The keeper's days are long and monotonous; tipping bags of pellets into feeders, topping up drinkers, sitting by newly released pens of birds until dark, to make sure they settle (you can at least bring wine and a book for that last job; I often volunteer). Stalking deer is done very early or very late. And of course I still have to find time to manage my vegetable garden, work the dogs, look after the sheep and horses, and go to my own jobs (paid and volunteer).
In the face of all this work, I decided to go holiday. Or what passes for a holiday when you have livestock and commitments. Two hours before sunset, I put up a tent in our field five miles away, brought a kettle and tea bags, reading material, and a few dogs for company, and slept out overnight.
It's from the "A Change is as Good as a Rest" school of vacationing.
Like the pheasant poults, I do better outdoors. The view is bucolic; in my opinion, sitting and looking are two very underrated activities. I finally got a chance to catch up on a backlog of New Yorker magazines without people constantly dropping by unannounced - my personal bete noire. Our house is like Grand Central Station and, quite frankly, my nerves can't take it. A vacation from my own house was necessary.
Pip and Dakota hared around the ten acres until dark, excavating field mice nests and generally bothering the local wildlife. It was like Disneyland for dogs - if Disneyland encouraged kids to chase Donald and dig up Mickey. Pip found a badger latrine (another attraction lacking at theme parks) -
I had to give her a bath in the trough with hand soap before she smelled tolerable enough to be allowed inside the tent.
In the morning, Mike showed up with a fresh pot of coffee and croissants, and we had a peaceful breakfast together, just the two of us. Mike was relieved to find a much happier, more relaxed wife. He's suggested I go every Saturday night.
I readily agreed.