Sunday, 31 August 2008

Wilde family gathering

We've had visitors from Chris's family this week, which means that I am now very well attuned to the Scouse accent and have stopped needing every other sentence repeating, lol!

Chris's cousin Jane and her husband David came with their two boys to visit last week. Sean and Cameron helped with feeding the sheep, much to the girls' delight; they don't get extras usually at this time of year. We're hoping to get some nice walks in together soon, and possibly a bit of pony trekking too.

On Friday evening, Chris's brother Robert arrived with his son, little Bob, girlfriend Lisa and her little daughter, Becky. We had a lovely couple of days introducing them to our local area: the hills and fields, pubs and livestock. The highlight was a canoe trip down Ullswater. Us girls took one boat for a nice leisurely potter around enjoying the scenery, while the boys disappeared off into the distance!

They were rather disappointed not to meet the flock of Shetlands, we'll have to save that for next time. It was lovely to see them all, we really don't see enough of either of our families. Right now though, I'm with you Whisper!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Whisper's first walk

Whisper has now had all of her vaccinations and can finally be taken out for walks, so this lunchtime we took both dogs out for a run about in one of Fox's favourite spots.

They had a great burn round in the long grass and then Fox attempted to introduce his little friend to the joys of the river."Fox, you're getting wet!"
"No, I'm not convinced that this is a great idea."
"See? Now I'm all wet :o("

"Much better!"

Monday, 25 August 2008

Solfest 2008

Right now you could say that we're slightly the worse for wear! However, not a hangover between us and, following showers on arrival home, we don't even smell to bad! We got through Solfest 2008 :oD

Solfest is a small music festival on the west coast of Cumbria. This year there were around 7000 people and a huge diversity of acts from folk, through indie, reggae and dance. I think that a pretty fabulous time was had by all.

Here are some photos. Highlights for me were chilling out in the rather boho Wierdigan's cafe, which seems to be our spritual Solfest home, listening to our friends Wal, Paddy and James who together make up Weirdstring, and listening to Supergrass. Chris and I have been a fan of these guys for years and, although Chris has seen them several times, including in a pub before they were famous, I'd never watched them live. They put on a real quality performance and we were impressed that they had turned up in the morning to listen to the other acts and wander about the festival field.

On arriving home I also found that Fox had happily survived his time in kennels despite my feelings of guilt, and that Whisper had not eaten our friend Tash's house! Fox even still likes Whisper.

Friday, 22 August 2008

"When I grow up...

I'm going to be just like my dad" says Whisper, or at least I hope she does!
Here are a couple of photos of him at the pen in a local trial last weekend.

Thanks to everyone who has left lovely comments or e-mailed congratulating Chris and I on our engagement, and of course on our gorgeous new pup :o) Fox has decided that she is lovely now too, phew!!
We're off to a music festival now (Chris and I, not the dogs!) so expect photos on Monday!

Sunday, 17 August 2008

By popular request

I've been asked for a photo of the ring, so here it is... or near enough, mine is in yellow gold with sapphires and diamonds. We chose it partly because it has no "sticky out bits" that could get caught on things, and the stones are embedded in it so I can't loose them!

Monday, 11 August 2008

Big News!

Despite the rain and the cancellation of Lowther's last day, Chris and I had a rather eventful time... and I don't just mean the parties.

This is Whisper. She's 15 weeks old and my next trial hope! Her dad Ben just came 16th in the English National which means that he is the reserve for the English Trial Team in the International. Her mother, for those of you who happen to be sheepdog nuts, is litter sister to Arthur Temple's Lassie II. She hasn't been out trialling yet.

Whisper is simply the cuddliest pup I've ever met. She loves being right under your feet or on your knee all the time. However, she also showed a keen interest in sheep today when I took her to watch her dad in a local trial. He did very well and she was captivated by the white woolly things running past.

Fox so far does not share Chris and my enthusiasm for this funny little fluffy thing which has suddenly appeared, but he'll come round... I hope!

Oh, and Chris and I got engaged!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Lowther Horse Trials

Big weekend in our village! Lowther Horse Trials is held every year and attracts thousands of horse and carriage driving enthusiasts and country fair lovers. Many were amazed that it went ahead this year since the weather conditions are horrendous and many events have been canceled. In the end, even Lowther couldn't cope with the amount of mud (which could give Glastonbury a run for its money!) and the show was closed on Sunday. We did however get some great views of the water obstacles in the marathon on Saturday.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

The Great Escape

The weather has been so atrocious that it has been difficult to decide when to release the Water Voles that I brought back from Devon. I spotted a gap, according to the weather forecast, and decided to go for it.Release pens were dug in a filled with straw ready to receive the voles, so all we had left to do was pop them into their new homes. The voles have to dig their own way to freedom. This encourages them to make the release pens their base and they soon learn to stick around for food. If the voles quickly dispersed, their chances of survival, and finding a mate, would be reduced so we try to persuade them that the spot we have chosen is a good home for voles.

It looks a bit mean handling them by the tail, but trust me, you don't want to be near those teeth. Voles aren't like many other rodent species which have delicate tails and are not harmed by this treatment!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Bit of a brag!

Another August day in Cumbria, another soggy show field. It didn't stop plenty of folk turning out for the Cartmel Show however, and among the livestock exhibited were my Todhill Robina and Sheilhope Gruna. Rosy and Ruby also came along for the ride and to educate people on the ways of the Shetland Sheep in the fibre animals tent along with alpaca and fluffy bunnies!

I was really pleased that my family turned out to see us, so thanks to Mam, Dad, my sister Kate and Granny for coming; it meant a lot :o)

There is no Shetland class at Cartmel Show (yet) but in order to support their native breeds class and encourage them to keep it going, I decided to enter. Very glad that I did too as Robina won her class and went on to take the Best Native Breed Sheep, so we got two rosettes and a nice tankard!

Meanwhile back in the dry of the marquee, Rosie and Ruby had been gathering plenty of fans... and an enemy! Shetlands are of course rather good at sticking up for themselves and, every time a dog came near they stamped and threatened. While I was talking at the other end of the tent I noticed a couple allowing their dog to get rather close despite Rosy's obvious annoyance. I decided that enough was enough and went to politely ask them to remove their hound, but before I could get there the people allowed the dog to stick its head through the bars. BANG, YELP! Rosy got it good and proper! Instead of apologising, the people started making a fuss and complaining about my dangerous sheep hurting their dog. They got short shrift from me ;o)

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Voles again...

I made a last minute trip down to Devon this week. I say it was last minute, but actually I'd known that it might be on the cards for a while since water voles had to be picked up from Derek Gow ready to be released at Warcop... the trouble with working with animals and people on busy schedules, is that nothing is definite until the last minute and then everything happens at once!

Unfortunately, everything happening at once came just when I was going down with a horrid cold (tonsilitis, chest infection, dizziness, congestion, you know the type of thing :o( ) and on Wednesday afternoon I was feeling pretty done in by the time I got level with Somerset. Luckily I have some very good friends in that area so I stopped off to visit the Sperrings and beg a cup of tea.

To further complicate matters, Derek's partner Kathy had gone into labour and things were not going terribly smoothly. We decided that it would be best for me to stay put for the night and see how the situation was for getting to Devon in the morning.

Staying with Chris Sperring and his family however doesn't mean that you get to sit down. Cold or no cold we had an owl nest to visit before dinner and so I jumped in the pick up and we were off through the leafy Somerset lanes to find some remote farm; something Chris and I realised we have been doing together for over 5 years now.

There was only one owlet at this site, but she looked very healthy indeed. There were plenty of admirers present to see her get her ring fitted, but she was very relaxed about the whole thing. The owl nest box was in a typical west country style barn piled high with freshly cut hay. Not a bad spot to be!

The owners were very proud of their owls and watched as Chris examined her condition and put her ring on.

Chris and I are both licensed Barn Owl Ringers. The rings are the comparative weight of a person wearing a wrist watch and bear an individual identification number which allows a bird to be recognised if it is found by another ringer or member of the public. More info on the BTO website.

I managed to sneak away from the owl talk for a few minutes to get some photos of some lovely Poll Dorset sheep in the next field. I've never seen one in Cumbria!

Next morning I was far from feeling better and Kathy still hadn't given birth, however, Derek's staff would be there to assist me with the voles and, as Derek said, I know my way around and how to sort the animals out for transporting. The only thing to do was to dose up on Lemsip and get on with it!

Now there is a distinct lack of photos from the trip I'm afraid since, on arriving in Devon, I learned that it was Monsoon season and I, and Derek's poor staff, all got completely soaked to the bone while sorting through voles. We found around 60 animals big enough for release in the Cumbrian vole pens, so I was happy with that despite the fact that by now I had almost completely lost my voice.

I spent the evening quietly since Derek was quite rightly looking after Kathy, although I did get roped into helping deal with fly strike on a few of Derek's Lleyn ewes. Nothing too serious luckily. The next moring I was woken at 5.15 by a cockerel on the roof of my caravan. I got up and wondered whether Derek would notice one cockerel less, but then found a very good reason to forgive the wake up call... Derek's pair of Beaver were out feeding on the pond just across the field and I was treated to some very special views. It will be so exciting when they are returned to the British countryside!

I got the voles packed up in the car and was on the road by 6.30. Now we just need a gap in the weather to release them.