Alezane's Diary Archive October 2007
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Searching for the fosse septiqueMonday 1st October 2007
A new month and some good news (we think). Tonight, the previous owner of the property came along and identified where the septic tank is located. HE told me that the sanitation arrangements have three covers, for the want of a better word. One is an inspection cover, another is the distribution cover where the now clean water gets put back into the filter beds and the third is the cover to the actual tank. When the guy came along, he just went and uncovered those first two by scraping his foot along the grass. The third one, which is the one that THEY need to uncover so that the tank can be emptied, he identified by saying ‘it should be under here’./ So, HE is not yet sure that HE has found it until HE gets HIS fork and spade to work in the morning but it is logical that it should be in line with the other two covers that were found. Keep your fingers crossed and I’ll let you know how HE got on tomorrow.

The other bit of news for them (only possible good news) is that the agent came along with the details of the land taxes for THEM to pay. I say only possible good news because nobody likes paying taxes. On the other hand, it is another piece in the jigsaw so to speak so that THEY can start to get THEIR finances on an even keel. Up to now THEY have not known how much to set aside for these taxes. Now THEY know.

Weatherwise, it has been a funny day – all mist and dark dampness. Night came quickly but the day had turned quite warm and muggy. We didn’t need coats or fly masks so that was a relief. Most of the day we have been out grazing with just a few returns to the stable. On the last of these returns, Mims found herself in the Big Man’s box and that was where she was when SHE came out to get us organized for supper. It as very puzzling for me as it took me a while to figure out which wall to kick. The Big Man just took it in his stride and even Mims didn’t seem to care a lot. One advantage of being in the end box (usually Mims’) is that you can watch the feed being made up. The Big man has never seen this before and you should have seen his eyes nearly dropping out of his head as he saw all that food.

And that’s really about it. The cats are fine, Sunny continues to kill things but at least now she has learned nit to take them into the house. Tom did his usual thing, he disappeared when the agent and previous owner turned up. And the chickens are getting really expert at flying up to perch on the fence that is meant to keep them out. HE has tried a few times of gently putting them back on their side of the fence but when he drove back from shopping this morning, HE had to admit to getting a kick out of seeing our hens perching outside THEIR front door.

Big X and les poulesTuesday 2nd October 2007
You win some …. Well maybe. This morning SHE was in a telephone chasing mood. First SHE phoned the guy who should be giving THEM an estimate to clear the bit of land under the poplars so that we horses can go down to the stream to drink. You may (or not) remember that THEY called the man in about June to look at the work and give THEM an estimate. He came with a friend and said that he would send an estimate but that the work should not be done until September. Well, no estimate came so last week SHE phoned him and he said that his colleague would come round on Saturday. Guess what, he didn’t come. So this morning SHE phoned again and was told that the guy would come tonight and give them an estimate tomorrow. THEY didn’t see him tonight so maybe (just maybe) he came along and looked at the work without troubling THEM and they will get the estimate tomorrow as promised.

Then SHE phoned the guy who is due to make the alterations to her kitchen. He had sent in an estimate with a request for one third of the price deposit. HE duly sent the cheque off the next day with a signature to say go ahead and then THEY heard nothing. When SHE spoke to him this morning, he said that he had received the cheque, thank you, and then mumbled away indicating that he wasn’t ready with an excuse. Then he promised to phone tomorrow and give THEM a date for work to commence. Beginning to get the idea?

Next SHE phoned the chap who should be delivering our haylage. He had said that he would drop off a trial pack to see if it was OK for my teeth. However, again THEY had heard nothing from him. He now says that he is going away this week but our delivery will be put on top priority.

Remember yesterday when the previous owner came and pointed out where two of the covers for the septic tank were, just by scraping the grass with his foot (at the right place). However, the vital cover that is needed to open up the tank for emptying, he just stood on a place in the grass and said that it must be about here. Today HE dug – in that place, in a straight line from the other two covers, on a measured line from where the outlet pipe leaves the house and, in several other adjacent spots. No tank cover! HE says that it must be there somewhere but more than a spade’s depth so he has no idea where. Tomorrow HE will go back to the starting hole and dig it again twice as deep. We will see.

Back to the haylage. HE went out this morning and brought back some hay which HE hoped would keep us happy until the haylage arrives. He gathered up all four haynets and first had to mend them all as the design got them all to fall apart at the bottom allowing hay put into the top to fall out again. Then HE hung them up for us when we came back in. So, what did we do? Ignored them. HE was really ever so pleased that HIS hour’s driving was so appreciated!

it is found 45cm under groundWednesday 3rd October 2007
Another fruitless day for HIM trying to find the cover of the septic tank. Today HE decided to approach it systematically by running two lines parallel to the sides of the two other covers nearly up to the house. Then HE dug, first lifting the turf and placing it aside and then with a fork. HE had to use a fork and not a spade as the ground under the turf was as hard as concrete. Then HE got the wheel barrow and shoveled the dirt into that. By the time HE had dug and lifted all the dirt in the line HE was feeling exhausted and had to rest. That was when the chickens came along to help HIM. The trouble was that after they got bored with the trench HE had dug, they went and scratched in the removed pile of earth and spread it all over the path. When HE had cleared that up, HE went and got a pick axe and dug deeper. Still no cover. HE was too tired to do any more today but HE has now marked out a triangular area between the trench and the place where the pipe comes out of the house. If HE survives, that is tomorrows job.

Another problem has now occurred with the chickens. As they can no longer get under the fence to sit outside the French windows, they have taken to perching on top of the fence. It is amazing how high they can fly if they want too – they can perch there but cant fly back over the fence from the neighbour’s garden and HE has to risk life and limb (or worse) climbing over the barbed wire to retrieve them. Anyway. HE decided to run a single wire along from post top to post top above the perching place but when HE went to search for HIS wire, it had vanished. Possibly it didn’t move with us. Whatever, HE will have to buy some more before he can tackle that project.

However, HE did manage to fit the cat door into the new fence. It had been decided that one was needed because Tom, the old cat, wouldn’t be able to get passed the fence. The cat door is designed to be fitted in wooden doors so it needed some adjusting and enhancing to make it fit the wire fence but finally HE did it. Then HE got Tom and pushed him through the cat door so he would know what to do. Tom straight away walked along the fence a little and jumped over the fence and walked back into the house.

We’ve had another good day today. It started off misty with some very light rain at times which was just right for rolling in and getting muddy. At the moment it is a close run thing between me and the Big Man as to who is the muddiest. Mims, as usual, has stayed out of it and Wicky just manages to get himself scruffy, wet and dirty. There is an art it having a mud bath and only some of us has it!

The sun warms upThursday 4th October 2007
OK, OK, boring. Tell us what HE did today then.
Well, I wasn’t going to, but now you mention it, I have to tell you one thing. I have to do so because it is so terrible. What did HE do?


Not on purpose, I don’t believe but that doesn’t alter the fact that while everyone else were free to come and go, graze and roll and do what they like, I was kept prisoner to starve and fret all day. SHE did say that SHE heard me call out but didn’t come to see what I wanted. I don’t have a loud voice as I have a paralysed larynx so SHE should have known that if SHE heard me then it must be serious. I have to admit that I got into a real state. I do have this problem that when I get upset (which can be quite often for a lady with my sensibilities) I tend to get rather loose bowels (OK, you try and think of a polite way of putting it). When THEY discovered what had happened at supper time, my box was in a terrible mess. You know I like to empty my bucket over the floor to eat. Well, HE had to leave everything else and sweep me out before I could eat properly.

I suppose it was not HIS fault entirely. THEY both unlock our boxes after we have had breakfast and I suppose THEY both thought that the other had done it. I am not at all sure that I will be in a rush to go in my box again, at least until breakfast. But at least I had some real equine news for you today. And, in a way, I got my own back as, before HE could go in for HIS evening meal after our supper, HE had to stay behind and hose out my box. Not only that but, as HE was hosing the box down, Big x couldn’t go in there and clean up all my leavings.. And I had finished my hay net so HE will have another job to do in the morning.

Aliens land at St Pierre des NidsFriday 5th October 2007
To tidy up the saga of the septic tank HE went back to the plans and decided the measurement that HE had been given at the Mairie was incorrect and so HE marked out another area to dig. After lifting the turfs and digging to one spade’s depth, the soil was so hard that he got the hose and filled the trench with water to soften it. HE finally managed to explore to three spade depths and became convinced that the cover was nowhere to be found. HE then decided to look at the other two covers but when HE lifted the stone on the first one, HE found that it was just a small marker for a much larger cover. Lifting that HE began to think that this cover was the one that HE has been searching for all along. HE called HER out and THEY both agreed that the tank emptier should be called in again, hoping that THEY now have the correct opening. They are coming Monday, so we shall see.

THEY were both extra nice to me today to make up for locking me in yesterday. I didn’t complain as the extra treat or two is always welcome. However, as soon as breakfast and supper were over, I didn’t hang around just to make the point to THEM that I didn’t trust THEM not to do it again. No sense in letting THEM off too lightly, I think.

A good day today, a bit misty in the morning but a glorious afternoon. We’ve all been doing a bit of stable box swapping today. The Big Man ended up in the box next to the feed room this morning. He couldn’t believe his luck as he was able to watch the breakfasts being prepared. However, even his long neck wasn’t enough to reach down and steal the food that HE throws down for the chickens. We wouldn’t mind if it were chicken food but it’s not, it’s our short feed. And then they have the cheek to come into our boxes and eat out of our buckets as well.

Which reminds me. I don’t think I told you about Wicky and the chicken. Usually, nothing disturbs Wick when he has his nose in his bucket. Quite often Sunny the cat walks on his back or jumps from him to the fence and he takes absolutely no notice. However, the other day one of the chickens came up behind him and decided to find out if it could eat Wick’s tail. He ignored the first few pecks but when the hen gave a particularly hard tug, Wick’s back leg shot out, as it does, like a piston. Funny things, chickens. It would have broken a human’s leg but the hen just sailed away like a puff of air and then just went about its business elsewhere. It must be because they are so light that they offer no resistance or something. However, I’ve noticed that the hens now only steal from the front of Wick’s bucket now!

Oh, by the way, the estimate for the work on the brambles down by the poplars came in the post today. Now it’s only a question of getting the guy to set a date to do the work.

The Big Man has been rollingSaturday 6th October 2007
We had two visits today, The first could have been much worse than it actually was. Why? Well, because it was from our vet, Br Souchard or Joel as SHE calls him. He is a very nice man (as humans go) but, of course, any visit by a vet is a cause for concern. However, as I said, this visit wasn’t bad at all. For two reasons really. First, he didn’t come to see me but to see the Big Man. Second, all he was doing was giving Extreme a follow up jab on his course of vaccinations as, I think I told you before, X’s had been allowed to lapse out of date. And anyway, the Big Man didn’t even notice the jab. He was just a bit bewildered why a human should come to see him and not give him a treat.

Later, while we were having supper, we had our next visit. This was from the teenage girl next door and two of her friends. This visit was a bit of a mixed blessing. It started out very well indeed as the three of them set about handing out sweets to us in an unending supply. In fact, we nearly didn’t find time to eat our suppers except that THEY stopped the flow of treats until we did. Then things took on a nasty turn – at least for me. HE started it. HE gave the girl who was talking to Mims, a brush and told her to start grooming her. Then Big X was given a groom too. I thought I was getting away with it and then SHE came into my box and held me with a rope around my neck while the third girl gave me a vigorous brush. I will admit that I needed it because I had found this quite delicious mud patch early in the day and then the hot sun had baked my coating dry. Still, it didn’t last for long and they all retreated the other side of the fence while HE let us out. I think THEY were afraid that Mims or I might just rush to push Wicky off the food that HE had put on the floor for the hens.

So you see, I can do a day’s diary page without telling you what HE has been doing. Mind you, it was easy today, HE didn’t do anything, well, not anything much!

Sunset over the new fieldSunday 7th October 2007
Well, HE knows now why we call him Big X. Actually, it’s a bit of a sad story. You may remember a few days ago I told you about THEIR dilemma with the chickens going into the neighbour’s garden. Well, today, about an hour before our supper time, THEY were indoors with the French windows open as it was a very warm, sunny day. SHE as working on the web site for the local bar/restaurant and HE was just dozing in the sun. Then THEY heard a squawking and a flapping from next door and the neighbour’s boy shouting after his dog. THEY looked up o see the dog chasing one of the chickens. Then three more chickens appeared behind the first and the dog turned its attentions to them. One by one the birds were caught and returned to THEIR garden. HE went and chatted with the neighbour for a while and then came in.

Sitting down again, HE noticed one of the chickens sitting down and then get up and start limping away. When it was time for our supper, SHE saw the bird sitting down again and went over and picked it up. SHE examined it and found that it has a rather nasty bite on its back. THEY put some of our wound powder on it and put it down with the others who were eating our food as usual. However, it didn’t eat, but just sat there. SHE decided to put it in the chicken shed and also to put the other three in with it to keep it company. THEY will now have an anxious night, hoping that it will survive. I don’t think I have mentioned it before but SHE has given the four hens individual names. One has many light feathers at her rear end, so she is called ‘Blonde’. Another tended to lag behind when the others went out so SHE called her ‘Er Indoors’ after a character in a TV show. The third one had only a small crest on her head when she first came so she is called ‘Little Hattie’. And the one who got bitten seems to have some sort of deformity, with only one side of her breast developed. She is called ‘Mrs. Lop Sided’. It is probably due to her deformity that she couldn’t manage to evade the dog. I will let you know how she gets on.

Anyway, I rather jumped the reason HE is impressed with Extreme’s size. Due to all the playing about with the chickens, HE was left to organize and give us our supper. Normally while HE is getting our vegetables, SHE puts us three horses in our boxes and ties Wicky up to the fence. Then SHE gives us a little handful of feed while he makes up the buckets. Tonight, HE had to put us in our boxes and we were all outside in the field. First I came in and then Mims. HE put us both in our boxes but while HE was fastening my door, Mims came out again. Then he got her shut in and Wicky just hung about while HE went to get Extreme. When the Big Man goes past, I like to try to bite him for holding us up (or any other reason I can think of). As HE brought him round, Wick got in the way in the corridor which meant X had to get past him on the side next to my biting mouth. He just ran and in doing so, stamped twice on HIS toes in HIS thin gardening shoes. As I said, HE knows now why we call him BIG X!

French electricityMonday 8th October 2007
THEY were full of trepidation this morning, wondering if Mrs Lopsided was still with us. HE used the dark morning as an excuse not to open up the chicken house until we horses had been fed. However, SHE went and opened the shed and found that Mrs Lopsided was still alive but wobbly on the perch and very puffed up. Later on in the morning, when it was light enough to see properly, SHE took her some sweetcorn and found that she had moved positions and ate the corn as avidly as ever. All through the day, she has shown signs of improvement although she limps very badly and sits down quite a lot.

SHE decided that the chickens should be penned in again for their own safety so HE went and got the original wire and stakes that HE had used when the chickens first arrived and fenced off a corner of the lawn where the chicken shed is located. I think that the chickens were not at all pleased to lose their freedom and HE made quite a lot of visits with items for them to eat as HE felt very guilty about imprisoning them again.

HE then dug half of the holes needed for the plants that THEY are putting around the fence round the house (ironically the fence put up to keep the chickens at bay) and then it was time for lunch. HE was just doing the dishes after lunch when HE spied the lorry that had come for the emptying of the septic tank. As HE was in the middle of draining the oil pan, SHE went and greeted the man. After a few minutes, SHE came in and said that the cover that THEY had hoped was the correct one, was not and that the man wanted HIM to go out and dig in another place. HE got HIS spade and started digging where the man pointed. It was in about the only place that HE had not dug before, right next to the other cover. After HE had been working for a little while, the man started helping him. They finally found the cover buried nearly three feet under the grass level. The man said it should have an extension ring to raise the height and also that the filter under the other cover was broken but at least this did not stop him from emptying the tank.

Finally, on this day of people news rather than horse news (although this does affect us very much as well), they now have a date for the completion of the purchase of our new field. It is Tuesday 23rd October, just two weeks away. I don’t suppose we will get to go in there yet as THEY have to organize the fencing etc. but it is a step in the right direction.

St Pierre des Nids coming from AlenconTuesday 9th October 2007
Yesterday, as the septic tank man was just finishing, a van drew up outside with the name of the guy who was going to clear all the weeds in  the poplar field. HE thought that it was strange that he should turn up before THEY had signed and returned the estimate but HE waved him in and went to meet him. It turned out that, although the name was the same, this guy was nothing to do with the other but had come to clear the trees from the overhead electric cables that pass across our field. So, HE just waved him on and let him get on with it.

Today, while Gladys was here cleaning the house, to get out of her way, HE decided to go out on the quad and have a look at what the man had done. After seeing that he had just cut a few branches down and left them lying where they fell, HE went  for a drive all around the perimeter of the field. He stopped and got off and walked along to the place where Mims escaped into the next field on the first day we came here. HE looked through the fence that HE had put up and was amazed at the sight of the field that THEY are buying. From THEIR house, the field is full of weeds, mainly buttercup type ones. When he looked at this other end of the field, apart from a few bits of still protruding stubble, it was just a beautiful pasture with lush grass and no weeds. I am really looking forward to getting in there now.

THEY were trying to work out what fencing and gates we are going to need when the field is ours. HE was, at first, going to put in one gate for us to get access to the field straight from the stable and another wide one for tractors to get through to work on the land. However, SHE reminded HIM that we need some arrangement to allow us to get to the outside drinker from whichever field we are using at the time. This probably means that us horses and the tractors can use the same gate but that we may need a little bit more fencing to make sure that we can only use one field at a time but always get to the drinker. HE is going away to think about it for a while.

Good news on Mrs. Lopsided. She is now getting about really well with very little sign of a limp at all. However, THEY hate having to fence the chickens in at all and are going to find a way of fencing off the neighbour’s garden so that the chickens cant get in and then they can be let loose again.

HE finished putting the earth and grass back in the bits of the garden where HE had dug them out to find the septic tank cover. All that remains now are the covers which need a new collar and a filter before the grass can be arranged as it will finally be. The covers will never be buried again but probably a plant in a tub will be placed over them. When HE had the grass back, HE dug the remaining even holes ready for the new plants round the house fence, that are to be delivered soon. SHE ordered some more plants today and HE will have to dig the holes for them too but, for the ones that HE has dug, all that needs doing now is to fill them with compost from our pooh pile and then cover them back over awaiting the planting. It really makes us feel proud that we are helping to make Le Cerisier a more beautiful place (if possible)!

Mims in the stableWednesday 10th October 2007
Not a good day. Today. I’m afraid. Not for us horses or for THEM. Really, you can’t consider one without the other though. If we have problems, it means that THEY have problems too. And, if THEY have problems, we may not take them on board in the same way but it does affect the way that THEY react with us. Let me start at the beginning.

The weather, this morning, was atrocious. It was raining quite hard but that was not really so bad as it was not very cold. No, the worst thing was that it was so dark that it felt like the middle of the night. We horses had been in for a while so we were now drying off, well, except for Wick. It is hard to tell just when Wick is wet or dry as he is such a grubby little chap. Breakfast went reasonably well but then THEY both started to feel a bit sick so after we had our breakfast, THEY left theirs.

We all hung about in the stable for a while but then Mims and I went as if to go out so the Big man moved out as well. This was the opportunity that Mims had been waiting for and she chased him away from the boxes. For us, the rest of the morning was spent with us two girls standing in the warm and dry and Extreme and Wick hanging about outside.

Meanwhile, with the weather still raining hard, HE couldn’t do what HE had intended to do – fill the plant holes with manure and, anyway, THEY were still both feeling not good so HE dozed away the morning until it was time to do the shopping. Then HE came home having forgotten to buy milk and butter so HE had to go out again later.

The weather improved in the afternoon but (and probably because of it) we horses sort of blotted our copy book at supper by keeping Big X away and him running past his box. I think THEIR reaction to it (not pleased) was made worse by the fact that the hens have now found a way out of their enclosure and needing to be captured and returned.

There was a bit more news about the purchase of the field in the post today. But even though the price is slightly less than THEY were expecting, this did not compensate for the missing details of the sale (acte de vente) and the map outlining the field boundaries. I get the feeling that, until the sale is over, we horses had better try and be on our best behaviour!

Sunrise and that treeThursday 11th October 2007
We had a visit from an old friend today. Wally turned up and walked with THEM around the field to see what work needs doing when we get our new field. First the Big man went up to see him and Wally was very pleased to see him. Then I came up and Mims but when Wicky came as well, Wally moved quickly away as he is a bit scared of our Wick. He says he likes us big horses but little horses in general came be a bit scary. Then he walked round our stable and admired the iron work grills. He said he was surprised that they were so low at the front and HE explained the design was such that we can eat in peace but still socialize over the low part at the front if we want to. Then they all went indoors to talk about riser collars for the septic tank which meant we had to wait for our supper.

HE got very exasperated today. Not with us but with the chickens or, to be more precise, with one chicken. THEY found ‘Er Indoors had got out of the compound twice this morning and HE had to go searching for her. One she was ion our stable and the second time she was out in the ditch by the road. SHE suggested that THEY put a second row of wire netting in front of the first, slightly staggered so that the gap were smaller. HE drove around the field and found some more netting so HE brought his back and put it up.

Then THEY had lunch and while HE was waiting for it to be served, HE looked out of the window and saw that ‘Er Indoors was out again. He went and caught her and took her back to the compound and, as HE walked back to the house, HE looked around and saw the hen flying up onto the fence and from there back down again on the wrong side. HE caught her and took her back to the house and SHE clipped its wings. HE then returned her and THEY had lunch.

HE was just having an afternoon’s doze when SHE said that the hen was out again. HE then went and fixed a line of wire along the top of the supporting posts of the fence. HE was ever so pleased when she got over this too, later in the afternoon. However, she did no escape any more today so THEY have their fingers crossed. THEY sent a note to the neighbours saying that THEY would chicken proof the fence at the front of their garden or would pay their son to do it. THEY will go and see them Saturday and if this is agreed, then the hens will be set free to roam again. If not ……

Canabis (that's his name) makes himself at homeFriday 12th October 2007
It as a bit cool today. Or, if you ask them, it was freezing. Now, it was not really freezing at all. We girls didn’t have coats on all night and we weren’t shivering or anything. It may have had something to do with the fact that SHE had to go for another blood test this morning and so it meant having nothing to eat and drink before it. Still, THEY should have warmed up after lunch but THEY said that THEY sat in the house and were cold. What made it worse was seeing a neighbour walking along dressed for summer. Maybe it is just old bones.

We have a new routine now for our meals. SHE organizes it that we are shut out in the filed and SHE brings us in one by one, taking the Big Man first. The idea is that he doesn’t have to run the gauntlet of Mims and I flashing our teeth at him. THEY have noticed though that, apart from meal times, we all get along really well (for horses). We often all stand, heads together, and doze. What the big man likes to do however, is wait in his box until Mims and I have gone out and then come into our boxes and do what Wicky calls ‘he housework’. He may have been starving when he came to us but he has very quickly learned how to eat. HE keeps reminding him that, when he first arrived, he didn’t know what a mint sweet or a sugar lump was and used to refuse to eat them. Now THEY have to take THEIR hands away very quickly or they disappear into the Big Man’s big mouth.

In terms of progress, THEY sent off the accepted ‘devis; (estimate) for getting the poplars cleared. THEY have a promise of not too long now (weeks not months) so maybe we can have a Xmas drink in the stream.

The other little bit of progress was to go to the bank for a bankers cheque for the purchase price of the new field. This should have been easy but the French have a rather unique banking set up. THEY opened THEIR French bank account before THEY first came to France with a branch of the bank based in Normandy. They used that one because the bank provided a special service for English speakers. THEY have since tried to move to the local village branch of the same bank as THEY can never physically visit the Normandy branch. THEY discovered that, although it is the same banking firm, each Department (County) operates independently. To change branches THEY would have to close the Normandy account and open a new one in St Pierre des Nids (Mayenne).

So, when HE went into the St Pierre branch bank this morning for the bankers cheque, it caused a problem. They will have to negotiate with Normandy and can only promise to have the cheque available for the morning of the purchase signing. THEY will now have to worry that the cheque will, in fact, be ready that day. Fingers (or hooves) crossed!

Another sunsetSaturday 13th October 2007
We are now getting used to our new routine. SHE brings us in, shuts us in our boxes and then gives us a little lucerne or even short feed (HE asked, ‘why is it called short feed?’ SHE didn’t know so if you don’t either, don’t worry – it’s just a nix of pellets, oats and stuff like that in our case). Then, the Big Man hangs his head over into my box, I flatten my ears and pretend to bite his face, he backs away and I kick the side of my box by which time HE has arrived with our buckets and we all settle down to eat.

There was a slight change in that routine tonight because HE came on HIS own as SHE is not feeling very well. Usually, when we are put in our boxes, SHE ties Wicky up to the fence. As HE was too busy doing everything tonight, HE didn’t bother to tie Wick up. Now Wicky is a chancer. He went over to the chain across the feed room door and stretched his neck to try to get into the nearest bucket. However, HE kicked them all out of reach so next Wick tries to open the feed bin with his nose. He was just wondering what else naughty he could get up to when Mims stretched her head out of her box and nipped him on the back. Wick shot back out of the doorway in next to no time.

Last night, HE cut a hole in the fence from the chicken’s run into the field at the back. THEY thought, after all, it will be OURS in a weeks time so why not try and persuade the chickens to go out there instead of into the neighbour’s garden? Well, last night, the chickens were too cautious to use the hole even though he placed one through it. It just came running back and the others walked away. Today was a different story. They must have decided that it was safe after all and they have all been in the filed, although one of them, possibly Mrs Lopsided didn’t go far and often came back to be all alone in the chicken compound.

Then, late in the afternoon, maybe the novelty wore off because ‘Er Indoors decided to escape twice more, just before our supper. HE put her back and then went to get our vegetables. When HE came back HE found that Blonde had decided to come and eat with us again. HE had to pick her up and get a scoopful of our feed and then carry her back and throw the feed in the chicken run.

All of which wont really matter much longer as THEY went and had a chat with the next door neighbour who said he didn’t mind at all that the chickens went into his garden. SHE said but what if they mess in there? What if they tread in it? But even that didn’t seem a problem. He was much more concerned that they might get run over in the road. Still, SHE said that they would have to take their chances just like Tom and Sunny do. And that was that. HE said that they might leave the fence up round the chicken run for another day or two so that they get used to going in the field and not the road. Let us see how long HE can hold out for!

ps Tonight is the Rugby World Cup semi final between France and England. HE says he wants France to win because HE would prefer to be pitied than hated.

Alezane says helloSunday 14th October 2007
The lady in the baker’s shop, this morning, asked HIM if HE was pleased that England beat France. Apparently she said that she is a rugby fan and that it was a very good match. As HE didn’t watch it and HIS French is poor anyway, all HE could do was shrug, in what HE hoped was a very Gallic way.

I have another story about HIM later but first I must tell you why today is mainly about HIM. SHE is still unwell so HE came alone to give us our breakfast this morning. It must have been beginner’s luck because we were all in our boxes waiting for HIM. All HE needed to do was to close the doors and put Wicky on his head collar and tie him to the fence. I must say I approve of HIS way of distributing our buckets. Naturally HE gives Wick his bucket first as, without that many teeth, he takes longer to eat than the rest of us. But then, instead of giving the Big Man his bucket next, as happens when SHE is there, HE goes along the line, Mims first (she is usually last), then me and Big X last of all. If this keeps up, I will consider changing places with Mims. Seniority and all that. We’ll see.

The chickens really made good use of our ‘new field to be’ today and traveled very far in search of food. They came back when HE called them for their sweetcorn after lunch but then went back again. All but one who decided to fly over the fence and explore the garden as usual. That made HIM decide to leave the fence up for a while but to open the gate for them so that they can now choose where they will go. I expect it will be back on the road as they are very perverse creatures.
And finally, back to HIM. HE was going out for the bread as usual, when SHE asked HIM to look in the pharmacy window to find out which chemist was doing duty rota today, Sunday. She would have liked some tummy medicine if HE could get it. When HE looked in the window, there were two ‘en garde’ pharmacies, one in Alencon, the big town 15 km away. The second was in a smaller town, Villaines la Juhel. As HE might not find the Alencon one, HE decided to go to the other. Now, there has been a diversion to the town making a trip of 26km but it was a nice day so HE didn’t mind. HE easily found the pharmacy but it was closed with a sign in the window saying ‘after 20.00 hours. Phone the Gendarmerie for an appointment. Disappointed (and a bit angry) he drove off but as HE was driving HE suddenly thought that the window sign meant that you needed an appointment after 20.00 hrs ans HE hadn’t actually pushed the door. HE had driven about 2km but HE turned back and went to the pharmacy again. As HE approached, HE saw two men emerge but when HE tried the door it was locked. HE rang the bell and was asked if he had a prescription (ordnance). When HE said no, a stream of French greeted HIM. Fortunately another man was behind HIM and he answered and the door opened. When HE said what HE wanted, the response was ‘that is not an emergency’. However, the man did serve him so HE came away successful. Then HE found, on the way home, that the diversion was over and HE could drive directly home, a distance of about 11 km!

Sunny and preyMonday 15th October 2007
We really have HIM wondering now. We have discovered that THEY want us in our boxes for meals so we are getting there early and everyone is in their proper place when HE turns up so all HE has to do is to shut the doors and tie Wick up. Wick has even taken to going and standing where he has to be as well. You see, while HE thinks we must be being very, very good, we have discovered that, if we do it, HE goes and gives us an extra helping of food to be eating while HE makes the buckets up. If HE were clever, HE would realise that food works better every time than reasoning or scolding.

It was nice that SHE came along to see us again tonight. SHE was feeling a bit better and was there to give us some treats while HE washed out buckets out. Oh, I just realised how nasty that makes us sound. Of course, we were pleased to see her just for herself but it was the sugar on the cake, so to speak, to get the treats as well.

The chickens are back to normal today. Before THEY went out this morning, the barrier fence came down and they have the run of the whole place now. It was probably because they were looking up old places that they didn’t come along to join us for supper this evening. I expect we will be seeing them for breakfast tomorrow.

We are getting used to the weather here now. The climate is much the same as Dartmoor but the weather is a bit different. Here (and it as the same in Normandy) there is a lot more mist and fog which then burns off to give nice weather in the afternoon. I think it was due to the westerly winds on Dartmoor that there was not so much fog. It seemed to be either sunny or rainy and when it rained, it rained sideways (and often). Here we are on a hill so there is often a good breeze but even when there is, the mist still accumulates below.

And really, that is all our news today. THEY are hoping to be able to report work starting on the kitchen tomorrow (although THEY will believe it when THEY see it) and THEY are looking forward to the family coming for a visit again at the end of the week. If you are a horse you just live for the moment and really only look forward to your next meal!

Light effects in the morningTuesday 16th October 2007
And, of course, all THEIR fears were well founded. When the kitchen man had not turned up by 9.30, SHE phoned him and asked him when he was coming. He first said 10.30 and then ‘apres midi’ so THEY didn’t know what to expect. Well, he did come at 10.30 ish but only to say that he wasn’t going to do anything. As THEY had spent the morning emptying the kitchen cupboards as he had requested and now had the table laden with kitchen equipment and eight large plastic containers full of food of various kinds taking up most of the dining room floor, THEY were not very happy.

I wont bore you with the details but HE lost HIS temper, SHE asked HIM to calm down and HE left HER to deal with the man. The outcome was that he will fit the insides to two of the cupboards on Friday and he took away two existing cupboards (so THEY can’t put the stuff back in them) and he will return to install them with the new one on November 9th! It should be very interesting as the family are coming on Friday for a week and the food is all in plastic boxes on the floor. THEY went out to eat and had some wine.

We horses had a good day, as did the chickens and from what we could see, the cats as well. What a sad thing it is to be human!

The Big Man has a thoughtWednesday 17th October 2007
Mud baths, that’s the thing. At last for the Big Man and me. For some reason Mims doesn’t like to get herself dirty. Whether it is in case that Solide comes along I couldn’t really say but we can hear that he is in a field quite nearby these days. I have to tell you something about him too. If you saw the photos that HE took a little while ago, you will have noticed that, apart from being a strapping big Percheron chap, he was jet black. Interesting because his mother, Nougatine is grey. Well, now if you saw him, I am told by HER, he is starting to change to grey himself beginning with his tail. He may even look a bit funny while he is changing but Nougatine’s colour is a special grey so he will end up being probably even more handsome than ever.

Apart from mud bathing, we haven’t been doing very much today. Even the teeth baring and kicking at Big X seems to have lost it’s interest. I still do it but only because he is such a big booby. He just doesn’t know when to stop. He is always looking for a game, always big and blundering. He even has made special friends with the chickens. Not just while we are eating. They go to anyone then, anyone even Wicky (although in his case not for very long). No, the Big Man likes nothing better than to have a conversation with them while they are perched on the fence outside of the stable. He puts his big face down and breathes on them and often, quite accidentally, knocks them off of their perch. I know Mims and I rag him mercilessly but really, he is quite an asset to our herd. I just wish he would go somewhere else to eat, that’s all.

News on the human front. HE moved the refrigerator in the kitchen this morning so that everything is ready for the men who are coming to rebuild the end units and install the new oven. Then THEY were able to move some of the plastic boxes full of kitchen stuff around. Some went into the bedroom and the rest took up the place where the fridge had been. THEY had a phone call that the men are coming tomorrow to fix a couple of the cupboards so a lot of staff will be able to be put away and also THEY will be able to go shopping Friday morning before the family arrive in the early evening.

The other really clever thing that HE did was to get HIMSELF locked in at the old folks home. Before you rush to say ‘best place for him’ I have to tell you that it wasn’t by design. HE got a letter through the post the other day telling him to go for an anti  influenza vaccination. HE got the serum from the [pharmacy yesterday and went off in search of the infirmary where one gets injected. As there were no notices to say what was where in the medical complex, HE entered the first one that was near the car park. As soon as HE got in, HE could see from the sleeping residents that HE was in the wrong place but when HE went to retrace HIS steps, HE found that the doors wouldn’t open. HE eventually found a nice kind lady who shoed him both where to go and how to open the doors by pressing a button. HE should now be immune to the ‘flu and hopefully being locked away, at least for this year!

Abbie, Rhys and BenThursday 18th October 2007
A bit of a sad ending to what wasn’t too bad a day. Weatherwise, it couldn’t have been better – very sunny with s cool breeze. We horses were able to follow our usual routine of dozing indoors and then grazing virtually fly free when we went out.

THEY went out shopping and one of the items on THEIR list was a “Jolly Ball” which, if you don’t know it, is a game for dopey horses – you’ve guessed it, for Big X. You see, THEY have noticed that he is always up for a game. When HE mistakenly left the coiled hose pipe hanging from the support HE made for us to be showered under, the Big Man came along and played with it until he broke it. He didn’t mean to. He is just a bit big and clumsy. He just blunders along like a gentle giant but if that gentle giant treads on you are bumps into you, he is still a giant for all his gentleness and things get broken.

Anyway, unfortunately THEY couldn’t get one in the shops so SHE has ordered one on the internet. However, when THEY did get home, THEY found that the delivery man had left a parcel in the sous sol. It was our new hay racks, all the way from England. You see, the problem with the old ones was that they were very strong but they only had horizontal bars spaced quite wide apart and the hay falls out. Then it gets on the floor and gets all trodden on and dirty and we don’t eat it. THEY had been using hay nets again after HE had gone to all the trouble of drilling and fixing those ones but now they can come down and the new ones go up. All HE has to do now is to get some metal grills to make lids with, just like the one I had back on Dartmoor.

I’ll just mention the human things. THEY also bought one of those whirligig washing lines for when SHE has just a few items and it is not worth putting them in the tumble dryer. And when HE was in the shop, HE saw a great big sunshade parasol on end of season offer. So HE bought it. HE has visions of next year, sitting out on the terrace, surrounded by his new fence and the scented hedge that HE has planted round it, underneath the sunshade and, of course, sipping wine. Well, let Him have HIS dreams. Why not?

And now the sad bit. At supper tonight, Big X got in first so I had no chance to bite his bottom as he went in. I did pull some faces at him while we were waiting for our buckets but then it was time to eat. We had all finished eating and having our treats ans SHE had gone back to the house, when the Big Man annoyed me. I cant even remember how but all I know is that I went to snap at him and instead crashed my mouth on the wall or the grill. When HE came along to let us out and give us all a final mint, HE thought I was sulking because I wouldn’t turn to face him. In fact my mouth was swollen and dripping blood. When HE saw, HE took me out to the front of the house and she bathed my mouth. I couldn’t have been too badly hurt as I could eat the few mints HE gave me while SHE worked on me. I hear that THEY intend to come and check on me later and give me a soft meal of sugar beet. I only hope my mouth has recovered enough by then for me to eat it.

The sun still setsFriday 19th October 2007
My mouth was a bit better this morning, I am now a bit slow in eating my buckets but manage anyway and still don’t like the Big Man leaning over my shoulder. I sensed that both HIM and HER were very concerned for me and was even a bit touched to see how much THEY really love me.

THEY were very pleased that the plumber came this morning early to fit new innards to the toilets before the family arrived. The problem had been that sometimes the toilets would flush and then not stop filling but just pour the (metered) water down the loo. The plumber man had said that he couldn’t do the work for a while but then came up trumps after all.

Then THEY went out shopping for food for the family visit but also brought back my medicine for my arthritic jaw. The funny thing is that here, one gets medicines and drugs for animals as well as humans in the pharmacies. What a sensible idea. At least it puts us on equal terms with humans for once.

THEY were just settling down for an after lunch nap when there was a knock on the door and the family arrived. We all enjoyed watching as Ben rode the quad bike and Rachel rode the ride on mower and had heaps of fun. HE said HE had never heard Rachel laugh so much.

THEY were going to put our coats on tonight as the weather forecast says it is going to be cold. But, when it came to it at supper time, the sun was still out and it seemed silly to put our coats on then. I will tell you tomorrow if we got too cold or not.

Rhys, Canabis and RachelSaturday 20th October 2007
We came in this morning still not shivering. I think it must be due to the fact that we have now grown our winter coats whereas that time in the summer when the temperature dipped suddenly and we came in shivering, all we had was our thin winter coats. In addition, it only got down to 3° C last tonight. However, the forecast is for it to get down to 1° or even zero by tomorrow morning so, at supper, THEY got our medium rugs out and put them on us. We now have four changes of clothing, our raincoats, our medium rugs, our heavy duty rugs and our stable rugs. HE has always said that we have more clothes than HE has.

However, apart from being no warmer than 10° C all day, it was a wonderful sunny day again. The Big Man even managed to get his share of flies on his face and we all had a good time grazing up and down. I have to admit though that the grass has now lost a lot of its keep and we are relishing our bucket feed morning and evening. We still don’t take a lot of notice of the hay that THEY put out for us but I am looking forward to the haylage that is supposed to be delivered next week.

We may not be making much use the of the hay but others certainly are. HE came back from the hens nesting box rather puzzled yesterday as there was only one egg and not the four that they have got used to. Today, after putting our rugs on, HE was in the feed room and happened to look down at the hay bales. There was a noticeable dent in one and, on looking in, HE found, that’s right, four eggs. HE went to check in the nesting box unless some of the four were from yesterday and some hens were still laying there but there was nothing. HE will now have to check in both places until HE discovers what is going on. It may be that, if the haylage is delivered next week, the hay will have to be moved and the hens will have to go back to their original laying place. The haylage will be no good for them as it is wrapped in tight, air emptied plastic covers.

The family had a sort of quiet, at home day today, just going down to the village in the morning and to the supermarket in town this afternoon. I understand that here are plans to visit Paris later in the week if the trains are running normally. There has been a train strike last Thursday which ran into Friday as well. Things should be getting back to normal this week however. They need to because, as Steve has to drive home tomorrow, the others have train tickets to return on Thursday.

Enjoying the sunSunday 21st October 2007
The first real hard frost of the year this morning. However, we had our rugs on so we were very warm and not affected. THEY felt the cold though, especially when HE went to wash out our buckets and couldn’t because the water in the hose was frozen. Then the broom and bucket was covered in frost so HIS fingers got so cold that HE couldn’t feel the ends of them.

The other side of his cold night was another day of cloudless skies and full sun so that by the afternoon, HE was able to make a start on planting the poppy seeds. The plan is that eventually we will get bright red flowers all the way along our field fence bounding the road. What HE has done so far is to dig a hole in between each fence post from the mail box at the house, right down the hill to the poplars. HE estimates this is something over thirty six [planting sites. If even only half of the poppies come up next year it should give enough to self seed in future years, assuming that this is a suitable site for poppies. The wind should broadcast the seed all the way down the hill, at least, that is the theory.

Steve went home this morning, leaving early to ensure that, even if he got a bit lost, he would still have good time to catch his ferry. SHE spent some time on the internet trying to find out train times so that the family could maybe go into Paris for a day out or, if not, then at least they would know what they need to do when they leave on Thursday.

About the only other news was that the chickens continue to lay their eggs in our barn, even though HE had to take some of the hay for us to eat until the grass thawed. Later in the day Rhys came and collected the eggs although he hadn’t really got the hang of not throwing them yet. Only one got broke and as the fridge is overflowing with them again it was not a bad thing to act s a lesson to him about the consequences of them falling on the ground.

Sunrise at Le CerisierMonday 22nd October 2007
And it we thought yesterday as cold …..! What was wrong today was that the sun made only a feeble attempt to come through and then gave up and ran away. So, what did we do? We went out and grazed, or at least, tried to. We have nearly ten acres at the moment and it is being eaten by fou … three and a half horses and yet there is very little grass left to graze. I suppose it is because it was a pretty poor field to start with. THEY have done THEIR best, having it cut and getting rid of the nettles and ragwort. But it is still not a real pasture yet. We are now waiting for the man to come and hopefully put some stuff on it to improve it. Still, we should be getting our new field tomorrow. It’s a good life.

We watched HIM today as HE went all along the fence putting compost into the holes that HE dug yesterday. We managed to ambush HIM halfway and, strangely, HE did happen to have some mints about HIS person. We finally left HIM alone although Wick did go back when the rest of us had gone. When HE had filled all the holes, HE worked HIS way back up the hill sowing the poppy seeds. HE was wrong yesterday when HE told me there were thirty six holes, there were actually forty nine. The sowing wasn’t very difficult but then HE needed to water them. It took HIM four full heavy watering cans which had to be taken down the hill and then brought back empty to the tap outside the sous sol.

HE was just emptying the second can when the postman stopped and said he had a large parcel for them and would deliver it to the house. As HE was just finishing the last can, SHE came out with the contents of the parcel. IT was what they call a ‘jolly ball’ a sort of football with a handle for horses. SHE had noticed how the Big Man liked playing with the hose pipe so SHE had bought him the ball to play with. SHE first threw it at my feet so I sniffed it and ignored it. Wick came over to see if he could eat it and Mims ignored it. Then SHE threw it to (or at) Big X. He have one jump to get out of the way and the ball bounced away and right down the hill. HE had to put the can down and go down the hill to fetch it. At least HE had some fun!

Wondering what HE is doing in the fieldTuesday 23rd October 2007
We now have another nearly ten acres making virtually twenty acres in all. HE cut a hole in the fence this morning and then SHE drove round the field in the afternoon to check it over. In the French legal system, you buy the property as it is in the day of the sale. It has been known for people to enter into a sale of say some land with some fine trees on it and then to find that when they actually get possession the previous owner has cut down the trees and taken the wood away for fuel. No such problems occurred with our field but it was fun to ride around anyway. SHE took first Abbie round and then Ben just for the hell of it.

Then, just before our tea time, THEY went off to the notaire’s in the village. When THEY got there, THEY found that the agent, Veronica, who had found the house for them, was there to help with the translation. Because THEY had not seen her for a while, she came back with them to the house for a celebratory drink. Fine for them to be celebrating but it did mean that we had to wait for our supper.

It was also rugs on again tonight. The day had been fine and sunny although not particularly warm and tonight is forecast to be the last really cold night for a while. Veronica said that she doesn’t remember when they last had frost here so early. Normally there is just a touch of it in December.

Because of all the confusion today, HE hasn’t had much time to catch up on what we horses have been doing. HE went out first thing this morning to pick up the banker’s cheque from the bank to pay for the field. While HE was there, HE found out that they have, at last, been changed from the Normandy branch to the one in the village. Then THEY went out shopping, first to buy our vegetables and then on to the station in Alencon to get the family train tickets for when they go home on Thursday. It was a busy day for everybody. I think THEY will celebrate more when THEY can start to get down to actually using the field and putting up the fences.

Laying eggs in the hayWednesday 24th October 2007
THEY took the family over to La Chauniere in Livaie, the place we first stayed at before buying this place. It made them a bit late to give us our supper but we didn’t mind as we got news of our old friends there.

First, there was Arnold, the double pony that came to join us while we were there. Arnie has no other horses to be with now so he has adopted a field of sheep instead. He rounds them up and then runs in the middle of the flock. When he runs , they have to as well. HE tells me that Arnie has now grown quite ‘well covered’ as we like to call it. Funny in a way as I am sure he doesn’t get half as spoilt as we are. The other thing with Arnie is that he now gets his own way all the time and is very nearly wild. He never has had the wormer that THEY tried to give him (but failed) last time THEY saw him. I think the idea was that his humans would get him some wormer powders to put into his food but it never came to anything. They are thinking that maybe the vet will give him his wormer when he next comes to the farm.

Sophie, who rides him (or used to) has broken her arm, falling off another horse a the riding school. At first the doctor just thought that she had sprained it but when it didn’t get better, she had an x-ray and they discovered the break. She is now walking about with her arm in a sling and is not riding anything for a while.

There are three big male turkeys gobbling about in the back yard now. SHE spoke to them in their own language and this created quite a stir. They fluffed themselves right up and gobble-gobbled at the tops of their voices. Unfortunately, it was mentioned that after the French school half term next week, there are only six more weeks to xmas.

Talking of which, there were still a few lambs hanging about in the barn. When HE asked about these, HE was told that they were in ‘being fattened’. HE didn’t ask any more. We are only grateful that we are horses and not other farm animals and that the taste for ‘cheveaux’ is diminishing in France.

HE is measuring for the fenceThursday 25th October 2007
The day started off normal enough. THEY came with our breakfast as usual and I was feeling OK. We wandered in and out after breakfast while the grown ups went out to the bakers and the kids messed about indoors. It was a pretty gloomy day, cool but with a quite biting wind and cloud, cloud everywhere. Then THEY all had lunch and had some time to spare before going off to the station. The family came over to the stable to ‘say goodbye to the horses’ but, when they got there, I was standing, looking very unhappy with my whole face swollen up. Rachel went back to tell HER and SHE came over to have a look. Straightaway SHE could tell that I was in a very bad way and SHE went off to phone the vets.

At first, SHE couldn’t get through and, after many repeated attempts, had to decide that it was lunch hour and that nobody would be there until after lunch. By this time, HE had to set off to take the family to the station so SHE had to stay behind to contact and welcome the vet.

When HE got back, THEY came over to the stable with a big can of warm water and were in the middle of bathing my mouth when the vet arrived. He did the usual thing that vets like to do with thermometers (if you don’t know, just hope it doesn’t happen to you) and said that I did not have a temperature. He then examined my mouth and was surprisingly gentle. It may be because he didn’t know me yet. This is the third vet of the four in the practice that we have met now. Anyway, SHE had prepared a note which SHE had translated into French to explain what had happened and what now SHE feared was wrong.

To cut a long story short, he gave me an injection to reduce the swelling and another of antibiotics. What he found was that I had badly gashed my gum last week on the grill,  when I lashed out at Big X. After appearing to improve, it had got infected an it was too late to stitch it now.

The vet went and we were all let out into the field again (after being locked up waiting for the vet to arrive).  And, guess what? By supper time, like magic, my face had gone back down to its proper size and I was able to eat my bucket (although a bit slowly). I know SHE has got two more injections of the antibiotic to give me. With luck that will be my quota of vet visits for this year!

Clkearing the poplar fieldFriday 26th October 2007
The love affair is over. At last! Oh, by the way, this is Mims doing today’s diary as mum is a bit indisposed. At supper tonight, SHE came over to give mum the first of three injections of antibiotics to combat the infection in her jaw. Now, mum aint silly and as soon as she saw the needle in HER hand and smelt the stuff, she threw a wobbly. Well, what she actually did was to throw her head in the air and then go and sulk in the corner of her box. Didn’t do her any good of course. HE went and got her head collar and then tried to take mum’s mind of it with an apple while SHE went and jabbed the needle in.

Actually, it didn’t hurt. In fact, mum hardly felt it. No, it was more the invasion of her body and giving her no choice in the matter that really hurt. Anyway, she is still sulking (what did I say? ‘A bit indisposed’. And so here I am, free to spill the beans about my mother’s behavior of late.

If you remember, the way that mum got the bad mouth in the first place was trying to bite the Big man and missing and snapping her gums on the grill instead. Well, what happened after that was either a miracle or a coincidence. Instead of trying to bite him, mum suddenly went quite the opposite. If she weren’t my mother I would have said that she was tarting herself in front of him. Suddenly, instead of her and me grazing together and Big X trailing along like a distant shadow, it was quite the reverse. She and X would walk along together and I was banished to stand about in the background.

Well, you can imagine how this made me feel? I did have a couple of goes at mum but she wasn’t in any mood to accept any confrontation and I had to give up. It didn’t stop me picking on the big fella though. I went for him even harder than usual. The problem is that he is so thick that I don’t think he even noticed it. He really is. He is so thick that he didn’t even notice mum waggling her rear end at him or notice that she was no longer chasing him away. Only Wicky knew what was going on. ‘Wummen’, he said, with a disdainful note in his voice, 'wummen is all trouble and no haggis’ or something like that.

I can only be grateful that today, mum seems to have come back to her old self again. Apart from being excluded which, of course, I didn’t like, it was, to be frank, very embarrassing. Well, a woman of her age? Now, if THEY were to find me a nice handsome stallion …….?

Haylage stacked outsideSaturday 27th October 2007
My daughter is nothing but a tart. Jealousy just eats her up. But, I suppose it’s not her fault. It’s nature after all. If only THEY would let her have a foal of her own. Mims' trouble is that she has done nothing. Not only has she not produced any children but she has also never been ridden. Not even hacked. I suppose you could say it is her own fault. Had she not jumped those fences and hurt herself when she was young, she would have been brought on then. Still, I suppose it’s natural to be frightened by lightning when you are a kid. Oh well. Least said…

We had some progress today as the chap who organized the topping of our original field when we moved here, came along to talk about what the new field needs and also the liming of this one. SHE has asked him to top the new field and to do the chalking of our present field in two stages so that we can use half while the other is worked on and is settling and then we swap over. SHE asked him how long it takes after the liming before we can go back and he said it all depends on the rain.

HE drove him round the new field and also took him down to see the poplars field. SHE told him that the chap who was meant to be doing the poplars just hasn’t showed up and asked him if he would do it. He explained that as we had accepted the estimate, the other chap should do it but that he will phone him and find out what is happening. Anyway, he will arrange someone to come along next Tuesday to make a start on the new field so at least we are getting somewhere.

Wally also phoned today. He is bringing the risers for the septic tank cover next Tuesday and will also (more important for us horses) going o measure up the fence and gates for the new field. Tuesday should be a busy day.

SHE gave me the second of my three anti biotic injections today. After yesterday I felt a bit silly for making such a fuss so I just stood there today while it was done. We had our coats off this morning so after supper, we had to have them back on again. I will admit that made me a bit ratty. There is nothing worse than being messed about at meal times. Oh, yes there is, it’s being groomed at any time.

We had a bit of interest this morning as HE came over to the stables to change over our hay racks. We weren’t in when HE took the old ones out but, as HE was getting his drill and electrics ready to put the new ones up, we all walked in and offered to help. Well, no, we didn’t really. We just bullied him into giving us some mints before we would let HIM get on with the work. In fact, we hindered Him so much that HE only managed to get one new rack in place and just mark up the drill holes for the others. Then it was time for HIS lunch so HE will have to come back tomorrow morning. HE wants to get them all finished because our haylage is arriving on Monday. Then we shouldn’t care if we are reduced to just half of our field.

Ps The clocks go back tonight so THEY will get an extra hour in bed and we will have to wait an extra hour for breakfast. That’s not funny!

Sunset fourSunday 28th October 2007
To look at HIM this morning, you wouldn’t have thought HE had an extra hour in bed. In fact. HE looked more like HE hadn’t been to bed at all. SHE wasn’t much better. The fact is that THEY both have colds and are not really feeling terribly happy about it. Still, we did get our breakfast and that was the main thing.

A bit later on (after HE had a doze in the chair, I learned), HE came over and drilled the holes for the remaining two hay racks. In case you are wondering, yes, I did say only two, not three. You see, Wicky, with his lack of teeth doesn’t get on with hay at all. While we are in eating hay, he is out grazing the last bit of grass from the ground. So, after HE had drilled the holes, HE was about to erect the hay racks when Mims decided to go in and help. HE did eventually get them done and then had to wait for one of the hens to finish laying on the pile of hay before HE could fill the racks up. HE then stood proudly by and watched us all come in to inspect HIS work. Having done that, much to HIS disgust, we all just walked out again.

HE then went to erect the whirly washing line and we all stood and watched while HE tried to understand the instructions. Normally when this happens, HE has two problems. First, HE cant read them without HIS glasses and then, when HE does, HE cant understand what they are telling HIM to do. Luckily this lot had a version in English and only made things difficult by assuming knowledge that HE doesn’t have. All it said was to pull the string for the gadget to open. He pulled – it didn’t. HE went back to the instructions. It still said the same thing. As usual, it was simple. What you needed to do was to erect it first then, after you have done it once, all you have to do is to pull the string.

HE went back indoors and had another nap.

When HE woke up, the pale sun was trying to break through the clouds and HE decided to go out and measure up for the new fence and gates so that HE could give Wally a clear idea of what is needed when he comes on Tuesday. HE had just got along to the bit of the new field opposite the back of the stable when HE noticed me and Mims watching HIM with interest. That did it. HE came along and put our head collars on and HE took us both out to graze in the new field. That, of course, brought screams of protest from Wicky and worried looks from the Big Man so, when HE took us back, HE took them out, each in turn. The only problem HE had was that once Wicky got the idea and started eating, he didn’t want to go back and had to be pulled along out of the field.

And we got out supper at the normal time (by equine watches) even though it was an hour early by THEIRS!

Mims showing interest in the haylageMonday 29th October 2007
A good day today. One could even say a brilliant day. Not the weather, you understand. Today we had the first rain we have had for ages. No complaints about that either though. We needed the rain for our grass and THEIR new plants so, if anything, the weather added to the goodness of the day.

So, what was so good about it? Well, first of all a man came with a tractor to cut our new field. HE had gone out early for the bread and then, when HE came back, HE got on the quad and drove around the new field to check up on where it needed fencing before we can safely go in it. HE had just come to the conclusion that only the back end of the field needed fencing together with a jointly owned little strip with a neighbour and was turning the quad to drive along the boundary to mark it when he saw a ‘thing’ in the middle of the field. HE couldn’t make it out clearly but thought it might be a rock so HE drove out to it to have a look. And he discovered a mystery. It is a circular concrete construction with an iron lid which has the words ‘ouvre’ and ‘ferme’ (open and close) on it. It looks for all the world like the septic tank covers that HE has been concerned with lately but this is hardly likely in the middle of a ten acre field. HIS other thought is that it might be a well of some sort.

HE was just pondering this when HE saw the tractor enter the field. HE drove up and asked the man of he was going to cut it but got confused with the answer – a torrent of French. Later, HE was indoors and. Looking out of the window, HE saw that the tractor was in the poplar field. HE grabbed HIS camera and went to have a look and found that there were two tractors there. So, not only was the new field being cut but also the poplar field was being cleared at last.

The , when HE got back to the house, SHE told HIM that the haylage was being delivered at lunchtime. And so it was. We horses had been excited by all the tractor work and now got very worked up again with all the coming and going from the lorry to the feed store. There were several sessions of trying to keep us away from the action as it required having various gates open. After first locking us out of the stable and then locking us out of the field, HE finally resorted to locking us in our boxes until the work was done. I understand the men are coming back next week to lime our fields and HE is getting the electric fence ready to confine us to a strip until the limed part is safe and then we will change sides. It should mean however that we will have some real good grazing next spring. Until then we have bags and bags of haylage to get through. Oh well, someone has to do it!

A bright dayTuesday 30th October 2007
Even a 20 km breeze can cause an eight by six metre tarpaulin to fly up into the air. That’s what HE found out when HE tried to put a cover on the two pallets of haylage that are standing outside of our stable, up against the wall. It had seemed a simple job. First HE had to go to the shops and get some mouse/rat bait to put underneath as the man who delivered it yesterday said that mice and rats love the haylage and would eat their way through it if it was not protected.

HIS next problem was putting the bait under the pallets. After HE had put it into saucers, HE carried it out to the pallets, only to be followed by hens who thought it was dinner time. HE had to return to the sous sol and watch out until the hens had gone away. Then HE went back and this time managed to place the bait under the pallets. Then HE went and got the tarpaulin and opened it up. It immediately became obvious that HE had bought a far larger sheet than was necessary. Because HE had also bought a heavy duty one, it was impossible to fold it to the required size.

We all watched with amusement while HE tried first to unwrap it and then to put it round the haylage. Every little breeze seemed to lift it out of HIS hands and make it float gently away. Eventually, HE took it and laid it out on the lawn and anchored each corner down with large flower containers. Then, after measuring he haylage pile, HE got a knife and cut the cover down to size. The haylage is now covered, although not very prettily, but it took all the strength out of HIM for doing anything else today.

Before that, SHE decided that SHE would like to look at the poplars field now it had been cleared. Particularly, SHE wanted to see how we could bow get to the water – or not, as it happened. The trouble is that boundaries are not very well defined on the little maps that thy make when you buy a place. HE thinks that the boundary is probably right down the middle of the stream but, at he moment, the fence is on our side of the stream making it impossible for us to drink there. It could be just that one cannot make a fence in the middle of a stream so the previous owner put the fence on the bank instead. THEY have decided that even if the boundary is where the fence is, they can dig part of our bank out to allow us to drink from our side.

And then, on the way back, SHE drove the quad up the filed to have a look round and ran out of petrol. The quad is very nice and handy but its one fault is that it doesn’t have a petrol gauge. HE has now strapped a half full spare petrol tank onto the front so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem next time.

Haylage under coverWednesday 31st October 2007
Halloween is not big in France, at least this part of France.. In Devon we were used to the local children, accompanied by their parents, coming round the doors and demanding ‘trick or treat’. Sometimes, HE would ask ‘what if I chose trick?’, which would confuse them no end. They would say that their mum/dad had told them that they must be polite and not do anything bad. so there was not ‘trick’ that they could play. Sometimes one might have a water pistol or foam squirter but it did not get used often. When they asked the neighbours here, they were told that not much happens on Halloween. But, just in case, HE bought a few chocolate sweets for any children that might call. HE actually chose the kind that HE could eat if the children didn’t call so we know what HE is hoping for, don’t we?

This afternoon. A man with a big spraying type machine arrived and started covering the new field with lime. He had gone over the field this morning on the quad to check up on the cutting that had gone on the other day and to calculate how much fencing needs to be done. It would appear that we need about 100 meters of fencing along the bottom of the new fields as well as a little bit (thirty/forty metres) between our neighbours and our part of the field. It was a glorious day today and HE took  HIS camera along to get a few photos of the field now it has been cut. One of the things that is a bit of a puzzle is the concrete round thing with the iron lid. So, in case any of the neighbours knows what it is, HE took some photos of that as well.

And then, in the middle of the afternoon, just as HE was getting ready to have a little snooze, there was a loud noise outside and, on looking out, HE saw that the man with the tractor had come to lime the new field. HE got a few photos of the tractor going up and down and then the noise abated for a moment. When HE looked out, HE saw that the tractor was going into our old field as well. THEY had arranged for the man to do half of our field first and then, when we could go back into it again, o o the other half. And that was what the man was going to do now. HE had to rush out and get the quad and load it with electric fence poles and tape to fence off the part that had been limed. While the tractor man continued to lime our field, HE erected the fence in the middle. I don’t think HE will bother to put the electric charge onto the fence as we all know now what it is for and wont bother to push it over (which we could easily do).

And that is the end of October. A beautiful warm day after a frosty night. The only possibility now is that Wally might turn up tonight. He should have come last night but builders being builders, it was nit much of a surprise that he failed to materialize. If he comes. All well and good. If he doesn’t well – ‘c’est la vie’ as we French horses say!

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