The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Great Aunt Daisy Beatyl

Daisy BeatylWhen my mother is on holiday or ill in bed, Daisy Beatyl comes to stay. Last year she lived here for nearly six months, enjoying the freedom of the garden through winter, spring and into the summer. As my mother’s house has an ordered routine, it’s quite a sea change coming here. You can see from her portrait that she has to put up with the complex soap opera lives of three busy Min Pins and endless late nights.

The Contessa gives her a hard time. She studiously ignores this, however assiduous the attack. As Contessa shrieks and dive bombs, Daisy B just waddles on with her pleated Daschund legs and large soft paws. She has grown beyond a dog walk, preferring to snooze in front of a glowing fire and toast those ubiquitous paws.

Yet Daisy B is not completely slothful. When a meal is in the offing she performs a nifty dance. The paws prance and prink as she spins in the heady expectaction of five star food. All food has a Michelin star as far as Daisy Beatyl is concerned. Around the time that she knows she ought to be fed, she entertains me with an occasional snatch preview of this well practiced routine to encourage me to carry out my primary role of opening the larder door and grabbing the pack of dog food.

You may be wondering about the origin of her name. As most suspect, she was called Daisy Beetle for a few months. Then my Mum came to house sit when we were away. On these occasions Danny and my Mum communicate using the magnetic letters on the fridge. My mum had spent days trying to concoct a suitable response to D’s missive and run out of the letter ‘e’. So Daisy Beetle helped out and was transmogrified to Daisy Beatyl. I rather like the updated version of the name; hints of Punk and vinyl. A throw back to a time when even the most conventional Daschunds let it all hang out.

And Daisy B. does this in the garden. She has a passion that absorbs her for hours. She cannot pass a mouse hole in the lawn without excavating the deepest foundations. Clearly a throwback to her heroic rabbit hunting ancestors. Inca, our Min Pin pup, thinks that this is fun too. They take turns to dig, five minutes of frenetic Min Pin digging followed by the slow heavy movement of the Daisy Beatyl paw. After a while, the mice in these settlements move on and we can fill in the holes and reseed.

Danny and I have become very fond of this portly draught excluder. As stately senior dog she is deaf to any command but can wake miraculously from the soundest sleep when a drawer is opened and a tin opener removed. She loves a cuddle but could never be a lap dog as she is too long to sit comfortably on any lap that’s not the length of Tower Bridge. When I return home from a heavy day, she bustles up and her jaws close gently around my fingers, acknowledging my stroke with the gentlest of nips. We are always sad when she packs up her bowl and basket and returns to my Mum in the city.


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