Something I Haven’t Mentioned Until Now. . .

Someone asked me the other day how Little and Flight (the chucks) were doing? I grimaced a bit and then had to admit that they weren’t doing very well at all – in fact, they both died in March.

I haven’t told you this until now, mainly because it was very upsetting.

Flight became intermittently poorly – one day OK and the next day not so OK – Yes, I do know that is the meaning of intermittent! She would be as bright as a button for a day or two, eating every bug in sight and destroying the garden, and then take herself off into the shrubbery and sit hunched and sick-looking.

There was little point in taking her to the vet, this I have learnt with previous chucks. The treatment is either antibiotics, that never work, or missing that stage altogether and going straight in for the kill.

One Sunday morning she didn’t want to come out of her bed and from under the heat lamp, and during the morning she slipped into a coma. Around four in the afternoon she drifted peacefully away.

She was a lovely chuck, not as tame and forthcoming as Flight but beautiful. I never grew tired of watching her scratching around on the lawn with the sun on her feathers. She shone blue in the sunshine.

We then had the awful problem of being left with one chuck. Everyone will tell you one chicken is a no-no and it’s true. They, like many other creatures are flock/herd animals and they need the companionship of others.

We decided, in our infinite wisdom, to pop to the farm down the road and pick up a friend for her. Little was a kind soul, originally being hen-pecked and at the bottom of the pecking order, a bit of a runt really so we had little worry about her accepting a new friend.

There wasn’t a great deal of choice, but we weren’t looking for something to ring whistles and bells just a dear companion for Little, someone to help her over her grief of losing her best friend. We chose a Red Island Red cross Light Sussex and hurried home.

We placed the newbie in the chuck house, partitioned off from each other, but still able to see one another. After several hours, and everything going swimmingly, we decided to carefully introduce them to each other.

The newbie approached Little looking really jolly and happy. Little, dear, sweet, Little, raised her head as tall as a giraffe, leapt into the air and attacked the newbie. For seconds we stood in shocked silence as Little dealt blow after blow on the newbie, until finally the newbie struck back, catching Little on her comb and drawing blood. By this time we were moving and I grabbed Little.

After this the newbie was named Rita Raptor.

Over a period of a few days they had short sessions of ‘almost’ contact with each other, with me standing between them like an on-guard sentry. It was around Rita Raptors fifth day that we noticed Little not being quite right. It was at this point that I realised I had made a grave mistake in thinking that Flight had died from something peculiar to herself. Obviously they both had it. She deteriorated overnight and I wasn’t prepared to watch her die slowly so we took her to the vet, and she put her to sleep.

I was bitterly upset. Yes, I know. She was just a chicken. But my chucks are not just chucks and Little was a sweet girl.

So, we now had the same problem . . . one chuck on its own. Fortunately the chucks’ cage is a summer house, divided down the centre, so Little and Rita had, in fact, been kept separate. We crossed everything that we had and prayed that the Raptor hadn’t picked up the disease.

We scrubbed everything in sight – ten times – even though the chuck house is cleaner than some hospitals – and then, after a week, fetched another chuck for Rita. This was Mabel.

Mabel dealt Rita Raptor a swift peck to the head and that was that. Rita accepted instant defeat and all was well.

They are like my permanent shadows. Originally they were both quite timid with me, but I have a trick . . . it’s called ‘corn in the pocket.’ Once Rita knew there was a supply of corn in my pocket – and if she came to me she would get some – we were away. Now I can’t appear without them tearing down the garden and wrapping themselves around my feet. I’m always tripping over them or standing on their toes. They don’t seem to mind.

I still miss Flight and Little.

So, now you know. My girls have gone. I sometimes imagine I see them, a quick flash of blue in the undergrowth, where the sun slants through – and who knows, perhaps I do. I like to think so. Rita and Mabel are sweet and friendly and funny but time hasn’t dulled the memories of Little and Flight just yet and so, for now, Rita and Mabel will have to remain towards the bottom of my pecking order.

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Take care x

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Sane Dogs And Mad Englishmen

So . . . we were driving back from somewhere the other day and there, as we navigated a bend on a country road, coming towards us on the opposite side was . . . another one!

Immediately, the non-canine person might be forgiven for thinking, ‘Oh, how cute. Look at the sweet little doggie running along at the side of its owner. The doggie is almost going as fast as the mobility scooter.’

Yep, that’s it. A rare, hot, sunny day in good old Leicestershire and Mr Idiot is letting his dog gallop along on the verge at the side of his mobility scooter. Mr Idiot is loving the boiling hot midday sun because Mr Idiot is wearing shorts and a sleeveless vest and the speed at which he is going is wafting a lovely warm breeze across his face.

Now let’s pan to Mr Idiot’s dog.

Buster isn’t doing quite as well. Not enjoying it quite as much. Why? Because the fricking dog is wearing a fur coat! With tongue lolling, almost to the point of tripping him up, Buster is doing his best to keep up. Truth be known the poor dog probably thinks he’s enjoying it.

This, frankly, sends me into orbit.

Why do people do it?

DON’T.

It’s cruel.

Have they ever seen a dog die of heat stroke and/or exhaustion? I have and it isn’t pretty – or necessary.

If it’s too hot for YOU to gallop along a grass verge, or a pavement in the midday sun wearing a fur coat, then it’s too hot for the DOG. Duh!

And I won’t even start on dogs left in cars.

Well, actually, I might. Not exactly on dogs left in cars, because everyone should be aware of that major shitty act, but on dogs carried in hatchbacks – you know – the space behind the backseat. It seems safe enough – but trust me, it isn’t.

We were on our way to the coast once and we passed an elderly couple, pulled over into the layby, struggling to get their collapsed chocolate Labrador out of the back space in the car. The dog’s head lolled as they lifted it. These people had probably, in all innocence, travelled with their beloved pet safe in the ample luggage space, and even had the car windows slightly open, but the hot sun through the back window had taken its toll. It would have been like sitting in a greenhouse.

I have to admit to feeling a tad sorry for them because it could well have been an innocent mistake. It ruined my holiday and the memory and vision of that dog, head hanging, unconscious or dead, haunts me to this day. I like to think that it was merely unconscious, that they got it to a vet in time, and that all was well, but I might be viewing the episode through rose-tinted glasses. Being an ex veterinary surgeon’s wife I tend to recognise death when I see it.

So that’s my moan. My rant. My pet peeve . . . literally.

I apologise if this offends anyone but, sorry, you will have to remain offended. This matters. Our pets deserve not to suffer at the hands of ignorance. There is no reason why dogs can’t be walked in the cool of the early morning or evening. They don’t need to be galloped at midday.

I have already seen three posts on Facebook this month where dead dogs have been taken from cars, and today a post where a woman was dragging her dead dog through the streets of London. I don’t know the details of that one so I will say no more . . .

This year I shall keep the R.S.P.C.A on speed dial . . . though, they might not be all they are cracked-up to be at times?

Take care xx

P.S. I do NOT have a problem with people who rely on mobility scooters to get around – at least, not genuine cases. In fact, a very nice man drives past my house now and then with his Yorkshire terrier – IN THE BASKET. 071

Opps! I did it again!

So . . . this is what I did . . .

I’d decided, in my infinite wisdom, to take my wares to the wider public. This took the form of yours truly booking a country fair and a village craft fair to sell my children’s books.

I made up a few packs with other crafted bits and bobs, namely, colouring sheets and crayons, colouring shapes and crayons and swing labels – all characters from the Bucket Head the Scarecrow book. Richard also kindly made me some fridge magnets based on the same characters.

Armed with all of the above we set off.

First impressions of the country fair set-up were encouraging. A lovely green field situated at the side of a country church, the one, by the way, where generations of my family are buried, including the ashes of my parents. This was strangely comforting, like I was amongst family. I guess I was, even if they were all dust. I digress . . .

Richard help me set up – he never stays. He hates the things, saying that he thinks he puts people off. This may be true. There are times when I think he puts people off – especially me. He toddled off to the car with a few cakes and a Land Rover magazine and settled in for the duration. He had his phone handy so that he could pop back if I rang to say that I needed the loo, but as it happened I didn’t need to disturb him because the lady next to me looked after the stall for me when I took a trudge to the toilet cubicle.

After about an hour, and just before the fair opened, a migraine kicked in – and the wind started rattling the tent flaps and a few stall holders had to run after their produce that was fast racing towards the head stones. I anchored down Bucket Head, took two paracetamol with caffeine, and waited for the promised thousands.

They did, in fact, arrive, BUT 50% of the promised thousands only came for the dog show and another 30% only came for the kiddie rides, which left, by my reckoning, 20% of visitors who trickled round the craft tent.

No worries. The caffeine had kicked in a bit (I don’t drink coffee and so the slightest sniff of caffeine bucks me up no end) so I crept out from behind the stall and attempted to be nice. This I find extremely difficult. I’m a practising recluse in real life and so ‘talking-up’ my books doesn’t come easy and consequently my expression looks more like a grimace than a smile. After a while the pinned-on smile actually hurts my face and I’m a hair’s breadth from giving it a hard slap to make it work properly. I think this may put off one or two people – especially the protective mother brigade. Talking of which . . .

This lovely couple approached and she picked up the Bucket Head book. I applied the smile and dived in. I mean, how hard could it be? Other people can hold nonsensical conversations and thereby secure sales. I could see that she was heavily pregnant and she wore that ‘today’ style of a short top ending at the top of her bump. Her husband smiled lovingly at her as she flipped through the book and I blurted, ‘Oh, yes! You are definitely going to be needing that book – I can see that.’ I nodded and grinned at baby bump.

She didn’t raise her eyes from the book and calmly said, ‘No, I’m starting a teacher training course next month. No babies for me for a few years.’

She closed the book, replaced it, smiled, and walked away.

How the hell was I to know that she was just overweight? You can’t win them all, and anyway, she shouldn’t walk around with her rotund belly exposed. I’m not a bloody mind reader . . . and frankly I’m an even worse seller-of-books. Also, I have to admit to my faux pas not being rarities. I’ve made some blinders in my time. Far too embarrassing to mention here.

The other stall holders were very disappointed with their takings for the day, well, all except the man in the corner selling 3D notebooks and cards because I bought loads for Jake and Grace! Richard appeared at packing up time and we cleared off home with me promising, in my own mind, that I would NEVER . . . EVER do another stupid fair.

Last Saturday I went to another.

It was already booked – as I mentioned at the start. This time I produced my ‘secret    weapon,’ in the form of Jake, my grandson.

I’m pretty sure that people don’t like the look of me. I think I look unapproachable. Jake, on the other hand, does not look unapproachable. He looks adorable. His little face beamed through the display and there was no choice but to speak to him and then off he went . . .’I’ve read both of my grandma’s books. I like Bucket Head the best. It’s really good – and she did all the illustrations herself.’

In fact, although this fair still hasn’t made me a ‘famous author’ it did provide me with some sales, a lovely, permanent memory of Jake’s total enthusiasm and support and . . . it was only three hours in duration. . .  AND there were no half-naked, fat bellied woman . . . so, win win, hey?

I may wait until a bit nearer to Christmas before I ‘do’ another. It’ll take that long for my face to stop aching but I WILL BE BACK, and hopefully I’ll be back with my little secret weapon.

Take care x20160530_100154