In the Beginning

by Keith & Val Hepwood

Life was going along quite nicely, we were slowly getting over Christmas and the New Year festivities and trying not to think about the expense of it all when, enjoying a walk with our dogs across the local common, we spotted a strange little white animal basking in the February sunshine. "Looks dead to me," said my wife Val, and I agreed. I gave the bundle a poke with my stick to confirm our fears. "Yep, it's a gonner". But on picking it up to examine it more closely I detected a slight movement in its little legs and saw that it was breathing, although very shallowly.

Well, to cut a long story short the albino hob was tucked inside my coat until we got back to our car where he was transferred to a potato bag (don't ask!) for the return trip home. A pen was quickly made and with a lot of TLC the little chap settled in a treat. Being quite a cold month we packed his sleeping quarters with hay and woolly blankets which he seemed to approve of, so much so in fact that we didn't see much of him except for his trips to his litter tray and food bowl. All went well and he was treated to a harness and lead which needed not only great courage to attach, but several pairs of hands as well; wow, was he a wriggler! We got there in the end and he loved his walks round the garden.

Time passed by, spring arrived and all was well with our new pal (who by now was named Spud by Val due to his arrival home in a potato bag) when I spotted in our local rag a piece about a Ferret Show at a place called Gentleshaw. "Where the hell is that?" I wondered: got the maps out, realised that it was not too far away so decided that it would be a good idea for us to go along and learn a bit more about these wonderful animals.

The day dawned and off we went, entering the village hall with caution, not knowing what to expect. The amount of people there took us by surprise but they made us very welcome and I must admit the bacon butties and coffee were also well received! Then we made THE BIG mistake of making friends with a lady who had lots and lots of ferrets, Michelle Owen, who said she lived just outside Wolverhampton and ran a ferret rescue. Just a few miles up from us, always welcome to pop in she said, huh! We exchanged telephone numbrs and I appologised for being a pain in the bum by asking loads of questions, none of which put her out of her stride of doing the business of sending all manner of ferrets to see those nice judges.

We all seemed to get together and we stayed 'til the end to see Michelle receive many rosettes, bags of food another prizes. "She must know her stuff." I commented to Val. Goodbyes were exchanged and we parted company declaring it a great day out.

A couple of weeks passed then I phoned Michelle. "Come over on Sunday if you like. I'm around all day mucking out all my monsters; the kettle will be on." Well the last bit swayed us! So Val and I arrived mid-afternoon to be greeted by two lovely dogs and a little less glamorous lady who to be truthful, was covered in ferret poo. However, the kettle was duly filled, switched on and coffee served. Our visit to her ferret shed was quite an eye opener with nice clean pens and, well far too many ferrets to count, but she knew all their neames and they all seemed very content. Needless to say we thought that perhaps Spud could do with a mate and guess what Michelle had the perfect specimen, one of two sandies. Well we dithered and dathered and finally chose one who when I picked him up, attached himself very firmly to my hand. I think I said something ablong the lines of what a smashing chap he was!!!! I detached myself and picked up the other one. He was introduced to Spud and all went well. Our new boy is called Frankie and they both live in harmony like two old shoes.

That is how we started to keep ferrets: now we have nine of the little devils, well no, actually we have eight. We had to have a poorly one put to sleep last week because he kept having fits, but that's another story,

Michelle has become a great friend to Val and we value her advice on all ferret matters (guess where all the other little darlings (?!) came from) and hope to remain so, helping each other out we do so. We also hope that the ferret rescue part of her work continues as she provides such a valuable resource. Keep up the good work Michelle.

First Published in NFWS News #83 January 2009

Articles, stories etc. from NFWS Newsletters