Part Two All creatures Great and Small
Living where we do in the middle of a field means we don’t have mains drainage; we have a septic tank (AKA the cess pit). The tank is emptied by the council on a yearly basis. However, one year during muck spreading season, the hubby got it into his head that instead of using manure, he could use the contents of the septic tank.
He and a farmer friend set about draining the tank into the spreaders and both men cheerfully set off to cover the fields. Unfortunately, neither of them had given any serious thought to the actual contents of a domestic tank.Therefore it came as something of a shock to them, to discover on their return trip up the field, exactly what they’d spread on it.
To some of us in the household however, it was a huge relief to find they hadn’t begun the field next to the lane and further embarrassment was to be spared!
The Daughter and the Dog
Our fourth daughter was desperate for a pony and longed to be a show jumper. She built a short course in one of the fields, setting up small jumps with whatever she could find, and side by side with one of our border collies would run and jump the course. After each round she would make the jumps a little higher, Cleo (the dog) was brilliant at jumping and had a clear round every time.
The much wanted pony arrived early one summer and Cleo was made redundant, though not entirely, as she was also an excellent fielder, and during our many cricket games she either caught the ball or ran the distance to fetch it back.
The fourth daughter eventually became the show jumper she hoped to be and surprisingly, I became a judge at a local horse show.
The Boy and the Dog
Having lots of animals meant we often needed the services of our vet. Another of our border collies, Milly, had an accident involving a door. Our son had never quite grasped the idea of using the door handle to close a door, and on one unfortunate occasion when he slammed the door behind him, he hadn’t noticed that Milly was following. The poor dog, after losing a chunk of her tail in the door, had to be taken to the vets to have her tail cauterised! From then on the boy became a little more careful when closing doors..
Mother and Son
Then there was the ‘tail’ of Thomas. Thomas was the tiny runt of the litter belonging to our cat Tabitha; we grew very fond of Thomas and decided to keep him. Some time later when Thomas was a few months old, Tabitha had a second litter and soon after they were born, Thomas disappeared. He returned a few days later but was unable to lift his tail. A visit to the vets followed where we discovered he’d broken the bones in his tail, most likely because he’d been run over.
Thomas’s tail had to be removed, and when we remembered his father was a Manx cat, with no tail whatsoever, it seemed a little ironic.
The day we brought Thomas home from the vets, Tabitha washed him all over and took him into the bed with her new kittens, where she fed him alongside the new litter until he was well.
One evening when Thomas was wandering in the garden a strange cat joined him and a fight broke out. Suddenly, from out of nowhere his devoted mother appeared and launched herself into the fray, Thomas calmly walked away leaving his mother to fight his battle!
Throughout their childhood the children had a menagerie of creatures, therefore it was inevitable that from time to time they would be grieving for the loss of one or other of their beloved pets.
The Hamster and the Vet
One winter the smallest of the pets, a hamster called Modo went into hibernation and during that time I diligently changed his food and water in case he woke up.
Our vet, a family friend, often called in when passing. On this particular day, with coffee in hand, he asked “How are all the animals?” “Thankfully, they’re all well” I answered, “and the hamster’s hibernating.” “Really?” came the surprised reply, he put down his mug of coffee, put his hand in the cage and lifted out our sleeping hamster. “I’m sorry to tell you your hamster’s not hibernating, it’s dead!”
Sadly, there were no tears for the demise of the hamster, just the raucous sound of adults and children falling about laughing. Apparently, hamsters don’t hibernate in centrally heated homes!
(c)SueW-nansfarm.net August 2016
Footnote: Thank you to Daisy for her little animal drawings. I’m guessing it’s no coincidence that her border collie drawing bears a striking resemblance to the latest addition to the family, Woody the Beagle! Apologies for the lack of a hamster!