We’re just back from getting Nessie and the unusually-named Reaper the guinea-pig blessed at church. It’s St Francis’ Day and the fourth animal-blessing ceremony to be held at Nouzerines’ St Clair’s church has taken place.

We offered to take Treacle the cat with us, but she said she had more important things to do!

We didn’t take camelids this time either . You might remember from blog post last year about the event, Stressed but Blessed, it isn’t a llama and alpaca-friendly occasion. There are too many people around wanting to poke them, and too many yappy small dogs getting under their feet. They don’t enjoy it so we won’t inflict it on them again. However, Nessie and the guinea-pig took it all in their stride, both the ceremony and getting there and back by bike.

I was half tempted to take the turkeys. I’m sure a blessed turkey will taste even better than a normal free-range one. In the old days, turkeys were herded from Norfolk to London for the Christmas market. That’s roughly 110 miles! Les Fragnes to Nouzerines is only two. In theory it should be a doddle! The turkeys wouldn’t notice the distance. They walk miles every day, mooching up and down the sheep field, in between the patience-trying routine of getting them through the three gateways between the stable (their night-time accommodation) and the paddock.

There wasn’t a massive turnout this year sadly – half a dozen dogs, several caged (and very spitty) cats and Reaper, who the priest was convinced was a hamster!

The animals being blessed

It’s a chaotic but enjoyable occasion. There’s a 5 km walk afterwards through the quiet lanes around the village, but since we’ve already cycled 2.5km there, with the return trip to make obviously, and have the usual million things to do around the farm, we don’t partake in the ramble but get straight back home for elevenses. It wouldn’t have been fair to keep Reaper in the bar bag for any longer anyway.

Sadly, and very ironically, during the ceremony there were the sounds of gunshot in the distance as hunters took out a few of St Francis’s wild companions. However, the priest had explained in his sermon that God gave us animals to be our companions and serve us … and also be served up as our dinners!