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January 2023: "From A New Forest Inclosure” by Ian Thew

I’m pleased to say that the Doting Owner of the Spoilt Pony is a very good cook who panders to the needs of all the members of this ménage. This pampered existence has its downside, however, and it’s fair to note that one or two of the household were, to say the least, gaining weight and when I say gaining weight, perhaps I should be saying they were downright fat! Some of you will know that my own figure is not as trim as it should be but who am I to refuse this surfeit of delicious calories which keep my naturally, sylph-like figure, hidden from view!! But it wasn’t me that I was concerned for, it was the dogs, of course, and in deference to their well-being, their daily intake of nutrients has, for some time now, been restricted by the introduction of a sensible, canine diet. Gone, are the titbits, the left-over’s and the doggie chocs and instead a single, suitably designed meal followed by a dog biscuit at bed time constitutes their daily intake of food. And are they happy with this rather harsh regime – no, of course they’re not! But, nonetheless, the excess weight began to fall-off and waistlines started to reappear-but not for long. Gradually, despite their continued dietary routine, the pesky pooches, once again, piled-on the pounds and we wondered how this could possibly be.

We were soon to discover that our canine companions had turned into enterprising and sometimes furtive thieves. The first evidence was encountered, one evening, when we discovered the larder door open and the contents of three large bags of baking flour distributed across the kitchen floor. The culprits, three flour-coated dogs, looked up, from this scene of destruction, with snowy muzzles and little sign of remorse. We were, of course, dismayed by our discovery but, after evicting the offending hounds, we began to see the funny side of the incident until, that is, we came to clear up the mess. The vacuum cleaner coped with the bulk of the powder but it was only when we tried to mop-up the residue that I was reminded of my Father who, years ago, mixed flour and water for use as a wallpaper paste! I’m sure that by now you’ve got the gist of where this is heading so I’ll leave the rest to your imagination but suffice it to say that scrubbing brushes and strong language came into the remedial equation!!

A few days later we were to discover another illicit food source and at the same time solve a niggling mystery. The Doting Owner of the Spoilt Pony keeps chickens and as a supplement to their regular diet of pellets she mashes any stale bread, pastry etc. and feeds it to them in their run. She had remarked, in passing, that despite licking the bowl clean on a daily basis the hens looked rather skinny and why, she asked, did they always lay their eggs in the higher nesting boxes and never in the lower ones. I was unable to enlighten her, at the time, but it was not long before the truth was out.

Soon after, I noticed, through the window, my cocker spaniel crossing the lawn in a determined fashion. She was heading for the chicken run. She looked over her shoulder, as she neared it, to see if she was being observed and, satisfied that she was in the clear, she jumped up and through the pop-hole into the hen house. Without hesitation she jumped through the other pop-hole down into the wire run where she greedily devoured the chickens’ mash. To add insult to injury I discovered, when I went to reprimand her, that on her exit from the run she had helped herself to an egg from one of the lower nesting boxes!!

Don’t get too eggcited and have a very happy New Year!

Ian Thew

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