Monday, 7 January 2013

Day 7 - rather her than me.

Monday 7th January There are times on Arran when it rains for days at a time. This is one of these times. It has rained constantly for the past three days and I am a bit fed up with it. It is time to stop now. Today is a much better day. I am immediately unhappy if I am unproductive so that the fact that stuff has got done today is better. Rather her than me refers to my darling daughter, Molly who has an exam about to start. She is, of course, un-phased by this but the thought of facing an ecology exam leaves me a bit cold. I am not quite sure where she gets her brains from but I know it is not from me. Her gramps (my dad) was very bright so I will give him the credit. He was an interesting character who sadly left this world 15 years ago. He was quality control manager in industry until he got made redundant and decided to change direction. With my mother they bought a newsagent and turned a dreary shop into something quite wonderful with floor to ceiling sweets all in glass jars. They did well at that until they decided they had taken that far enough and wanted yet another change. They moved to Arran when I went off to university and bought all 3 properties and ten acres for about 45k. Now dad was not frightened of anything, least of all starting all over again. He quickly decided that there was gap in the market for free range eggs and began a chicken farm. Of course you do this when you have never farmed anything in your life before! I can remember coming home from university to find that he had saved up mucking out the barns so that I could help him. What a treat. Actually, I found that I feel in love with chickens. For those of you you have never kept chickens you should put it on your 'to do' list because they are adorable. They are surprisingly intelligent an quite loyal. My dad gave up the chickens after some years and then was struck down by cancer and we lost him weeks after our third child, George, was born. Whenever someone loses a parent it is extremely hard to cope but I think I just went numb for about a year. Other people have to tell me what happened in that year because I appear to have no memory of it. We have gone through quite a few chickens ourselves since then as I firmly believe that hazelbank is not complete without chickens. We are currently re-establishing a new flock and should get them in the spring. The real chicken story did not initially develop on Arran. A few years ago we decided to take our business and move to Derbyshire for a few years to further establish it. We have some very dear friends there and so off we went. One lazy Sunday afternoon we were just chatting over a bottle of wine when Harry bursts through the door declaring that a chicken was at the front door. Not really believing him we staggered to the door to, indeed, find a chicken there. What to do with a chicken all on its own? We had to house it in the garage for fear of foxes and asked around if anyone had lost a chicken. We gave that process about 24 hours before declaring her ours! Molly named her Katy and that was that. Within days Katy had established herself as the head of the family and everything revolved around her needs. When it was time to leave Derbyshire and return to Arran Katy came with us. I feel that she preferred Arran and quickly made herself at home. She had a run for during that day with special times when Molly took her for a walk. She slept in a summerhouse which, for a chicken, was the height of luxury. She had a wonderful life and we all loved her dearly. Last year we had to have Katy put down. She had cancer as well so I have come to hate cancer. The relationship between Molly and Katy was simply beyond anything I could describe. I always felt that Katy was Molly's angel and I am sure she still watches over her. A very special lady indeed. Animals play a huge part in our lives her on Arran. We are blessed to have 10 acres onto which to give our animals the best possible lives. We have two border collies and one very naughty Labrador called lottie. She belongs to me and I have no idea why she quite so naughty. Her whole world revolves around food and, to lottie, most things are edible. Say no more! Rex and Fly are the two collies who, frankly, need more than ten acres to stretch their legs so we are eternally grateful for the beach. Fly is one of life's swimmers and would probably swim to the mainland if he wasn't on a mission to retrieve a stick. Rex is the oldest dog and very much top dog. All the animals are rescued and all are full members of the family. I do threaten, on a regular basis, to give lottie away but then she looks at me and that is all forgotten. All the children have benefited from having animals in the family and we keenly await our small herd of alpacas that we are offering grazing to. Mind you the very first times one of them spits at me I will spit right back. So I am dedicating this blog to our animals past and present but above all to our lovely Molly who is going to bring back from the brink all endangered species so the rest of us need not worry! Of course, she has to get through her ecology exam first, I will let you know tomorrow how she has done. Xx