A common denominator among the wide variety of species living on my farm is that we are all creatures of habit. Consider the bedtime ritual. I switch off all lights downstairs, collect my glass of water and my mobile before pottering upstairs to run my bath. By the time the bath is ready, Max the Collie is settled in his armchair in my bedroom and Cal the Maremma is asleep on the rug at the foot of my bed. Being a guard dog, Cal is strategically positioned between bed and door.
Jenga the diminutive grey tabby cat then, like clockwork, appears from nowhere and takes up a position on the bathroom window sill among my dormant orchids. There she sits, bolt upright, front paws together and tail elegantly curled around her toes. And she watches me soak in my bath. She doesn’t move, not even a twitchy whisker. I talk to her and her stare is usually unwavering but very occasionally, she acknowledges my mutterings with a deliberate blink of her beautiful citrine-coloured green/gold eyes. And there she sits until I am finally settled in bed with my latest copy of the Economist. It usually takes about 7 minutes before she joins me and nestles down where she doesn’t move all night.
This ritual performed by the four of us, offers me enormous comfort in that I know all is well with my world. It’s especially wonderful because, of course, I make use of the full range of our luxury Southdown bedding which only serves to make the serene, happy environment that much more delightful and comforting. So for me this is the essence of happiness until, of course, come 4am and Cal decides he really thinks there might be a fox in the garden which requires immediate investigation. Unceremoniously, I get a big slobbery snout in my face and a very clear canine message of “let me out – now!” I oblige and it is out of my snug gorgeous bed, down the stairs and let the dog out into the cold early morning. I am convinced that as I scurry back to bed all shivery and cold, I see Jenga smirk quietly to herself as if to say “yes, you will live with ruddy dogs…”