Thursday, 15 November 2007

Man's best friend? or Idiot pt 2

Listening to: Lonely As You (Foo Fighters)
Weather: cloudy, but wonderfully clear
Birdwatch: Sanderling, knot, curlew, snipe, common gull, black-backed gull, hooded crow.

I had half a mind to keep this quiet as it proves beyond doubt that I am a know-nothing idiot who should be barred from caring for animals immediately. But this is an attempt at an honest(ish) account, so here goes. Please don't judge me too harshly.

I was attending to all the usual morning tasks, having first taken the precaution of shutting the freshly-walked dogs in the kitchen.

I fed the pigs and the hens, cleaned both sheds out and continued the task of shifting the ancient chicken manure onto the newly-dug vegetable beds.

Knocking off around 11.30, I went round to the front of the house and into the kitchen, letting the dogs out. I had originally gone out through the back door of the barn.

I had forgotten I had left that door open and suddenly realised ten minutes later, but not soon enough to stop Spike diving out and into the pig shed where he got hold of Ernie by the knee/knuckle of his back leg, having first given him a few cuts around one ear.

I leapt into the pen and managed to get Spike off by kicking him hard with my steel-toe-capped boot. I slapped him hard in the hope he would get the message, dragged him into the barn and left him in the back byre to cool off.

Ernie was clearly in pain and there was blood on his face. I got the warm water and Dettol, caught hold of the still-vociferous pig and cleaned him up. The cuts on his ear were not serious, but he had a couple of nasty gashes on his leg, a flap of skin having come off his kneecap (for want of a better word).

He went into a sulk, buried himself under the straw and didn't come out until tea-time when I was glad to see he tucked away his usual ration. However, the leg was obviously swollen and very painful. Not so serious that he didn't put some weight on it when standing still, but he couldn't walk on it.

Marcus promised to come up in the morning to have a look. By the time he arrived, Ernie had had a good breakfast and was very much perkier. Marcus said to leave him alone, but if the swelling doesn't go down in a couple of days he's give him an anti-biotic jab.

He was kind enough not to criticise my animal husbandry or lack of it, leaving me to beat myself up over it. I mean, to get from the kitchen to the barn back door, Spike had to go through four doors - all of which I'd left wide open.

I can't blame Spike. He's a Jack Russell, bred to terrorise and destroy other animals. You can hardly encourage him to chase and kill rabbits and then expect him to differentiate between wild and farm animals.

I'm gutted. . . so, so annoyed with myself because part of the point of all this was to raise and care for animals, giving them a decent life before sending them to slaughter and I'm falling down on the job.

The other question it raises is over Spike's future. Being a Jack Russell, he has bounced back quickly and is the same cocky little bastard he ever was. There's no question that he will do it again and again, as often as he is given the chance. It's bad enough that he should attack our stock, but what if he got out and went for a neighbour's animals. Chances are he'd be shot.

I've seriously thought about finding him a new home, but can't bring myself to do it. For all his faults, he's one of my best mates. We're a package. After all, what would I do for paw marks on the dashboard of my Land Rover if it wasn't for Spike.

I'm going to have to be very much more careful about closing doors and, when anyone else is around, he will have to be tied up. I'm also ordering timber and wire for a post and rail fence with fine mesh, which I'll use to make a properly fenced off, dog-proof garden at the front of the house.

Then I'll keep my fingers crossed.

On the bonus side, brother-in-law Martin sent me a disk to get the laptop fired up again. It brought up a browser window, but offered no connection. I pressed the "Connect" thingy on the desktop and was presented with a number of possibilities. I clicked a couple - a little like laptop Russian roulette - and blow me down if it didn't do the trick.

Piece of cake this technology stuff.


Reg Pither said...

The first five words of your post would have sufficed.

fiwa said...

Don't be too hard on yourself. This is your first year, right? Too bad we can't make our dogs behave like people, but they're just being dogs. Mine is perfectly lovely until small children enter her realm, then she turns into a snarling, biting, rabid animal.

Arabella said...

I was going to suggest a large but portable cage for the Spiker, where he can stay if you leave the room. A pen wouldn't do because of course Jack Russells have springs built into their little legs and are Olympic jumpers.
'Cage' doesn't sound nice but you could put a toy or favourite thing in it for him.

Malc said...


Seeing as it's you, quite right.


Can't live with 'em etc. . .


Toy or favourite thing? Hmmm. Half-a-dozen live rabbits? Human leg? Suggestions please

Anonymous said...

NOOO! NOT THE PIG! This reminds me of the scene in Withnail and I where they leave the gate open and the bull wanders out and groceries go everywhere. Pigs are pretty resilient though, aren't they?

Malc said...

Resilient is the word. Eric is now fully recovered and Ernie's wounds are healing fast. Spike is still in disgrace, although he doesn't realise it.

Arabella said...

A toy in the shape of a human leg? Spongey, so he could worry it threadbare..there you go - a winter craft project for you!

Malc said...

I knew that needlework O-level would come in handy.