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On Removing Ticks and Horses

The last few days have

been action packed from start to finish. And that’s “action” as in “daily jobs which seem novel and peculiar but that’s just island life”.

As has become my routine, I dragged a fellow volunteer – this time, Ella – out of bed early doors to feed the horses down the lane. Out of routine, however, the horses did not trot over to the fence to get their breakfast. My first thought was that they had, finally, got tired of hay. I wondered what had been the final straw. Then Betsy came gambling over. Where was Athena? Ella and I clumsily rolled the bale over the fence and climbed over after it. We separated out a couple of pinches, and went in search of the absent mare.

“What a nice patch of mud you got there”, Ella joked, as we saw her standing rather moodily in the far corner of the field. “Honestly, of all the grass there is, she chooses to stake a claim to the mud”, I rolled my eyes. Upon closer inspection, however, we were proved too quick to judge the sulking lady.

A tangle of old wire fencing had somehow noosed itself round one of her back legs above her hoof – just on the pastern. She had, presumably, been there quite a while trying to tug herself out, given she now stood patiently waiting for Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee to come and release her.

And we did just that. Ella stood by her head to comfort whilst I, gently but firmly, got covered in mud. In the process of which, the horse was freed. This required a bit more jollying along than expected as it seemed Athena – despite her heroic name – had resigned herself to this tangled fate. But in the end, all was well, and she meandered away to join her friend for some hay.

Stranded pony saved, it was time for our breakfast and a day’s work.

As it transpired, freeing a pony in the morning was a perfect premonition to my own afternoon situation. After several hours clearing elbow and knee deep grass from the Nature Trail ditch, I came home to find I’d brought back two little stowaways. Ticks are replete on this island – anywhere, in fact, that deer are. They are also, if left in too long or pulled out incorrectly (leaving the head in) potentially rather dangerous and spreaders of Lymes Disease and other such nasty things.

Marching proudly into the sitting room and declaring, “I’ve got TWO!”, I looked around for someone to entrust with a pair of tweezers and stuck out my arm. Dylan seemed the most appropriate surgeon, having previously been a butcher (he is also, we were to discover the next day, a barber. Two professions not to be confused by the practitioner in an absent minded moment).

Other than that, we carried out our tasks smoothly. Amélie led the sanding and painting of the Bunkhouse reception, Meike only got a little bit covered in paint, Dylan stalked the local woodland with an axe, and Ella made her mark burning in the new bunkhouse welcome sign.

Saturday evening was all excitement as we prepared for the village curry night. I made a dahl. Naturally, Amélie made crêpes. Us volunteers were also delighted to discover an-almost-fully-equipped pool table, and a Girls v Boys tournament quickly organised itself (and did not end in tears).

Fuelled up on curry carbs (and crêpes), we saw Sunday morning in planning an expedition for our days off. The armchairs we’re sat in are getting comfier, the rain outside steadier, and the plans more diverse. We will go, though – somewhere.

That’s the amazing thing about Rum: no matter what changes in plan happen, what weather shifts seem to change hearts and minds, you’ll always see something beautiful and unique.

Until next time…


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