I just love the old oak trees we have around here. Quite a few of them look very spooky on a moonlit night. There’s a broken oak on the side of the road leading to the village that resembles the silhouette of a witch and it often has rooks perched on it too, so the overall effect is quite mystical.

The ancient oak near our paddock isn’t quite so frightening, but it certainly has lots of character:


And what with the recent windy weather, I’ve decided to paint a tree bowing in the wind with some wildlife… probably a hare as we have a few of them locally and they are a common sight in the fields. Sometimes inspiration quite literally is bang in front of your eyes.

I’m not sure if it will be started this weekend as I’m bogged down with the mundane task of book-keeping, but hopefully I’ll get an hour or two to make a start.

Around 18 months ago a stray cat took up residence at the paddock. I thought the cat was feral, as it wouldn’t come near and would run off if it saw us coming. The cat liked the company of Jasper and the other horses in adjacent paddocks and would sit meowing at them. She also liked the muck heap and would lie on it enjoying the heat it generated. She took to hanging out in the field shelter sometimes and although Jasper took no notice of her, apart from a quizzical glance now and then, I like to think that she kept him company when he was too poorly to bother much with the other horses.

After I lost Jasper I took to taking bits of meat to the cat and a huge old cardboard box was rigged up with one of Jasper’s old rugs inside it. We sealed the box but cut a round hole to act as her front door. The box was a hit and the cat was around most of last winter, waiting to be fed and to walk the paddock with me or Brian. It was obvious that she had been a pet at some point, as she became reasonably tame very quickly once food was offered.

The cat did a runner when the sheep arrived in the summer, but turned up a couple of weeks later looking quite thin and unwell. One of her eyes was sore and I suspected she was suffering from feline aids or leukaemia. Sadly my suspicions were probably right, as she really didn’t return to full health, despite being well fed and wormed. Although she wasn’t always around, especially if the weather was good, she’d been missing for days on and off since October. I was concerned last weekend when the weather was so wet and windy and I’d have expected her to have been nestled in the field shelter waiting to be fed. Brian found her on Wednesday snuggled up in the box – she had died.

I’m not really a ‘cat person’ but had become quite fond of her – she was no bother and I felt it my duty to pay her back in kindness for the companionship she gave Jasper. As a mark of my ‘non-softness’ she was officially an employee, the Chief Pest Control Officer of the Barrister’s Horse (but secretly known as ‘Miss Meow’). Going by the rat holes that appeared in the muck heap during the winter, I think she was pretty useless at her job, even when she was boisterous and looking well:-)

I’ll miss her and the paddock will be a lonely place this winter as a fox that lived in the brambles at the bottom of the field died a few weeks back too. I suspect he was shot, as when I found him he looked in his prime:


We’ve had foxes in the paddock for a few years and I liked having them around to keep the vermin under control. I’m hoping that a sibling or two might have survived to keep up the dynasty.¬†Hopefully next year will see a few more animals in the paddock to make the place more cheerful and this blog a little less gloomy!

Finally, here’s a pastel artwork that I recently did of a friend’s ex racehorse:


I love working in pastels.

Until next time…