Bolton Ferret Welfare

We are all agreed that country people should stick together in these troubled times, but has anyone asked the really important people - the animals - what they think about it all?

A Hunting We will go - Part 1

or
Don't put your Ferrets in a horsebox Mrs Worthington

By Norma Williams

It was a cold moonlight night in December. There was a tapping sound outside the ferrets' pen and George shot to the wire and peered out.

"Bugger off, Wayne Weasel" he shouted into the dark, then "Oh, it's you". A handsome ginger fox stood there, grinning, in the dark.

"We're hunting tomorrow" whispered the Fox, "The Bell at 11 o'clock." He vanished.

"Funny lot, foxes" mused George.

"Are we going hunting George?" asked Gilly.

"We might as well, she's going" he nodded towards the house. "Oh hello, here it comes."

The beam of a torch wobbled towards them. It was Mother, with the food. A rather vague woman more used to horses than ferrets she had made some drastic mistakes in her handling of George. Mistaking smallness and cuteness for sweetness and innocence she was totally under the sway of a very cunning animal. The other two ferrets were less of a problem, Gilly is a dear little jill with a kind heart, and Henry is thick.

The food, (fresh mince from the Co-op) was placed reverently in front of George.

"I don't want that pap" George kicked the bowl with a large hairy foot. "It binds me up, I'll be on the lavvie all week if I eat that." He pushed his face to the wire and shouted, loudly and rudely "Fetch-me-a-chocolate-biscuit. A McVities-chocolate-biscuit. Fetch-it-now". She trudged off up to the house again. "Look at it," said George bitterly. "You might as well try and train an earthworm. Dozy old tart. "He raised his voice again. "I hope you ride better than you cook" he shouted after her, "or you're going to break you bloody neck tomorrow".

It was 9 o'clock next morning. The trailer, hitched to Mother's Land Rover, stood empty in the yard. The groom's door was open, and below it stood a small queue of animals from Bog Wood, who all wanted to see the fun. There was Wayne the Weasel with a clutch of his female relatives, about six scruffy squirrels, two very nervous rabbits and a tiny stoat called Sid who was too shy to speak to anyone. In the doorway stood George like a small menacing 'bus conductor. He was trying to exort money from would-be passengers. As we all know, no one in Bog Wood has any money at all, and he wasn't having much luck. A rather tasteless negotiation was going on between George and Wayne who had made an offer of one of his daughters, Tracy, known to all in the village as "the easy weasel". An end was fortunately put to all this when Mother led her horse out and all the unofficial passengers dived under the straw.

Off they rumbled, up the drive towards the meet at The Bell. All the animals sat quietly, except the Fox, who was in the tack locker eating Mother's sandwiches, and George, who's handsome sandy face with it's smart mask shot out of the straw and peered toward Zanti. "Hello Horse" he said cockily. Like all rude people George never bothers to learn anyone's name.

"Good morning George" said Zanti, politely, but rather warily.

George scrambled up the hay net and climbed onto the breast bar of the trailer. Zanti shuddered and put her head up as far as it would go.

"I can see right up your nose when you do that" said George. "Your back looks nice and warm, Horse, can I jump on?"

"If you come any nearer I'll kick this trailer to bits" snapped Zanti, "then you'll all have to walk home."

"There's a nice warm gap between that fleecy thing and your saddle, plenty of room for a ferret."

"You'll dig your claws in."

"I won't. I won't."

"What's going on?"

Wiping bread crumbs from his whiskers the fox appeared quietly beside them.

"Aren't you heading in the wrong direction?" asked George, "seeing as its you we're all supposed to be hunting."

The fox grinned. "I just wanted to make sure she'd gone," he nodded towards the Land Rover and luckless Mother. "When she's out I'm going to nip back and eat all her chucks."

George was speechless with admiration. Here was a masterstroke worthy of a ferret. You can't beat us carnivores when it comes to brains he thought happily. The day took on a happy glow of anticipation. With any luck he might see Mother break her neck. At the very least he'd see her go completely ballistic when she got home and found all her stupid hens gone. He began to do his favourite little dance along the breast bar and sang his favourite little song, to the rhythm of the cha cha. "Oh... its not what you do, it's the way that you do it. Its not what you do, it's the way that you do it... THAT'S-WHAT-GETS-RESULTS. Cha Cha Cha. He fell off into the straw and laughed himself silly.

Mother was not at her best first thing on hunting mornings. Zanti stood, fairly patiently, with the reins over her head. The reins led to the outside loo at The Bell, wherein sat Mother, for about the tenth time that morning. Old Horace the village know it all, sat outside and addressed her through the closed door. "Tha should 'ave put a curb on thy 'oss my wench" he said, blowing clouds of truly awful pipe smoke through the door. "Tha'll never 'old that nice 'oss in a snaffle." There was a horrible moan from inside the loo.

George sat happily on the low wall of the pub and peered eagerly round for someone to annoy. He was fairly spoilt for choice having upset everyone in the village at some time during his short life. As he sat there, Zanti pranced by, with Mother fidddling and fussing to find her stirrups. George braced himself, leapt, landed in the stirrup iron, shot up Mother's hunting boot and vanished under the saddle.

The huntsman happily toot-tooted on the horn, and the hunt, hounds, field and most of the village trotted, ran, pedalled, drove and skipped joyfully after him. Last of all was Gilly who had been abandoned by her brothers. She had Sid's tiny paw firmly grasped in hers and was dragging him along behind her.

Most of the Weasels lay in a drunken heap at the back of the pub. Except for one, Tracy. She had formed a gruesome relationship with Henry which they were consummating as the empty trailer headed back to the farm. In the corner sat the Fox, trying not to look.

It was only 11.15, and you could already tell that the day was going to end in real trouble.

(First published in the Autumn 1999)

*********

A Hunting We will go (Part 2)

In which George hones his equestrian skills to a fine edge;
Mother has a long walk,
Horace has a shock,
Wayne has a terrible hangover,
and the Fox has a jolly good supper.
and as for Tracy...

Stories by Norma Williams
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