Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Horses and cows

                                             Looking like a natural!

"I want a pony", a sentence uttered by so many little girls, most of whom have a small front garden barely big enough to raise a rabbit.  I was lucky to grow up in the country and we had a field, perfect for a pony or even two. I didn't utter those words, I didn't want a pony.  My friends used to come and gaze over the grass imagining riding round and round, whilst I was content to make dens in the hay and collect four leafed clovers.

My experience with horses had been a donkey ride on Blackpool beach that I had found terrifying and smelly and a trip to the local stables.  All my friends were shown their cute little ponies, with names like Rosie or Lupin. The instructor took one look at me and said "Oh, you're very tall", and brought out a massive stallion called Samson.  I had several goes at getting on the saddle and spent the whole ride holding on for dear life. Samson and I did not connect.

Sometimes our field was rented out to a farmer friend who kept a few heifers there.  We had an electric fence that I was always testing with a blade of grass.  This was to make sure the cows stayed put.  I never liked milk as a child, and being the spoilt brat that I was, could only be persuaded to drink the regulation third of a pint at school if it had strawberry milkshake in it.  Years before I thought that cows knew I didn't like milk and was afraid of the consequences.  Living in Cheshire, the heart of dairy land at the time, I often encountered them, leading me to announce "I drink mees milk moo cows", a blatant lie if ever there was one. Generally my relationship with cows like horses was an uneasy one.

"Feel the fear..."

Living near to Wales, we often went walking in the mountains.  I loved watching the sheep and seeing them being rounded up.  One day we were coming down from Snowdon and my mother unusually saw a cow standing in the path.  To reassure me she called out "Hey up, Daisy", and the animal raised its head to reveal a large ring through its nose  and the fact that it was in fact a very large bull.  Wearing a little canvas mackintosh in bright red, I shot off down the hill, fully expecting to be pursued at full force, but apparently it just put its head down again and continued grazing.

One day my father announced that he had a money making idea and that we were going to grow Christmas trees.  He had ordered 100 of them through Exchange & Mart which was one of his favourite magazines.  He told my mother to be in when they arrived and to be ready for the delivery.  A few days later a small packet arrived through the letterbox, one hundred Christmas trees... in a space the size of a robin.  They were tiny seedlings, which were duly planted, but never turned into a forest or a thriving business.  A couple of years later when I was 11 my father decided instead to build a bungalow on the field which became the house where I grew up and my parents lived until they died. I think nearly 50 years on there are two fir trees remaining at the edge of the what was the field.  Many happy years were spent in that garden, by me and lots of other children, but the only horses to be seen were driving the horse and carriage that my sister organised to take my parents round the village on their Golden Wedding Anniversary. 
I was happy to wave them on their way.

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