Mickey crept through the long lush grass at the top of the paddock and slowly moved his head from side to side to see where we all were. Mrs White and Truffle spotted him and ran over to see what he wanted.
"I have a story to tell you. Gather round." He prurred.
We all ran from our resting places to settle in a fairly organised circle on a leafy patch so that we might hear Mickey' s tale. We love to listen to his stories of daring and danger.
"Long, long ago," began Mickey, thoughtfully stroking his whiskers. He wanted to set a scene that would captivate even the most fidgetty of his audience.
"In the great port of Southampton, a huge ship docked, bound for New York on her maiden voyage. She had travelled from Belfast and on board were crewmen and Jenny. Jenny was an ancestor of mine."
We had heard on the radio that a very big ship had met a fateful end 100 years ago with a great loss of lives. But how did Jenny survive?
"As you know, all the sea-faring vessels had a ship's cat on board - and the Titanic was no different. They kept the rats and mice down- and it was a trip that Jenny had been looking forward to for a long time as some of the world's richest people were to travel on this luxurious liner, and the food was sure to be excellent. But as Jenny had only recently given birth to her kittens, she made the decision that whilst the ship was in berth at Southampton, to take her babies to the safety of dry land. But in the chaos of loading so many people on board, together with the luggage and supplies, Jenny only managed to carry four of her five babies to the shore. The huge vessel left just before noon on April 10th and a little kitten remained snuggled up in a corner of G Deck, between the food store and the post office where the mail was sorted. Luckily one of the kindly crew spotted him and took him to the safety of his quarters."
Mickey paused. We were indeed on tenterhooks.
"There were about twelve dogs on board too, you know. But only three tiny ones survived."
Neddie could no longer stand the suspense "What happened to the kitten, Mickey?" He blurted out.
"The kind postman called him Becan, which means 'Little Man' in Irish. And he found him some milk and food and Becan curled up in a snug blanket at the corner of his bed. But at 11.40pm on Sunday 14th April, RMS Titanic struck an iceberg. The man wrapped Becan tightly up in his blanket and hid him under his coat as he struggled to escape higher up the decks when the alarm was given. People were pushing and crashing into each other, running blindly down the corridors in a state of terrible panic.
'Women and children first! Women and children first', the officers shouted as they tried to lower the inadequate lifeboats into the freezing water. The man knew that he would have to wait his turn and he frantically looked about among the jostling crowds surrounding him. A pretty young woman, clutching her husband's hand, was being shepherded through the mass. 'Excuse me, excuse me. Do you have room for Becan?' She glanced briefly, her eyes shining with terror, but on seeing the helpless little kitten she immediately said 'Of course' and tucked him safely into her small bag of belongings. Her husband and the kind man could only stare after them as they were lowered on the lifeboat into the dark North Atlantic Ocean on April 15th 1912.
Sadly the two men did not survive, two out of the 1,517 people who died that night. But little Becan, together with Lily May, was rescued from Boat D and taken by the Carpathia to New York. Lily May had an apartment in London and she and Becan journeyed back some time later, where the young cat made his home and went on to father kittens of his own.
"And I am very proud to say that I am descended from Becan, the cat who survived the Titanic."
Wow! We've heard some of Mickey's yarns before, but to be honest, whether it is quite true or not, that is some tale - and we for one are certainly not going to argue with it! Gordon xxx
Well it is raining. No ifs and butts - it is definitely raining. Dad has put a rather fancy bit of gutter on the side of the chick's shed and the water is running around the back and on to a tin with holes in it.
"Dissipation" he said.
Mum - her with the hole in the Welly (still!) - followed the Fox paths across the field so as to lessen the input of Sog. Sadly this meant she was seen meandering in a criss-cross and wayward route through the tufts of grass.
"Carrefour" she told me, as if this made it wholly acceptable.
Harvest pricked up her ears.
"Actually Gordon, I found those old short Summer Wellies in the shed only yesterday!"
Summer Wellies should give us a clue, I feel.
"And I decided they would be as good, if not better than these. So I stuck the hoover pipe in them and Lo! They were full of mouse nest. Mainly built from the stuffing of the boot, with additional shredded padding from a variety of shed contents."
So do you think Mum threw them away? Oh No! Cleaned them thoroughly; debated wearing them; decided they were a bit uncomfortable looking and put them back exactly where she had found them for a future mouse house!
"Then came the really funny bit, Gordon!"
I can't wait.
"I decided to hoover the front room".
Ha! Ha-ha-ha! Haaaa!
"But nothing would suck up. So I walloped the pipe on the floor and a load of dust and dirt covered the mat. And tried again. No good. Couldn't get the pipe apart - so stuck Dad's judging stick in the little hole that controls the Suck. And Hey Presto! The rest of the mouse nest came out! Electric cables, a magazine, more Boot stuffing. Allsorts!" Mum looked triumphant.
Now remind me again. Exactly what is the point of a hoover? Gordon xxx
We have had a busy week with all sorts of weather. Not snow like our northern friends, but cold frosts and hail and sun - and today a fine drizzle. Spring is progressing through all her many changes with the warm and wet of the week. The girls are pretty preoccupied with laying eggs and us boys are a-doing what comes naturally! Dad seems pleased with his cache of eggs that he collects each evening and up at Wattlebury Cottage they have the first baby chicks bustling around in the brooder box.
Harvey excitedly told us that on Tuesday he saw an adder on the chalk downs where he goes for a walk with Honey and Mum whilst they are at work. It was a fine sunny lunchtime and Madderline was sleepily heading out of the leaves and brambles for a sunbathe as the temperature was at its highest. She spotted the three of them looking down at her and hastily lowered her head and turned on her coils to disappear once more into the old brown leaves that had sheltered her underground retreat last winter.
And on Wednesday when Mum was going out across the field to see Lois, Mr Fox quite unaware that Mum was there, was trotting along his well worn paths and headed right towards her. He kept to his twisty path and first went to say Good Morning to Lois. Lois took hardly any notice of him at all and continued chewing contentedly. No sign of fear or aggression on her face, she gently raised her head slightly to acknowledge him. Quite obviously a frequent visiting friend - like Mysty, the Roe Deer. He became aware that Mum was now only a few yards away and turned with a backward glance to retrace his steps towards the side of the field. After Mum had checked Lois she looked back to where she had been standing when Mr Fox hadn't seen her, and that morning had dawned with a hard white frost covering most of the field - only melted in the dazzling sunshine that was now shining directly at her.
Everyone seems to have lots of important things on their minds. Yes, it is a very busy time of the year.
The Big Field is turning yellow once more. It was a bit misty this morning - Easter Day! Mum and Kizzie seemed more excited than usual about Eggs. Last Sunday we all had a visit from our two friends, Nicky and Martin, who travelled from afar and brought yummy Cup Cakes. It is indeed a splendid time of the year for everyone. A very Happy Easter to you all. Love Gordon & Sylvia xxx
Hello! My name is Gordon and I am a Gold Sebright and my best friend is Sylvia. She is a Silver Sebright. We live with our foster parents on a small farm in the country. We thought that we would put our take on life and what we get up to through the year into a diary for you. All the characters are real and the events are a true record, interpreted with a modicum of poetic licence. We hope you enjoy it. Love Gordon and Sylvia