"WHAT do you find to do on the farm once the shearing season is over," is a question I am often asked, and it always worries me that people might be under the impression that we only work hard on the farm in the summer time and the rest of the year we idle along just waiting for the demise of winter. I don't know whether I am a slow worker but I always seem to have a never ending list of jobs to do.
Left: Naughty Bonnie
Another question I've been asked from time to time is, "who makes the decisions on the farm, Arthur or you?" Well if you ask Arthur he will of course say him, but the truth is we both decide; however if he overrules any of my ideas I just wait until he goes off squidding and then do them any way.
An example of this was the time we were sorting rams out for breeding and Arthur had this huge ram nicknamed Big Boy. I loathed him; he had every characteristic that I disliked but Arthur insisted he was brilliant. As luck would have it Arthur was called away stevedoring and he hadn't had time to slaughter some sheep for the dogs. Needless to say by the time he returned I had more than enough snacks for the dogs and Arthur is still under the impression that Big Boy must have fallen in a hole.
Arthur was recently stricken with the bug, and faced a few housebound days trying to keep warm and just generally feeling unwell. I can now honestly say that being a nursemaid is one job that can be struck off my list of potential employment opportunities. I did spend the first half day in the house with him fetching and carrying and believed it went quite well. The next day, however, he was struggling to walk around as all his joints were aching and I was soon ejected from the house after doing my best impressions of his shuffle type walk. By day three I had discovered that telling your macho husband to "man up" doesn't qualify as a reasonable bedside manner.
We have a new bitch pup; a huntaway/collie cross and the liveliest, most mischievous and cleverest pup we've ever had the joy to bring up.
On arrival in a new home, most puppies taken at 6 weeks old from their mother and siblings, are timid and cautious; not this pup, Oh No. We brought her into the house and rolled up the rug in the kitchen so she could get to know us. Well after two minutes sitting under the table checking the lay of the land she launched herself at me and attempted to rip the bobbles off my booty slippers. When that failed she launched herself at Arthur who was unfortunately engrossed in the TV, so the first he knew of the attack was when she was securely fastened onto his big toe.
After a few minutes of this we couldn't take it any longer and puppy was taken to her new house; a huge box entirely insulated and carpeted. Her puppy run was our big duck coop, large enough for an adult to crawl around in.
Well you would think she had been thrown into a bare jail cell the noise that came out of her; still we hardened our hearts assuming she'd figure it out eventually. Ten minutes later with the TV volume turned up to maximum we could still hear her heartfelt whimpering. Eventually fearful she was cold and scared I created a bed in the shed with blankets and a hot water bottle. It was evidently to her liking as she settled down and we heard no more from her.
The next day I took her to let the dogs out for a run; the dogs gave her a good sniffing then ignored her and that was their first mistake. She launched herself at each of them in turn. If she wasn't swinging off one of their tails she was trying desperately to chew through any leg she could get hold of.
That day she had her first trip with Arthur in the land rover, off to shoot some geese. She began the trip in the front seat but after fifteen minutes of grabbing his arm and anything else that moved she was put in the back and confined behind the dog mesh. Returning to the rover after picking up a couple more geese he found no puppy in the back but instead sitting smugly in the driver's seat having squeezed through the mesh.
To be fair she had to get out of the back anyway as having plucked one of the geese there was just too much mess for her to roll in. Pup was finally named Bonnie after I told Arthur if he didn't name her soon she was going to be called Honda.