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Here she is!

Willow's first day at Loks Park Farm

Willow's first day at Locks Park Farm

Robert has asked me to formally introduce you to Willow Lark Thylacine…‘Umm? What?’ I can here you thinking. Let me explain.

We were being indecisive between the choice of Willow and Lark (elegant, graceful, dainty. swift, fluid, alive). As the suitability of each was being tossed backward and forward between the family, Robert, in a world of his own, was staring at her quizzically. “I’ve got it.” He suddenly exclaimed “I know exactly. She reminds me of a Thylacine.” (You, of course, are totally familiar with the extinct Tasmanian Tiger? In fact, I’m sure it’s just what you were thinking too…) “Thylacine. That’s what we should call her, Thylacine!” He rushed off to get his mammal book for those who were looking more than a little perplexed.

taking it all in

taking it all in

In the meantime ‘puppy’ was getting a little fed up with what she thought was a quite obvious choice, and decided to make it abundantly clear to us the next time ‘her’ name was called. So with instant recognition,  a bound onto my lap and  a million little licks,  she was, she informed us …Willow!

Robert, a little put out that we hadn’t rapturously agreed on his choice, thought, in those obviously formal situations (?), she should be known by her full name of Willow Lark Thylacine…

a wee bit sleepy - but I shan't give in...

a wee bit sleepy - but I shan't give in...

She’s a delight. She’s bright, alert and quite enchanting. A definite people person she has won over the hearts of the whole family.  Not a collie though, not a collie at all. Instead of finding the draftiest, most inhospitable spot in which to fall asleep, she actively searches for downy comfy-warm softness (fleecy snug-basket in front of aga)! Bright as a new penny, she’s already sussed out the characters of Skye and Ness, who, surprisingly, are not as put out as I thought they might be. She asks to go out for a wee or poo and has good recall of the house and immediate surrounds, knowing how to get both out and in – a cat flap for her present size would be perfect.

I will keep you fully informed of her progress!

'hunting dogs' my copy of an engraving by Edwin Landseer published in 1839

'hunting dogs' my copy of an engraving by Edwin Landseer published in 1839

I need your help and imagination for a name.

I’m getting a lucher pup. An impulse buy. Well, not really. Not really really.

I have a thing about sight-hounds; their elegance, their gracefulness and their extraordinary fluid beauty when  moving.

I fell in love with, and chose to have, Deerhounds many years back. My last one, Duna, died about thirteen years ago and I always vowed I’d get another one day. Circumstances change. The farm and business took up all my time as did my working collies. Every now and again when looking through old photographs or at one of our longdog/lurcher prints I wistfully reminisce about deerhounds.

The other Saturday I was in Hatherleigh and picked up a couple of local papers to read and then to use as fire lighting (we’d run out of easy-burning fire paper, nothing is as good as newspaper to start a fire with!). There, on the same page, were deerhound and lurcher pups for sale. The lucher being a cross of deerhound, saluki, bedlington, greyhound/whippet and collie (all dogs I love!).

I went to see them both. I agonised. I sort family opinion. ‘Oh, go for the deerhound.’ Was the general consensus.

Then Will came up with a very pertinent point “One thing to think about mum. On your walks, just round the farm even, when you check stock and whatnot. The dogs, they always go through small gaps, under the gates and hedges, through brambles and things. I don’t think a deerhound would manage. Just the sheer size of her. And you couldn’t leave her behind, could you?”

A point I hadn’t even thought of and yes, it’s very true. So that kind of tipped the balance. Well, for the moment anyway.

So little lurcher it is. She tiny, just five weeks old, a silver-blue brindle with dark blue eyes. She’s a very gentle soul, dainty and adorably sweet. What should we call her? Elf is a favourite and Iona (but not suitable for calling). Of course there are all those wonderful lurcher names too; Gypsy, Lady, Lark and Queenie or the plant ones; Flax, Willow, Aspen and Rowan.

What are your suggestions?

the scarce umber

the scarce umber

Have you noticed the preponderance of moths stuck like fridge magnets to the outside of your kitchen windows recently? These are probably Winter moths, not particularly colourful or alluring, more along the line of drab and grey, as befits the weather! But you can, even at this time of year, find some stunning beautiful ones with romantically wistful names…the merville du jour, scarce umber and feathered thorn.

merville du jour

merville du jour

I’m intrigued by moth names and how they came to be. They can be ambiguous; the anomalous, the uncertain and the suspected; or factual like double line, triple line, the red, orange or yellow underwings; then there’s the purely descriptive – the lead-coloured-drab, the dingy mocha, the emerald and chocolate tip. When out of the blue these dour, dry scientific recorders appear to be overcome by nature’s beauty and names like pale shining brown, the beautiful brocade, peach blossom, flame carpet, ruby tiger and clifden nonpareil appear! Exquisite and evocative. Sometimes when Robert empties his moth trap and notes the species it can sounds like the recitation of a poem with each word leaving his mouth morphing into the very thing the moths have been named after – the phoenix, the silver hook, the sprawler, even Mother Shipton.

the december moth

the december moth

Locks Park Farm

Thanks for visiting my blog. All entries are presented in chronological order.

I have a small organic farm on the Culm grasslands near Hatherleigh in Devon, with sheep and beef cattle. I've been farming in the county for more than 30 years. I've set up this blog to share views on farming and the countryside - please do give your thoughts.

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The Campaign to Protect Rural England has helped set up this blog. We want farming to thrive in England, and believe that it is essential that people understand farming and farmers better in order for that to happen. Paula's views expressed here are her own and we won't necessarily share all of them, but we're happy to have helped give her a voice.

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