31 July 1998

We call her the farm supervisor, says Wendy Taylor of her cat Amber which was shortlisted for the 1998 Arthurs Lifetime Achievement awards, organised by Spillers and Your Cat magazine.

Amber was a contender in the working cats section. She has a deep interest in all the activities on the farm and loves being around the horses, says Wendy. Amber considers testing their feed one of her responsibilities and she has even been known to ride on Wendys mare, and on the tractor during rolling and harrowing operations.

While she did not get whisked to London from her home in Hockliffe, Beds, in order to receive the Arthur trophy and cheque £1000, as far as Wendy is concerned, Amber is truly a top cat – and she already has a certificate, rosette and T-shirt that show that others think Amber pretty outstanding too.

Readers Spot

OK, we need rain but this is getting ridiculous

WHERE, oh where has all the good weather gone? I think it is fast disappearing, like the small hay baler.

I know this country needs rain but this is getting just beyond a joke.

Our farm is a wet one at best of times, being of a heavy clay nature, but this summer is getting disastrous. Even the house mice, who usually take to the fields for their summer vacation, have stayed put, to my annoyance.

Patience in both animals and humans is in very short supply – hooves and hammers are regularly aimed. And the ruts that were so carefully rolled out in spring have appeared deeper than the Cheddar Gorge, just perfect for number 007 ewe to commit her lifelong ambition of dying and leaving us with three wasting, pot

bellied lambs.

It is a good year for snails. The house wall is covered in them. I wonder if there is a market for them? We may have to diversify again, this time to "paddy fields" and we could rear molluscs for people with weird appetites.

We could hold a Glastonbury rock festival, the muds already here waiting. And dont they say that its good for the complexion? Why, we could bag it up and send it to Fee-Fees beauty salon, Ive many a tonne.

Ah! But the sun does shine, even if only to lure you into a false sense of security so you can hang out all those heavy cotton sheets before you disappear over yonder to try and hide the wheel trench marks from the roving eyes of your neighbours.

But what does Mother Nature do? Why she teases you with a single blob of rain upon your bare arm. You look up to find an aeroplane high above you.

"Must be someone using the toilet," you joke.

But then another and another fall upon your face and you know that before you reach home for the safety of your washing the damage has been done.

You had forgotten the eldest son is handy and to please his mother has thoughtfully gathered your brilliant white sheets and dumped them in the kitchen. But of course he had just been draining the oil out of the semi-retired tractor and theres no oil on his hands but a perfect pattern of his mitts on your sheets.

The youngest-born son has the brilliant idea of converting the tractors to hover power. Well thats all right, say I, till I reminded him that he has yet to find the chain harrows which are somewhere in a corner of a field on this 80ha (200-acre) holding.

This results in an argument with the eldest and the last-born and the father of the two: "Who was the last person to use the harrows?"

All eyes and fingers point to me.

"Ooo look," say I, "the weather is on telly!"

Molly Mills