Our lone woodpecker has found himself a mate. A whole year of mooching about the place, pecking discontentedly and then - eureka - he gets a girlfriend. So now there are two of them strolling across the lawn, never more than six inches apart as if he's scared to let her out of his sight. I sit at my desk watching them when I'm meant to be working. Look, they've locked beaks, are they kissing or fighting, i wonder? Turns out they're sharing worms. He's incurably romantic.
i'm glad they're wild; we don't have much luck with pets.
The rabbits - Ninja and Velveteen - focal point of much love and adoration for exactly a week last November soon became caged encumbrances that my husband and I were forced to handle each night. ('If you don't handle them every single day, they'll start to bite' their teenage breeder warned us, fiercely, when she handed them over.)
We felt a bit ridiculous routiinely stroking the bunnies for half an hour and it wasn't as if there weren't other things we needed to be doing - the washing, the homework, the washing.
There was also the fact that whenever we let them out onto the tennis court (I know, des res, hutch for two, comes with own court) they leapt six foot in the air as if to show us what they were capable of. The cage became unthinkable and so, we freed them.
Velvet was off like the clappers, disdainfully making an appearance on the lawn every week or so but generally out there larging it like a teenager on a first visit to Manumission.
Ninja, the timid black one, returned home night after night, to cower near her hutch and nibble a bowl of food. One day she came home with her hind legs badly mauled. We put her back in the hutch and fed her up with food and water, pleased to have a pet again. You'd think she'd have learned her lesson, wouldn't you, but the first time we put her out on the grass in the sunshine she limped away never to return. We're hoping for a Richie Manic scenario, a better life, somewhere else....
Velvet meanwhile has given a new meaning to breeding like rabbits. Every three weeks she seems to treble in size as though she's been blown up with a bicycle pump. She recently dropped a litter of fourteen miniscule little moles, all of whom she abandoned, to go out partying again. Frankly I've gone off her.
Which brings me, very sadly to Alfie, our ten stone Mastiff, who died the day after Christmas when the house was still full of wrapping paper and unopened presents. You could say the turkey killed him for it was bolting a bowl of food topped with a little diced turkey that did it. His intestine twisted and his gut filled with air...the technical term is 'bloat'. How do you tell a ten stone dog to eat more slowly?
Eight months on and the house still isn't the same without him. We talk about getting another dog but haven't quite got the heart to replace him.
Perhaps, the truth is, just as some couples aren't suited to children, some families aren't suited to pets.
Funny thing is, we've just got a kitten....