Bolton Ferret Welfare

The View from Here

by Dick Nutt

It had been suggested I call this "The President's Column", but I declined to do so as I did not fancy a visit from Monica Lewinsky, intent upon climbing it!

Time rolls by and another ferreting season is almost upon us, a good deal drier than last years' it is hoped, as I found it very difficult to persuade my "furry mob" to wear miniature life-jackets as well as locators. Summer, I distinctly remember, was a couple of weeks in August when the hay, six weeks late, was finally cut and made, and a mad scrabble ensued to get the harvest in before the next monsoon came upon us. No wonder many farms here cut the hay crop for a second lot of silage.

However, despite all, and just to renew your faith in my insanity, I will always maintain we enjoy the best and most varied climate in the world, free from earthquakes, tidal waves, hurricanes, tornadoes and similar interruptions to a day ferreting! Don't believe me? Try living in some of the rat holes of the world that I have done.

Next, and on behalf of all the farms along the A303, whose tractors, harvesters and bale trailers dared to cause delay to the hordes of migrating "grockles" rushing to fill up Devon and Cornwall, I make humble apologies and promise we coarse, crude and inconsiderate peasants will try to do better in future. Some of the aforementioned "grockles" will, however, have to promise me in turn not to leave a trail of assorted flat wildlife on the roads or dump the most revolting rubbish in the hedges, once they have filled all the lay-bys, and particularly not to erode ancient trackways and hill paths with their blasted mountain bikes. You know, I'm sure those things breed as I've often seen one on top of another tied to the back of a "grockle box", together with smaller ones on the roof rack!

Despite the length of time that I've kept ferrets I still get very affected by the loss of any of them, and this year five of my older inhabitants have passed on, including the wonderful "Teddy" whose working antics I described in an earlier article. However, it has not taken long for the gaps to be filled, and having taken in three from Sadie Roberts, as well as a couple of rescues, there are the same number of eager little faces waiting to greet me in the mornings.

Three of the five are this years' kits, "Fudge", from Sadie, is a very handsome silvermitt hob who I think is going to be a very large lad if his carthorse-like feet are anything to go by!

The other two kits, "Posy" and "Petal" were found within two days of each other wandering in the same area, nice little albino jills identical in size and weight, which has made me think that some evil b-------- dumped a litter. They both have, after two or three weeks' care, lovely temperaments and, oh boy, are they ever fast! To see them leaping and hurtling around playing kit games with "Fudge", makes me think I have the makings of an excellent threesome working team.

There isn't going to be much work in the immediate locality for them though, as the dreaded "myxy" has struck here, whereas just over the border in Dorset it's still all clear. Perhaps the Dorset rabbits are more "Hardy"! (Sorry!)

Now I'm not a vindictive man, but if there is any justice at all outside this benighted world then Dr. Delille, the French "scientist" who in 1942 first released infected rabbits onto his estate near Paris, is hopefully roasting in Purgatory. He will, I like to think, be blind, deaf and have his nether regions covered in suppurating sores, just like the hundreds of his victims I've put out of their misery over the years since the pestilence arrived here in 1953.

Perhaps we could send him, for suitable company, some of the A.L.F. lunatics who released mink into the New Forest last month.

To continue on a more cheerful note I'd like to mention a few of the things that Have particularly pleased me so far this year.

Firstly, there was the best National Ferret Fair I've yet known and there is no doubt in my mind that the decision to a stand alone, rather than hold it at an existing country show was the correct one.

Under Sheila's editorship the Newsletter just seems to get better. I haven't stopped laughing yet at some of June's more light hearted articles, particularly the hazards of decorating with ferrets around the place! Keep 'em coming, June, and let's have some more from others out there, especially new members.

Two other excellent shows stand out particularly The Game Fair at Stratford Saye, with ferrets represented by no less than five organisations on three different stands, a very noticeable difference to the last one I attended there.

Grateful thanks to Mike and Mary Neale, Mike and Julie Harris, Ray Belton, Patrick Smith and John Petchey. The only sour note here was struck by a certain gentleman busily selling kits to all and sundry - yes, we've had a few letters on that subject!

The Melplash and District Agricultural Society Show at West Bay was another good day out, as I was joined by Mike and Mary Neale whose company makes any day a good one. Sadie Roberts was there, and, as usual, busily collecting rosettes. No, not for ferrets this time but for her sheep, rabbits and assorted items of artistic handicrafts! Is there no end to this lady's talents?

There was another show I attended in the New Forest, but can't remember much about, as I was introduced to the delights of New Forest "Snakebite" cider, after which it was all a bit vague. I thought our local brew was good, but that stuff; wow!

The Christmas Show will be with us again very soon now, at Coventry this time but once more a central location, so do make the effort to be there as I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible.

Come on down, Steve Burley, and remind me what good Yorkshire ferrets look like! It is now Monday 14th September, and yesterday I went to the Hampshire Country Sports Day where the World 16 Metre Ferret Racing Championships were being held, with the usual first prize of one hundred pounds. This event always seems to attract some media attention, and a few years back the doings of one "Buffalo" Mullins here even made the "Times". For the past two years Sadie Roberts has won it, so yesterday there were a lot of people, including some from Germany, determined she wasn't going to make it a hat-trick.

After some exciting heats to qualify, Sadie's albino hob, "Floyd", romped home in the tradition of her previous winners after, it must be said, a somewhat hesitant start! There was a ferret show running throughout the day and "Sadie's mob" duly collected four firsts, three seconds and three thirds, all against some very good and numerous entries.

It all goes to prove what I have said time and time again - "a ferret is a ferret is a ferret", and a bunch of well cared for and affectionate working ferrets like Sadie's can do it all.

My best wishes and thanks to you all, and may the wind be always at your back.

(First published October, 1998)

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