Weeks have passed since I last posted. Weeks. For this I apologise. This time started with a sludgy blur. And a brown one at that.
I have managed a few days only in our flat in London, which has been a major contributing factor in the clack of head-space to get anything written down.
Having been taken to A&E with a mystery ailment a few months ago, Farmer Tim was struck by a far more obvious problem. Technically, he was struck by a cow falling as she, in turn, had been struck by another cow, but we won’t get into technicalities. This time, what ailed him was a rather swollen lower leg. These things tend to happen when you wrestle with a cow.
Still, he insisted that it was not broken and emphatically denied the extent of the pain until enough people strongly suggested that he have it seen. In much the same way, I denied my own arm was broken when a horse fell on it a few years ago.
So leaving him to it, we set of for Royal Three Counties show in Malvern shortly after 4am. When we broke down at approximately 6.30 am, no doubt we should have gone home, but the Simons sisters sometimes resemble mules.
Whilst Maggie trucked on with Paps to jump a mega round with just one unlucky pole, Mum panicked and I turned to social media. Sometimes, it’s a marvelous tool. Maggie takes care of a little cob stallion called Haighmoor Llewellyn for his owners, and thankfully, they had slept in their wagon the previous night in anticipation of Llew’s arrival at the show. Rather than simply enjoying watching their pony perform, Emma and Gareth had to pull on their capes and come to fetch me, Llew and Lolly from the hard shoulder somewhere slightly north east of Monmouth. Mum stayed with our wagon to await the RAC’s recovery vehicle, and be towed home.
Ordinarily, we would aim to arrive at the show at least two hours before our competition in order to warm up the ponies and prepare. But we drove onto the showground with me in the back stripping off Llew’s protective leg bandages as the previous class were about to be handed out their rosettes – meaning we had about 15 minutes, not the desired 2 hours. We threw on some tack and trotted to the ring just as they were going in. His subsequent flag show (he held his tail high in the air) and display of enthusiasm unfortunately weren’t as impressive for the judges as he meant them to be, but at least he entertained us all. Discovering he actually had one of the highest conformation mark meant the whole experience smacked of, ‘not meant to be’.
The day was not completely lost. Paprika jumped a fab round, being just a little unlucky to roll a poll from its cups. Longhalves Lollapaloosa is never far from being the apple of Maggie’s eyes and she rescued the remainder of the day giving a beautiful display to finish 5th in a strong class. It wasn’t the win we are always hopeful of, but it did at least raise our spirits after a salvo of lashing rain soaked us through to the skin. By the time we drove out of the showground, I was ‘feeling’ more ‘should have worn a wetsuit’ than ‘should have stayed at home’. Every cloud…!
By the time I arrived home, I concluded that the day might well have been a complete shambles, but it was only a horse show, and wasn’t going to prove life-altering for any of us involved. In fact, it was so farcical it was laughable.
Mum was right in the end, and she was also right this time: the ankle was broken. Despite having done everything he could to convince us that a trip to A&E was not necessary – including standing on it flamingo-esque in a bid to prove it wasn’t so painful after all, the large, purple haematoma on his leg refused to subside and so to the hospital he was reluctantly chauffeured by my mother. Safe in the knowledge that Farmer Tim, just like most other farmers, would not concede defeat and rest it, the doctors at A&E decided that one of these Darth-Vader-esque boots would be a better option than a cast. I must admit to going through three casts in the space of eight weeks when I smashed my arm, largely due to the muck it collected, so I can see their point. And secure in the knowledge that the boot is washable, Farmer Tim continued in almost exactly the same vein as he did before, only with a fertilizer bag over his new boot.
Unfortunately, a further visit to see his consultant left the poor man having to explain to Farmer Tim that broken limbs must be rested, and that there is a reason that any supporting structures are not waterproof. Placing a fertiliser bag over it is not a substitute for rest. Neither was he to jump off steps or climb onto the cows’ feeders in the dairy, even if it was only to show us how to fix them.
The visit left him furious and we all decided that to keep him indoors would be potentially lethal for the rest of the family, and almost certainly a death sentence for all dogs and cats in his immediate reach. Maggie and I wondered whether a a motorised wheelchair might suffice, but she pointed out that letting our parents loose with a wheelchair may result in a scene similar to Little Britain’s Lou and Andy. So we decided to leave him to do as he pleased. It was easier in the long run. And besides, we were all exhausted from the nagging needed to get him to A&E in the first place.
So it was head down for the pair of us, with Maggie doing the bulk of the milking and the rest of us chipping in. Thankfully, it only curbed our fun for a few weeks. We are lucky that Kieran was willing to increase his hours significantly to keep the show on the road while we attempted to keep the ponies running in some kind of normal fashion; and equally lucky in many ways that we were able to sell two ponies, lightening the load a little. Still, when we were up for morning milking and finishing our stable duties after evening milking, it’s little winder that post a 9pm supper, I hadn’t much energy for blogging. But then came July, and with it, some breathing space and some light. Sometimes, you just have to sit tight.