(Today’s soundtrack, “Light My Fire” – the Doors or José Feliciano, take your pick.)
It’s been one of those weeks. I was so tired today that when I lay back in the orthodontist’s chair, I warned her I might fall asleep. We’ve carried on our slash-and-burn attempts to clear undergrowth and saplings to extend the areas that the horses can use (if not abuse, whilst we aim to preserve grazing for spring!). Ultimately we will thin out the trees to feed our woodburning stove and bring the land into pasture.
It’s not exactly a case of felling the Amazon jungle in miniature. Of nearly 11 hectares of hillside spreading around our house, probably only half a hectare is garden -organically maintained as far as possible – and another three are hard won pasture for the horses, all reclaimed from land which was long-abandoned agricultural terrain.
The rest is thickly wooded, and the wild things run free. (I’ve seen the wild boars’ den deep in a juniper thicket on our land and long may it stay undiscovered by the hunters!)
When we first came to see our house, in 1986, it looked like Sleeping Beauty’s domain, with briars and thorn bushes up to the door. We were oh so young and it just looked to us like a romantic challenge; our vision and toil would bring back to life this neglected house and garden, waiting to be cherished and revealed in all its loveliness. Yes, I know; hopelessly naive.
But that stubborn romanticism saw us through many years. Nowadays, creaky old cynics that we are, work we do on the house and land is more a question of wanting to make improvements but not being able to afford someone young and strong to do it for us!
Yesterday evening, absolutely done in, we decided we deserved an “apéro” (aperitif) on the terrace as the sun went down – it was actually warm enough – after the horses had been brought into their stables and fed. Later, after eating, we went to make a last check on them around 9 and found my lovely old Aly (27 this April) lying down and breathing laboriously, obviously starting a bout of colic. We know the signs, he must have clocked up nearly 50 in his time with us.
Clicking into our usual routine like a well-oiled ER team, we gave him a Calmagine injection, followed by a Finadyne paste on the back of the tongue. We both stayed by his side, hunkering down on the stable bedding and stroking and soothing him as he laboured away. Luckily, this time he was not impacted, just gassy, and not bad enough to roll violently – last time he managed to get cast four times, despite the fact his box is a very generous size.
An hour later, he was upright and looking for his haynet! We were so relieved, but wrung out with worry and tiredness.
(These are pics of him after he recovered from a colic in summer and became so hot and distressed we kept him sprayed with cool water to lower his temperature – we were so worried we would lose him, I had to have a photo of him recovering.)
So as I leaned back in the orthodontist’s chair today, I imagined how wonderful it would be to have a head massage or facial (such a rare treat!) and just drift off. Instead I was there to have a plastic brace fitted! I didn’t know, until a friend talked about having it done, that teeth could be re-aligned even after youth, and not wishing for an uncomfortable smile to turn into the full Anne Widdecombe (no disrespect meant) I’m giving it a go …..
It helped to break the ice that I was able to talk to the orthodontist about horses, that is when my mouth wasn’t open for her to stick instruments and gummy stuff into it. Turns out she has a Comtoise mare who is being broken in, but not willingly, and she and her daughter ride at local stables.
Yesterday I heard a stunning voice on Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4; Nikki Yanofsky singing, I think, “Another Day” – reminded me so much of a young Bonnie Raitt. And when I googled her, found she resembled a young Katharine Ross. Can’t fail with a combination like that!
Whilst working hard outdoors I’ve been thinking of topics to write about:
The tragic deaths of the two racehorses at Newbury last weekend has prompted much reflection on the horseracing industry – “A Race Apart” from many horse-lovers?
And – suggested by a French magazine – “Do our horses do us good? And does it work both ways?”
I’ll be taking on both these issues in future posts, but would really welcome hearing your view on these subjects – or any other.
And as things get busier out in the garden – I want to talk gardens too!
A la prochaine, Cav’a