Bolton Ferret Welfare

Diary of a Highland Lady - February/March 2005

Ivy on her tartan - 4Kb View from the ferret pens - 5Kb

Strange how things seem to go full circle. When I first started this column I was a single ferret living in the house. Then I ran a small (but very select) group of elderly jills. Now I'm back to being a single house ferret. My dear companion Robyn passed away shortly before Christmas. It was quick, painless, and not entirely unexpected. She was over nine and a half, after all. I was completely devastated. I took ill myself. Grief, depression and shock, they tell me. Anyway, Morgana and the other old ladies were a bit too much for me while I was in that state so they have gone off to a new pen leaving me in the house.

I'm not lonely though. I have Dr June and Dr Jeff and, of course, 'Big Dog'. I have occasionally mentioned him but I have been asked why I don't say more about him so here's a brief outline. Troy is a Beauceron, which is a French herding breed. He's about the size of a donkey and looks like a cross between a Rottweiller and a German Shepherd. Dr June fell in love with the breed when she lived and worked in France so, nine years ago, when she had the chance to own one she jumped at the opportunity. Troy still has his French police tattoo marks in his ear. Between you and me, I think there's a little bit of jealousy in the family. Troy is really Dr June's No. 1 buddy and I'm not sure if either I or Dr Jeff feels quite happy with that. Still Troy's a decent sort of animal. He has an obsessive urge to watch over and look after things so he checks all the sheep at least twice a day, counts the chickens and checks up on me several times a day. I'm thinking of employing him as my personal 'minder'. I mean, how cool would that look for me to turn up at functions with a seven stone canine minder at my right paw? That should deal with the paparazzi!

Being back in the house means that I have had more opportunity to eavesdrop on family conversations. You may remember that I organised a Ferret Race Afternoon to raise funds for a woodland conservation project. Well, it went ahead with huge success and raised £832. That was useful to hear - not that I needed any confirmation that my idea was anything but brilliant. Far more baffling was the conversation on fencing. Not the 'En Guard, have-at-you-varlet' type of fencing, the post, rails and wire mesh sort. Apparently we are getting another flock of sheep so more land needs to be fenced. That led to the question of how many meters does it take to fence off 60 acres. Well, the first time Dr June worked it out I think she got her square roots mixed up because she almost ordered enough stock fencing to cordon off the entire West Coast of Scotland. (Incidentally, what is a square root? It sounds like an EU Directive for the desired shape of supermarket carrots) The second time, I think her decimal point went adrift because the amount she came up with probably wouldn't have round round the hen house. I think she's sorted it out now but I'm just waiting for the time they both start putting it all up and one them, while holding a post, utters the immortal words of 'when I nod my head, hit it'.

In the meantime, Lettie, the Light Sussex hen, repaid Dr Jeff's kindness for taking her in (he's the one with the soft spot for hens) by laying her first egg. I still wonder if the noise she made after she'd laid it was pride in her achievement or discomfort at passing something the size and shape of a very knobbly pine cone. Anyway, she hasn't done it since, which is probably a blessing for all.

I'm not sure what the winter weather has brought for everyone but up here it has been foul (pardon the hen-oriented pun). We had hurricane-force winds that just about brought the place to a standstill. All the power lines were down for almost a week. We managed OK but isn't it amazing what a hash humans make of not having light? Dr June brushed her teeth with antiseptic cream instead of toothpaste and Dr Jeff opened a tin of spaghetti for the dog's dinner (don't ask what they had on toast for supper). Everyone's still looking for the TV mast. I suspect it's somewhere off the coast of Nova Scotia. I think the Royal Scots Raccoon Guards slept through everything. They get very dozy and lazy in the winter months. Dr June thinks it's normal but I KNOW they are hatching plots to hold up SAGA tourist coaches next Easter. Stay tuned to Crimewatch!

Spring can't come soon enough for us although it will mean more lambs. Dolcie (formerly known as the Lamb from Hell) will be producing her own offspring and goodness knows what that will bring. I've got the mint sauce at the ready!

(From Ferrets First Issue no. 22 February/March 2005)

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