Don't tell me you're so hooked on football you didn't spot it! Yes, it's true, I slipped one of our favourite creatures in there, and there's no doubt about it, goats can play "The Beautiful Game". Pele coined that term for soccer, but it was later popularised as a description of the style of play of the Manchester City side of the pre-war years, and particularly their inside-left Peter Doherty. As links go, I am particularly proud of this one, since it allows me to do something I have never before had the opportunity to do; brag about "my" football team. Since childhood I have supported the Foxes, Leicester City. Not exactly religiously (I have never actually been to Filbert Street or the King Power Stadium to see them play) but totally consistently. I can remember them losing out to Man City in the 1969 FA Cup Final, and I can certainly remember them being bottom of the Premier League this time last year, when Man City were close to the top. So it was with considerable satisfaction that I recently watched Leicester beat Man City 3-1 to go 5 points clear at the top of the Premiership. Happiness was short lived, since the following weekend Leicester lost to Arsenal. Nevertheless, Claudio Ranieri (Manager) is now god, ably supported by Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and, of course, the Danish international goalkeeper, Kasper Schmeichel. It's a funny world. Prior to the Man City game, football pundits and the general media studiously avoided Leicester, flash in the pan as they undoubtedly were. Their third goal not only solidified their table-topping position, it also saw them become the top trending internet hotspot worldwide with over 500,000 tweets. If Leicester win the league, one devoted fan stands to win £25000 for a £5 pre-season bet placed at 5000/1, the same odds as Elvis Presley being proved to be alive and the Loch Ness Monster to exist! But do I detect rumblings of discontent on the terraces? We're rapidly approaching half-time on the blog, and so far absolutely no mention of the C word. Well, we can easily remedy that! If you click on the Elvis Cow you'll be treated to three minutes of Milkcow Blues Boogie by the King. Sticking with football, another title that Leicester never won was the Milk Cup, at one time the official name of the English Football League Cup. The Swiss cow is advertising chocolate and showing some fairly dextrous footwork, but again, you need to click and watch the video to appreciate it! Wait a moment though; cows may have perfected the dribble, but when it comes to the aerial ball, goats leave them standing. Literally! Three videos in quick succession; have I gone mad? Us sports fanatics call it a hat-trick, named for the first recorded instance of three consecutive wickets in cricket which was rewarded by the purchase of a hat for the successful bowler. The number of times a Leicester player has scored a hat-trick....no I mustn't bore you! Sheep have also been known to enjoy a game of football, as have pigs. I guess the truth is, most animals are quite happy to nose a ball around, but I wonder; would the pigs be so happy if they knew the origin of the football itself? They were originally inflated using a pig's bladder, that multifunctional repository of air, hot or cold. Afficionados of the blog may recall that one year ago we were enjoying carnival in the Rhine valley. One traditional feature of many carnival celebrations, from the Black Forest to Galicia in Southern Spain, is to carry inflated pigs bladders, symbolic of the devil, apparently. So now, in best football commentator's fashion, let us have a blog of two halves, and move on to celebrations. The celebration of the month is, of course, Valentines. Are you in the mooed? Cud you be mine? Loving you til the cows come home! Let's sMOOch! Udderly in love! I could go on, but probably had better not. Although there have been numerous Saintly Valentines over many centuries, the popularisation of Valentines Day as a time to plight one's troth is probably down to Geoffrey Chaucer, author of the Canterbury Tales and a purveyor of robust romantic stories. It was Chaucer who introduced the allegory of mating birds into human courtship, with these words in the poem Parliament of Fowls: "on seynt Volantynys day When euery byrd comyth there to chese his make". Those who have experienced mid-February in England might find it surprising that birds would be mating at this time, and they would be right to be sceptical. Chaucer had an abundance of Valentines to choose from, and whilst Valentine of Rome is religiously honoured on February 14th, the poet may well have had in mind Valentine of Genoa, whose Saint Day is May 3rd. So for all those whose Valentine's card was mysteriously lost in the post, you have a second chance! Meanwhile, for those who definitely prefer to have their hearts warmed during February's frosts, reassurance is at hand. Other explanations have been put forward for the origin of Saint Valentines Day, mainly based around the ancient Roman fertility ritual of Lupercalia, which was certainly celebrated in mid-February. I shall not attempt to link Lupercalia with cows. There is no need; we are almost as fond of goats and sheep as of cows, and Lupercus was the Roman god of shepherds. His followers wore goatskins and traced their origins back to Lupus, the she-wolf who suckled the infants Romulus and Remus who went on to found the city of Rome. Maybe February was a warmer month in ancient Rome, for the fertility festivities required young male devotees to run naked through the streets whilst potential female partners held out their hands to be slapped. Should anyone ever decide to reinstate such a tradition, please let it be in May, not February! Which reminds me, the football season ends in May. Come on Leicester! Give me a reason for a double celebration! The blog started with goats, so let's end with a cow story. One of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales involved the chichevache, a mythical cow with human face who supposedly "fed on good women". In Chaucer's version, the previously plump and greedy cow is reduced to skin and bone due to a complete lack of good and obedient wives! Before anyone gets any silly ideas, let us dismiss feeding on good women as a practical solution for ensuring that our transition cows do not get too thin. I have a better suggestion, courtesy of our local supermarket. As I took a pot of fresh pursløg from the herb section, I remarked to myself on its leafiness. Fortunately, this caused me to look more closely at what turned out to be "græs til dyr". To save GoogleTranslate the trouble, let me tell you that pursløg is chives, and what I had in my hand was "grass for animals". I kid you not! That grass would have cost me 15 kroner, 2 euros, and careful calculations (!) indicate that one hectare would generate at least 6500 pots, thus valuing a small field of grass at 13000 euro. European farmland can be purchased for between 5000 and 10000 euro per hectare. Do I hear the sound of investment bankers swooping?!