Alezane's Diary Archive May 2006
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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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Dirty AlliMonday 1st May 2006
Our foreign visitors are back today, Swooping all over the fields, very low to the ground, the swallows are keeping us all amused. I must say that these particular ones appear to be very well fed already with quite a rich ream coloured tummy. In fact, there might be some doubt that they are our regular swallows and might be martins instead. I will have to get HIM to look them up somewhere to make sure. There are only a handful of them, at the moment, and this is the usual pattern. It’s like an advance guard come first to check out the territory before the main group follow.
The other chap I noticed today was the Jay. He’s not been around for quite some time. I don’t think he has been abroad, it’s just that they are such careful birds that you are lucky if you see them much anyway.
To change the subject, I found a really good patch of mud today. When HE brought our suppers, HE was most impressed. So much so that HE said He would let me keep it until the morning. HE said it was quite enough to upset me once a day by trying to groom me. I’ll tell you the trouble with mud. It does rather tell tales on you. You see, I was really very well plastered – but only on one side! From this HE can tell that I am getting too old or unfit or both to roll right over and get both sides muddy. Mind, I might be getting old but I can still out roll my daughter. Either that or she is too lazy as she never seems to get a really good mud covering, just a few scratches and a bit of dust here and there.
A much better day today, weather-wise. Mims and I spent a lot of time up in the middle field. Wick didn’t stay with us but went right up to the top field saying you girls stay there and I’ll clear these top two fields for you. HE told me that SHE had considered getting a small companion for him but had decided against it as Wick would probably regard it as more of a competitor than a companion. With Tregony it was different because Wick knew exactly how to handle him. No, on the whole, I think SHE is right. Wick is alright as he is. He joins us sometimes (usually when we have food) and then he does his own thing for the rest of the time. You know, I could have sworn that I saw him chatting with a beetle the other day. Maybe he is a nature lover or maybe he was just asking where the best grazing was.

Tuesday 2nd May 2006
The main physical feature of today has been the wind. No, I don’t mean Wicky, I mean the cold wind that has been blowing, strangely for the south. looks like rainThis morning when HE arrived with our breakfast, HE was so surprised at how chilly it was, HE put Wick’s rug back on and filled one of the nets up with hay. It was raining a little but that was not really the problem. By this evening, the wind had got stronger but also warmer. HE said that, if it hadn’t been for the fact that it always gets colder at night, HE would have taken Wick’s rug off again. Mind you, us tough Dartmoor horses, Mims and I, were quite alright to go without rugs. In fact it was quite nice to have a bit of cool air on our still moulting winter coats. No more swallows today though. I think they couldn’t have liked the cold and maybe went part of the way back where they came from.
Although I said we had a pot of rain today, the ground is getting drier and drier and so it is also getting harder and harder. Every day now, HE checks Mims over for more scratched and scrapes. What with my mud (there is still some if you know where to look for it from the sort of natural springs round and about) and Mims’ blank patches I don’t think we are looking at our best at the moment. But then, who’s looking anyway. I think Mathew must be taking all his nice young males out by the other bridle path of late for we have not noticed anyone we fancy for a long time.
I gather SHE is getting a little better, bit by bit, but we still haven’t seen her, I think it’s now since the 25th of last month. We do miss HER but it is probably just as well as SHE wouldn’t let us go about looking so scruffy. Nor would she let us bully for treats, as we do to HIM. When SHE holds her hands up and says no, SHE means no. When HE does, you can bet that there is another carrot or two lurking in HIS pockets and it is only a question of a few good hard shoves that are needed to get them out of HIM.
As you can guess, nothing happened today. We had breakfast, we went up the hill to the top fields, we ate grass, we came down and we had supper. Not really a lot to make a movie out of is it. Maybe tomorrow we can get Wicky to have a chat with an ant or something really exciting. Hold you breath till then, eh?

eating togetherWednesday 3rd May 2006
“Ere, Wick?”
“Oh! Don’t do that again, you made me jump out of my skin. Is that you, Treg?”
“Course it is, who else would be talking to you, all alone up here in the top field?”
“Yeah, that’s true, I expect. Well, how are you, my old mate?”
“Good, of course. How would I be? More to the point, how are you Wick? You look a bit sad and lonely up here, all on your own.”
“Nah, I’m alright. Tell me Treg. If you were stuck in a field with two women, where would you rather be? I like it up here. I’ve got the whole world to myself, there’s a great view and all the grass one could want. And, no women to moan at me. It’s good, really.”
“Well, just as long as you’re not just saying that. Ere, we had a really good time up here the other day. Had a newcomer join us. Used to be in the police force. You should here the stories he tells. He’s a really funny guy. Kept all of us in stitches all night.”
“Wow, I didn’t know you had parties and stuff. I though you all just went around playing on harps and that kind of thing.”
“You know Wick, that’s all a load of rubbish. I’ve not seen a harp all the time I’ve been here. Mind you, we don’t have too much time to look around. Too busy. We’ve had a load of apprentice angels here the other week. They got us to give them some training. You know, a bit of bareback riding, doing some grooming, that sort of thing.”
“Ugh! Grooming. Don’t tell me they do that up there as well. I thought not having to bother with that was one of the good things in going, if you now what I mean.”
“Oh, it’s not so bad. They never use any of those wire brushes that HE used to use. Only nice soft angel hair ones that sort of magic your coat into place. No hard rubbing either. Just wave it over and the jobs done.”
“Huh. All very well but what do you bother with it at all. What’s the point of walking around all prettied up …er… that’s if you so walk around that is? Or do you sort of float?”
“Walk, float, gallop. Swim – whatever you like. There’s not a lot of rules here Wick, it’s all pretty laid back. You’d like it.”
“Hmm. Maybe, but not yet, thanks Treg. I’ll stick in my field with these two mares for a while longer.”
“I thought you were saying you wanted to get away from them.”
“Yeah, but not that far, thanks. Up here in the top field will do or now. Tell me Treg. What happened to your blue? You always used to talk in blue now you’re using black like the rest of us.”
“Oh, that’s just a sort of stage you pass through. When you first go, it’s bright red but at that time you can’t talk to anyone in the old world so you never saw it. Then that cools down and it goes through purple to mauve and then blue. By that time you can go back and see your old friends and then, gradually the blue fades to black. I think that’s when they are sure of you. You know, when they know that you are settled here and won’t try to go back.”
“Did you ever try to come back, Treg?”
“Remember Wick. I was at the bottom of the pecking order. You used to nip my knees and pinch my food and all that. Why would I want to go back?”
“Er, yes. Sorry about that old mate. I do miss you, you know. The pain has gone now, mostly but I still am sorry you’re not here any more. Do you know, when HE goes home after giving us our feed, HE often says ‘goodbye, Ali, goodbye Wicky, goodbye Treg’. I don’t think HE thinks what HE is saying but it does give me a bit of a twinge.”
“Yeah, I do know. D’you know, I can hear HIM when HE says that? Anyway, I do have to be off myself now. I’ll look in again when I can. And Wick?”
“Yes Treg?”
“Aw, well, just look after yourself mate, eh. See ya.”

squirrel proof feederThursday 4th May 2006
”Ere Wick?”
“Oh no, not again, ‘that you Treg?”
“Er, I think so. I’ll just look. Yeah, it’s me, there’s no-one else here.”
“But you were here yesterday. What’s the matter? What do you want now?”
“Well, you see, I forgot something.”
“Oh, right, well what is it?”
“What is what, Wick?”
“What did you forget?”
“What do you mean ‘dunno’? I thought you said you forgot something.”
“Yeah, I did. That’s why I don’t know, aint it. If I knew, I wouldn’t have forgotten it, would I?”
“You know Treg. You may have, well, er passed on, but you haven’t changed at all, have you?”
“You don’t have to change to come here. It’s a sort of ‘come as you are’ kind of place.”
“So, you came back in case I might help you remember, eh?”
“Did I? Oh, right. That must be it then. Well, it couldn’t have been so important after all, could it?”
“Treg, it never was and I suspect it still never is. Never mind though, it’s still nice to see you. Or not, if you know what I mean.”
“Yeah, that’s one of the funny things about being here. We can go back but people don’t really see us. Not really. They just sort of feel us and sense our presence. We talk about that quite a lot between ourselves.”
“I suppose it passes the time. Tell me, what have you got to look forward to? See, it’s funny, down here you’ve always got ‘passing on’ to look forward to. But where you are, I don’t know. Eternity is quite a long time, isn’t it?”
“I expect so, Wick. I never was very good at numbers if you remember. Never used to be able to count all my legs up to ….up to…well you know after three.”
“I suppose it’s not very important where you are now. Don’t suppose you have shoes now, do you. Might damage the clouds or whatever.”
“Funny though Wick. There’s quite a few farriers up here. Some of ‘em are called blacksmiths, been here ages they say. Mind, they’re not really black. A bit grubby maybe but not black. At least, not the ones who aren’t black, if you see what I mean.”
“Always do, Treg. Not many could say that but then we always were best mates, weren’t we?”
“Always were Wick And always will be. What did you say it was called? Eternity, wasn’t it? Right, I’m glad I cleared that up for you Wick. If you forget anything again, just give me a shout. Must be off now. Nice chatting.”
“But Treg …… Oh fetlocks, he’s gone. Oh well, back to grazing then, now where was I?”

buttercupsFriday 5th May 2006
“Ere Wick, I’ve got it, I’ve got it.”
“Oh no, not again. You’re getting worse than when you were here. What is it now, Treg? What have you got?”
“I’ve remembered why I came yesterday.”
“Oh, that doesn’t matter where we are, Wick. We’re always well. You can’t get sick here.”
“Or clever, I see. What I meant was, well what have you remembered?”
“Oh. Right. Well, I came to see if you wanted to join us.”
“Er, thanks Treg. Good of you to ask. But not quite just yet, eh old mate.”
“Oh no, it’s not yet, it’s next month.”
“What’s next month?”
“The festival. That’s what I was asking you. If you wanted to come and join us at the festival.”
“And what festival might this be Treg. Not Halloween, it’s too early for that. Come on. Make a big effort. Try and tell me straight what this festival is and where and when and all that.”
“It’s a sort of reunion, just for equines, when you can get together with your old mates that you have left behind. Do come Wick. It’ll be fun.”
“Can’t quite see the fun if I can’t see you. It will be like standing in a field or whatever on my own, won’t it?”
“Oh, you will be able to see us. That’s one of the good things about it.”
“And where is this event going to take place. I am a bit restricted as to where I can go. If you remember, there are fences all around Ninefields.”
“Yeah, I know. That’s the good bit. It’s sort of hard to explain but each of us up here goes back to where their friends are and yet, we are all together at the same time. It’s like one big party but everyone has it in their own field.”
“Er, Treg. What are they feeding you on up there. I mean, you were, shall we say, a little simple when you were down here but now you seem to have gone over the top.”
“No, sorry Wick. There are just some things that you can’t understand until you get here. It really doe work though. I’ve been to one or two things like it since I came here and I know it works.”
“And you didn’t invite me, eh? Some friend you are. So, when is it?”
“First of next month, up in the top field.”
“And I suppose I must bring my own food? Here, I hope all your lot won’t be grazing on my grass?”
“Oh, don’t worry Wick. No one will eat you grass. That’s something else that’s different here. So. You’re on, yes?”
“It’ll be a pleasure, laddie. See, you thought I’d forgotten to call you laddie, didn’t you?”
“That’s great Wick. Right, I’m off. Se you on the first then.”
“Tell you what Treg. I’ll look forward to seeing you too!

swallowsSaturday 6th May 2006
I’m a bit worried about Wicky lately. He seems to be going around in his own little world. He doesn’t seem unhappy, quite the opposite really. He seems to always have a sort of smile on his face, that is when you can see his face, when it’s not buried in a bucket or a pile of grass. And, if it were possible with ponies, you would swear that he is going about humming a little tune. Nothing recognisable, just a sort of happy little hum. When you ask him, he says ‘oh, it’s nothing’ but I’m not at all sure he is telling us the complete truth. There’s nothing we can do, of course. Mims and I have discussed it several times. I think she is less worried than me, putting it down so some form of early fetlockziemers. But then, she hasn’t known him as long as I have. I’m pretty sure he is up to something but I don’t know what. If old Treg was here, I could have got it out of him. Never could keep a secret. He’d try but if he said it was a secret, all you had to say was ‘oh, a secret. What is it, Treg?’ and then he’d tell you. Well, all I can do is watch and wait, I suppose. All will be revealed in time, or it won’t, as the case may be.
SHE came for a visit last night. It was good to see HER again but fortunately SHE was still too puffed to do anything to us like grooming and that. HE got her stool out and SHE sat and watched us mug HIM. We had to do it more gently than we normally do however so as not to shock her. I expect HE was happy o be left standing for once.
HE has now got it into his head to take some simple movies with his little compact camera. This morning, HE decided to take some of the squirrel so what does the squirrel do? Right. Sit perfectly still so HE might as well have been shooting a still photo. I felt so sorry for HIM that I decided to put some movement into his video so I went over and gave him a good old nudge in the back. Well, his arm shot right up in the air so I bet that makes a real good action movie.
SHE didn’t show up tonight, probably because SHE knew we would notice that HE has cut down our feed. It’s Wicky’s fault. He was so full of wind this morning that it drew HIS attention to the fact that we are probably eating plenty of the spring grass and didn’t need so much in our feed buckets. It true but its not the point. We ought to get a regular ration not to be cut down to starvation portions. He’ll be sorry if he sees our ribs sticking out like mine were when I first came here. Oh what a long memory I’ve got!

who's that?Sunday 7th May 2006
Hi guys. What a great day this has been. Geldings and stallions trotting down the bridle path and long the Throwleigh Road. I’m sure some of them have only been going back and forth just to see me. I can see their heads turn sharply as soon as they get a look at my fine red colour, standing out against the green of the spring grass. Of course, I just stand and stare at them, trying to look as if I am staring right through them. I never give them any indication that I have seen them. I just make sure that they have seen me. I try to keep pretty near to mum as possible because it helps to have the contrast with an oldie, doesn’t it.
I went down for a drink this evening, after our supper and straight away I could smell someone. I looked up but couldn’t see anyone so maybe his scent was brought down by the stream. I do so like these spring evenings. It’s getting quite exciting. Mum’s good really because she doesn’t moan at me or anything. She doesn’t tell me that I’m silly. In fact, I do think that she understands, can still remember what it was like to be a girl.
Oh, did I tell you about my birthday? It’s funny really because it is so near mum’s. Hers is on the 3rd May and mine is on the 5th. We (Wicky, mum and me) had a little party to celebrate me being ten years old. We didn’t do a lot but we spent a lot of the day looking for mud puddles and then they insisted that I should roll in the wettest of them while they counted up to ten. Then they gave me a start of ten paces and then chased me around the top field to get dry. Then, on the night, we all stood around telling birthday stories, trying to outdo each other. None of them true of course. The whole idea was who could make up the funniest, silliest, scariest or whatever story. It was such fun that we all ended up rolling about laughing and, in the morning, HE came along and wondered why we were all so grubby. HE tutted and got out HIS old brush but then mum got the rats (or pretended to) and walked off so HE couldn’t brush her.
Not bad for a birthday. Boys, birthdays and … and what? Oh, I don’t know. Balloons, yeah, that’ll do. Although I don’t think I would really like then s I’ve heard that they go bang. Alright. Boys , birthdays and .. oh, so what,… and blackbirds. They’re alright and we’ve got plenty of those in Ninefields.
Oh, mums calling. Gotta go. Talk to ya again. Bye!

waiting at the gateMonday 8th May 2006
Cant remember if I told you about HER selling old computer games on eBay. I think I did because I would have told you about HIM having to post them for HER. Well, whatever, here’s the sinister bit. HE told me today what she is doing with the money she makes from the sales. Bet you cant guess? Well, it’s not nice. Not nice at all. SHE is buying a new saddle for Mims. Worse, it’s a saddle we both can share. Now, I don’t mind sharing things with my daughter. I share apples, carrots, sugar lumps – all kinds of things. It’s not the sharing that’s the problem. No, it’s what it implies that worries me. Work! Having to carry humans about on my back. At my time of life.
And another thing. When I was racing, our jockeys were little tiny midgets. Little tiny lightweight midgets. But then I went to the riding school and all kinds of people sat on my back. That was a very different bucket of short feed. Now, I am not suggesting for a minute that HIM and HER are overweight. But they are probably twice as heavy as my jockeys were. I can remember when I had to take HIM on my back up that hill to Pepsi’s field when I used to share it with her. I would get completely out of breath. The hills about here you see are not what you would call steep but they are relentless. They go on and on and on. It would have been bad enough just going on my won but with HIM sitting (and often bouncing) on my back and even trying to get me to trot, just as I was ready to stop, well, that was no joke.
Mims will find it hard too. She has never been ridden properly. She used to let that boy sit on her and go a few paces but not carry a full grown human up hill and down dale. It will be interesting to see how she takes to it.
Still, looking on the bright side for a minute, HE told me a few things that make it sound not so bad as it could be. The new saddle she has bought is what they call a treeless one. At first, HE thought that it meant that it was not made of wood but she just told HIM that HE was being silly. A treeless saddle is much kinder than a normal one. Much more like being ridden bare back, with a pad instead of a rigid frame for the human to sit on. Then SHE has bought some bitless bridles and yes it does mean that they don’t have bits but bits meaning those nasty pieces of iron that humans put into our mouths to make us turn this way and that way and stop and stuff. These bridles are supposed to just put a bit of pressure on the side of your face so you can tell where they want you to go. SHE’s even bought some sort of plastic stirrups instead of the iron ones so that, after THEY have used them to get up, THEY can pull them up and not use them.
When I told Wicky all this, he just burst out laughing. All you need to do is drop a shoulder and have THEM off a couple of times and them you wont have to bother about being ridden ever again. Worked for me a treat. No wonder his real name is Wicked!

violetTuesday 9th May 2006
Hi everyone, me again. I jut had to come and tell you about my birthday present. I didn’t know about it until yesterday. It was a surprise and as only late for technical reasons. You see, mum has gone all European. I mean, she always was, being born in France and then being brought to England. But, until now, she only had an English web site. And then, recently, they brought out the .eu (dot eu) suffix for domains so that they could be European rather than just one country. HE was waiting to get the domain name and came across a Canadian company called doteasy, which gave you free website hosting if you bought a domain name with them. So that was what HE did and then mum asked HIM what HE was going to do with it. HE said HE wasn’t sure yet, it might depend what SHE might want it for. When HE asked mum why she was asking, she said that she would like it as a birthday present for me.
HE thought about it for a while (one second) and agreed that it would be a very good idea and HE said that when the paperwork came through, HE would set it up for me. There is still nothing up on the site yet because it has only just been set up but now I have my own email account. If anyone wants to get in touch with me, you can by mailing and I will be only too pleased to get back to you.
Mum said that I should use it to communicate with my coltfriends as she didn’t want me wearing my hooves out texting. To be a hundred percent truthful, I don’t have any coltfriends at present, not even any geldingfriends and definitely no stallionfriends. But a girl can hope, can’t she. I mean, it’s great living here with mum and wi … er… uncle Wicked but it does sometimes feel like living in an old folks home. I really wouldn’t mind a bit of excitement now and then. Maybe now I am on the net, I can get a foreign … dunno, I was going to say pen friend but I expect it should be key friend or something, shouldn’t it.
One idea, I know, that HE is toying with, is putting this diary out in French or German or something. Not that HE is fluent in any other language (not even English?) but HE could use some computer translator which might make enough silly mistakes to make it interesting. Who know?
Right, I’m off to kick away their zimmer frames now, see if I can’t make some fun of my own. See ya!

Wednesday 10th May 2006
I’m sorry to say that today saw the return of the flies. Actually, it’s been a funny day altogether. It started off with the worst for that we have had for years. It really was pretty thick, even when HE brought our breakfasts and, by then it was thinning out a bit. broken down jeepThen, gradually, it burned off and the temperature started to rise. And, as it got hotter, the flies woke up, hatched or just appeared, whatever they do and life started to become unpleasant. It’s my Mims that I feel most sorry for because she hasn’t got a full length tail yet. When she came to us she had a sort of moth eaten one, as if the other horses she had been with had been nibbling it. Because it looked silly, SHE cut it straight which, in fact, has made it shorter. Since she cut it, it has grown a fraction but SHE thinks it will not be until next year that she will have a proper length tail. Mind you, Mims is very expert at tail swishing. She always has been. She can lash it about equally as good as I can, if not better, so when she has a full length one, the flies had better watch out.
That was nice. SHE came along with HIM tonight to bring us our supper. It’s the first time for a long while and I was very pleased to see that she is looking quite well. Still breathless, of course, but not bad. As far as we are concerned, it had its good side and its bad side. It does mean that we get sugar lump treats as well as the rest because HE never gives us sugar lumps. On the other hand, we are not able to bully HIM as much as we do when we have HIM to ourselves. Swings and roundabouts I suppose.
It’s a bit confusing at the moment. Yesterday, he drove along to spray the weeds and nettles in the fields and to bring along some more sacks of oats and peanuts for the birds. (We also have been know to have a handful of oats with our feed, a thing SHE noticed and tut tutted about tonight). Anyway, HE just got outside the gate to Ninefields yesterday and the car died on HIM. HE just managed to get it into the field and then left it while HE did the spraying. Then HE got the wheelbarrow and fetched the oats and peanuts from the car to the field shelter. HE then walked off to tell Dave in the garage that HE needed help and then walked home. The trouble was that Dave was working on his own that day so he said it would be a while before he could deal with it. Our problem was that, this morning, when we looked up at approaching our normal breakfast time, we could see HIS car but HE was nowhere to be seen. It gave us a few anxious moments until HE drove up in HER car. I think Dave must still be short handed because the car has not moved yet. Still, we wont make the same mistake tomorrow morning!

MaxwellThursday 11th May 2006
A long, hot summer’s day in spring. Nothing o do but laze and graze. Even the flies weren’t so bad today. So, what does my accident prone daughter do? That’s right, another hole in her side. Honestly, I don’t know how she does it. I mean, we all get a few lumps and bumps, here and there. Even Wicky who is used to this kind of rocky terrain. But Mims! Well, she seems to find the scratchiest places to roll in or to rub up against. Luckily it wasn’t too bad this time but she is starting to look – well – moth eaten.
The trouble with nice days like this is that there is really nothing to talk about. I could tell you that HIS car still hasn’t moved yet. Oh, wow, how exciting! And then there is Maxwell. HE heard today that when Max went away for a couple of weeks recently that it was to go to jumping school. I don’t know where he is going to jump around here but maybe it is on those days when he is taken out in the trailer.
I gather we narrowly avoided being taken for a ride today. It was HER intention to give Mims a short walking lesson but then either SHE didn’t feel up to it or, as SHE said, SHE was waiting for HIS car to be moved first, I’m not too sure. Maybe a bit of both. HE told me that HE has got jealous of HER selling all her computer games on eBay. He is starting to eye a new compact camera because HE never can carry the SLR about with HIM when HE is feeding us or shopping so HE takes the old compact instead. The trouble is, it is a good camera but it is old now and a bit limited in performance and facilities. Anyway, HE felt HE really couldn’t justify yet another camera until HE got the idea, why not sell HIS middle one, which HE hardly ever uses now. So that is what HE has done. Or, at least, what SHE has done because HE has got HER to put it on eBay as SHE now has a good selling record and also the experience of doing it. The auction doesn’t end until next Wednesday so we will see if HE raises enough to go for the new one. I think HE was only joking when HE said HE needs it as it has a wide angle lens and that is the only one that HE can use now to take our photos, since we started eating the spring grass!

Friday 12th May 2006
Guess what? HIS car is still there! HE never should have told the garage ‘no hurry’ although, in fairness, HE did say ‘this week would be nice’. Still, I guess the week doesn’t end until tomorrow. We will see. Still, there has been some movement. I mean literally. I don’t think I told you before but it was not the first time that the car has died on HIM. In fact, when HE went into Okehampton, last week, it stopped about four times on the way home but HE had got it restarted each time by opening the bonnet and rattling about inside there for a sky In each case, HE had no idea what HE had done (if anything) to make it start again. So, when HE got it home, HE decided to leave it for a while, as SHE was not well, and use HER car. It was only because SHE was up and about that HE decided to chance HIS car again. Having said all that, what happened his morning was that HE brought the car keys with him when HE brought our breakfast in HER car and, on HIS way out, HE stopped to retrieve the sprayer that HE had used to take it home. While HE had the car unlocked, HE thought HE would give it a try to start and, perverse thing that it is, it started right away. At the moment it is parked off the road in our field. HE didn’t want to chance driving it out, only for it to die again and leave HIM stranded on the road somewhere. So, all HE did was to turn it round so that it is now facing the road to make it easier for the garage to tow it away. We will see!
You will have heard me say many times how Mims is accident prone. It all started when she was a youngster and got frightened by a storm and tried to jump over a gate or hedge or something. In fact, from what we hear, she got frightened like that twice before she came here. Well, today we had a near storm. It didn’t rain on us but you could hear the thunder quite loudly, while we were having supper. Well, Mims jumped up and whizzed round to face the direction of the noise and we all watched to see what she would do next. She just stood there for quite a while, on the alert but fortunately the storm came no nearer and although there were a few more bangs, they were a bit quieter. Really, she only needed to look at Wicky to see how frightened she need be. He didn’t lift his head from his bucket or even prick his ear. What a surprise.
HE told me about a little tragedy that happened back at my stable. Because HE hadn’t got the spray yesterday, HE cut the weeds instead so tonight HE went out into the garden to look at his handiwork. As HE looked, HE saw a large baby bird lying dead on the ground. It didn’t look old enough yet to have tried to fly so HE assumed it must have fallen out of its nest. HE was about to leave, after removing it, when HE spotted another. Then, right by the pond there was a big pile of feathers. He would have suspected the cat but it couldn’t have got into a nest so HE started to go indoors when he found two more dead babies and a half eaten adult blackbird. Just as HE went indoors, HE spied though the window what was most probably the culprit. A very large magpie flew down and made for the spot t
Where HE had put the bodies. Humans say nature is cruel but we horses never kill and eat anything, well, except carrots and grass!

looking at my bucketSaturday 13th May 2006
I think we were all getting worried for the vets. I mean what will they live on if we don’t support them. OK, I know Cat Flap is due to go in on Monday for his next flu jab but that is hardly going to put bread on their tables, is it. Anyway, my lovely daughter has decided to do something about it. HE noticed when HE came to bring breakfast this morning. Now Mims has always had a rather funny way of standing owing to the injury to her leg that she suffered as a youngster. But this morning she did appear to be holding her offside rear foot off the ground. So, instead of going round and picking all her feet clean, HE just went and had a look at the lifted one to see if she might have a stone in it or anything. However, when HE looked at it, it was pretty clean already but HE did notice that Mims sharply took her foot away when he touched her frog. Feeling her foot, it didn’t seem to be any warmer than her others or, in fact, than ours when HE picked out Wicky’s and mine. HE inspected the whole leg for signs of cuts but found nothing so, apart from a lot of cuddles and sympathy, that was all HE could do until HE got home.
The next thing is, SHE arrives with HIM and her usual bag of medications. After a lot of feeling and looking, SHE decides that SHE will bandage the leg for support as it appears most likely that Mims has ricked a tendon or something. And that was it for the moment. THEY did drive by after lunch to check up on Mims and saw that she had managed to get up to the top of the middle field with me alright.
And tonight, although she was still not putting weight on it, it did appear as if the bandaging might be helping as Mims appeared to be walking better. We will just have to wait and see. If she is any worse by tomorrow then the vets will be in for another bonanza.
Onto a far more serious matter. Now that SHE is recovering for her illness, SHE is taking a much more active role in our feeding sessions. What used to be a good old free for all mugging of HIM to give us treats half way through is now being policed very strictly. It is bad enough but, up to now we could at least rely on HIM coming on HIS own in the mornings. But now I hear, SHE is likely to come with HIM then too. Oh well, it was good, very good while it lasted!

mum and daughterSunday 14th May 2006
By the way. Do you know if you translate that date into French using a computer translation it becomes the 14th of Be able?
Just thought I’d ask.
In some ways, a better day today. Firstly, my Mims’s leg is getting better. She still holds it up when she is standing for long periods but she is walking quite well on it. SHE told HIM to cut off the bandage this morning and, after inspection, it was decided to leave it off and not call the vets in after all. That is, as long as it keeps improving. Sue from the farm stopped and asked THEM what the bandage was all about and when HE told her and said that Mims was a bit accident prone, Sue, who is school secretary as well as farmer, said it was just like some children. And really that’s what Mims is – a child – if not in years then in maturity. But, both HIM and HER agree with me, she is a really lovely child at that. I have to tell you, SHE says that Mims is a div and a blonde but she says it in the kindest of ways.
But, the best news of all. After THEY gave us our breakfast this morning, THEY had to go shopping, mainly for our carrots and apples but also to get something to eat (and more probably to drink) for themselves. You would laugh if you could look into THEIR shopping trolley. It sort of splits three and a bit ways. One part is horse food, one part is cat food, one part is THEIR booze and the bit is THEIR food (including HIS sweeties).
I am getting sidetracked! I was saying that THEY had to go shopping. On the way back SHE said that THEY should go and have a look at how Mims was walking before they went home, so THEY ended up at the field gate to see us, standing by the stream, shaking our heads and flicking our tails like mad to get rid of the flies. As they had been to the shops, HE got out and threw Mims and I a carrot. I got mine but my (blonde) daughter walked straight past hers. Then Wicky, who had been sheltering in the field shelter (where else?) came running down so HE had to jump over the stream and retrieve Mims’ carrot and share it between her and Wick. Then, on HIS way back to the car, HE thought it might be a good idea to let us in the road field which has been shut off for some weeks now and is full of the most long and luscious grass. SHE agreed, so HE came back and opened the gate.
As I said. It has definitely been one of the better days today!

fly masksMonday 15th May 2006
We are going through what can only be called a period of adjustment. SHE is now policing us both for supper and breakfast. Gone are the good old times when we could leave our buckets (or, in my case, the floor) halfway through and go and mug him for carrots, apple, biscuits and mints. Now, SHE either sits right next to us or even puts me on a head collar until I finish my feed. Only then am I allowed some carrot.
THEY made a bit of a change in the routine tonight, with both of THEM sitting down by the stream where THEY could keep an eye on us but we could not turn to THEM for a morsel when we felt like it. SHE did call me down to her after I had finished and I am pleased to say that the ‘flying carrot’ game has been re-introduced.
The good thing is that we were allowed in the road field again and had filled up right to the top before THEY even came along with supper. If it weren’t for the fact that it keeps THEM in training, we needn’t bother with supper at all now. Also, fortunately, there was a bit of a breeze today so that kept the worst of the flies off although the midges were still a nuisance.
Mims’ leg is now back to normal, thank goodness. It must definitely have been that she had trodden awkwardly on a rock or something. HE went for a walk around the fields today and picked up all the loose lumps of granite laying about in the grass. HE swears that they grow for HE does it regularly and yet still more appear.
Well, short and sweet today. Alls well, nothing has happened and that’s that. Oh, just one last thing. When THEY got out of their car this morning, there was a small bird, a pigeon I think, just sitting low down in the hedge looking very sad and sorry for itself. THEY thought that it was injured and wouldn’t survive but when THEY got back to their car, it had vanished. So, at least, a happy ending there (we hope).



rude girlTuesday 16th May 2006
Which would you rather, a broken toe or a broken finger? Or perhaps neither? We had breakfast this morning, no problems, no upsets and then THEY went away and left the gate to the Throwleigh Road field open again as THEY must have noticed that we couldn’t quite finish all that long grass that had been growing while we were locked out of the field. Another good day in store, we decided. The only blot on the horizon was that it was warm and humid and the flies decided that it was a good day too. Nothing better than climbing all over us, on our back, on our sides, on our noses and, worst of all, in our eyes. It’s alright for Wicky. He has this glorious mane which keeps most things off his face and his coat, even though he has been trimmed, is still more like wire wool than horse hair and it would take a brave fly to want to risk being impaled on his stubble.
Still, the grass was good and we didn’t have far to go, to enjoy it. So we, all three, set to work to do our best to make the field look neat and tidy. Some time later, THEIR car draws up. Both Mims and I came up the rise towards the gate as a nice carrot or mint would make a bit of a change from the green stuff. And we did get a mint. Several in fact. But then SHE came into the field with a couple of plastic packages and HE got the head collar and put it over Mims head. Do you remember how we laughed at Maxwell and called him Zorro because he had to wear that mask? Well, it just goes to show that one shouldn’t be unkind. While HE held our heads down, SHE took these black masks out of the packages and blindfolded us with them. Mims was more of a dummy than me. She obviously didn’t like it but she let HER put the mask on even without a fight. When it came to my turn, I suddenly became ten feet tall. You see, I know what a little short as…er… person SHE is and I reckoned that SHE might give up and go away when SHE found that SHE couldn’t reach. Of course, THEY were working in unison, weren’t THEY. HE made me bring my head down far enough for HER to get the mask round my ears and, well, that was that.
THEY plied us with mints and HE even got some apple biscuits out of the car but Mims and I just stood there wondering who put the lights out. THEY finally drove away and left us and we still just stood there wondering what we were supposed to do next. I have to hand it to Wicky, he didn’t laugh once. Well, not out loud. Then we heard THEIR car come back and I thought, OK, joke over, now THEY will take them off, But THEY just slowed down to look and then drove off.
As I said before. Which would you prefer, the flies or the masks? Oh well, I suppose we’ll get used to them. Do we have a choice?

ps If you didn’t read the diary entry for 13th April yet, maybe you should!

rainWednesday 17th May 2006
There are at least two good things about rain. Today’s rain, I mean. You will probably have seen the photo of our stream and how low it is getting since we have had very little rain this year. Today’s rain has helped already to raise this level, although if this will last I don’t know, as often its level rises when the water from rain higher up the hills of Dartmoor finds its way down to us.
The other good thing about the rain? No masks! The rain has kept the flies away and so has meant that THEY don’t feel the need to cover our eyes up. To be honest, I have spent most of the day in the field shelter. I am not really a lover of rain. On the other hand, my daughter Mims has either spent her time standing with me but just outside or she has been of on her own just grazing as if nothing has happened. SHE calls Mims a real Devon maid and so she probably is.
Normally, here on the edge of Dartmoor, the period after Xmas right up until June is full of rainy days and not only normal rain but slanted rain at that. They may sound horrid but that is only if you are not used to it. Like today, it will be wet but warm with it so it is not really so bad. Even I do venture out in it. It’s just that I have one really bad memory of the time I was living with that herd of cows at Wood, the farm about three miles away from here. Then it was in the early summer and we had a real heavy downpour. And cold, was it cold? Well, when they came to bring my supper I couldn’t stop shivering. They had to rub me down with straw and cover me with blankets and all sorts to get the shivering to stop. I think it was that there was no shelter in that field. Here at Ninefields, if there is a sudden downpour, I either run for the field shelter or under the nearest tree, whichever is quickest.
We had a bit of a mix up at supper this evening. Because of the weather, HE made Mims come into the shelter to eat with Wicky and I. Now normally there is just me and Wick and so I tend to spread out a bit, especially when I tip my bucket out all over the place. What happened was this. SHE has suggested to HIM that when HE gives us our handful of oats, instead of putting mine in my bucket, HE should put it on top of the food I have spilled so that I should eat that up and stop Wick getting it. So, that’s what HE did. HE put it on top of the pile that was right next to Mims’ nose. And the poor girl couldn’t help making a mistake, could she? Boy, was that a case for the food police!

wet bumThursday 18th May 2006
And the news today is …. weather! What a really funny old lot of weather we are having this year. I as talking yesterday about the lack of rain. Now, today, it is wind. Actually wind and rain, but especially wind. In fact, it has been so bad that THEY came along tonight and put our rugs on, as a precaution. I think, actually, we surprised THEM for THEY were expecting us to be keeping dry in the field shelter and instead, when THEY turned up, we were casually grazing in the road field and came up to meet THEM at the gate. It was rather embarrassing when SHE came to put my rug on because it wouldn’t do up round my tummy. Well, the grass has been exceptionally nice lately and anyway, I as blowing out as well.
Poor old Maxwell has been making a bit of a fuss today as his humans have been off to the Devon show. They did arrange for the Pet Ranger to deliver his daily feed and also asked HIM to keep an eye out to make sure Ma was alright. But, it’s not the same, is it. It’s not like having your own humans come and hang out. HE did come up around lunch time and stop and give Max a carrot and a couple of sweets. That was pretty good as HE couldn’t very well drive past us then, could HE? But I think it has been a long day for Maxie as he started calling out as soon as THEY brought our supper this evening. Never mind, HE told me his humans were home now so Max didn’t have much longer to wait.
I’ve noticed that our rations are getting smaller now. Not that I really mind as there is so much grass we get jaw ache just getting it down. No, it’s not the small amount we mind so much (cant speak for Wicky, of course) but it is the whole principal of the thing. If THEY get away with this where will it lead? I think the three of us will have to have a get together tonight and work out a strategy to let THEM know we are on to THEM. It may be up the top field as usual but, seeing that HE topped up our hay nets this morning, it may be such a rough night that we will be stuck in the field shelter. Let’s hope things get back to normal quite soon so I don’t have to write about weather any more.



WickyFriday 19th May 2006
To watch those two silly mares, you’d think they were married. Not only do they have to do everything together but they also bicker about the most trivial things. I do have to grant that Alli has got better about going out in the rain. Whether it is because she has her daughter to go with her or whether it is because Mims goes out anyway and Alli feels silly staying in on her own, I could really say.
You know, it’s funny, but without Treg around, I don’t feel the need to put on that fake Scots accent so much. Sometimes I still fall into it with things like ‘lassie’ and such like but that is just because it became such a habit. But when old Treg was around, it sort of gave him confidence that the world as still as it should be and he knew where he stood with me. It worked both ways, you see. Just as he needed me to be the irascible old Scotsman, I needed him to be the simpleton that he wasn’t really. But he played up to it too. There were times when he didn’t know anyone was watching he could be heard counting up to sev .. well six. And, to be honest, I’m not at all sure he was ever in the Human Watch as a hossifer. It was just a game he liked to play for our benefit I think although I know he liked it as well. It let his imagination free and gave him something to think on during wet Dartmoor days like today.
Oh, fetlocks, I promised Alli I wouldn’t talk about the weather if she let me do the diary. Sorry, it just slipped out.
Back to those mares. I’d swear that Mims has changed shape since she has been here. I don’t mean that she has got any taller, she will always be that size. But where she was very square and boxy, she has somehow lengthened, probably not in reality. I think it is to do with how she carries herself now. Her body is no longer, her legs are no longer and she always has had good muscles. No it is something to do with how she uses her body now, probably due to the going up and down the granite hills or something. I can best describe it that she no longer looks like a muscle bound body builder and is more like a well muscled athlete.
HE was pleased this morning when she came up to the gate with HIM after we had eaten our breakfast. I had just started to eat Alli’s leavings and then she had pushed me off so I was just hanging about on the fringe, so to speak, until she let me in again. Anyway, Mims got bored with the two of us and fancied her chances of a treat or two from HIM. And she got them. But when HE got into the car to drive off, Mims suddenly realised that she was all alone and broke into a really fast canter down to the stream until she had us in her sights again. HE told me tonight what a pretty sight she made. I’ll never admit it to her, but HE was right. We might have our little disagreements but I have to say she is an asset to out little family.

upturn bucketsSaturday 20th May 2006
Hi folks. It’s me, Mims. Or did you know that already? Well, maybe you do. We all have our funny little way of talking, don’t we? I was going to say that mum always says ‘well’ but then I noticed that I just did it as well. Like mother, like daughter, I suppose. And then you can tell it’s Wic … er uncle Wicked when he either talks about ‘the mares’ (or worse) or he puts on that funny pseudo Scots accent. I suppose I should start to talk in Devon (Debum) dialect but it would be both too hard to keep up and also it would be terribly embarrassing. What if any of my old friends saw it? Oh, my dear zaul, that’d neber do, would e?
What was I saying before I got silly? Oh yes, I was going to tell you about mum tonight. She was all grumpy, flattening her ears and pretending to threaten and all that. I’m not sure if it was the cause of it but there were all sorts of strange noises coming from Ramsley Common tonight. We were grazing in the Throwleigh Road field and so were quite near the noise. At first mum thought that one of the cows was in labour but then, when she listened properly, she could tell it wasn’t a cow because she used to with cows and has developed a good ear for what they sound like. Uncle Wick suggested it might be a lamb that had got lost but its voice was to deep for a lamb. ‘What about a sheep then’ I suggested but mum said no, it was too musical for that. Little did she know that she had almost solved it because just then HE drove up and stood and listened. Then HE told us what it was. Up on the common (you could see him on the skyline a bit further along the road) was a human holding one of those bent bits of metal that HE said was a saxophone and he was blowing into it. It obviously didn’t like it from the sound it made but HIS theory was that the human’s mum didn’t like it either and told him to go and do it on the Common where no-one could hear. Well (here, I’ve done it again), she was wrong there. We, unfortunately, could hear it and it made my mum grumpy.
You may have noticed I said HE drove up and not THEM. Just as SHE was getting better and had started coming to see us again at meal times, SHE goes and gets something else wrong with HER and so had to go back to bed. It’s horrid of me to say so but, in a way, we quite like it cos we can beat up against Him and get more treats than SHE would allow us. Still, really it’s a shame and we hope SHE gets better soon and comes back to be with us again.

Sunday 21st May 2006
Hi ‘sme again. I just had to come and tell you about what I saw this morning. Well, heard first and then saw. It was a bit of a rough night, last night. Not gales but rainy enough to make us (well mum) want to hang around the field shelter instead of going up the hill. Mims looks at cowsAnyway, so there we were, having a bit of a doze, when all of a sudden there was a lot of rustling sounds coming from over the hedge in the next field. This went on for a while, then there were sounds of the most repulsive eating noises you ever heard. All this time, mum was drowsing and didn’t seem, either to have heard the noises or, if she had, not to be worried about them. Uncle Wick was nowhere to be seen. I expect he was up the hill because he doesn’t seem to take any notice of the rain as long as there is something for him to eat.
So, there I was, mum asleep, Wick absent and horrid sounds coming from behind the hedge, really close. It was dark too. Because of the rain, it was too cloudy for any moonlight to help me,. Stare as I might, I just couldn’t see what was going on. I have to admit, I was standing tensed up, ready to run at any second. Then when there was a great big grunt, I went into the shelter and sort of accidentally bumped into mum, hoping I would wake her up. All she did though was to budge over a bit and mumble something which I couldn’t make out.
I must have stood, tensed up and listening, for at least a quarter of an hour but, as nothing frightening happened, I slowly relaxed and, after a while, dozed off myself. By the morning, I had forgotten all about it and was out, standing by the stream with mum when HE drove up. And, guess what? HE drove up in HIS old white jeep. I wouldn’t have know if I hadn’t been watching because it almost sounded like a normal motor and not the great grinding wreck that it used to sound like. So, we had breakfast as normal and he warned us that SHE was feeling better and might be along tonight (as it happens, SHE wasn’t but SHE has definitely said SHE will be here in the morning). Then, while mum was busy chasing Wicky away from her spilt breakfast bits, I followed him up to the Throwleigh Road gate. At least, that was where I was going when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted them. OK, so I have seen cows before, but not so near as that. I just stood and stared and stared. So that was what had kept me awake half the night. And such stupid looking creatures at that. How mum can have a soft spot for them I just don’t know.
Oh, one last thing. You may have to look at a photo HE took of my latest scrape. HE was really interested in it because the area all round it rose up in a big bump and HE wanted to take the picture before it went down. Really, I don’t know what is worse, cows with bad eating manners or dopey humans!

Mims scrapeMonday 22nd May 2006
No wonder the stupid lassie got that scrape yesterday. And all the other ones that she is covered with. She is just plain clumsy and takes that for a way of life. Tonight, HE made her come in the field shelter with Alli and me to have her supper, because it was raining. We were all quietly getting on with it when suddenly she gets it in her head that she wants to look outside. I don’t know what she was expecting. There were no sudden noises or loud bangs or anything. Still, alright, she wanted to look outside, that’s her privilege, no problems. Now, any normal horse or pony in a confined space like that would just have reversed out backwards and then turned round when they had room to manoeuvre. Not Mims. She whizzes round bumping into her mum as she does it, then she kicks up the rubber floor mats and slips on them so she nearly falls over and then, she just looks calmly around as if that is the normal way to do things. I ask you. Is that clumsy or what?
Just a little bit later, I had a bad moment myself. Not life threatening or anything but really quite serious for all that. I was faced with a terrible moment when I could see a lot of food and couldn’t do anything about it. I’ve seen Alli do it several times when she has grabbed carrots from him so fast that she just sort of seizes up for several minutes until it has all passed along its normal way. Well, this evening, the two red devils, sorry ladies, had finished their first stab at their supper and were mugging HIM as if it was going out of fashion. I saw my chance and HE was doing HIS best to keep Alli occupied otherwise she will chase me off. I quickly left my bucket and raced over to the pile of food she had left on the floor when it hit me. I just seized up like I’ve seen Alli do. It was terrible. There was that great big pile of food, my eyes were still working but the rest of me wasn’t. I tell you, I never want to go through a moment like that again. And, what was worse. By the time I had recovered, Alli had finished with HIM and returned to eat the food herself.
As my old mate Treg would have said, Fetlocks! Fetlocks! Fetlocks!

Tuesday 23rd May 2006
HE told me today that THEY had watched a video all about the Dartmoor Hill Pony. I didn’t want to but had to ask if THEY had seen any of Wicky’s relatives on it. HE said that it was quite amazing but the film had actually made a virtue out of the rather mixed rag bag of breeds that made up this group saying that instead of measuring up each pony to a set of breed standards they took each animal on its character and merits. Wicky and mudSounded like a poor excuse to me but as Wick was listening, I just grunted but said nothing. HE then went on to tell me of the hard life these ponies had in the winter, having to dig up the prickly gorse from the snow and then crush it with their hooves before they could eat it. It was at that point that Wick joined in and said that was why his teeth are so messed up. I didn’t like to say that it maybe had something to do with great age but I would have liked to. Really, I don’t see what they have to moan about, being allowed to roam free all over the moor and not do a days work. OK, I know neither do I now, but I did used to. I have to admit there is one thing that I envy about Wick and that is his lovely thick coat, tail and main. He always said that it was developed by the hill ponies to counteract the weathers they have to face but I would just like it to keep the flies away.
Actually, it’s been a good day today, sunny with a few heavy showers but not hot enough for the flies. We were just sheltering from one of the showers in the field shelter when THEY turned up in the jeep to deliver a couple of bales of hay. You see, we had finished up our winter store completely and you wouldn’t expect to need any hay at this time of year with the spring grass all lush and tasty. But, when the weather is wet and windy and you have to shelter (or, at least I do because of my thin coat) then it’s quite nice to have a bit of hay just to mess around with. Helps to keep the old tummy full, so to speak.
It was nice to see HER as well because SHE has not been coming at our feed times again, but today, although SHE was out of breath a lot, SHE did look a bit better and happier. It makes us happy to see HER and, I think, it makes HER happy to hang out with us. SHE did give me a good old scratch which made her fingers turn black. I have to admit it is quite a while that I have had a proper grooming. But then, when you live out like a wild Dartmoor Hill ….. oh, dear, we’re going round in circles. I wonder if anyone will come and make a video of us. It’s possible you know because HE also told me that HE has gone and ordered a new camera. You would have thought that HE had enough cameras to keep HIM amused all the time. Why HE wants yet another one, I just don’t know. When HE left us tonight HE had his little compact one out, snapping the mosses on the wall and some wild flowers in the Throwleigh Road field. I sometimes wonder what HE does with all these photos. It would be much more sensible to spend HIS money on carrots, don’t you think?



groomingWednesday 24th May 2006
“What does he think he’s doing here?”, demanded the May Queen.
“He says, your majesty, that he was just in his way to the festival and that he must have lost his way. He would like to crave your indulgence and be allowed to continue on his way”.
“And do you believe him? We have had many spies coming along that route before. Wouldn’t it be better to just eliminate him now and take no chances?”
“We could, of course, your most gracious one. But there is the press to consider. If it got out that we just extinguished every traveller that came along, it wouldn’t be the greatest advert for out tourist trade, I fear.”
“Tourist trade? Tourist trade? What on earth is our ‘tourist trade’? Have you gone completely insane Mr President? Why do we need a tourist trade for Baal’s sake?”
“I’m sorry your most distinguished eminence but it is a question of economics. You see, your collection of C30 space rockets and your love of rather exotic headwear have left the exchequer rather depleted at the present time and we, that is , I thought that we ought to try and bring a little revenue back in to try and balance the books.”
“Huh!  Blame it all on me, eh? And whose government chose to have that little interplanetary adventure last year and lost half of my space fleet and crippled the rest?”
“Oh, be fair your most high and sublime ruling monarchess. How were we to know that the Ravelenanes were so warlike. We were only going to borrow their planet. We would have let them have what was left when we went. I think they were very unreasonable about he whole thing.”
“Well, you would, wouldn’t you? Anyway, we are getting far from the point and I suspect that you know it. This intruder, what’s his name? Wicked? What are we going to do with him? Maybe we shouldn’t destroy him completely but we have to do something. I mean, he’s ugly, isn’t he. And small. Why, I’ve seen bigger ticks lurking in the grass …..”
“Alright lassie. That’s enough. Verra funny and all that but there’s no need to get personal and abusive. Who asked you to tell that kind of story anyway? What’s wrong with the traditional equine heritage kind of tale that we can all relate to. I never did think much o’ that science fiction sort o’ rubbish. There’s no sense to it.”
“Oh come on, uncle Wick. It’s modern. Those old stories went out with the plough. Ya gotta get with it dad.”
“Thank goodness I am not your father and kindly don’t refer to me as if I were. And where’s your mother. She should be telling what’s right from wrong. Why isn’t she here?”
“I’m afraid she’s not a Devon equine like you and me Unc. She can’t stand this rain so she’s gone back to the field shelter for a bit of a doze.”
“Dad? Unc? I can’t keep up with you, maid. I don’t know what the moor is coming to.”
“OK, so tell me one of your old traditional tales then Wic … er Uncle Wicked. We’ve got to go something to pass the night.”
“You’re just trying to get round me now, aren’t lassie? You just said that the old tales are boring.”
“Not the way you tell then uncle dear. Go on, just one little story. Please.”
“Well, oh, alright. But you must promise to listen. No laughing. OK?
“Good as gold Uncle. Promise. Good as gold!

is this the french way, mum?Thursday 25th May 2006
Funny old day today. HE came up with our breakfast, as usual, but didn’t take our rugs off, as I expected him to. It wasn’t raining or particularly cold. There wasn’t even any wind. Still, we thought, HE does look at those weather forecast things, so HE must know something that we don’t. Well, maybe HE did and maybe HE didn’t. As the morning went on, the sun came out and it started to get quite hot. The next thing we knew, THEY turned up and got out of THEIR car and started to give us some treats.
Oh, I forgot to tell you the first bit this morning. Wick had gone down to his usual place just round the corner from the stream crossing where there is a very old and gnarled sort of bush/tree. I think it started out as a hedge and just grew and grew over time. Whatever, it has some very useful jutting out bits which was what Wick was heading for as he wanted to give his behind a good scratch. Unfortunately, he got his fillet (the bit of tape that holds his rug together at the back, under his tail) caught up on this jagged branch and try as he might, he could not get free. So, he had the indignity of having to wait for HIM to turn up to free him. Mims and I waited right up above the field shelter so we couldn’t be accused of having anything to do with it. When HE freed Wick, HE found that in his efforts to free himself, Wick had stretched the D ring that secured one side of the fillet so HE put it in his pocket to take home and mend.
So, when THEY turned up later, with our treats, HE went back to the field shelter to get the fillet and put it back on with the mended D ring. Then SHE saw the flies which had come out with the sun and which were all around our faces. Back HE went again to the field shelter and returned with our new fly masks. Then after we were adorned with those, THEY realised that it was silly for us to be rugged up in the sun so off our rugs came and back HE went yet again to put them in the shelter.
And why am I telling you all this? Look at the photo and you will see the way Mims decided to wear her fly mask. She swore blind to HIM when HE brought our suppers that I had told her it was the way that the French girls wore them when she was young. I have to admit that it has a certain chic about it, don’t you agree?


the school busFriday 26th May 2006
If yesterday was a funny day, today had an equally funny start. HE came along with our breakfasts as usual and, apart from having to replace Wicky’s fillet yet again as he had completely lost the D ring this time, it was a fairly normal morning. HE then left us with the usual exhortations to ‘have a nice day’ etc. and we settled in to a period of quiet grazing while our tummies settled down again.
The next thing we knew, HE drove up again and stood in the road field waving a packet of mint sweets. Mims and I were down by the river and Wick was in the field shelter. I mumbled to Mims not to look up because it looked very suspicious to me. I saw, out of the corner of my eye, Wicky starting to look interested but, as he took such a long time, HE started to walk forward. But, when HE got down into the home paddock, HE just ignored us and walked past and on up the hill to the entrance to the middle field. Then I saw what HE was doing. HE was closing the gate. Sure enough, that was it and after that one, HE went on to close the other gate to the other lower filed.
Trapped! This was definitely suspicious. HE then walked back to the field shelter and emerged with a head collar but then, instead of catching one of us, HE just started back up the field to his car. This was all very strange behaviour but, as nothing had happened to any of us, I had to assume that HE just didn’t want us going into any of the other fields, for reasons of HIS own. So, we all settled down to grazing again. It didn’t seem more than five minutes when all was revealed. Up drove Mark the farrier followed by HIS car a few seconds after.
And that was that. We were having our feet trimmed. Nothing more sinister than that. Even Mims was laid back about it. I went first, as is my due and then Mims followed. She did have a bit of trouble keeping upright when Mark raised that funny back leg of hers. Or rather, I should say, when he raised the opposite leg to that one which meant that she had to stand on the funny one. Whatever happened to her as a youngster has definitely left her with some sort of weakness or at least, ungainliness, on that leg. Well, then it was Wicky’s turn. Now he had not come up t the shelter with us but had stood on the other side of the stream, watching. I don’t know if he thought he would get out of it that way but whatever, it didn’t work.
Now, while Mark was trimming Wick’s feet, I was standing over HIM trying to get another few mints so, instead, HE resorted to giving me a bit of a scratch. Just on the right spot as well. I stretched and twisted and then went to reciprocate but I couldn’t get to HIS coat as HE had HIS hat on. But then I saw Marks hair as he was bending down by Wicky’s side. I reached over and very nearly got him but he just moved out of the way in time.
And that was that, except to note that SHE has not appeared to see us today. This is now over a month since SHE got ill and it’s about time she was better. I certainly don’t think much of whatever vet SHE is going to!

Maxwell's maskSaturday 27th May 2006
Good afternoon. My name is Maxwell and I have just had a carrot from somebody called HIM. Funny name really because he is not that tall. Particularly when compared to me. Still, he seems quite a nice human as humans go. I know those three next door quite like HIM, in fact it was them that told me his name. It was after yesterday evening when he stopped to give me something that they afterwards told me are called mint sweets. Quite nice really. A bit hot to taste but after the first one you can get quite used to them. Anyway, after he had gone, I went over to the wall and called out to them. That red one, yeah, the bright red one, the youngster came over and asked me what I wanted. I just said that he had given me something to eat and did they think it was alright for me to take things from a stranger. Well, she laughed out loud at that. What do you think humans are for, she asked me. Their one purpose in life is to give us things to eat. Cant see any other use for them, can you, big guy?
I must say, I blushed a bit at that. She is a very forward sort of mare and I come from a sheltered background and am not used to such kind of talk. But, she’s a saucy sort of maid I will admit. So, we got talking and she told me his name was HIM but in fact that used big letters for any reference to HIM or, in fact to someone called HER as well. I think I know who she meant. There has been another human with HIM who has tried to talk to me but then I was even more shy than I am now.
Next we got talking about my rug with its high neck and face mask. She asked me if I was in hiding from anyone or if I was a bandit or something. Now, I knew what a bandage is because I have them on my legs sometimes but I didn’t like to show my ignorance about bandits so I changed the subject by commenting on the way she wore her mask the other day. Oh, that, she said, I was just doing it for a laugh. They’re supposed to keep the flies away but they just land on our nose instead and with the mask on you cant see them coming. Then she asked me why my mask was quite the opposite of hers. You see, her mask has a mesh to see through as it completely covers her eyes. Mine on the other hand, covers my face but has holes where my eyes are so the flies can only get to my eyes. We both laughed at that and she made me agree that humans really are funny with no rhyme of reason for their actions.
Just as we were having a good time, that midget came up and asked us what was so funny. Grumpy old so and so he appears to be. I could tell Mims was not pleased that he came and butted in because she tried to ignore him. What I can’t understand is why he doesn’t nibble her knees like he used to do to that old feller who used to live there. I’m not saying he should do it but it’s a puzzle why he doesn’t. I started to talk to him about his disability but he just got grumpier and said that there was nothing wrong with his legs and that height was a very over rated feature anyway. He could see that neither Mims nor I were very interested and he soon drifted away to graze. I have to admit that grazing is one thing that he is good at. I suppose it’s because his nose is nearer the ground than the rest of us.
I was just about to carry on with our conversation when Mims’ mother called out to her that she had to hurry up and go up to the top field. She certainly has some power over her because she just yelled a quick good bye and cantered off. It was nice while it lasted. A bit of company always helps pass the time until my dad comes and takes me home. Still, here he is now so I’ll have to go as well. Been nice talking to you for a change. Bye!

invasion of sheepSunday 28th May 2006
Hi there. D’you know what? I thought I was bad enough when I saw those cow things the other day in the field net to ours. But now! We’ve been invaded! The whole of Ninefields is being overrun by these small white Wicky replicas. Thousands of ‘em. In fact, they are worse than Wick cos they got short curly hair and what’s worse, they’re painted. I went rushing up to mum but she didn’t seem at all concerned. They’re only sheep, dear, she said. I told her, I don’t care if they are expensive, they are over running our field. And, d’you know what? She just smiled and went on grazing. Well, I went running up to the top of the middle field to look over the wall at them. They hadn’t reached that field yet but it won’t be long. They were streaming in from one of Michaels fields which is next to our top east one. I could see right away what the trouble was. Someone had gone and left the gate wife open. Too late now to do anything about it either. In the end, I couldn’t stand it any longer and I ran down again to see what Wicky had to say.
Oh aye, sheep lassie. I know, they do it every year. It’s not an accident you know. THEY get Michael to let them in on purpose to eat all our lovely grass. I used to tear my hair out once but there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s supposed to be good for us. Stop us getting too fat or, in my case, getting laminitis. I suppose it’s for the best but I don’t like it. And, before you go getting cheeky, they are nothing like me. Even my colour is different. They are white sheep but I am a grey pony, see!
I didn’t wait any longer to listen to Wick moaning on. I went rushing back up the hill. If I’ve got to live with them, I might as well get to know them better, I suppose. I rushed right up to the first one I saw and said hello. It just ignored me. Yeah! What do you think of that. I couldn’t make up my mind if it was very, very rude or if it was deaf. After a few more tries with that one and a few others, I went back to mum again. Oh no, she said. They’re not rude or deaf, just stupid. Known for it sheep are. You ask Michael, and he breeds them.
Well, that was that. I didn’t want mum going into gynaecological detail about breeding and that so off I went again up the field to watch. And, that’s where HE found me when HE brought supper tonight. I suppose it adds a bit of interest. I’ll just have to watch and make sure they don’t eat too much of our grass, that’s all.

wildflowersMonday 29th May 2006
Oak Apple Day” I don’t remember ever mentioning it before since I have been writing my diary. So, why do I remember it now? Well, it’s because HE has been going on about it. Today has been the day for the first Church House revival of their medieval revel day. It should have been at Whitsun but his year, some other group is holding an event at Whitsun so the Committee decided to have it today as this is the Spring Bank Holiday and as near as Whitsun as they could get.
Now, it was only after the planning had been going on for quite some time that HE remembered that the 29th of May is Oak Apple Day. And, how did HE know that? Because HIS mother used to sing a rhyme to HIM, when HE was a little boy. It was:
“29th May, Oak Apple Day. If you don’t give us a holiday, we’ll all run away.” HE doesn’t know, but it sounded like something that her mother would sing to her when she was a child, back in the days before radio or television or record players. The day goes back a long way and the rhyme commemorates when Charles II was being chased and hid in an oak tee and escaped. At leased, that is the story. And so, when Charles became king, that day was celebrated by the royalists and the story passed into historical myth. Today, people have no need or reason to actually celebrate but songs sung to us by our mothers do tend to stick. I’ll bet Mims could tell you about things I used to tell her when she was young that have stayed with her. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I forgot all about this by next year but HE will still remember, even without a Church House event to remind him.


Tuesday 30th May 2006
Two things notable today. First, SHE came to see us at both mealtimes today so SHE must be getting better,who taught you that? I hope. It does mean e can’t bully HIM as much as we are used to but it is worth it. It’s nice to have someone who knows and understands about equines rather than one who just likes them for a change.
Mind you, SHE was also responsible for the other notable thing about today. Yes, that’s right, our fly masks! Actually, we are getting used to them now. Even my daughter Mims managed o keep hers on properly all day. She hasn’t got quite used to the sheep yet (see how useful it is to use capitals for THEM?) and I am not at all sure that they have got used to her. It’s rather like an old cowboy movie with each standing apart waiting for the other to make the first move.

The weather has been getting better each day now. That rather cold and strong-ish wind of yesterday has gone and been replace by a cool but sunny day where, despite our masks, there were few flies about. Personally, i
I’ve enjoyed watching the lambs with their mothers and also playing about with each other. Why are young things of whatever species so attractive? It must be built into us to ensue their survival.
Oh, that’s the other thing I had to tell you. If we are not careful we wont be getting many more treats from HIM. I can’t remember if I told you how HE nearly cut the top off HIS index finger the other day. HE was opening a tin of corned beef, one of those with the key that runs round the middle of the can, leaving the meat with half the can on top and half on the bottom. Well, HE got that far and tried shaking the can to make the meat fall out but to no avail. So then he gets a knife and tries prising it out. This didn’t work either so then HE resorts to pulling and pushing and so slipped and got the can to slice into his finger. That must have been about five days ago now. HE was having to learn how to mix our food with his left hand, how to get HIS car keys out of HIS right pocket with HIS left hand and how to get out mint sweet treats out of HIS pocket without banging the top of HIS finger. Most of the time HE couldn’t do it without banging it and letting go with a few curse words. But, slowly, it was getting better and, with a good sticking plaster for protection, HE managed to use HIS right hand to mix our food this morning. Then, HE was washing the dishes after lunch today and his right little finger somehow managed to discover the edge of the brand new razor sharp bread knife that HE bought the other day.
HE is now walking about with the index and little finger of HIS right hand waving in the air and it is real entertainment to watch HIM get his car keys out of HIS pocket. We will just hope that HE finds a way to keep the treats coming or just lets HER take over that role now SHE appears better again.

girls in the fogWednesday 31st May 2006
Those two lassies are off up the hill together again. I think Mims is fascinated by the sheep. She keeps going up to them and then she just st….

“Ere, Wick?”
“Oh, my god, Treg. Don’t keep doing that. I mean, it’s great to have you come back for a chat but do you think you could not just suddenly appear behind my shoulder.”
“Sorry, Wick. I just thought you were looking a bit lonely, that’s all. Thought you might like a bit of company.”
“Well, you’re right there Treg. And it is really good to see you again or not see you if you know what I mean.”
“Yeah. Course I do. That’s alright. We get used to our old friends having trouble adjusting. Ere, did you know HE says good night to me every night after HE has given you lot your suppers. HE always says ‘Goodnight Alli, Goodnight Wick, goodnight Treg and goodnight Mims. How about that? HE never puts me last either.”
“Aye laddie, I have noticed. Must be strange for you not being last, eh? You always used to be when you lived with us.”
“Yeah, but that was before Mims came. She was the last one in so it’s only right that she should be last now.”
“Well old mate. It might be right but there is such a thing as nepotism, aint there?”
“’Fraid its too late for me now, those alternative therapies. I’m not really sure that they work anyway. Where I am the place is full of folk with needles sticking in them and others who smell of oily perfumes and yet they are just as dead as I am.”
“What are you talking about now. You’ve not changed any, have you lad? Still as da.. er … different as ever, eh laddie?”
“Tell you what Wick. There’s one think I miss a lot up here.”
“You miss my stories old friend? That’s nice. At least someone values them.”
“Na, not your stories Wick. I miss having my knees nipped. There’s no one up here who does that to me like you used to. Funny what you miss, aint it?”
“I was going to say I miss our talks Treg, but what with you coming back to visit every so often, it’s not half as bad as it could be.”
“I will say you’re looking pretty good Wick. Not too thin and not too fat. And your coat is nice and grubby. THEY are not overdoing the old grooming then?”
“No. Well, HE hasn’t had time lately what with HER been bad and that. HE just has it worked out to do the bird feeding, picking our feet out, our sponges and then the girls treats and it’s time for him to go.”
“What ;you mean ‘The girls’ treats’? Don’t you get any, any more?”
“Well, I do sometimes. But, we have a system, HIM and me. HE keeps the girls occupied so that I can clear up all the food that they drop. That’s better than treats you see. What with my wonky teeth. I can easily scoop up the short feed but I can’t do much with a carrot these days. In fact, THEY’ve got a new way of preparing my vegetables that go in my feed. THEY put it through a food processor so that it is all minced up into little strips. That way I can get it all down with no trouble.”
“You know what, Wick. I think you are doing all right, aint you mate?”
“Aye laddie, it’s all very good. Just one thing missing really. Tell me Treg, could you materialise a little so that I could nip your knees again for old times sake?”
“Oh dear, is that the time. I have to rush now, Wick. Nice seeing you mate. Take care.”
“And you Treg. And you!”

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