Thursday, 17 January 2013

Stories from the Farm

When I was nine my family moved to a farm in Sussex. Our nearest neighbours were a mile across the fields, it was 3/4 of a mile up the track to the lane, four miles to the village, and at night the only sounds you could hear came from the wild things that lived all around us.

At the farm we could, at long last, have our ponies at home. They were scruffy, ordinary, woolly-bear-in-the-winter type ponies and we learnt to ride them as much by falling off as staying on. They were good natured, patient, loyal and loving, and we always bounced when we fell off them and got straight back on, because we were children, lithe and fearless. All except for one time, the one and only time one of us ever broke a bone in a riding accident. My little sister took a corner on her fat Thelwell too fast and ended up sitting underneath the pony's round belly. 

She broke her leg that day, out in the middle of the woods miles from home with no road nearby and of course in those days no mobile phone to call for help. There were three of us riding and while my friend galloped for home across the woods to raise the alarm with my white-faced, appalled, shaking and, by the time she reached us some 40 minutes later, barely-functioning mother, I remained in the deep dark wood where the fairies danced, with my sister, who by that time was in not inconsiderable pain and also more worryingly, beginning to swim in and out of consciousness as she held the broken pieces of her leg together with both hands stuffed inside her too-large wellies. We played charades, to keep her conscious, and when help arrived a long time later, I carried her, with my mother, the mile up the sandy track out of the wood to the waiting car. 

She had a plaster on her leg that stretched from her toe to her hip for the next 6 weeks, and a half plaster, from her knee to her toe, for 4 more after that. Of course, she was back on the pony as soon as the big plaster came off and the little plaster went on. My mother allowed it because she knew it would be done secretly if she didn't. When my sister returned to the hospital to have the small plaster removed, the staff couldn't work out why the inside leg of the plaster was black. At a sharp and vocal glare from my mother I snapped my mouth shut on the words that it was dust from the side of a muddy pony.

1 comment:

  1. This is so nice to read, a carefree childhood, which every one should experience!


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