What are they??
I have managed two cheering chapters of Clare Balding's My Animals and Other Family and that's it, but I know the feeling... animals everywhere.
I have done nothing but tug my wellies on and off and do field circuits with the dogs while Bookhound has been away, in between trying to sit at my desk and get my online work hours done... I should be on Puppyternity Leave I think.
And then there is the sort of relay of feeding in order to get the Dowagers and their bowls together without canine interference. One Dowager is fine, having lamped Nell a corker on the nose, embedded a claw and set clear no-nonsense boundaries, Muffy now sits bolt upright assuming the role of a very strict governess and Nell is a completely different puppy, quiet, well-behaved, crawls along on her tummy, no messing.
The other Dowager is most definitely not impressed.
Tess was just coming round to the idea of a Magnus-sized third cat when Nell arrived and that was that. Once the gentlest of cats she has undergone a complete personality transplant and now sits imperiously on the verandah, scowling and most unforgiving, and prefers her food to be brought to her. She has that 'How could you do this to me.. I shall just sit here and starve myself to death' look in her narrowed eyes, and laden with guilt I scurry back and forth with Go Cat and tempting bowls of succulent Felix Tuna in Jelly all the day long. Tess will be the size of a barrage balloon by Christmas.
And historically something ALWAYS goes wrong with major systems when Bookhound is away...always. This time it is the electricity. Off went the trip switch late one evening, pitch black and I trip and stumble my way to the torch and the candles, and then who's moved the matches (me probably).
Then I have to find a chair and peer into the fuse cupboard and decide what's gone wrong where, out of twelve fuses and four big switches.
Huh, no hope.
Out had gone a selection of plug sockets when I finally switched it back on, including the washing machine in mid-cycle, so there is a fault somewhere and we are just going to have to be the great unwashed until Bookhound's return, because I am not messing with any of it. And I am now walking around with a torch in my pocket because I am not going through that again.
But the upside is all this lovely walking around Rocky's field behind the house. Views across the Tamar Valley that take my breath away every single day, and for one circuit we were joined by the gathering swallows dipping and swerving around us as if scoping the lie of the land ready for their return before making their farewells and the off. By the time I had found my camera and dashed back out to capture the fleeting moment, with dozens of them queuing up on the telephone wires, they were gone.
Meanwhile the grass in the field has just been cut for silage so it is now very walkable through and Nell is having a fine time doing Fetch.
Having had working gun dogs for the last fifteen years, throwing anything for the puppies has been absolutely forbidden until they are ready for training, and then you have to throw a special thing a certain way and distance and insist they do it properly. Bah to all that, Nell is a pet so we are allowed, and if she happens to figure out how to chase a pheasant good on her ... just don't tell the Gamekeeper will you, and that pink ball on a bit of rope the best £3 I have ever spent at Tesco's.
Then of course, being a girl, she knows her own mind... and notice sage old Barney, who has always refused to demean himself by fetching anything or bringing it back and now well beyond all this playing stuff.