For three days I am in charge of a number of assorted creatures.
My menagerie consists of two goats, a cow, assorted poultry, two blue budgerigars, two cats, five neon tetra, a small school of guppies, and two dogs.
|Chloe the cow, Milo and Lily the goats.|
Chloe the cow's broad head looks a lot like a beef breed to me. This gentle monster lowers its head for a scratch but was quite aware this morning that it had got on the chook-run side of the tape and was quite happy to be moved back with very little persuasion. She's not silly, though; She was very careful not to touch the electric tape that I'd laid down on the ground for her to walk over. Just in case it was on.
The two goats Lily and Milo are the 'good cop/bad cop' team. Lily lures you into a false sense of security while Milo gets her horns sharpened ready on a nearby post. I don't trust either of 'em!
|Good goat Lily luring you close.|
|Bad goat Milo.|
Fizzy Lizzie and Whitey are two hens that, like Ingot, are getting well and truly past their use-by-date. they are allowed a whole run to themselves. As they are topped up with copious water and pellets, I don't need to worry about them. Anyway, to get to them I'd have to get past the cops first.
|Ingot the house-hen.|
The gorgeous, strutting, yodelling-at-four-in-the-morning rooster leads his small posse of hens into the garden for early morning raids. I've no idea how they get in, but he just flies over the gate and back whenever he chooses. He shows them the corner of the garden where the budgie seed is discarded, and then they go back to join the rest of the golden girls happily wandering the field. Judging by their combs, I'd say at least three are laying, but despite exhaustive searches based on my years of experience, I haven't found their nests. Cunning creatures.
|'Quick girls, we've been spotted! Back to the run!'|
|'Come on girls, gather around, stay together!'|
|'It IS a rather fabulous tail, isn't it?'|
|'Make sure you take my best side, won't you?'|
Meeka and Neo are the two cats. Neo is as friendly and charming as Meeka is nervous. Neo has been around the house almost constantly since I arrived, leaping on benches to see what I'm doing, patting my knitting needles and attacking hummocks of grass as I pass. I've spotted Meeka hurrying across the end of a field, or frozen, watching me from near a woodpile. It looks like I'm not even going to get near her in three short days.
|'I'm going to hold on to this patch of grass. Don't even THINK about stealing it!'|
The budgies talk constantly when I am out of the room, but stop the second I enter. They are clearly talking about me. They have resisted all my attempts at friendship. I expect I don't have the right accent.
|'Shh, mate. Pretend you were just preening. Don't even glance her way'.|
The fish are familiar to me since my sojourn in the pet shop! It is good to see my old acquaintances the guppies and also the neon tetras. However despite having them all to myself, they have still proved incredibly difficult to capture with my camera.
Which just leaves the dogs - two handsome, intelligent, border collies. Clyde, who is older and wiser, barks less but knows every snippet of noise that indicates the soon approach of neighbor's tractors on the adjacent tracks. Borders love to chase. A lot.
Maddie is noisier, but keeps an eye on me, and is usually very happy to return if I indicate that the games are over. Well, mostly.
Clyde has a idiosyncratic way of showing when he wants to play: He chatters his teeth and smiles. Delightful dogs. But loads of energy. If I had these two I'd have my work cut out.
|Clyde. Look at him summing me up.|
|Maddie. Watching for the tractor. Or the ducks. Or a car on the road. Or a calf.|
There are two other things I should mention: The small box of delectable Swiss chocolates left on the bench for me as a 'thank you' (for me having a lovely weekend?), and the exercycle in a corner of the lounge. I've calculated that if I spend three hours on the exercycle each day I'm here, my calories should just about balance out.