Monday, 16 December 2013

Sheep Puppy, Hens In The Air, Birds In The Garden And Check Out Denise's Brilliant Daily Christmas Story

It's wet and gloomy here today with dull, grey, overcast skies. My hubby reliably informs me (because he has a rain gauge that he checks every morning religiously- which is not to say he sports a shaved head, whips on a black frock and intones prayers over it) that yesterday we had 30mm of rain. It looks and feels more like November here. Where are the sharp frosts and clear crisp skies we all prefer? (or is that just me?).

As a result of the gloom I have eaten too many biscuits. 

It is a well known fact (among women) that gloomy weather makes you feel tired, and tiredness leads to excessive a) biscuit consumption or b) cake consumption or even c) chocolate consumption. At night time it definitely leads to e) wine consumption and sometimes even f) gin and tonic consumption too.

Actually, the biscuits have just made me feel even more sluggish and now portly to-boot, so once they have gone down I shall be dragging Ted out for an invigorating run down the lane. He has this morning achieved the increasingly rare feat of falling asleep ALONE in his basket, without a certain puppy chewing his ears and trimming his beard for him, and so will be thrilled at the prospect when I wake him up to tell him.

Doubtless Squeak would like to come too, but she is too small so will have to remain here on the New Ladybird Doormat (the purchase of which was necessitated by the Complete And Utter destruction she has wreaked on the it-turns-out-not-to-be-jack-russell-proof-at-all one we had by the door before). 
At least now I will not be spending an ENTIRE weekend running back and forth with a mop surgically attached to my hand demonically cleaning up muddy puppy paw prints from all over the floor. This is a boon because as I'm sure you know by now I am allergic to housework.

The New Ladybird Doormat is made of uber stout boot-and-shoe-wiping stuff, so God knows why she likes sleeping on it. It must be very rough and prickly I should think....

I am supposed to be writing up college notes but have got side-tracked into blogging, which is, Quite Frankly, a more enjoyable experience than learning about moles and molarity (sadly, I'm not referring to velvety gentlemen with spades for hands. Oh that I were).

I took both dogs sheep checking on the Down over the weekend as Poppy is now able to come out for little walks (5 mins per month of age so I have been told, so she can do 15mins). Bearing in mind Betty's aggression towards Ted I kept Poppy firmly shielded from the sheep until the end of the walk when I thought she was safely on the other side of the gate.

But then this happened.

Betty and pal came up to see if we had any food on us...

Poppy, possibly remembering the time Betty head-butted her Big Bro Ted, shot underneath the gate before I could stop her, straight at the sheep, barking furiously......

And the sheep turned-tail and fled!

Considering she only comes up to somewhere between the top of their hooves and the bottom of their knees I was Quite Impressed.

She is fearless.

She's also currently undergoing an intensive "Desensitising To Hens" programme. This is aimed at getting her used to the girls and vice-versa so that she can be off the lead in the garden without any undue Chicken Harassment occurring. 

So far she's been tied up to the bird table while the girls clucked uncertainly about her (recognising her as a new dog as yet unknown to them) but by the end of Session Number One she was sitting down next to Ruby and they were sharing some bread (which had actually been earmarked for the wild birds but never mind).

At the end of Session Number Two she was pretty much ignoring the hens, and they were ignoring her. All apart, that is, from Silly Mavis, who decided the best thing to do when confronted with a small dog you haven't met before is to forget that you are essentially a ground bird and give yourself up to the hopeless fantasy that you can fly like an eagle.

She accordingly launched herself into the air and flew right over the top of me and Poppy, forcing me to duck so fast all the vertebrae nearly popped out of my spine.

Chickens not being known for their aerodynamic finesse, and Mavis in particular being what may politely be described as 'a victim to her nerves', this was, for a few seconds at least, Quite Scary. I had visions of her confidence and therefore wings failing when she was directly above us and her landing on my head. And while I am known for wearing hats on my head in the winter I am not known, generally, for wearing silly chickens.

As a connected aside to this, did you know the world record for a hen flight is 13 seconds which translates as 300 feet? We get excited when our girls make it to three feet and three seconds. When I googled 'chicken flight record' just now to check, I saw what I think may well be my favourite sentence of the day: 'domestic chickens are not capable of long-distance flight'. Who knew? Perhaps someone should tell Mavis.....

Anyway, I am missing Rennie, our beautiful Cuckoo-Maran who passed away earlier this year, because she was Chief Puppy Trainer and soon had them licked into shape. A swift peck or three on the nose and no giving ground whatsoever and the dogs very quickly learnt who was boss, and that Chicken-Bothering was not a canine sport worth pursuing.

'Does my bum look big in this plant pot?'

Ren coming in to the house through the cat flap. While the cat flap door was broken I would often come downstairs and discover her in the hall. She liked pecking the doormat, which tells you all you need to know about my housekeeping skills.

Wild birds have returned to the garden in droves over the past week. The male Black Cap is back. Not the best picture I know but I had limited options....

And there have a been a pair of Very Pretty Collar Doves nibbling at the seeds too...

The Nuthatch Pair are also back...

And there are lots of Blue tits in the garden, all of varying hues of blue and yellow...

The LTTs have been back and this time I was lucky enough to be at the kitchen window with camera in hand as they all descended a few minutes ago (just to prove I am not exaggerating and there are lots of them...)

Love the Blue Tit coming in to land top left in this shot

There are also the Rat Children. Apologies to my dear sis for putting up more rat pictures- the poor girl was attacked by one while feeding her horse last week. It jumped at her in the feed room and she  ended up having to have a tetanus shot with the GP to be on the safe side because she'd been scratched. Rat are, therefore and understandably, not high on her list of Creatures She Likes at the mo. Sorry to remind you of this K! However, I find these two Children rather endearing and they are very scared of us at the moment so no chance of any untoward face-leaping. The football marks where their front door is....

Finally, (because I really should get back to moles and atmospheric air cells and sand dune succession and other such Thrilling Topics), my Blogging Pal, the inestimable Lady Denise Malarkey, is writing a Unique And Original Christmas Story for Advent, with a fresh installment added every day. I don't how she does it but it is Great Fun and I am thoroughly gripped and eager to find out what happens next to Mrs Miggins the chicken, Turtle Dave and Merrily Onhigh, the goose, amongst others. If you haven't had a peak yet, you'll find it on the side of my blog. Alternatively, here is a link to it. Marvellous entertainment and well worth a daily read. 

Hope you are all well, had a good weekend and are all set for a nice run-up to crimble.

CT :-)

PS- I was VERY relieved last night to see that Damien Lewis has reverted back to handsome in Homeland. I was beginning to fret that I'd have to produce another short list for candidate for TVBF.


  1. Damien is indeed back up to handsome speed. You're not alone in wishing for those crisp days and, as terrier owners, we are prone to those moments with our dogs! LOVE the bird pics. x

    1. Poppy is chewing everything in sight. I am hopeful this is just a phase rather than a character trait! Yes, Damien....sigh.... X

  2. Oooh, I do like the ladybird doormat. Tres bon! Also, I had a cuckoo maran by the name of Mrs Betty Slocombe. She was by far the maddest hen ever to pass through the gardens at MMM, developing the very bad habit of feather eating. So I am not surprised that your Rennie used the cat flap. And Slocombe is also the reason I shall NEVER have another Maran!

    And thank you, lovely, for mentioning the Advent Story. I am glad you are enjoying it, despite the cursing it elicits from me on a daily basis! Xx

    1. The LB Doormat has already been peed on four times, which has added some interesting darker orange patches to it's overall yellow appearance (that's Poppy, in case you were wondering about my family's lavatory habits).

      Ren always had an' egg-bound' problem. I have photos of me washing her with warm water in the kitchen sink to ease passage of said stuck egg, as if washing your hen in the kitchen sink were the most perfectly normal thing in the world to do...

      I LOVE your advent story- bless you for writing it. You will deserve an ENORMOUS glass of mulled wine at the end X

  3. What are you feeding those LTTs? I think I need to provide some sort of incentive here.
    And you could almost have me liking rats. Almost..

    1. Coconut halves with interesting bits of worm in from Scats...

      My sis informs me her rat didn't leap at her- instead he sort of plopped into the feed bowl. She thinks he fell off the beam above her head. A plop is better than a leap one feels, so perhaps a small and selective bit of Rat Admiration is allowed.....

  4. What a great post, so much to interest me. I can identify with the eating and drinking and tiredness! I also have doormat envy and as I am needing to buy one anyway then I shall look out for a ladybird one like yours. I loved your pics of all the wildlife and the dogs. I hope my chicken don't learn to come through the catflap.

    1. I was rather pleased with the lady bird doormat too- I went doormat shopping expecting to find only the usual round of dull scratchy brown ones (see how exciting my life is?).

      None of the other girls have ever tried entry to the house via catflap, although Ruby does come into the kitchen and cluck at me when dusk is falling - I suspect she's telling me it's time they all went back into their pen...

  5. Such fun this post! The sheep look incredible (especially from the back...) but most I like your dogs! Have a wonderful time! Christa

    1. Thanks Christa. They are sweet sheep and Poppy is coming on really well (a bit boisterous but then she is a Jack Russell).

      Hope you're having a fab time in London- loved the purple skating rink! x

  6. Lovely post CT :) with some great photos. Well done on the returning Blackcap and I adore the LTT photos. We get them here in the garden but rarely on the feeders.

    Best of luck with moles - I never ever understood them despite buying a book which supposedly explained it all in a simple manner!!!!

    Far too much chocolate, cake,biscuits and wine being consumed here too :)

    1. I was really pleased to see the Black Cap and the LTTs are just brilliant fun to watch. I had one very nearly land on me the other day!

      Groan re moles. I haven't done more than glance cursorily at them and already I feel an allergic reaction coming on!

      T'is the season to overeat. I recommend running as an antidote- this is my justification for pigging out this holiday :-)

  7. Poppy looks so cute asleep on that wonderful ladybird mat and I love the photo of Ren coming into the house; I had a chicken once who always used to try to get into my car after she sneaked in there once unobserved. I found her sitting on the seat quite happily.
    I love all the LTTs too - and the Blackcap. Ours have all disappeared and we don't seem to have any winter visitors here.

    1. She looks very sweet but monsterish behaviour is starting to appear (mostly in the form of biting Ted's ears until he squeaks- VERY naughty).

      Love the thought of you finding a hen sitting in your car! And I wonder where your birds are? Our garden is buzzing this week. Maybe there's more food still in woods and fields round you?

    2. We do have lots of birds coming in to the feeders but no Blackcaps. I haven't seen any since the summer. I expect if it turns colder I might see some different visitors.

  8. That's the best excuse for eating biscuits I've ever heard...and I feel thoroughly happy at the thoughts of a gloomy day making me eat more of the bad where're the custard creams...?
    Great bird photos, I don't seem to have any at the moment sadly. Cute rats. I'm feeling chicken broody again after reading this post!

    1. It's when you get on to doughnuts you really have to worry.... :-)

      Ahh, you must get some hens in the Spring. I've had to buy eggs again today which is horrid- must find some local back garden ones to buy instead. I suspect our girls have stopped laying for winter now, which is a bit of a shock.


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x