Travels with MaryE

Most things I love best are about good light and good timing. That's where the adventures start. Don't be in no hurry here. Here you'll find a little bit about bluegrass music, fox hunting, life on the road, time on the mountain, and a whole lot about other things, too.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Hound Haven, Mavis and Betty...and Rain!

K and L at their lodges. Yes, these girls are mostly silly.
So yesterday L and K came over for our usual Sunday morning walk. The hounds normally accompany us on these walks (they're the reason the walks began in the first place) but with so many lambs about in nearly every field, the hounds, now close to a year old, are quite a liability, so they were left to romp in the garden. These days we spend more time with all the pampered cats around the farm...they are well-fed!
Kitty with "attitude"
Yeah, the cats around here seem to have very large heads and small bodies...

We took along our gardening gloves and headed for the upper wood, site of K's fort "Hound Haven." The hounds do love it there! Since we'd previously worked on L's fort ("Leaping Hound Lodge") it was time to tidy up Hound Haven. On the way to the wood we were walking down a little farm lane that passes by what's known as the "sheep shed" (but no sheep in there these days) and we heard a thunderstorm of young cattle roaring out the far end of the shed headed for, well, greener pastures. We continued to talk among ourselves as we went down the lane, climbed some old metal hurdles across the lane and headed across the pasture. Down in the far corner near the upper wood is a gate and we could see it was open. Most of the cattle had passed through the gate but three, still a long way from us, were down in the corner near the wood. Suddenly the first one lunged over the fence! Now this is no short fence, it's what is used for holding in sheep and must be 40 inches or more high. Top that with a strand of barbed wire on the bottom and one on the top as well as a bit of distance above the was high. And these cattle are I'd say less than one year old. We were quite alarmed, but what could we do? About 30 feet from where these cattle decided to practice their steeplechase routine from standing still in a boggy place was the open gate! I thought cattle were smarter than that. We were still a good distance from them, so we posed no immediate threat. The second and third cleared the fence as well though I can't say they did it flawlessly. Somewhere along the way the barbed wire in that segment of fence was yanked loose but apparently the cattle suffered no injuries. I'd heard before about cattle jumping gates and fences from a standstill, but this was my first eyewitness experience!

With the cattle now down the lane and out of the way we climbed the stile into the wood and began our work. I had some big loppers and began clearing a bit of a path through the laurel and things that had grown up since last spring's tidy-up. Several trees had succumbed to the ravages of age or weather and we did our best to drag their limbs out of the way. Many laurel branches later we made our way into the rear entrance of Hound Haven (the official sign is at the upper end) and began picking up fallen branches and debris, tossing it into designated piles. L busied herself with trimming back some holly while I worked on the laurel and K supervised our efforts (well, it is her fort, after all) as well as working on clearing away the stuff we were trimming. We worked steadily for over an hour and results were dramatic! K has several laurels which she calls "koala trees" since she likes to climb in them and hang down. Very cute! So we made a real difference in Hound Haven and were pleased with our results.

Later I went to visit my friends Beryl and Philip (along with some other friends they'd invited over) and we spent a most enjoyable afternoon out in the wilds somewhere near Painscastle sipping wine, sleeveless and barefoot, in the (hot) sunshine followed by a wonderful traditional British meal of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, peas, mashed potatoes, gravy, and a few other items (a very nice leeks and carrots in cream sauce dish) follwed up by yummy raspberry crumble with custard or cream. Hungry yet? Not long after we'd adjourned to the lounge and patio the thunder started rolling and most of us were glad since we haven't had a drop of rain around here since I don't know when (several weeks anyway). It did eventually drizzle a bit but nothing to run for cover for! Down in the valley where I stay, though, they had quite a storm around teatime and on the way home there were a couple of places on the little old road where flashing lights warned of mudslides from some of the hillside ploughed ground that had done a runner into the road.

Now Beryl and Phil have two cute new Bassett (sp?) hound puppies named Mavis and Betty. Is there anything sadder-looking than a Bassett hound? Well, you can judge for yourself but I don't hardly think so. After the other guests had gone Phil and I chased those girls around the garden while I tried to get some photos (it ain't easy photographing two energetic puppies in low light but I do love
Puppy love - Mavis and Betty

a challenge). The light was lovely and Betty and Mavis are, of course, beautiful. It was funny when they both decided they should have this crushed Diet Coke can. The growling and biting that ensued!

I returned to the valley with a big smile feeling much richer for having spent a happy day in Hound Haven followed by a lovely meal and a visit with some friends and a good ole romp with two adorable puppies.

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