Crossways Farm Spring Update 2018

sunbathing18/6/2018 It has been a good spring, despite its late arrival. After a wet and boggy start, leaving everyone desperate for sunshine, its end is dry and sunny, leaving everyone (with a garden) desperate for rain. Some rain would indeed be welcome, but guests, creatures and I are having no trouble at all appreciating the good weather…

This season has had many highlights. To mention just a few, we have welcomed four new cuddly ratties (Badger’s relatives) and four new chickens, who have settled in well and are laying beautiful eggs. There were one or two adventures at the start due to my forgetting to have their wings clipped before I brought them home. It took me nearly two days and a fair bit of neighbourly detective work to track down one of the girls who had made her way to someone’s garden down the road after the goats frightened her over the shed roof…

I also had a friend to stay last week for a two-and-a-half day intensive gardening session. In that time we managed to transform a cage full of weeds back into a fruit cage and raised beds planted with courgettes, squash, sweetcorn, kale and tomatoes. I still have to check regularly to make sure I’m not imagining it! Thank you to my friend Gina for all her hard work and weeding enthusiasm.

Veg patch before
Veg patch before

Veg patch after
Veg patch after

And, finally, Winnie the wood pigeon – a clean teenager if ever I met one, turning up on more than one occasion for a shower when I was hosing down the yard (see below) – brought a friend to dinner on Friday evening. Whether it was a girlfriend or boyfriend is anyone’s guess… but I hope he (or she) might also one day bring some babies to visit!

SnugglesBut this newsletter is going to be dedicated to the one and only Dexter Rabbit. His loss after a short illness last week has been the one great sadness of the season. He was supposed to live forever (simply because I didn’t want to live without him), and we are all bereft. I still want to greet him when I come downstairs in the morning, and still want to pick dandelions for him to eat: they were his favourite. And when you are exhausted, only the very softest of snuggles will do…

DexBut he wasn’t just a fluff ball. He was a fluff ball with fluffy feet, gorgeous ears, a mad hairdo and bags of character. He didn’t particularly like being picked up, though he loved snuggling next to me or lying on me and being stroked. He knew his own mind and would thump his back feet in displeasure when I went to bring him indoors in the evening, giving me the run around for as long as possible. He always followed me to the fridge, making the logical assumption that I was opening it especially for his benefit. He would grunt loudly when I handed him something tasty, and I would have to make sure to keep my fingers out of the way as he would snatch it and run off – who taught him his manners?! If I tried to place any food in front of him, he would almost prevent me from doing so in his enthusiasm, as though I was about to steal the tastiest morsel from him, rather than present him with it.

King Dex
King Dex surrounded by his subjects

Dexy
Dexter’s funniest relaxation position

Dexter in front of the fireIn recent weeks, he became entirely dog-rabbit – in the best sense of the term – and I knew I could safely give him the run of the house, and not worry if I forgot to close the door to the terrace, because he would go and graze on the lawn in the company of the chickens and goats, and then come back and sit with me on the terrace, or go back indoors to cool down. Perhaps with a little crazy dash across the lawn in between, or a leap for joy – a sight that always made me laugh. The funniest animal antics seem to have the silliest names: this is called a binky, and when the goats bounce on all fours it’s called pronking. With chinchillas it’s called popcorning. But they are all essentially the same thing: a happy dance. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have so many animals that all do happy dances. And the ones that don’t, purr instead (or as well). Yes, that’s right. Chickens purr. And it’s hilarious.

Watch the video below carefully… and you may spot a Dexter binky or two!

I miss Dexter every day and wish he was still here. But one thing comforts me: I know he was the best rabbit in the world. I bet no other rabbit has ever received fan mail or is mourned by so many people.

Dex fan mail