Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Animal Magic!

Been a little busy recently. You know how it is, nose pressed firmly against the grindstone, just to keep the wolf from the door. So last Friday, we took a trip to The South of England Show, held (as every year) at Ardingly, near Haywards Heath. This, dear reader, in days gone past, was primarily an agricultural and livestock show, but like everything else in Sussex it's been considerably gentrified in recent years. So these days, there are a lot of horses and countless stalls selling overpriced 'country' clothing. But there are still many farmyard animals to gawp at. And, strange as it may seem, they were the attraction......

My wife is a farm worker's daughter. Oh yes. She grew up on farms in and around the local area, and is quite used to being knee deep in muck. She isn't too keen to be named on here, so to avoid continually referring to her as 'the wife' (best said while adopting a comedy Les Dawson accent, a la Alex Lester), I'll call her She Who Must Be Obeyed, or SWMBO for short. As you may have guessed she isn't here at the moment, so I'm being brave. Believe me, I'm soooo going to pay for this later!

So, ladies and gentlemen, tickets please and follow me for the guided tour..........




First stop, the goat tent. These are goats. They have a well deserved reputation for eating absolutely anything, including each other's fur if they get half a chance. If you have a large garden they can be useful for keeping the grass down, but be careful what you leave lying around; they will cheerfully munch their way through anything in their path. Some people in the tent were stroking the goats; I however, managed to resist the temptation. And I still counted my fingers afterwards.

At this point it started to rain, so we dived into the poultry tent. No pictures I'm afraid, the light wasn't good and we didn't want to startle the birds with a flash. SWMBO much enjoyed this, she used to breed various types of poultry, so this was a trip down memory lane. I found the poultry tent interesting for two reasons, the colourful plumage on display, and it confirmed my view that turkeys are the ugliest thing on the face of the earth. Ever.

From here it was but a short walk to the pig tent. And this is where things get really exciting.




These are piglets. Cute aren't they? But before you run away with the idea of quietly nicking one while no one's looking, meet mum.......


                                    Would you want her to step on your toe?


Mum's a Saddleback. Dad's a different breed, (I can't remember the name), so that explains the different markings on the little ones. The sign on the pen said they're about four weeks old. SWMBO likes pigs, even the smell! As I suspect you are beginning to realise, she's not like other people.

After a quick stop at the obstacle course, (you haven't lived until you've seen a sheep trying to complete one of these), we arrived at the sheep tent.




These are sheep. To be specific, they are Southdown sheep. SWMBO has previous form here, having had a Southdown lamb as a pet, many years ago. I get the feeling that if we didn't have such a small garden, I'd arrive home one day, to find one or two quietly smuggled in. We saw some interesting breeds, including this one...





This is a Welsh Badger face. I think it may have been crossed with something else, but I can't remember. Would you argue with those horns?




And this is a Texel. They appear to come pre-dyed! Which is quite handy if you want a yellow jumper.....


We'd saved the best until last however, so gird your loins dear reader, and follow me to the cattle shed!




I've borrowed one of SWMBO's pictures, this I think is a Highland breed. If you look closely, you can just make out the horns. As you can see, it was fairly dark in there, so this is the only photo I'm afraid. Nothing would induce me to get close enough to use a flash. We all know what happens when a cow lifts her tail! We live in a 'Elf and Safety age, so I was surprised to see how close you could get to the cattle. Had I felt the need, I could have walked right up to any of the animals on show, stroked them or patted their noses. Since I saw the biggest cow I've ever seen (about six foot at the shoulder), and considering there were a number of bulls on show (these can weigh a couple of tons), I kept my distance. Upset one of those, and you could wake up in the next county! And I had to go to work the next morning.

All in all, a good afternoon. I'd not been for twenty years or so, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. SWMBO loved it, this appears to be her idea of a good time. As you can see, she has low expectations, which I'm proud to say I (just) manage to reach! And finally, this was the view from the car park......
 


Who'd want to live anywhere else.........






2 comments:

  1. Nice post, Martin.

    A former line manager once asked me, "But what do you do on wet days, living in the country? All that mud." Hmmm, I didn't have the heart to tell her.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Martin H - Thank you, glad you enjoyed it.

    Some people have no imagination!

    ReplyDelete

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