After a couple of animal free days exploring the pubs of Galway, we boarded the early morning ferry from Rosslare to Fishguard in Wales. The boat was big and pretty luxurious but ever so empty, meaning plenty of space to spread out and take a nap. I hope Vanessa realises that that was about as close as she is ever going to get to me taking her on a cruise.
Our host, Suzanna, met us at the port in Fishguard, and after a quick lunch of bangers and Yorkshire pudding, we were on our way to meet our new friends for the next three weeks, all twenty five of them! Within minutes of arriving at the house I realised I had wasted my time wearing clean clothes for the journey as the three dogs we were here to take care of had no concept of mud, and proceeded to give us big welcome hugs. I would have just worn the same clothes for the whole stay if Vanessa would have let me.
This was our biggest challenge yet in our house and pet sitting career, three, dogs, three cats, six horses, six ducks, three chickens, three geese and one peacock were relying on us for breakfast and dinner for the next few weeks, that’s fifty meals a day!
Now we didn’t get to do an awful lot of sightseeing in Wales, mainly due to taking care of the animals but also due to the eighteen hours a day of darkness. My mornings started around 7am with a quick bite to eat before heading downstairs to wake up Rain and get her into her pyjamas. Blue Dog, as we liked to call her, would need a bath three times a day, maybe more, if it wasn’t for the doggy pyjamas. With my wellies on, it was time to wake the other two dogs, Henri and Alfie, who slept outside in the stables. It would be time to feed the rest of the gang. The ducks and geese would waddle out of the stables and impatiently wait for me to scatter their feed in the surrounding mud. A quick scoop of grains and cat biscuits for Bertie the peacock, and it was time to load up the wheelbarrow with hay and go feed the horses.
This required two trips, one load to the lower field and another load to the horses in the upper field. By this time the sun had risen and it was just a beautiful place to be, despite all the mud. I was always accompanied by the three dogs, and after being there for a while, the two outdoor cats would usually come for a walk too. The horses would at first be a little freaked out by the blue dog running around like crazy in the fields, but after a while they got used to her and probably realised that, just like Henri and Alfie, they were all just out looking for their morning treats, some nice fresh horse shit, their favorite breakfast cereal!
By now you may be wondering if we really are in Wales because it’s November and the sun is shining in all my pictures. Believe it or not, we went three weeks without any rain. The clear blue skies lead to some bitterly cold nights and mornings. The mud was no longer muddy, the animals drinking water turned to ice, and the horse shit tasted even better apparently, nothing like a nice cold “poopsicle” for breakfast. Suzanna had lived there for seventeen years and never had the horses run out of drinking water, until we arrived. We were in a drought in Wales in November! For the last 10 days of our stay I had to load up about 15 gallons of water a day into the wheelbarrow and pull it up the hill to the horse’s bath tub of drinking water that is normally filled with rain water.
With all the animals fed, the hardest part of my day was yet to come, waking Vanessa up !!
With all these sunny days we did make time for a few trips to the local beach. The beach was beautiful and always deserted and the dogs couldn’t have been any happier. With three wet, tired dogs in the car, we would always make a quick stop at the local fish and chip shop in Newquay for some fabulously fresh deep fried sea food.
The coast was dotted with pretty little fishing villages and a few bigger towns like the lovely beach town of Aberystwyth, but usually by the time we got to these places it was time to turn around and go home and feed the horses before dark.
I’m sure I’ve made this sound like it was hard work, it was, but it truly became one of my favorite house sits yet. The silent, frosty morning out in the fields with the horses were the kind of things people in Colorado pay thousands of dollars to do on a dude ranch. Watching Henri snuggle up on the couch with Vanessa in the evenings and ripping a stinky fart is entertainment money just can’t buy!