Ginger Makes Everything Better

How? How could I have gotten almost two years into this blog and not written a post dedicated to the most important man in my life?! I know, I’m disgusted with myself too.

For those of you unfamiliar with him, he has the most heart melting (different coloured) brown eyes, beautiful auburn hair, soft ears, a wet nose and four legs…and goes by the name of Trigger. Or Ginge. Or Doofus.

So let me tell you how he came to enter my life a little over four years ago. I started my love affair with fox red Labradors when I was at Burghley Horse Trials in the September of 2015 and bumped into a lady called Ali with a gorgeous bitch called Finch. We started talking and before she could leave I already had my name down for one of her pups that Finch was hopefully having the following year.

Fast forward to the 2nd April 2016 and along came my 30th birthday present…one of seven adorable fox red slugs, I mean puppies 🧡

I was extremely fortunate to have pick of the litter and eventually, after much deliberation, chose Trigger. I tell a lie, he actually picked me – as every good doggo does. I couldn’t decide between him and one of his brothers, but when I held him in front of my face, this little ginger bundle licked my nose and I was sold. BFF’s forever.

I know everyone likes to tell you how amazing their dog is, but my god was that puppy an arsehole. A cute one, but an arsehole nonetheless.

He chewed EVERYTHING. I was constantly getting pictures from his dog walker of the devastation the little sh*t had wreaked in the small matter of hours he’d been left to his own devices. I can’t tell you the amount of dog beds/blankets/toys/bowls he got through in the first year of his life. But look at him!!

A year in and he was almost 30kg of overly-familiar canine who loved to greet everybody somewhat enthusiastically, whether they liked it or not. Having aced puppy classes I figured it was about time we took it up a notch and went to gun dog training to try and gain some sort of control over the unruly sod.

Needless to say, all the instinct was there for Trigger to become a cracking gun dog and I was the one that required most of the training. Twelve months down the line, we had progressed from a lazy, good for nothing Labrador with an absolutely useless handler, to a decent enough team to start working on a shoot.

This is where I might loose one or two of the townies amongst you so I’ll gloss over the whole pheasant shooting thing to avoid another “who are you picking up?” debacle. But what you can all relate to is just how much a single ginger doggo can change your life for the better.

This soppy, adorable, love sponge of a Labrador entered my world at a time when I was trying to settle into a new life in the countryside and, in retrospect, felt incredibly lonely. He’s since wiped away my tears – sometimes willingly, other times unknowingly – on countless occasions and I honestly don’t think I would have had the strength to get up and carry on going on certain tough days if it weren’t for him.

But the tears of sadness have also been counterbalanced by tears of sheer laughter at my beautiful boy. From carrying around his favourite pair of socks (including insistently joining me for a pee with them), to flinging himself with utter abandon into any form of water source or trying to stuff as many cuddly toys into his gob as possible when he greets me – even if I only stepped outside to put the bin out.

I certainly never thought my soulmate would come in the form of a canine, but boy, do I thank god every day that he did 🧡

Until next time, follow me on Instagram at @Citygirlcountrylife_

It’s All Gone A Little Too Far Now

So we’re 2 weeks into lockdown and to be quite frank, this sh*t isn’t funny anymore…Mum is baking a lemon drizzle cake every fourth hour, dad is swearing at the constant drivel on the telly and there isn’t nearly enough alcohol for me to get through living with my parents again!

I jest, in reality I am actually SO relieved and grateful that my amazing parents invited me to hot-foot it down to Devon to live with them during the apocalypse. Not least because living in a flat without a garden would have been less than ideal for a certain ginger labrador who would have ended up eating the walls by week three.

I’m still doing my day job, working in my parents office/small spare room whilst the Irish genes are coming into full effect in my mother and she checks whether I need a drink or something to eat roughly every 23 minutes in between baking cakes. If I come out of this only 2 stone heavier, I’ll be doing f**king well.

Now, I know I should be grateful, and I am happy to have job security and all that. But I’m not sure I’ve entirely got the best deal here when a lot of my colleagues are on furlough being paid to sit on their arses, whilst I’m working away like a woman possessed to hit deadlines. I know I’d moan of boredom before a week was through, but I’d at least like the chance to try and prove myself wrong!

Anyway, on my days off I’m volunteering at the farm next door to my parents’ house. Ever the realist, I am more than happy to admit that, yes, they really must be scraping the barrel for ‘skilled workers’ if they are reduced to accepting help from a townie who lived on a farm for a bit, whilst their usual staff are self isolating. Either way, I’m having an absolute blast!

For any of you that have read about Dotty pig, this is where she lives now and I am DELIGHTED to be seeing her so frequently again. Plus…and you won’t believe this…I actually went into a field full – and I mean FULL – of at least 100 chickens.

So proud, I managed to resist every urge to drop kick the things and run in the other direction but, good news, I didn’t sh*t myself (that could have been awkward) or scream once! Video evidence below, because I know you won’t believe me.

Other jobs have included: rescuing a goose from my stupid dog who thought it needed picking up, prizing my fingers from a micro-pig’s jaws, weeding an enclosure for a raccoon (WTF?!), convincing a Shetland pony who I have renamed Bastard (actually called Custard, but I misheard this) that he can walk through a wide open gate, and fitting a harness to a slinky rat, otherwise known as a ferret – you can take the girl out of the town…

Mika, my beautiful quarantine buddy

Speaking of the stupid mutt, he is proving to be equally as much of a townie as his mother and can’t possibly run in front of the Gator like a real dog, he has to ride in it and embarrass me in front of the farm people and their proper dogs…*facepalm*

Luckily, the farm people (aka Tim and Tina) seem to tolerate us well enough, even when I do look for the date stamp on a fresh egg 🙈 (see reference regarding extracting townie from girl above). They didn’t even mind when Trigger took a running jump into the duck pond or tried to hump their poor 4 year old son, Jake (who we managed to convince that Trigger just wanted a piggyback from).

Speaking of their adorable children, Annabelle drew me a portrait today complete with my green wellies, black gloves, red jacket and brown hair with a blonde ponytail…! Evidently others are starting to notice my appalling roots* and I feel that a trip to Tesco for a box of hair dye would most definitely now be considered essential…

The incriminating portrait…

*read as: half my head

Until next time, I hope you are all keeping well and safe x

How I Know I’m Getting Old

So I am finally facing up to the fact that my birthday is hurtling towards me at a rate of knots and next week I shall be 29 with 4 years’ experience. Ghastly thought.

Over the last few months the evidence has been mounting against me to prove I’m no longer able to deny the inelegant process of ageing, to the point where it’s now smacking me in the face and I’m just going to have to bloody well accept it. Let’s peruse…

Exhibit no: 1

My body has suddenly decided that it is physically impossible to contain fluid for any more than approximately 45 minutes at a time. So it transpires that practically overnight I have obtained the bladder of a 60 year old and need to pee…constantly. I’m still lucky enough to not have to wake up in the night to go but it’s only natural progression!

Exhibit no: 2

I make noises when I bend down to pick things up or sit down in a chair. You know the ones I mean, those involuntary “ooof” groans like your grandma makes. It’s as if I’m all of a sudden a decrepit OAP. Not cool and certainly not attractive! My joints also click when I stand up, I’m literally one step away from saying “Ooo me knees”. *facepalm*

Exhibit no: 3

I now have zero social life and the only person that actually ever wants to speak to me is my mother, no exaggeration and I can prove this to you…

As much as I adore my mother, it’s quite a pathetic sight I’m sure you’ll agree! Which brings me nicely onto:

Exhibit no: 4

I went to Cheltenham races last month and at the sight of freezing twenty-somethings, rather than admire their daring outfit choices and hasty application of fake tan, I found myself somewhat appalled. I could hear myself using phrases that my mother would be proud of like “put some clothes on woman!” and “layers are sexy in winter, not skin.”

Gone are the days when I would even dream of wearing stilettos and a mini skirt in 5 degree temperatures all day. No, no sensible boots and tweed was the theme of the day for me. In fact the only piece of skin you could actually see was my face, and even that was covered up half the time.

So, it transpires “young at heart” is really a thing and “forever young” really is a non-thing. Smashing.

Until next time (when I might feel the need to talk about the price of bread these days and when pensions actually gave you a retirement wage to look forward to)…FML I’m getting old!!

I’ve Got A Confession…

So it’s been longer than I’d like (as per usual) since I last wrote a blog post but in my defence, I’ve been wrestling with a moral dilemma about whether or not I should share something with you.

I’d feel like I was living a lie if I didn’t confess it, but it’s so embarrassing that I’m afraid you’ll judge me if I did. But I’ve decided to be brave, so, here it goes…

My name is Amy and I’m afraid of chickens.

Utterly petrified in fact, to the point where I tried to climb up a fully grown adult (sorry Fiona) in the petting farm at London Zoo because they were loose and one “cock-a-doodle-do’d” at me. Full on nearly crapped my pants. *Classy*

It’s caused no end of troubles in my life, I’m even questioning my status as a “true country girl” as I speak.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat the buggers, that’s my revenge! But all the money in the world couldn’t convince me to keep live ones at home. My excuse is that the Labradors would likely try and constantly pick the damn things up and bring them to me, and that’s just animal cruelty. In truth, I find the concept completely horrifying!

“Where did this phobia come from?” I here you ask. Well, interesting story, let me share it with you. I was at a BBQ at a stables where a number of friends kept their horses and on the yard was this, frankly hideous, giant chicken (some rare breed apparently) called Kellogg. Put me off the cereal for life.

Anyway, this thing had the evilest beady eyes and scaly dinosaur legs that, quite honestly, totally freaked me out. I stupidly aired this concern amongst my piers and a certain someone who shall remain nameless (Tim Taylor) decided to PICK the damn thing up and SIT it on my shoulder when I had my head turned.

I s**t you not, I covered that yard in about four and a half strides at a pace that would have made Linford Christie (1990’s Usain Bolt to you millennials) proud, I tell you.

And thus, scarred for life! So you can imagine the joy I felt when I moved my horse up to Wiltshire and found only after we’d settled into the yard that they had a flock of chickens…f**king smashing!

The little bastards then naturally chose to roost in my stable, obviously. They can sense the fear I’m sure. But I did eventually get brave enough to pick them up with a shavings fork (mucking out tool for you townies) and tip them out the door.

At least the eggs tasted nice, I coined them “little butt nugget peace offerings.”

I’m not sure that I really feel like I’ve got a load off my chest, but at least I no longer feel like I’m deceiving you all into thinking I’ve fully embraced this country life lark and forgotten my true city roots.

Anyway, judge away…just try to be a little sympathetic!

Until next time!

Who’re You Picking Up?!

So it’s been a long enough time since my last blog that it’s now got a little bit awkward and I figured it was time enough I just bit the bullet and got back into it, but I just couldn’t think of what to write…

Then thanks to the joys of “bumpkin language” once again providing a suitable sized opportunity for misinterpretation, I found the inspiration once more.

Stuck waiting round the coffee machine in the office, I decided to break that typical awkward silence with one of my less familiar colleagues and we defaulted to the usual back up convo of weekend plans.

Forgetting I was talking to an utter townie who has little to no background knowledge of my lifestyle, when he asked “what are you up to then?” I simply said, “oh just the usual now it’s winter, picking up on Saturday and mucking out the pig on Sunday.”

Queue the bemused look illuminate his face as he tried to work out a diplomatic way of asking if I was either into casual swinging or openly cheating on my husband…”Erm, aren’t you married?” He asked.

“Yeah but we don’t always spend the whole weekend together and he’s working both days anyway”, I said, blissfully unaware of the even larger hole I was digging myself.

“Riiiight, ok. I mean it’s great that you have such an open relationship, but that’s not the conventional type of activity I’d expected from a farmers wife, I have to say.”

Now queue the bemused look slowly creep over my face. “What on earth are you going on about?!” The penny suddenly dropped…”ohhhh you thought I meant picking up men!! Good god no, I’m not a tramp!”

My colleague looked visibly relieved that I hadn’t just massively over-shared to break an awkward coffee silence with a guy I barely knew. But the bemusement quickly appeared again, “so, sorry, but what do you mean then?”

Suddenly I found myself having to break down the set up of a day’s pheasant shooting and then got into the equally awkward conversation about what I have to do with the birds that are still alive when Trigger brings them back to me after picking them up.

He looked so appalled at the thought of me bopping a half dead pheasant on the head that, quite frankly, I’d rather have continued the conversation about extra-marital coital activities! At least he’d have stopped staring at me as if I was a murderous lunatic that he needed to hide both sharp and blunt objects from immediately.

I admit, only 3 years ago I myself balked at the idea of “people shooting something in the face for fun”, but it’s been an engrained part of culture in the farming community for over a hundred years, forming and renewing friendships that have been neglected over a busy summer & harvest and traditionally supplying them with a source of food over the leaner months, and learning more about it has given me a better understanding.

I like to uphold this tradition of using the birds for consumption as my attempt to justify the sport to myself (still unsure how successful this ploy is) and will always make sure to take home any birds my husband shoots, offering them to friends and colleagues who wouldn’t necessarily otherwise have access to eating pheasant.

So basically, what I’m getting at is, unless you want to be fed game bird and possibly chow down on a piece of lead, I’d advise not coming round to mine for dinner from now until about April…but if you don’t mind giving yourself an expensive dentist bill then come on over, there’s plenty to go round!

Until next time…

Farm or Petting Zoo?

Most of you will have read the escapades with my pet pig, Dotty, from my first blog post. However, for those of you that haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about, it might be worth taking an extra 5 minutes to read it so that you get a bit of a back story.

So, we’ve ascertained I’m a city girl living in a country world – as the blog title suggests – but I wanted to do a post about exactly what this means for my poor husband and his exasperated family…

I collect animals. Not just domesticated ones, but proper commercial, farmyard animals. And it drives my family nuts!

Perversely, my city friends are more understanding of my desire to make every being on the farm my friend as opposed to eating them, than the country folk are. Most likely because one set doesn’t make their livelihood from them and one does…no points for guessing which one is which!

Let’s start with Dotty the full grown, definitely-not-a-micropig pig. Weighing in at a good 250kg (leave her be, she’s just big boned!), this porcine princess is the absolute queen of the farm. We have cuddles and belly rubs (just her, obvs), we play games running around the yard and yes, I sit on her back.

Dotty is used to me now strolling into her sty in my finest office clothes and heels at 8pm for a cuddle after a busy day in the London office, and she always makes sure to be careful of my toes, love her!

She’s also a star attraction when it comes to family and friends visiting, everyone wants to meet her and feed her bread (her favourite treat), and my parents’  make sure to deliver her a full on goody bag of all their veg scraps for Princess Pigpig on a weekly basis.

In addition to Dotbags (you’ll soon work out that all my pets have at least 3 nicknames) there is Chewy – the calf featured in my blog profile photo – and yes, he is giving me kisses.

I met Chewbags when he was just 3 weeks old and he arrived with his 5 brothers in November. He was the bravest of the bunch and after 10 minutes, he walked up and started chewing on my coat sleeve, hence the name.

Daily visits to the barn ensued and we became close, so close that this technically wild animal is as tame as you like. In fact,  my 7 year old niece can stand and have cuddles with him in an open field.

Chewy isn’t the only calf with a name though, of the 21 that I helped care for (I say “we” in the loosest sense of the word, I was more of a hindrance than a help to be fair), 10 of them have names. We have in no particular order:

Chewy, Daffodil, Terrance, Roy, Bump, Bubblegum (name courtesy of said 7 year old niece), Frank, Lilac, Patch and Tank.

Yes, I will be devastated when they leave, yes I am a stupid townie for naming the cute baby calves that are destined for the dinner table, but come on…can you blame me?!

As this post is now longer than I expected, I’ll leave the introduction to the dogs for another post I think!

Until next time…