Saga of a woman old enough to know better who lets her life be governed by the ridiculous hobby of breeding and showing dogs, musing on life, the twenty first century, Cameron and his mini-me, and the occasional sheep.

Monday, May 26, 2008

"It`s SO exhausting defending the house..."


A bit of a gap, I know - I had a tummy bug that wouldn`t clear and then was preoccupied with photo coverage of two shows on another blog. But I`m back...

And it`s all go here in the valley. The Council, that last refuge of the Numpty, has come to grips with the Right to Roam agenda. Some weedy Tam or Sandy has been sat down in an office with a big map and told to draw red lines on it - and the result of his twenty minutes labour is a network of new rights of way for the Roaming public.

Now in this area the Roaming public is not composed of fresh-faced hikers with big rucksacks and hairy socks singing "I love to go a wandering." We get the bike racers, the Buckie drinkers, the kids turned out at dawn and told not to come home until dark, the older kids looking for somewher quiet to burn out a stolen car.....you get the picture.

I would never have known that my front garden was becoming a right of way if my neighbour (the one with the Old Goat) hadn`t phoned in a panic. George (the one who populates the valley with lost sheep) had arrived at her door waving a document and spitting tacks and feathers. He had just discovered that the other end of the proposed walkway ran right through his garden. And he was organising a protest. We had to object, and if our objections failed, we would sue. Making a hasty mental estimate of George`s probably very enviable financial situation, I was happy to go right along with that.

I have become quite good at taking on the council. I wrote an objection heavy on references to Hman Rights and victimisation of aged solitary female asthmatic pensioners. And there it rested.

But the surrounding fields seemed to become strangely empty of Roamers. No dogwalkers even. I puzzled over this until I met my neighbour again. It seemed that they had been accosted by a fairly drunk Roamer asserting his Right on their property, and he had been offensive to her. Her husband has a very short fuse, and a phone call later the drunk was being invited to Roam up to the police station in a patrol car by two hefty polis. And evidently the story spread, emptying the local fields.

Until today. A whole family arrived at my gate trying to go through. With two labradors. Black ones. We all know how Papillons feel about black dogs. They are Spawn of the Devil and must be exterminated.

The pack was incandescent with fury. They got through the gate and set off in pursuit like small furry heat-seeking missiles. I could see Mr Lentil saying to Truly - "You deal with the humans and I`ll take out the Labs ..." The hapless family scattered up the lane as I tried to call off the screaming tinies and explain that this was a private road. I could see they wouldn`t be back.

At this rate, we are building such a reputation down here that locals will soon prefer to assert their Right to Roam somewhere placid and welcoming.

Like the Bermuda Triangle.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

"You`re going to invest in WHAT??"


Goats have always figured in my local landscape. I never kept one myself, but they have always been around, somehow.

I used to have a neighbour at the end of the road who proposed to make his fortune with a Goat Farm. (What do you say to someone who tells you that? I think you just have to be very kind to them.) He bought in goats from everywhere - goats are easy to get (sometimes they pay you to take them) - and they all brought their own diseases, which they happily transferred to the other goats, and he rapidly became the vet`s best friend, the one financing his villa in Spain. (I feel I just might have taken over that position now.)

He used to phone me and ask "Have you heard of..." and name some ailment only mentioned in my sheep manual as exceptionally rare and lethal.

One day I found him in deepest gloom. He had visited his Bank Manager to ask for a loan to finance expansion of the Goat Farm. Amazingly, he had been refused.

"How could he do that? I mean, you go in for a car loan and they just say yes. And a car depreciates in no time. But a business prospect like a Goat Farm.....!"

I had a sudden vision of the expression on the Bank Manager`s face as he heard the magic words "Goat Farm". I made consoling noises. I felt it was not quite the time to mention that neither Richard Branson nor Bill Gates had built their empires on goats. I could see Alan Sugar on "The Apprentice" saying - "today I want you go go out and set up a profitable Goat Farm" and the young business hopefuls screaming "Enough, Sir Alan - we quit! We`ll just go and work in Macdonalds!"

Eventually he left for the borders. Yes, he took all the goats. No, I haven`t heard.

There`s just one goat left there now. The old goat. As I came past yesterday she was sitting in the field looking all around.

"She`s been there all day", said her owner. "I trimmed her feet this morning and she doesn`t trust them any more. She thinks they don`t quite belong to her any more."'

She sighed.

"This happens every time now. She`ll be over it by tomorrow. I`ll give it an hour, then I`ll go and carry her in. "

Out in the field I swear I saw a goatish smirk.

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