The two of us Natterjacks

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Andrew Smith ~ Moufflon Annie Rose ~ Ferdie Bill Shaw ~ Natterjack toad Caroline Munday ~ Ewe Colin Sykes ~ Thelma Colin White ~ Starlight Gary McClure ~ Gertrude Jenny Dawson Atkinson ~ Brennan Marion Bell ~ The calves Rick Browne ~ Zoo animals

Two local portrait artists Jo McGrath creates animal portraits, Sally Bamber’s focus is on people, The people tell stories of their connection with their animals. Cumbria ~ 2011

Andrew Smith ~ Moufflon “She is now an elderly specimen like owner, but in her day she had imense vigour and is blessed with the best nose in England! She has been a wayward lass, but that is what one might expect from a French hound. Not in the stereo-typical way with the gallic shrug or flirtacious gesture, but she has driven me to distraction waiting for her to reappear from a hunt that has gone on for an hour and more, so that I have been in a towering rage till I can just hear the metalic tinkle of her jessie and when she is closer she usually gives mouth, so I am so pleased to see her that all thought of a thrashing has vanished. She is predictably distracted by any good scent - in particular; hares, roe deer, rabbits and fox. Calling her off a scent is well nigh impossible and you may as well shout at the moon for all the notice she takes. It leads to marital disharmony as I am freqently criticised by Putzi who always states that "she always comes back" and

"stop the dreadful noise", and the fact that we still have her testifies to the truth in that statement. But I can't stop wondering what would happen were she to disappear and many worried hours have past with me thinking the worst, while she scents off in the next valley. She has disappeared many times and I have retrieved her from farmer's barns, keeper's homes and someone's Sunday morning kitchen breakfast, when she's been away all night. “She is the perfect dog for a worrier - you will either peg out with worry and incurable peptic ulcers, permanant residence in an assylum, or learn to enjoy her independance and wonder at her ability to find her way back. “Vivre le basset fauvre de Bretagne - possibly the cause of madness but like absinthe, gives a new perspective on life!”

Annie Rose ~ Ferdie Annie runs Cumbrian Heavy Horses. She started West Highland Heavy Horses many years ago with the firm belief that heavy horses required a future without the traditional perception of them being a bygone relic! That passion has led to the business' growth over the past 10 years from a two horse dray outfit to a vibrant and friendly yard with BHS Approved Riding School status using mainly Clydesdales and Shires for riding. The business' development coincided with her family, which at times she has found difficult, and wants to say a huge thank you to the many friends, including her children's dad, who have helped over the years!

She loves developing the business but her first love, that of directly working with these beautiful horses, is still her driving passion (pardon the pun!). She also knows that the Clydesdales and Shires are the real stars, so beautiful, and very much hopes that with the new facilities on offer at Cumbrian Heavy Horses, with the vision she shares with the team, that many more folk can be encouraged to come and ride a fit, well schooled Clydesdale... Cumbrian Heavy Horses, the only heavy horse riding centre in the world, wins for Cumbria, in England’s North West Tourism Award, as ‘Best Tourist Experience 2010!’ Visit Annie’s website at:

Bill Shaw ~ Natterjack toad When I moved to Cumbria in 1989 I was billeted in a caravan overlooking the Duddon Estuary. Standing outside on warm, damp nights that first spring I could hear a rasping call wafting in the air that I just couldn’t identify. It was deceptive and intriguing - it seemed to be coming over from Millom, and then seemed nearby. It reminded me of cicadas in Spain, or tree frogs in the tropical forests where I dreamt of going. I discovered through local naturalists that this call was made by the male natterjack toad, the UK’s rarest and noisiest amphibian. They call to entice the females down to the breeding pools which are scattered along the coast. I longed to see one and soon found myself wandering through the dunes at Dunnerholme with a chap radio tracking the wee beasties as part of his PhD research. Suddenly I felt my welly slip slightly and heard a soft squishing noise! Lifting my welly, with a feeling of doom and embarrassment, I saw my first ever natterjack plastered onto the sole!!

15 years later I found myself still in Cumbria and with a job helping to conserve natterjacks, perhaps it was meant to be, after such a disastrous first encounter! The mystique has now gone but I’m still fascinated by them as a species: Beautiful looking, with that green colouration, and strange yellow stripe, for what reason? Nobody knows. And they’re real survivors, living on the coastal fringes, on the edge. Clinging on tenaciously. This year I’ve seen thousands of tiny toadlets emerge from some pools I manage at Haverigg. Metamorphosis in action. A wonderful sight. Good luck to them all! Bill Shaw For more information on natterjacks, and to find out where you can hear and see them in Cumbria, contact Bill on

Caroline Munday ~ Ewe “We moved to Low Bleansley Farm in January 2003 in the wake of the Foot and Mouth disaster. At this time, many disillusioned farmers were selling up and although this was not the reason that our Farm came up for sale, it certainly had a bearing on it. “I was persuaded to buy rather more land than I had intended, on the grounds that I might never get the opportunity again. When I enquired what on earth I was going to do with all the acreage, it was suggested that I keep Sheep. “Having spent the previous 30 years in London I was somewhat out of the loop where Sheep husbandry was concerned! However I hadn’t reckoned on astonishing support and help would be given by the farming community of the Lickle Valley. “Within weeks of moving in I was encouraged to take part in every aspect of farm life and by the time a year had passed I

had had a go at virtually every sheep connected activity. From shearing to silage, worming to lambing, haymaking to selling. I got to drive Tractors and Quad bikes and was offered a job taking photographs at the Auction Mart, where people fell over themselves to be helpful and friendly and I benefited hugely from their advice and experience. “I am now the proud owner of a small flock of sheep of mixed varieties and am thrilled to be a registered Shepherd with my very own Smit mark (a red pop on either hook) which is used to identify where the sheep come from. “It has to be said, I still depend heavily on the generosity of my neighbours (especially at lambing time, when I have a tendency to panic!) but am pleased that Low Bleansley continues to operate as a farm at a time when so much is changing.”

Colin Sykes ~ Thelma Thelma - also known as “Fat Cat”- came from the Furness Animal Rescue when a tiny kitten but has since grown immensely. She is a lazy “bagpuss” who rarely leaves the house, sleeping most of the time, often on someone’s lap.

Colin White ~ Starlight My first German Shepherd was called Storm. I did not get her until she was six years old. I had her for 10 years. We used to go mountain climbing together.

Now, I have had my dog Starlight for four years. I don't leave her on her own, she is always with me. And a valued member of my family.

My new dog is called Starlight, she is boisterous and still all the puppy.

I've been homeless and she protected me on more than one occasion. She does bite strangers - strangers beware!

Starlight's the only friend I have.

I can't imagine life without her.

Sometimes Star is my only friend, although I spend most of my time alone I have companionship. My dog is an extension of me.

My dog is my life. Without her I am nothing.

Gary McClure ~ Gertrude We are looking over Woodland, across the Duddon estuary on a summer’s day. The sheep graze in the field above us, Auntie Freda and Albert, two of the hens peck in the paddock below us, whilst Jackie and friend mount Joss and Merlin off on a ride for a couple of hours. “My pigs are free range, they’ve got to have a good life - they’re lovely animals - we’ll go across in a minute and I’ll call them ‘pig alert!’, they’ll come running, you’ll see. They give me meat, yes, but they give me great pleasure - I’ve been breeding them so that the skin is the right thickness for crackling! With Gertrude and Boris I’m trying different breeds to find the perfect piece of pork in texture and flavour - will I ever do it? ‘No’, but it’s fun trying.” We climb through the wall opening into the huge pig field full of trees and shrubs covering about 13.5 acres. The pigs make the most of their terrain with natural water gulleys that are currently perfect mud spots for keeping cool. Gary calls them and they come running from all directions. They are all sizes and some

will soon go off to be prepared. Son of Boris no.2 rubs his head against my leg and I’m quite taken with him. I offer to send over my windfall apples in preparation! “Gertrude just went out a couple of weeks ago, laid herself down and had her eight piglets - all lovely”. After the excitement of Gary arriving to see them all, we find her settling down in the shade of some shrubs to keep herself and her piglets cool. We head up to the top field to meet Boris, who has a lady pig with him just coming into heat. Boris is huge! In every sense, so we stay behind the gate! “Two Large Whites are the basic stock, I’ve a Lop and a Gloucester All Spot and some Middle Whites, the rarest in Britain, Gertrude is one of them, I think she’s beautiful. They are good, lean, succulent meat - how can I talk about my pigs like that, ah! - yes I’ll take your windfalls! I feed them a certain amount and they forage for the rest, that makes the meat lean - it does mean they take longer to come to weight, but it’s worth it!.”

Jenny Dawson Atkinson ~ Brennan I think I have, like, 50ish animals? Two ponies, two dogs, two geese, three cockerels, 20ish hens, 13/14 guinea fowl, five ducks (new hatchlings due next Tuesday!), four white sheep and seven black lambs... I have been thinking about becoming a vet, although what happened with the gosling recently, I’m, well, I had it in my bedroom overnight and Mum took it to work all wrapped up, but it didn’t survive, hmmm.

Brennan and Oliver are not shoed as we don’t ride them on hard ground very much - the farriers have shown us about cleaning the frogs, one almost hacked at it, another, more professional one, was really careful, so I’m really careful too! I ride most weekends, we take them down to the beach as well, and next week we’re taking them on holiday to Dalbeattie Forest in Scotland, staying in a teepee! Really looking forward to that.

I get down about 8am and the first thing I do is feed them, groom them and oil their feet or do whatever seems like a good idea. Without any hay they won’t even come to us never mind allow any sort of maintenance - Oliver kicks the door if he’s not out early enough - he’s the more dominant of the two ponies, he’s got attitude, I ride him more, I feel more comfortable and safer on him. Brennan is softer, easy going and about a hand taller than Oliver, although he was more tricky to ride at first, over the time since you painted my protrait, I’m riding him more, and I have grown taller too.

We sell our eggs, we’ve sold quite a few recently - the guinea fowl have the smallest eggs, we give those to George, our newest dog, he’s a rescue dog, he’s mixed breed and he’s really laid back - he’s great, the opposite to Megan the collie! - but they are ok for cakes too. Then the duck eggs are bigger than the hens eggs, and the goose eggs are the biggest. They are all fed the same - I collect the hens eggs, all the hens with the bobbly heads chase you! I have to watch the geese when rounding them up at the end of the day, can be a bit tricky with the pens, Dad’s already been bitten this year - some people use them instead of guard dogs.

Marion Bell ~ The calves The calves arrive with us at approx 20 weeks old in batches of 40 calves. They have all been weaned off milk or a milk substitute and are able to eat a cereal based meal. They are Aberdeen Angus or Aberdeen Angus cross calves. One of the main requirements is that the calves are outside and able to graze grass for four months, during this time they are also fed a small amount of a cereal mixture. The batch is made up of both steers and heifers. These are separated after the first few weeks into sex and also by size, so that the smaller ones are not pushed away from the food by the bigger, stronger ones. They are all from farms which supply the Waitrose supermarkets with milk. This enables full traceability of all the meat sold in their stores.

After they leave us, at around 18 months of age, they go to finishing farms which are nearer to the slaughter house in York. They are in a cereal growing area so it is far more economic for them to feed them until they are fat. The logistics of getting them to York in small batches would make it very expensive, it is much better for them all to be transported at once. The Aberdeen Angus breed is used as it is a traditional native breed renowned for the quality of the meat, it’s docility and ease of growing off a high forage content diet. The cattle are a dark black colour and naturally polled (do not grow horns).

Rick Browne ~ Zoo animals Animals have been a huge part of my life since birth. The first-born son of a 4th generation Ulster dairy farmer, my earliest memories are of cows and dogs. My grandfather would take me by the hand round the byre and tell me all about cows. As I grew older we betted on when a cow would calf. I fed calves their milk in buckets, learned to milk cows, helped my dad pull on the ropes to deliver big calves birthing and became expert at telling when cows needed to go to see the bull! There was always a collie dog to round up the cattle and sheep and play football with. I loved to feed baby lambs, drove sheep along the roads to fresh pasture and help ewes give birth at lambing time. I was always going to be a farmer when I grew up! I had a wonderful book of wild animals which I studied avidly. I was enthralled with pictures of Elephants, Zebras, Rhinos, Hippos, Tigers, Lions, Giraffes, etc.

I grew up to become a Vet and moved to work in Broughton-InFurness in 1978. My work mostly involves looking after cows, dogs, cats, sheep, pigs, horses, and for the past 14 years the zoo animals at South Lakes Wild Animal Park. I recently took my mother with me on a visit to see some animals there and she stunned me, as we stroked a giraffe, when she put her hand on my hand and with tears in her eyes and emotion in her voice she looked at me and said;- “Richard! Do you remember that book of animals you used to read when you were a child? Isn’t it wonderful that here you are now looking after those animals in real life!’’ It is truly amazing and I thank God every day for the wonderful life I have enjoyed in the company of animals. [Human ones included!] We would like to thank Furness Enterprise for their support

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