Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Nature Reserve

The beginning of the year can be hard and unforgiving, but this year so far, has been the exception rather than the rule, until now, when subsequent weather forecasts seem to be predicting a bitterly cold month ahead with sub-zero temperatures.

Despite this the foxes were in fine voice last night, in sharp contrast to the stillness around them.

December to February is the breeding season when they are at their most vocal and this year is no exception, they can be heard calling and squabbling amongst themselves at various times throughout the night, often some distance away when their high-pitched cries can sound almost eerie.

Fox gestation period is 52 days and cubs, numbering 4 to 5 are born in March or April.

I'm lucky enough to live backing onto a small nature reserve where fox numbers are healthy and growing year on year.  It's true that many are becoming less wary of human contact and one is bolder and more curious than the rest.  Almost certainly it's one of last year's cubs, in peak condition, with a wonderful red coat and bushy tail and amber eyes that glow like the coals of a fire.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Stella Artois

Meet Stella Artois (& no prizes for guessing where her name originates).........she may look as though butter wouldn't melt in her mouth but first impressions can be misleading.

Stella, I think, was in a previous life, a steeplejack.  She has a particular inclination for scaling heights - and no, not your average tree.  I live not a stones throw from her abode and have on many occasions, watched her jump onto the fence, across the gap and onto the sloping roof of the house. From there she climbs a steep path to the middle and on and upwards to the apex of the house, where she sits and contemplates life - or in yesterday's instance, a heron sitting on the opposite roof.  I could hear her chattering her annoyance from here as they regarded each other, he safe in the knowledge that she hadn't got a cat in hell's chance of catching him. (pun intended).

Of course, in the end, the stalemate had to end and he flew off, circling her once to prove his point before he was gone, leaving her to wash a dainty paw as if to say 'I wasn't interested anyway'! She sat there for another few minutes before turning and sedately walking down the same way she had arrived.

Another tale to tell her companion................but there again Owen, who she's kidding!

My cats

I couldn't go any further with this without introducing you to my own beautiful boys.......

Fudge is 15, ginger and white and a kinder, more gentle cat you could never find.  He was diagnosed with diabetes last June and since then it's been a roller coaster of a ride.  He has to have two insulin injections a day, a learning curve for both of us but he's taken to it in his stride.  In fact the injections are the easy bit, the hardest part is trying to keep his blood sugar levels steady........and it's been no mean feat,  but more of that later.

Jax & Jet are brothers, 7yrs years old and have a definite love/hate relationship.  One minute they can be curled up together on the bed, washing each other and the next, the fur is flying - literally!
Jax is the more adventurous of the two and I can often see him walking purposefully across the fields at the back of the house, his mind intent on lord knows what.  Sometimes I'll call him from the window and he always turns, watches me for a split second as if to say, now what do you want and then he's off -  a determined figure, disappearing into the tree-line.

Jet is the shyer one and loves nothing more than a lap to curl up, front feet firmly kneading whatever surface he happens to have landed on - I'm sure I don't need to tell you how painful it can be - but he's so contented and happy that I never have the heart to move him.  Jet too, has had his share of health issues, he suffered from cystitis a few years ago and went on to have an operation to remove a blockage - serious at the time but happily he hasn't suffered any ill effects.  My pocket is the only casualty as both he and Fudge are on prescription food!

Anyway, that's them in a nutshell, we've had many adventures together and I hope for many more.

My own beautiful boys.........

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Alfred & the case of the locked front door...

What to do?  Whirling round to face a pair of solemn brown eyes regarding me from a mop of unruly white hair, I tried not to feel stupid and failed miserably.
Alfred appeared to be considering me with an increasing sense of amusement as his eyes darted from me to the door and back again.
'Don't look at me like that' I pleaded as he stood, practically dancing on all fours as he watched me try in vain to unlock the front door - from the inside.

Alfred is a Standard Poodle, he's the epitome of dignity and has of course never encountered a situation quite like this before.  Well Alfred, that makes two of us!

For a long moment I stood staring at the door as if it would miraculously open of it's own accord, when that didn't happen I stood back and pondered a bit more, vainly hoping for a flash of inspiration.

The conservatory door to the garden was open so there was nothing for it but to clamber onto a chair, over the top of the stable door from the kitchen and drop down the other side.
Alfred of course was following my every move, there was clearly nothing more exciting than a human doing something funny and I suppose from his point of view I had been pretty entertaining thus far and he clearly wanted to see what I had in mind for Act 2.

Once in the garden, with my troubles clearly behind me I strode to the back gate, only to find - and yes, got it in one - it was locked.

A sudden bark stopped me in my tracks as I remembered Alfred, who was no doubt by now crossing his legs having spent the morning inside so I retraced my steps and peered over the top of the door to meet his quizzical gaze as I contemplated how to get him over the door and into the garden.  Obviously having spent too long on that current train of thought for Alfred's comfort I watched as he walked determinedly over to the kitchen counter and peed deliberately against it.

Paper towels and disinfectant later I was once again at the back gate and it was then that my luck changed - the postman - one bunch of keys handed over and a minute later the front door was open and repossession mine.

Of course, had lady luck been on my side it would have gone without a hitch and as I caught a glimpse of my once clean jeans and tee-shirt and a couple of broken fingernails I once again contemplated my life as it was - or perhaps I should say, how it was going to be - and it was wonderful!!

Genius of an idea!

I don't for one minute imagine that I'm alone in thinking that what seemed like an excellent idea at 2am on a humid night in what was turning out to be a suspiciously good summer for the UK - and by that I mean not raining or blowing a gale - should in all probability have been ignored.

What I should have done was turn over, plump the pillow and allow myself to fall effortlessly back to sleep.  Of course in reality what I actually did was sit up, stagger with a graceless lack of co-ordination into the room I laughingly call an office,  to find a pen and paper, to write down what was after all a genius of an idea!

At 10am, sitting at the breakfast bar with my second cup of coffee, the idea was of course still brilliant but perhaps need tweeking at the edges.  By 2pm it was a good idea and I was faithfully following the train of pencil marks that were beginning to make less and less sense unless I read them in alphabetical order........blah blah.......which of course brings me to where I am now.

6pm, back at the breakfast bar but substitute coffee for a large glass of red - and yes, you've guessed it - with the genius of an idea!

Woodham Pet Care Services  -  At least I had a name - now all I needed were the clients, four and two legged.

Well that as they say, was the beginning...............................