their udders were filling in readiness for calving.  The biggest, an old girl called Alexandra looked about ready to pop.  We discussed her for a few minutes and the conversation went something like this:

Me: Hmm, she looks pretty close to calving.  Shall we walk her back to the farm?

Gordon: She’s a crafty old bugger.  If we shut her in a pen she’ll probably not calf til the end of the week and she’ll only miss her friends in the meantime.

Me: Will she be alright up here?

Gordon: Yeah, I’ll come and check on her in the morning.  She’ll be alright unless she falls in the ditch or something.

The following day she hadn’t calved.  Yesterday she hadn’t calved.  This morning she started to calf – and promptly fell in the ditch!

I had a phone call from Gordon at 6.45 am, which severely interrupted my much anticipated lie-in by the way, to tell me he needed my help so we set off down the road with the matbro and plenty of ropes.  When we got there she looked chilled as if she’d been there some hours.  We couldn’t tell whether she’d calved or whether she was in the process of calving since she was up to her neck in water, but once we’d got the rope over her head and started to drag her out the calf was clearly visible – two large front feet, a nose and a dangling, swollen tongue.  Gordon gloomily pronounced it dead and since the cow was pretty knackered and chilled, we got the calf out the quickest way possible.  We attached the rope to the calf’s legs and the other end to the front of the matbro which Gordon then put in reverse.  As the calf was slowly pulled out it started to blink and struggle so despite having its nose and mouth underwater for a couple of hours, the umbilical cord had remained attached, saving his life.  The cow was then ‘airlifted’ back to the farm before we brought the calf back in the bucket with me leaning against him so he didn’t wriggle out.  He looks pretty weird since both his nose and tongue are very swollen, but he’s large and spirited so with a bit of luck he’ll make it.

We had to take Tiger to the vets yesterday.  He’s been losing weight for a little while and was gradually losing enthusiasm for anything, but we upped his diet to wet food and kept our eye on him.  By yesterday he was looking decidedly ill so off he went.  The vet said he was amazed Tiger was still alive since he had almost no red blood cells although he couldn’t find any reason for such severe anaemia.  He’s now on a course of antibiotics and steroids to see if that helps.  We have to take him back to the vets next week for another check up.

Now, tell me if this is a tad harsh but yesterday whilst fetching the cows I found a tag, obviously from a balloon which had landed in the field where our herd was grazing.  It had blazoned over the front ‘WHERE DID I LAND?’ as well as the name and address of a school in Chepstow.  I’m tempted to write back telling them it landed in our field, minus the balloon, and should one of our cows drop dead suddenly, be autopsied and the cause of death be as a result of eating said missing balloon, their insurance company will be hearing from ours!  Harsh?  Too harsh?  Possibly, but the amount of crap we pick up from our fields that gets there via balloon or even worse, chinese lanterns, is beginning to rankle just a little.  In my mind it’s glorified littering.  Surely in this day and age there must be other ways of raising money for schools without causing countrywide contamination?  On top of that our land is a seagull’s flap from the landfill site where scavenging birds pick up all manner of plastics only to drop them onto the ground when they find them inedible and alongside the M5 motorway where passing motorists think nothing of opening their windows and flinging their litter out with gay abandon!  We’re picking it out of the hedges almost constantly where the wind blows it to the edges of the fields.

I’m thinking of putting up a large sign – Welcome to our beautiful Somerset countryside.  Please feel free to chuck your McD’s boxes, KFC containers, aluminium tins and other general waste that could quite easily stay in your car until you reach home here.  By the way, don’t forget used nappies and condoms – we just love picking those up!

Seriously, it has been known!

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Friday 11 May 2012

Well, luckily it didn’t rain today for the funeral, much to my surprise.  There were lots of people there for a well-respected man.  It’s always much sadder when a friend is younger.

Anyway, on our return I was able to take a look around the garden to see what had blown over/drowned in the rain and found this.

At first I thought one of our cats or even a fox was responsible but on closer inspection I could see the feathers had been clipped off rather than plucked.  This usually indicates the hunter was a bird of prey as they nip off the feathers before eating their victims and it was most likely a buzzard.  We have lots of them around here.

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Wednesday 28 March 2012

Well, here we are again, catching up.  Where does the time go?  I’ve been busy gardening/farming/socialising/shopping!

The garden is now pretty much ready to start planting things in, although I’ve yet to devise a way of stopping the cats crapping in all that lovely prepared soil as if it was a giant litter tray.  I thought large electric fences might work, but I’m sure that would come under some kind of animal cruelty law so am trying the netting from around large bales of hay.  One layer doesn’t work and two layers is struggling as they’re still digging through it.  Yelling at them isn’t working either.  Last year you may recall they scurried around enough in it to displace a percentage of the seedlings I’d taken the time to plant so once again I’m open to suggestions.

I’ve just signed my life away to a mobile phone contract for the first time ever.  I wanted a smart phone so I could connect easily to the internet when I was out and about, having coveted the ones belonging to the girls, so am now the proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy Ace.  It’s very shiny and fast especially when compared to the one I was using before.  I switched providers, which was traumatic enough in the first place, but having trawled up and down the high street in Bridgwater, most of which is mobile phone shops or charity shops the new provider offered the best deal.  Of course, when I phoned O2 to ask for a PAC code (important, apparently) in order to transfer my old number they were adamant they could have provided me with a better deal.  I explained that perhaps they should tell that to the guy in the O2 shop who assured me ‘yes madam, that is our cheapest pay monthly tariff’.  As it turned out, their cheapest tariff was about £6.50 dearer than that of Three so that’s who I’m with now even though the guy on the phone tried really hard to persuade me to stay with them since I’ve been one of their most loyal customers.  “Bit late now” I told him.

We have sixteen heifer calves so far and they’re all doing well, growing as they’re supposed to.  The cows are finally out in the sunshine, enjoying the grass and the warmth on their backs.  They were very excited to be out on their first day, but have already got very casual about it.  Ferdinand is up to his old tricks of blocking their way in then refusing to let them out into the fields after milking, but he gets bored with that eventually and they push past him.  As long as he doesn’t get aggressive we should be all right.

A week or so ago a group of us went to the Manor House Hotel near Okehampton.  You may recall I went there last year around the same time of year and came home with handmade goodies.  This time there weren’t as many activities available but I did falconry on the lawn with my friend Chris and took some photos, as well as archery on my own.  I silk-painted and did a small ‘creative’ embroidery, both of which were passable and may yet be framed, so I’ll post photos of those if I ever decide to do that.

This is Ethan, the Harris Hawk

This one is of Jasper, the Eagle Owl (yes, I know I called him Oscar, but on reading it again I realised that was wrong).  Apparently owls that hunt during the day usually have orange eyes.

The little American Kestrel was called Fidget and was the smallest bird in the group.  We held out our suitably gauntleted hands with delicacies such as chicks’ legs and chunks of meat and the birds swooped in to grab it up, posed for photographs for a minute then flew back to their handler.

This little robin was not quite hand-tamed, but definitely wasn’t bothered as it went about its business collecting worms.

Oh, and my internet is rubbish again, dropping constantly and irritating me half to death.  Gordon thinks this might be it now for the rest of the summer!  Ever the pessimist!

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