Doggy, Hill Farming, Humour, Literature, Wales, Wendy Wigley

Iolo’s Revenge

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‘They’ll do!  They are the ones I want’, said the old farmhouse, probably in Welsh, and the couple (the ones the old place wanted) were drawn into the life of the place — inspired by its beauty, its creatures, its moods and its stories.

My book, Iolo’s Revenge, Sheep Farming by Happy Accident in Mid-Wales, is published later this week by Logaston Press.  It tells of the abduction of an orderly, retired couple from Northampton to the heart of Wales.

They accidentally buy a derelict farmhouse and almost immediately are adopted by Pedro, a wayward hound.  They had been winding down for a quiet life when suddenly they are climbing on the roof in the midst of a terrible storm, grappling with a homicidal, mechanical digger and wrestling with a huge pregnant ewe in a freezing stream in the middle of the night.

They had never had any inclination to move to Wales or practice extreme farming, nor try to learn Welsh –yet life just takes over and before they know it they have discovered a sense of belonging and community lost since childhood.

 

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Iolo’s Revenge is illustrated by Wendy Wigley, a local artist who shares our love of the Trannon Valley and it’s often incongruous images!

SONY DSC Iolo’s Revenge ISBN 978-1-910839-24-9 £7.99 Available from Fircone Books, The Holme, Church Rd, Eardisley,  HR3 6NJ, United Kingdom.   Tel:+44(0)1544 327182

Buy today on-line from:Logaston Press

 

 

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Doggy, Hill Farming, Humour

Pedro’s Summer (do)Glog!

 

The sheep are sheared and drenched, the lambs are all injected and sprayed for blow fly and lice, and Maa’s been done for horse fly and midgy (she tastes most peculiar) and she’s finished the paperwork (boring), so we’re off out — it must be Summer.

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Keeping Cool!SONY DSC

Posing in the sunshine!

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Walks now limited by bovine population explosion.

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So we’re going to dig another pond with Alan’s new little helper…

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Who is quieter and less temperamental than the old one who had to be taken away.  Driven onto the lorry with much slipping, sliding, huffing and puffing of blue smoke — Alan was sad.

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But the topper has broken so, while Alan mends it, Maa and I have got to cut all the thistles by hand — that’s why I’ve got to do the blog — Maa’s too stiff!.

Cheers all!

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animal psychology, Communication, Doggy, Hill Farming, Humour

Working dog? Superdog

Here he is!

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Not working!

Is he a Welsh Sheepdog?

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Well, sort of.

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He certainly understands sheep.

He knows when they are ill.

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A caring-dog for any of our lambs that are poorly.

He’s much more than that.

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Intrepid mountain-dog and finder-of-the-way-home-dog.

‘Responsible-adult’-dog.  Always alert, sensor-of-danger-dog.

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Night-hound, watcher-of-your-back-dog.

Ratter, humane catter, licker-up-of-mess-dog.

He’s a parson’s nose disposer.

He’s not a ‘blind-dog’ but he’s a seeing-in-the-dark-dog, a hearing-for-the-relatively-deaf-dog and a sniffer-dog for the finding-something-dead-job.

But most important — he is a remembering-dog.  Working with the terminally forgetful.

If the chickens have not been turned out or the cratches not filled with hay he will fix the farmer with his beady eye (see above) and throw glances at the chicken house or the cratch until the farmer says,”Oh yes, we’d better see to the chickens,” or the hay or the 101 other forgettable chores on our little farm.

spring 2012 209 Pedro

Pedro

 

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Doggy

The Sheepdog’s Apprentice

Pedro is more of a general-purpose farm-dog and having a little helper is as much of a trial as a boon. But there is nothing like showing another what you do to make you realise what a full and interesting life you lead.

Pedro and the work-experience student

Pedro and the work-experience student

Marley has come to stay for a couple of weeks while Alison and Dan have a little respite in Spain, he is ten months old and curious and learning to be good.

The sheep took one look at Marley, from a distance and on a lead, and withdrew to the uppermost margin of the field where they gathered, in a defensive formation, ready to stamp their feet and advance as one, heads low, armed for butting, should he approach — they understand dogs completely, especially young ones.

Pedro looked askance at their reaction — the sheep have ignored him for years, ever since the day when he had been placed to block their way — he held his ground like a good dog should and each of them, in turn, jumped over him!

I am taking them for a walk to wear out the youngster but something strange has happened to Pedro — he is in mentor-mode.

Pedro and Marley

He shows Marley the ropes — the fences, the hedges, the tracks.  He shows him all the holes in the fences where the foxes and the badgers come in — he doesn’t have to explain, he just shows him how to sniff them and, by golly, he’s got a good nose!

He sees, with his nose, where the badgers get in from the rain forest-

Thi is where the badgers have burrowed under the fence -- can you smell them??

This is where the badgers have burrowed under the fence — can you smell them??

and what they have done to the pasture — this is the time of the year when the badgers scratch off the turf to feed-up on worms and grubs before winter.

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Badger damage — the rootling of the earth pig (Welsh name – smells the same)

This is a run --can you smell a fox -- when we find a good bit we'll roll in it.

This is a run –can you smell a fox — when we find a good bit we’ll roll in it.

He shows him where the toadstools grow.

Marley

(No Sue, my last blog had nothing to do with mushrooms, magic or otherwise)

And now we’re going home for tea and a nice lie down — Pedro looks tired, it’s a big responsibility.

Pedro and Marley

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Doggy, Humour, Pedro's glog, Sheep

Pedro’s New Year Glog

I wasn’t born to be a sheep dog — more of an urban animal really — bit of a Jack-the-lad, I suppose.  Not a yobbo — urbane, they say — I’ve been to the theatre twice — outdoor, don’t you know — I’ve seen Hamlet!

Sheep Dog or what?

Sheep Dog or what?

I’m a Generic Hound, sometimes called an Original Dog, with nothing added and nothing taken away — they haven’t nibbled away at my genome (that’s what I’m told by my friend, the geneticist), I came with all my natural potentiality then just had to find a niche — that’s where I live now — in my niche.

Supervising Shearing at the Niche

Supervising Shearing at the Niche, thanks to Peter Jenkins for the picture (all rights reserved).

It suits me, I like the out-door life and the rain and if you have a good brain and understand their lingo (human’s that is, despite their undoubted intelligence, sheep have little conversation) it’s not difficult.  One starts by just ‘helping out’ a bit and before you know it you’re on ‘One Man and His Dog’, except that she’s One Woman and, quite honestly, there is very little chance of us attaining celebrity because of her, what shall I say, declining powers.  I can understand  her perfectly but she doesn’t always think situations through or, indeed, even close the right gates, but we muddle along.  It’s not that she doesn’t understand me, one flick of the eyes and she knows exactly what I mean but she’s wilful — thinks she knows best and, to be honest, since the operation I really can’t be bothered to assert myself.

Ady -- my trusted lieutenant.

Aby — my trusted lieutenant.

Aby helps, she’s my ward, I raised her from  a new-born lamb when she was orphaned and had to live in the new wet-room, then the kitchen — she’s the only creature that I’ve ever allowed in my basket.  Not now — she’s got very big and clumsy but she still talks a lot, much more than the other sheep.  She’s had lots of lambs of her own now but none of them are quite like her.  We have a soft spot for each other, she and I, she lets me lick her new lambs which the others would never do — they stamp their petulant little feet and I wouldn’t mess with any of them.

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Aby with her 2012 lamb who is called Eighty-one and will be having her own lamb in April.

Proud Guardian!

Proud Guardian!

I do most of the remembering, I’m the time keeper, I know when things should be done, and I deal with security and pest control — I manage the cats and catch the adult rats (they really only cope with the young ones).

Protecting Boss from pesky cat (demonstrating sophisticated emotion) Jealous dog -- they do PhDs in that.

Protecting Boss from pesky cat (demonstrating sophisticated emotion). Jealous dog — they do PhDs in that.

It’s not all work, I have holidays, mainly beach retrieving holidays.

Here I am in Ireland.

Here I am in Ireland.

Wishing you all the best for 2015, Pedro

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Doggy, Humour, Wales

Feelgood Friend

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I feel another half-baked theory coming on — pet owners live longer than other people, probably just because they are more active (getting up in the night to open doors, clearing up messes, taking long walks, searching for missing balls, disposing of bodies, washing duvets etc.).  This fits in with the bowls and ballroom dancing phenomenon —  any doctor will tell you that their oldest and healthiest patients are those who still engage in these strange physical practices.  The key, it seems, is activity — any activity.

Happiness is also supposed to be good for you and is definitely infectious — perhaps it is a zoonosis (something you catch from animals).

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All of this crossed my mind this week-end while on a camping holiday on the Gower peninsula in South Wales — we only went for a couple of days because it’s November and the weather forecast was appalling.  The timing was not negotiable as Alan had been invited on a brewery sponsored trip to see the Scarlets play rugby against Glasgow at Llanelli and Llanelli is just a knock-on from the Gower — I was to pick him up after the match.

He found me in the camper van, parked in Morrison’s car park outside the stadium — I didn’t recognise him, not because of the strangeness and unsteadiness of his gait but for some reason he had donned a flat cap and a muffler — a throw-back to his childhood, perhaps.  The rain was driving and the wind howled around the van  which became super-cooled.

I had booked into the camp-site earlier but it was already dark and stormy.  That was when I made the acquaintance of the owner of the adjacent livery stable — an animated man with a coat over his head who danced  around the camper van in the heavy rain and the glow of my brake lights as I exercised a 17-point turn in his cluttered yard.

As I drove Alan back to the Gower he was relatively oblivious to the idiosyncrasies of my driving style and we found the pitch again with ease, it was the only one with a crooked number which I had adjusted earlier with the near-side bumper.

Next morning I awoke under the pile of duvets and the survival blanket, I was warm– Alan was alive, despite the hot water bottle having fallen out of the end of our bed and into the dogs basket during the night.  The sun was shining through the cracks in the window insulation.  There is something rather wonderful about the quality of the light on the Gower.

Something about the light -- there should be a Gower school of art -- perhaps there is!

Something about the light — there should be a Gower school of art — perhaps there is!

If you like wide open beaches, the Gower is for you.

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The sunshine bought out the crowds — we must have seen eight people in the course of the day, most disguised as seals and frolicking in the surf —

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I think wet suits are quite sinister and expected our dog Pedro to pick up 0n this but it seems that they smell rubbery, like ball which is even better than stick and, it turns out, surfers are exactly his type of person.

A dog day that starts with a hot-water bottle is going to turn out well.

The Gower is his sort of place and I am left musing how strange it is that spending a day throwing balls for a wet dog can make a human feel so happy.

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Communication, Doggy, Humour

Dog Friendly Accomodation

Not just dog friendly — pig friendly — horse friendly — duck friendly — goose friendly — and, yes, human friendly!

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We stayed in a place once, recommended by the Cornish Tourist Office as dog-friendly, where Pedro had to sleep in the car and the landlady sniffed at the gap under our bedroom door.  When we surprised her in the act, she accused my husband of smoking which he had not been doing (although he might have smelled of tobacco!)

Thus we are sceptical about such claims of tolerance and frienship.

Not so at the Crooked Inn, Trematon, near Saltash, Cornwall, England (for far-away friends).

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Here we were welcomed by the host, a large, elderly, golden Labrador who met us in the car park and led us into the bar, explaining the rules to Pedro on the way under his breath.  Inside was a heaving Friday night bar where unseen wagging tails flagellated our passing legs.

Food was being served and dogs lolled under tables.  One of the locals was tired and emotional and obviously disliked tourists, he growled at Pedro and was bundled away by his friends several of whom then came over and introduced themselves.

In the dinning room, Pedro was calmed by under-floor heating and ate fat from excellent sirloin steak.

No one woofed in the night, not even when someone fell over a goose and set of the alarm.

Breakfast was generous smoked haddock with a perfect poached egg, garnished with lemon and fresh lime.  Outside the huge pig wandered free, unmolested by the running dogs and ignored by the over-coated horse.  The puddle-ducks dabbled and the geese gaggled and Pedro prepared for the serious business of the day

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