Sue Woodcock: Best laid plans fall foul of four-legged friends

Despite the grey and depressing weather I have managed to perk myself up a bit this week. Things seldom go to plan however.

We thought we had found the lovable and gentle staffy/chocolate labrador bitch a good home. But they didn't really want her, they never gave her a chance.

She is the most gentle, placid bitch it has been my privilege to know. Apart from her size and her instinct to chase sheep she is a wonderful animal. Faithful and docile, she would make a great family pet. She is back with me and I know there is someone, somewhere, who could be just right for her. Her name is Juliette and she is lying in front of the fire, happy and contented.

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I thought I had got things right with the sheep, too. I should have known better. Among the older sheep is a dopey old Suffolk ewe who isn't very keen on having lambs. I wish she had thought about that five months ago. I didn't have any males in the fields then so I suspect that one of my neighbour's tups popped over the wall and obliged.

All the sheep have taken to sleeping in the barns and shippon and imagine my surprise when I went out first thing to hear a lamb bleating – one little white tup lamb and one stillborn little black ewe. The mother was totally uninterested. One of my retired nanny goats, Dulcie, had decided to mother the little chap. Of course she hadn't any milk but was keeping him warm and washing him.

Fortunately I had some lamb milk so now he is drinking from the bottle and being auntied by the goat and an old Shetland ewe. I have called him Horace

His mother, after several days of my getting her to feed him, has now gone out into the field, as she was attacking the little chap. Sheep can always surprise you and you can never expect them to sing from the same hymn sheet.

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On the subject of hymns, we had a churches together service at the town hall. It was packed out and there was a good get together of people from up and down the dale. There were even people from Cheshire there; they introduced themselves after having recognised me from the Dales Diary. It dawned on me that I knew the majority of those attending and most were friends of mine. It has taken a while but I feel I belong here.

Every Saturday morning there is a coffee morning held at Church House in the centre of the village. This week it was in aid of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Having done quite a bit of sailing and worked as a police officer in a coastal area, I know just how much good work they do.

I learned that there are now "street angels" in Skipton as well as in Halifax and Bradford and I decided to volunteer if they want me. It will be my way of saying thank you to a community that has accepted me.

I had a very nice and polite letter from the tax office, who are trying to sort out what went wrong last month. It has made me feel better and I am sure it will sort itself out in time.

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In Buckton, they held a fundraising evening for Haiti. It is a small village but they raised over 1,600 which is wonderful. It is such a caring and generous community.

I must now go and give Horace his next feed as I can hear him bellyaching in the shippon next to the house. He has learned to do that very quickly. I wouldn't pick sheep for my pub quiz team but they can be quite canny when they want to be.

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