Sue Woodcock: A strange quiet after week of sad goodbyes

Sometimes one gets a really horrible week. I have just had one. My beautiful but mentally troubled collie Ewan finally flipped. He was obviously desperately confused but also aggressive and dangerous to me and to anything else. In the end, I had to get the vet up here to put him peacefully to sleep.

While he had been with me he had been very happy, if a little bonkers but I always knew the day might come. I buried him under the spot where he used to lie watching me in the field. Then the two girls, Jet and Amber, went off to their new homes. They were not right here, but had improved drastically and had become happier dogs. To top it all, Jack's original owner's circumstances had changed and she asked for him back.

I found this hard because I adored him but I saw that he might be very happy and he has already settled down there. This leaves me with my three, Foyle, Fair and Brillo. The house is very quiet.

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Before Jack went I took all four on a walk round Grimwith Reservoir. I was amazed at the wildlife. On the top of a sluice I spotted a dipper catching food as the water flowed over the edge. The dogs of course were far more interested in a very dead rabbit. I met three other walkers all the way round. A couple with two labradors, and later a chap with a spaniel. There were many birds overhead, a skylark singing his heart out, and a pair of goldfinches almost iridescent, as they displayed in an aerial dance to each other. Foyle, who likes to paddle in puddles, spotted a particularly tasty looking brown stagnant pool and jumped in. Unfortunately it was not a shallow puddle but a foul smelling culvert and I had to pull her out. She didn't seem to mind the stench that accompanied her for the next mile. I enjoyed the walk too and it helped to calm my mind after the traumas of the previous couple of days.

A friend came with some more sheep and lambs for me to care for. Some of them were in pretty poor condition but are already improving. The lambs have soon selected their gangs and rush round on laps of the house. I also got my billy goat Gavin back and he is pleased to be home, snuggling in the straw-filled shippon at night. Among the sheep are two Herdwicks, a breed I am particularly fond of. Although their wool is harsh it will make excellent rugs and I look forward to clipping time.

I thought the bad week had ended when I went to start the engine at the Bancroft Mill Engine museum at Barnoldswick, at their request for their 30th birthday. Now I am no mechanic but such magnificent machinery fascinates me. I did my duty, turning a wheel that started it off and then unveiled a plaque and cut a cake.

I made it to the pub quiz at Kettlewell and as I drove away a strange knocking from the engine started. It sounded serious and expensive and it was. With a loud bang the engine failed and I managed to pull up in a layby and saw oil gushing. The RAC sent a recovery truck all the way from Blackpool. The driver, Steve, from Wigan, soon had the car loaded and we left it at my garage before he dropped me off home. This part of the Dales was a bit of an eye opener for him. He couldn't get over the isolation and the darkness but he asked if he could visit with his wife and daughter at another time.

I made a friend because of the car breaking down. There has to be a positive side to almost anything. As we walked to his truck we saw a shooting star. I finally got to bed about 2am.

CW 22/5/10

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