Everybody should have had some ‘warm’ weather over the last couple of weeks. We were lying on a beach beside the Mediterranean last week. It was a scorching 32 C and not a buckled railway line in sight ! Too hot for me, so I had to hide under a tree during the middle of the day, ideally in a cool sea breeze. You have my sympathy if you were waiting for a delayed train in London, in 37 C or more…… with no sea breeze….. our only gripe was that the ice didn’t last very long in the gin and tonics.

Our house-sitter did a fabulous job of feeding and watering the animals and plants. As far as we can tell everything has survived, although some of the window boxes are looking a bit stressed. Going on holiday when you run your own business is always a bit difficult. We usually end up doing two weeks work the week before we go and another two the week we get home. This time we left early in the morning, before our guests got up to go home and a week later we arrived back two hours before our next guests arrived. That was cutting things a bit fine and could easily have gone wrong with travel delays etc., but ‘All’s well that ends well’ as they say.

Linnet and Lintel, our Beagle puppies, are obviously a great success with all of our guests.Parents and children spend hours either playing with them or just watching them.

Despite chewing up a few of Tracey’s potted plants and stealing the odd shoe they have been an absolute pleasure to have. They did have a rather traumatic afternoon a couple of weeks ago. It was the Beagles annual Puppy Show which is probably the busiest and most important day of the year for the Hunt Staff. One of the Masters asked the walkers to bring all the puppies back for the afternoon so that they could be displayed in a horse-box and any children attending the Show could get in and play with them. Which sounded like a great idea. Unfortunately, our two had decided to go down to the sheep field and fill up on sheep pooh, which seems to be an essential part of all our dogs diets, just before we set off. So, blissfully unaware of their fullness, I loaded them into a dog crate (all carefully lined with newspaper – in case of any little accidents), put them in the back of the car and set off for the forty minute drive. After about fifteen minutes there were some worrying sounds coming from the dog-crate, shortly followed by a very unpleasant smell, and that was soon followed by some rather pathetic whimpering. As we were already running late we decided to plough on and sort out any ‘little accidents’ when we arrived. The Puppy Show was in a large field with a marquee, car parking and hundreds of people milling around, many of whom knew we were bringing some of this years puppies with us. By the time we had parked and got out and said hello to a few of them a small crowd had gathered expectantly around the back of the car. I was a bit apprehensive about what to expect as I opened up. It actually looked like a large green bomb had exploded. The dog-crate appeared to have two slimy, quivering, smelly, drooling, stinking lizards slithering around in a large pool of green slime….! A collective gasp of horror rippled around the gradually increasing audience. The thought of anyone patting and stroking them disappeared instantly. There was no sign of a hose-pipe or even a water trough or any sort of running water in the field, apart from in the Bar in the marquee, which also had a hog roasting on a spit and a massive cream tea set out for later. All I could do was beat a hasty retreat and go off in search of a hose-pipe in the village. Eventually we returned with two traumatised and bedraggled puppies who weren’t exactly enjoying their first ever Puppy Show. They were soon wrestling with their brothers and sisters and cousins and even being fondled by unsuspecting guests. As I said earlier, ‘All’s well that ends well.’ Oh, we also brought home a large silver cup for one of last years puppies – Chestnut won Best Young Bitch.      Elsewhere on the farm all is well. The ponies and horses are all so fat I’m just about to put up some electric fences to restrict their grazing…..I wonder if that would work in our kitchen…? The lambs have admitted defeat and stopped escaping and the single black trouble-maker has started to go blonde? The chickens are all on strike and not laying well or going broody – we think the weather is possibly affecting them adversely. Duck egg collecting has been very poor but I managed to shoot one of the crows the other day which has doubled our daily tally of eggs. I knew something was stealing them but it wasn’t obvious what/who. We have even had some very welcome rain over the last few days which has freshened everything up nicely.

Anyway, it’s time to go and start fencing,
Cheers for now, Farmer Chris.