Tag Archive for: Property Renovation

Hello again!

Well, dear Reader (or possibly Readers, but I don’t want to sound overly optimistic), I must apologise for not gracing your computing devices with my writing for a while – simply put, I’ve not been quite myself.

You may recall from my last blog post that TOERAG (that’s an acronym for my male human) took me to the vet.  Unbeknownst to me, he and TOTCA (my female human) had been hatching a plan to take me back there again – reference my teeth!  Can you believe it?! I’ve been on this planet for over 12 years and now’s the time to start talking TEETH!!

Ralph The Brave One…

Perhaps you’re not aware that for a long time I’ve been known in my family as ‘Ralph The Brave One’.  This worthy title dates back some years, and I have earned it on many occasions.  For example, the picture at the top of the page shows me confronting a toad in Kent – as you can see, I’m the model of bravery-under-pressure here (albeit TOERAG himself eventually removed the toad from the tarpaulin whilst I ate his sandwiches for him).

On another occasion, TOERAG invited an entire pack of foxhounds to visit my farm in Kent.  He hadn’t given me prior warning of this invitation, so I was a little surprised to discover this large crew suddenly outside the tack room.  Somewhat taken aback at all the well-deserved attention I received from these tall chaps, my pelvic floor didn’t quite cope with the situation.  Possibly not my bravest encounter, but it still shows that I’m prepared to go where others fear to tread.  I have shared with you above a rather nice picture of the West Kent Foxhounds taken in 1931 (apparently before even TOERAG was born) – the most interesting canine being the one in charge: a brave Jack Russell Terrier of course!

Always being stoic…

Here at Stockham Farm on Exmoor, there are numerous incidents of my stoic behaviour to recount – regularly greeting the new dog friends that arrive here to stay in the Victorian Wing cottage and bring their humans with them; working hard on the digger to get the large pond ready for next year’s guests; and of course trying to get ahead with the renovation of the Piggery cottage so that more friends can come and stay in 2019.

As usual TOERAG wasn’t brave enough to investigate the contents of this dumpy bag, so I was sent it to have a look…

A second visit to the Vet…

However, a second visit to the vet in under a month is altogether another test of one’s bravery!  On arrival at the vet emporium I heard TOTCA chatting to someone about my teeth AND my gentleman’s cough (I can assure you I’ve never smoked).  Suddenly all the humans started faffing about and before I knew what was happening, I found myself waking up in a cage with a bandage on my leg (featuring cartoon pigs – seriously, not lions, but PIGS!!) and there was TOTCA standing there with water coming out of her eyes telling me I was brave and she loved me.  Obviously she looked ridiculous like that, so I had to lick her face clean to make her feel better.  Embarrassingly my tongue also went up her nose, but she was polite enough not to say anything.

Sometime later, I learned from Mother (when she reluctantly came to sit with me beside the Aga), that nothing had actually happened with my teeth but that I’d had what is called “an X-ray under General Anna’s thetic” and evidently General Anna had discovered I have “a heart condition”.  Well, I know of the Colonel who features in 101 Dalmatians, but I wasn’t aware of there being a General called Anna who’s also a Vet. Extraordinary!  Mother didn’t seem hugely bothered by my “heart condition” because apparently she has one too and what it means is that we get to have a pill every day which TOERAG tries to hide in a piece of cheese.  He thinks we don’t like the pill and just eat the cheese around it, so he has to give us more cheese to make us eat the pills.  Clearly he has no idea that we’re one step ahead and just enjoy seeing him getting fractious dispensing loads of cheese!

At the end of the day, dear Reader, you’ll be pleased to hear I was feeling much better and spent the next few days on the sofa recuperating.  Every cloud and all that…

Thanks for reading.  Do please follow me on Instagram if you’d like to: Ralph, Exmoor Jack Russell



Hello again!

Well I have to begin by saying that it’s not been an entirely jolly week for me at Stockham Farm – despite spending an enjoyable couple of days ascertaining the quality of the new hay and straw bales in the top barn (no mice whatsoever – most disappointing), this was also the week when I had to bid farewell to my best friend, Toffee.

Toffee is a Shetland Pony.  Like me he is incredibly charming and good looking, and I’ve genuinely seen humans that haven’t given a second glance towards the big horses, go all gooey and unnecessary when they see Toffee.  We had some great dogs that brought their humans to stay at the farm during the summer and they all loved Toffee – rushing back inside the cottage to find carrots and picking apples from the orchard to give to him.  This picture is of a grown man stroking Toffee – I do get it, but enough now!

Toffee’s Two Big Issues…

But let’s be frank, Toffee does have two really big issues… firstly, he’s not very tall.  TOERAG (one of my humans – The One Earnestly helping me Renovate Ancient Granaries etc) has helped me create a lot of nice stables for all the horses and ponies that visit Stockham Farm – we’re hoping to become an official British Horse Society ‘Horses Welcome’ destination soon.  But no-one was prepared for the smallness of Toffee – here he is trying to look over the stable doors when he came indoors the other evening.  Not ideal, I’d say.

The second issue is… well, he looks like a girl.  Be honest, you thought so too, didn’t you?  Everyone always refers to him as ‘she’ – even the big horses when they first met him.  He coped with it surprisingly well and wasn’t at all perturbed when Bailey laughed out loud when Jack told him that Toffee is actually a boy.

When Jack was depressed…

Jack and Bailey are also sad that Toffee has left us – especially Jack.  He was rather depressed and lonely in the summer of 2017 and that’s when Toffee came to Stockham Farm to cheer him up.  A bromance blossomed and he made Jack feel a lot better and brought lots of fun to the farm – chasing rainbows and rolling in the snow.

He even hung out with Jack in his stable during the big snow last winter – practically twins they were, as you can see below.  But I was worried that he wouldn’t want to spend another winter here – now that Jack has Bailey to chat to and share jokes with, Toffee was feeling a bit like an equestrian third wheel.  So I suggested he might want to move on.

As you can imagine, Mother doesn’t really care that Toffee’s gone; she couldn’t really see him very well, what with her dodgy eyesight and everything, and I don’t think she cares that I’m upset either.  He left on Thursday morning and I was at least glad I got to say a proper goodbye (there’s a video on my Instagram page @exmoor_jack_russell_ralph).

A tiny brave human called Wilfred…

TOERAG told me that Toffee’s going to be really happy in his new home – there are two big horses that aren’t rude and won’t laugh at him, and a very small human that’s going to ride him.  He said that the small human is 7 months old and called Wilfred, which is a very cool name, and I imagine he’s very brave too as that’s really quite young to be riding.  As you know I rarely believe anything TOERAG says, so I’m not sure this can possibly be true – but if I can get a picture of Wilfred riding Toffee then I’ll definitely post it on my blog or on my Instagram page.  Wilfred’s mother has already sent me this picture of Toffee with his new big horse friends – I think he looks pretty chilled (if rather upside down), so I guess it’s all going to be OK.

I think I’ll now go and sit by the Aga and wear my very sad face – that usually elicits a commiseratory lump of Cheddar.  Definitely worth a try…

Thanks for reading.  Do follow me on Instagram if you’d care to: Ralph, Exmoor Jack Russell



Hello again!

If you’ve ever seen (or read) 101 Dalmatians – possibly the scariest film ever – you’ll know all about the ‘Twilight Bark’, when dog friends contact each other across the world in the early evening with top news stories to be shared from home to home.  I think it’s a bit like the Six O’Clock News that humans watch on the big screens, but clearly they don’t understand what we dogs are doing – they probably think we’re just shouting, but actually it’s really important.  I mean, how else would those ninety-nine spotty puppies have been rescued if it hadn’t been for the Colonel’s listening skills?

Better use of English grammar…

During a recent Twilight Bark, the Border Collie from across the Exe Valley decided to teach us Dulverton and Exmoor locals a better use of English grammar.  Border Collies are exceptionally gifted dogs, as you’re probably aware, so goodness only knows why they spend such a lot of time around sheep.  Anyway, the lesson we learned that evening was all about the use of acronyms, which I have now decided to put into practice in my blog – and thus henceforth I shall be referring to my two humans as TOTCA (The One They Call Ali) and TOERAG (The One Earnestly [helping me] Renovate Ancient Granaries [and other buildings]).

I’m pleased to report that TOTCA and her friends from Kent had a fun weekend together, drinking wine and making a lot of noise.  She took them to see the work I’d done so far with the Piggery renovation project at Stockham Farm and they were all very impressed, particularly the digging I’d done at the side of the path – though TOERAG said that it wasn’t in the right place and it was a “bloody big hole”.  Does that mean he was impressed too, I wonder?


When I ate something I shouldn’t…

In amongst all the fun and excitement, however, I did something unwise – I ate something I shouldn’t.  It was an interesting grey blob that I’d found around the back of the stables with a delightful perfume of fox poo blended with dead mouse.  I wolfed it down without a care, but irritatingly my stomach began to gurgle and it came back up again later in the evening – just when I’d got comfortable in front of the fire on my favourite rug.

Still feeling unwell in the morning, TOERAG said he was going to take me to “see the vet”. Those three words are enough to put the fear of God into any self-respecting Jack Russell Terrier.  After all, who wants to be crammed into a room the size of a small stable with elderly Labradors saying “oh dear, sweetie, what’s the matter with you?” and young Spaniels showing off about how many pheasants and partridge they’ve “picked up” this season? Frankly it’s all a bit much, and none of them seem to comprehend that when a Jack Russell snarls, growls and makes the ground move akin to being in an earthquake, that that is simply our way of explaining that we’re actually bigger than them, but God just put us in smaller bodies.

The Postman has a cat…

Anyway, all was going fairly well until the Postman came in… with a CAT! Yes, you read that right, a cat.  The man person who drives the small red vehicle and hangs around our back door six days a week appears to let a feline share his home! Seriously, why?!  He must know that dogs provide all possible intelligent and amusing company – every day he witnesses our Oscar-winning displays of snarling, growling and barking, followed by effusive licking and tail-wagging when in receipt of a pat or a small biscuit – why then would he ever want to share his life with a cat! I confess I was acquainted with a cat once, long ago – I tried to have an intelligent conversation with it on the subject of mice, but it ran up a tree and refused to come down. I stayed at the bottom for many hours shouting at it to come down and continue the conversation, but inexplicably it just stayed there. Baffling!

Fortunately it was finally my turn to chat to the vet, who turned out to be a nice young lady person and TOERAG suddenly became all smiley and unnecessary.  She didn’t appear to be too concerned about my condition, but couldn’t resist the temptation to take my temperature just to be sure I was on the mend.  I can promise you I am NOT telling Mother where she put the thermometer – some things are just best not shared.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to join Mother on the sofa now for some further recuperation.

Thanks for reading.  By all means follow me on Instagram if you’d care to: Ralph, Exmoor Jack Russell




Hello again.

I’d like to thank all the kind readers (at least two, I believe, both human) that have said nice things about my blog.  Before I write much more about the goings on at Stockham Farm, I thought it might be helpful to introduce some members of the family to you.  And my mother in particular.

The picture above is of the two of us – vaguely pretending to like each other to amuse the humans.  As you know, I’m the handsome one on the left, Mother is on the right.  She has completely ridiculous ears and is possibly quite embarrassed by them, though she won’t admit it.

Here’s a picture of Mother as a puppy (sensible ears then).  This was obviously taken a long time ago, as Mother is now 16 years and 3 months old in human years.  Which makes her 114 and a half in dog years.  She was born on the 4th July, so the humans named her Liberty.  This has something to do with America which I’ve heard is quite a long way from Exmoor; but I’ve also heard that Americans quite like Jack Russell Terriers so it must be a nice place.

The story of my birth

I was born 12 years ago in a nice house in Tunbridge Wells in Kent.  My female human (the one they call Ali) was there helping Mother with the whole unsavoury business, and I think all was going well (2 brothers, 1 sister) until it was my turn.  I was a breech birth apparently and the books didn’t cover this, so I understand there was a lot of panicking and pulling and drinking wine until I arrived safely.  This is the story I’ve heard, though I must say I’ve never seen Mother drinking wine, so I assume that was what the humans were doing.

I had an excellent puppyhood until the day we moved into our new house in Hever in Kent and I had an altercation with a badger in his own home and he removed much of my right ear, as you can see from the picture above.  I still can’t understand why the humans were so upset when I showered the hallway with blood from my ear only two hours after we all moved in.  Something to do with “newly decorated throughout” I think.

Mother continues not to help…

We’re all busy getting on with the “renovation” of the Piggery house at Stockham Farm, and can’t wait for some new dog friends to bring their humans to have self-catering holidays here next year.  Although I have to say that Mother isn’t actually helping much at all.  I found her looking at herself in a mirror this week, when she could have been doing some important digging or something.  The humans keep saying that she’s old and deaf and blind, but she still knows whenever and wherever I’m in the room, so I’m not so sure.  She won’t be pleased that I’ve added this picture, as her sticky-up ear looks particularly ridiculous!

I must sign off for now, as my humans have some friends coming to Stockham Farm from Kent for the weekend.  They all live with relatives of mine, which is very nice, so there’ll be lots of chatting, wine-drinking and crumb-dropping under the table.  Perfect!  My humans are doing a lot of “tidying up” in readiness for their friends and Mother’s just fallen asleep on top of some rubbish.  I’d better go and wake her up…

Thanks for reading!  Be sure to follow me on my very own Instagram page if you like: Ralph, Exmoor Jack Russell