First, in June 2008, came a young sorrel Abyssinian cat called Sen-Chan and a slightly younger English Springer Spaniel called Tom. In October 2008, they were joined by Tama-Chan, a ruddy Abyssinian girl kitten. The three lived so happily together, playing and cuddling in the French countryside with their mistress, known as #1. But in early January 2009, tragedy struck and Sen-Chan went to the Bridge at not yet 18 months. For a while, it was just Tom and Tama-Chan and #1, remembering sweet and gentle Sen-Chan, and the one who came before him, the fierce and noble Ikkyu. But then, in April 2009, a little red furrball, Sei-Chan, joined the family! She was followed in October 2009 by Yuu-Chan, a playful but very mellow little sorrel boy. And then Tama-Chan had kittens and little Bibi, a ruddy male, stayed with us. Sadly, we lost our beloved Yuu-Chan in September 2010, but we soldier on and live and love in our little corner of rural France. And we now have a big little brother in Vidock, a Percheron stallion, a little little brother in Genji, a blue Abyssinian, and a big little sister in Violette, a Percheron mare.
Sen-Chan: Well, after all the excitement of the past few days, we are all pooped (#1: and may I say that a certain Sen-Chan did not make it any better by bolting out of the door like a rocket at 8am this morning and leaping across the field like some crazed gazelle, with me and Tom in hot pursuit...). So, as I was saying before that interruption, we are all tired, so I decided to help #1 with her work today:
As for Tom, he went for his usual (officially authorized, HA!) romp this morning, and decided to flop down in the field!
I have a feeling there is going to be a giant nap going on here this afternoon. Care to join us?
Tom: Poor #1 has been trying to make it up to both me and Sen-Chan for her absence, but things stayed crazy until this afternoon. She keeps saying that she never thought she would one day be a kind of "Percheron Pimp" but her South-African visitors did buy a stallion and will probably be buying a mare that we went to see again this morning. In the meantime, my activity was severely curtailed until just after lunch today when I finally got in a proper romp in the fields. And look who came too!
Sen-Chan: After two weeks of beautiful weather, it's supposed to start raining tomorrow and be wet the rest of the week, so #1 decided to give me a treat and let me out! Hunting season began in France yesterday so she stuck close to me the whole time in case a bad man with a rifle thought I was a hare or fox. I went to the little field behind the house with Tom, and we then went into the big field, the one with all that tall grass. It felt like a real expedition!
I was glad to see I still had my ability to leap!
And stopped to admire some of the still-blooming flowers
But what I like doing best is lurking in the tall grass
Finally today, we would like to thank our friend HUGO for another great award! You're a pal, Hugo!
Sen-Chan: Yes, she is back! #1 finally returned from the Percheron National Championships late yesterday evening. But then, she left again at dawn this morning to take South African friends she had met there to a nearby stud farm. And she took Tom with her, so I was left alone again and all I could do was reminisce about previous lives when I was properly honoured, in Ancient Egypt...
Tom: Yes, #1 did take me with her this morning but she left me in the car when she went to see the big horses, and didn't come back for the longest time. And once we got home, she told me I was filthy from my walk in the woods with Pie and Ms. A yesterday and she took the hose to me! And the shampoo! And finally the towels which are definitely my favourite part!
#1: In response to the great show of interest, I am delighted to share some of my photos from the French National Percheron Championships with you. Many of you may already know this but the Percheron is a breed of heavy horse that was used for both farm labour and pulling carriages in the old days. It is believed that the breed was originally created by crossing large local mares with Arabian stallions brought back from the crusades. After the Second World War, when tractors and cars became prevalent, the breed was almost abandoned for decades but it has experienced a real resurgence in recent years, helped by the import of some stallions from the States and Canada where a lighter version of the breed had been developed. The annual championships are held at one of France's national stud farms, the Haras du Pin, which is most spectacular location. Here is the entrance to the chateau, with the inner courtyard, at dusk:
On the first day of the championships, stallions are presented in this courtyard. This year, there were 87 of them, all two and three years old. This is the venue where they are approved for breeding and a few are actually purchased by the National Stud.
Here is a particularly huge fellow:
The stallions often like to be with their buddies and get very nervous when they are separated...
Traditionally Percherons are born black (a coat of night), and as they grow older, they become dappled (a coat of stars), getting lighter grey and often pure white with age (a coat of clouds). But some always stay black, and some grow white very young. For shows, both manes and tails are braided, using coloured wool, in a very different fashion from Clydesdales, for example... By the way, it is illegal to dock tails in Europe so they are always carried long.
The second day of the championships is Girls' Day. This year, there were 235 mares, many of them with their foals. This event is held in the large fields at the foot of the Haras du Pin chateau.
It's always a special treat to see so many foals
And so many horses together are a spectacular sight
None more than the final presentation of the championships in which breeders can present as many of their mares and foals as they wish, all tied together side by side and made to move as one. This year, the winner was an "18-horse power" team! I could only get 14 of them into the lens of the camera!
In conclusion, a scene from early this morning. We walked into a field at a nearby farm and the mares and their foals all came towards us to say hello. Percherons are real gentle giants and have a very friendly disposition
Tom: Before I move on to the subject at hand (or foot, maybe...?!), I would like to answer all the enquiries about how we did in terms of tidbits and leftovers at the dinner party last night. There were no actual leftovers (can you believe that?) but there was some sauce from the stew and #1 promised to mix it in with my lunch today. And I did get some slices of salami and cheese rinds. As for Sen-Chan, he was at one point seen with his entire head in a bowl of fresh farm cream...
So let me tell you about "The Sock." One of our visitors this summer was Auntie G whom I adore as she dispenses wonderful scratches with her (longer than #1's) fingernails. The day before she left, I snuck into her room and "confiscated" one of her socks as I wanted a keepsake. Since then, I have spent some time each day remembering how lovely it was to have Auntie G visit. Come back soon!
And just in case you thought it was only me...
Sen-Chan: Believe me, that cream was VERY GOOD!!!! Anyway, my delightful task today is to say thank you to the Black Cat crowd who gave us not one but TWO awards!
The first one we have received before but it is indeed a doubling (or more) pleasure to get it again!
And, finally for today, #1 has asked me to tell you that we won't be blogging over the next couple of days as she is off to help at the National Percheron Championships. You'll probably get some huge horse photos when she's back on Sunday... Tom is going to stay with his friend Pie and I, ....sniff...., will be home alone with just the occasional food and cuddle visit from the neighbours. I HATE being alone. I NEED company! Are you listening, #1?????
Sen-Chan: Actually, the title solely concerns #1 who is running around madly cleaning house and cooking as we have dinner guests tonight. I have been trying to help by sticking with her every step of the way, singing loudly to give her encouragement, and I just do NOT understand why she has been casting such dark looks my way... So, I decided to play with my pheasant feather instead.
Tom: I am being an ultra-good boy and not bugging #1. This morning, I did try to sneak away quietly to a place where I could start in on chewing my Frisbee into tiny pieces, but #1 found it and confiscated the Frisbee. I really don't understand why she won't let me chew on it more. She just mumbles something about it "flying true..."
In other news, a big THANK YOU to our friend HERO who gave us this nice award which we would like to pass on to our friends at T'Abby Normal and the cute little newcomers Niko and Cloud.
Tom: Tuesday is an interesting day, according to #1, as there are so many parts of our anatomy that can be featured! There are of course the obvious... tails, toes and tummies, but I have yet to see a feature on tongues! So, today we are going to regale you with a feature on our lovely pink ones!
First, here is mine, in all its glory:
It is an excellent ventilation system and also serves me well to show #1 and Sen-Chan how much I love them both.
And now here is Sen-Chan's, doing one of the things it does best, grooming me!
Despite its raspy touch, it does a truly great job, although #1 sometimes squirms when Sen-Chan is having a go at her nostrils...!
Tom: Well, it's the start of another week and I am, as always, FULL of energy! This morning, before we went for our walk, #1 indulged me in a great Frisbee session. My style is improving all the time, don't you think?
Sen-Chan: Following my adventures yesterday, I thought I would show you that, like aristocrats of old, I am equally comfortable with leading expeditions one day and lolling in luxury the next:
Sen-Chan: I am happy to report that #1 was true to her word yesterday and I did get to go out, for several hours! I decided that, since the weather was so beautiful, it was the perfect day to mount an expedition to discover new territory. So, I rounded up the usual members....
... or tried to. Tommy was busy canoodling with his baby girl, Damia (let me remind you that she is only 4 months old!)...
So, he had to be dragged away. Madrac is always up for a walk, but she has a tendency to go off on her own half-way. Her specialty is forbidden places. Anyway, we eventually were able to get going:
We found a field (Tom said something about it being "his" field but it was a discovery for me!), and I proceeded to examine various aspects of it with each of my expedition members:
And once we had finished comparing our field notes, it was time to fly!
It was FUN! I LOVE exploring and plan to mount more expeditions. Of course, it's all very tiring so this was the scene back home, later in the afternoon:
Sen-Chan: It's a beautiful sunny Saturday morning here, although it was cold this morning, according to #1 and Tom (the ones who actually stepped outside...). #1 has actually mumbled something about my maybe going out for a while this afternoon. Could it be true? In the meantime, cuddling with Tom seemed like a good idea.
Before I forget, we would like to say a big thank you to our friend HUGO in Singapore who gave us this award:
It's the second time this week we have received this particular award, so we are DOUBLY PLEASED! Thanks, Hugo!
Tom: The excitement at my end was a wonderful walk in the woods yesterday afternoon with #1. Ms. A, Madrac and Pie. It has been dry for a while so there wasn't too much gooey stuff around, but I REALLY wanted a new two-pair of socks...
For some reason, #1 did not properly appreciate my attempt at sartorial elegance. I thought I looked great!
This is one of the paths in the wood. Isn't it pretty?
By the way, the reason why you see only me in this shot is that the girls, Madrac and Pie, have a tendency to go off and explore. I like to stay close to #1 because she is that, my #1!!!!
Tom: I see that many of our friends are making today a Pirate Day. We, however, do not have any suitable pirate paraphernalia, so we will have to make do with less excitement. Although... #1 and I went to visit the gang at AB Sharpeii yesterday and #1 took a picture of me with ViVi and her kids. I think I make a good uncle, don't you? The little guys are only 3 weeks old and their only passion in life is MILK, although one of them is already starting to woof and even howl a bit!
By the way, ViVi is only in the cage for feeding time. Believe me, she can't get out of there quickly enough once the little darlings have sucked her dry!
Sen-Chan: Guess who got left at home, AGAIN?! I had to find ways to entertain myself and came across a giant rabbit-fur mouse I was given for my birthday...
Yes, that is a picture of me. Even I, sweetest of all sweet ones, occasionally like to have some wild fun, complete with bunny kicks!
Sen-Chan and Tom: It is with absolute delight that we report that our blog, "The Poupounette," has been named "Blog of the Day" for today! We have no idea who nominated us, but we receive the award with great joy. THANKS!
Tom: In response to several comments following yesterday's post, I asked #1 to take another photo showing my "Mark of the Cat."
Do you see it on my left rump? When #1 first met me, it was one of the first things she noticed! It looked like a large feline had branded me in the womb! I carry my mark with pride and this would of course explain why I "belong" to Sen-Chan...
Sen-Chan: I think it's a great shame that more dogs don't carry "the mark." We really lucked out that Tom came to live with us. I of course do not have any marks on my person, just that shiny redness, which means that I really look good against beautiful patterns!
Sen-Chan: Since it is Tuesday, and since #1 took some rather fetching photos of me, featuring my tail, we are doing a "Tails on Tuesday" photo feature today!
Hmmmm..... Decisions, Decisions...
Tom: Needless to say, I feel a tad disadvantaged when it comes to tails. #1 has promised to take a video one of these days to show you at what incredible speed I can wag my tail. In the meantime, here is a fun picture which shows that I do have a rather nice tail, with a white accent at the tip, and also to show you that I was born with "the mark of the cat" on my rump!