Happy Halloween from all of us…

A very happy All Hallows Eve from our little corner of the world… The pets have been enjoying it in their favourite ways, with Harvey and Ty having had their own minature equivalent of dooking for apples – fishing for peas and veg! Always a well recieved game, the wee ones had good fun with it this weekend…

With the biggest boy, it was lovely to have a perfect October-into-November hack out with our friends, watching the leaves fall and enjoying the pumpkins and decorations along the way; before back home for apples and dinner in the stable. ❤️

 

 

Looking forward to seeing in November wrapped up and cosy. A happy Halloween to all. X

Wisdom from Green Gables: An ode to Anne, a kindred spirit…

I loved so much writing a while back about my favourite pony and animal books from my childhood, and about what an amazing outlet they provided for passions which have defined so many stages of my life. I knew then I would love to write too about some of the other books or series which have been friends to me throughout the test of time, and as I have recently been cosily reading through the Anne of Green Gables books – their joy undiminished by the passing years – they seemed a perfect place to start. Anne Shirley gets a free pass to be included here first off purely because I love her so very much, but also because she holds in such high esteem family, friends, home, and the wonderful world around her – all things I do too, and love to pour into this little blog.

Some of her favourite phrases are ever-present at the back of my mind – whenever I meet someone new I love to see in them a “kindred spirit”, and when all else fails it is as Anne says “truly lovely to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet.”

Her enthusiasm for life, her unwavering faith in the beauty and wonder of the world around her, her flaring temper and her equally passionate love for her people all contribute to her well-deserved status as one of the best loved children’s characters of all time – and a true favourite of mine.

Anne treasures home to her heart among her very closest loves, a tendency I identify with very well:

““I wonder if it will be – can be – any more beautiful than this,” murmured Anne, looking around her with the loving, enraptured eyes of those to whom “home” must always be the loveliest spot in the world, no matter what fairer lands may lie under alien stars.” – Anne of the Island, L M Montgomery

At this time of year particularly I understand her most of all – I don’t think a day has gone by in this beautiful and ever-changing month that I have not thought how grateful I am for October…

Source: Thediaryofdaveswife.com

… And now as we approach November, possibly my favourite month of all, I long to see those crimson sunsets and hear those deep passionate wind songs in the pines once more.

(Source: Cranialhiccups.com)

This weekend has been spent mainly comfy on the couch, a spiced apple candle lit and the wind billowing outside while I read Anne’s House of Dreams – in between trips to the farm for autumnal rides in the golden-leaf-framed world and time with friends old and new, hands wrapped round mugs, appreciating the company and good times.

 In her spirited approach to every challenge she meets, her romantic streak and her settling as the years go by into the warmth of the people around her, Anne’s outlook on life is one of hope and unwavering optimism, and she is forever an inspiration to me and truly a kindred spirit of mine.

In Praise of Pets ❤️

Sometimes, no matter how grateful I am for all the blessings I have, life can be challenging. Some nights, I inevitably arrive home floored by the busyness or worries of the day.

I’m not sure I can remember a time, however, that standing here, in the stillness – side by side with my fluffy-necked pony, lights twinkling across the dark water – didn’t help to clear the fog a little; and, even in the worst of times, that his ears flicked towards me, always listening, didn’t provide comfort at least in some small way.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are distant echos of the very same – the hugely significant role pets play in the life of a family etched into them. Often, whenever I feel down or overwhelmed even now, I find myself remembering sitting as an anxious schoolchild, buried deep in an armchair with my arms wrapped tightly around our old springer spaniel – a crazy dog with very little common sense but emotional intelligence and kindness in spades – stroking his silky ears and knowing all would be well.

Now, my days are still gratefully bookended by quiet solace with my family and my pets – give me an evening in with my wee boys tumbling around,  a ramble with my parents’ dogs or an hour in the stable or field with my pony, and time and time again my perspective on life is shifted, all the better for the moments of companionship with my four-legged friends.

Throughout my childhood and adulthood alike, the animals I’ve been blessed with have given me so much to anchor me in the storms of life – offering their trust and loyalty against the odds, providing warm welcomes at the end of every day, and altering my outlook when I’ve needed it most. ❤️

 

Wrapped-up weekend away ❤️✨🔥

This weekend has been a really lovely one, comprised in equal measure of very brisk weather – with a new whip in the wind there hasn’t been this year so far – and of cosy togetherness and wrapped-up fun. 

As Saturday morning dawned, there was a definite chill in the air and the rain was torrential. After gratefully nursing several morning coffees to get the day started, my trip to the farm merited the dusting off of my full waterproofs for the first time since last winter, and also a scout up in the rug loft above the stables for some rain sheets for the boy – to have ready for if and when he ever dried off of course! 

I spent a lovely long morning in the barn – hot chocolate in my flask and hay brimming in Charmer’s stable, both of us enjoying the shelter and warmth. 

Charmer, Harvey and Ty were all having some extra TLC before being left to fend for themselves overnight, as we were heading away this weekend, up north to a wonderful sound and light show in a remote forest we love to go to every year with our friends.

All packed up on Saturday afternoon, Charmer back out and happily full and the boys at home stocked up with fruit sticks and food for the night, we meandered our way up. 


The rain eased off considerably which made driving a little bit nicer, and the roadsides as we passed were nothing short of beautiful, really lovely to see all the myriad of colours in the trees and leaves fluttering around us like confetti as we drew into the little village where we would spend the night. 

We had a really lovely time away, enjoyed the forest walk and the absolutely beautiful show so very much, cosied round a bonfire, had such a wonderful time out with good friends and ended the night in the warmth of the living room, unwinding with nightcaps around the wood burning stove.

One of my favourite things about going away – no matter how wonderful a time we have – is always coming back home again; and today was no exception. Arriving back into the farm yard first to see the fluffy pony picking his way up the field to meet us; and later home to Harvey and Ty – who were especially keen to play tonight and were happily dodging in and out from behind the couch; it was so very nice to be back. 

Around our own fire at home, we were able to look back on it all and enjoy both the break away and our arrival back. It had been a really lovely couple of days, and a great way to spend a weekend.

Hope you have all had a good one. 🍁

The Tale of Pipkin Rat <3

When this time of year comes around and the nights are drawing in once more, my mind inevitably drifts to daydreams about cosy nights in by the fire, the key turning in the lock against a windy night, mugs of hot chocolate, big cosy jumpers – and now, also in that same lovely picture, often to the memory of Pipkin, our raggedy-eared champagne hooded rat and one of our most special former pets. The very fact that those cosy memories include him, in spite of him only having lived with us for a comparatively short 14 months, tells its own story about what a huge character he was and what an impact he had on our little family.

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(Pipkin, September 2014)

We adopted him in August 2014, planning to add him to our little mischief at home, which at the time consisted only of Chae and Winston, who were coming up for a year old and who we hoped to introduce a friend to. Pipkin was a rescue rat, as many of our others had also been, but was in a worse state than we first expected when we met him – he was a big and clearly handsome rat even then but what was most striking about him was how petrified he was – fluffed up and wheezy, he was wild with fear and cowered from being handled. He had also had most of both his ears bitten off in fights with cagemates he’d had in the past – as a result of which he was now a lone rat – and what would become his trademark jaggy-headed outline was shaking as he was picked up by a handler and squeaked and squealed. It would take us a long time to iron out his issues and piece together what we could of his past but in that moment I had never seen a rat more in need of help and knew we had to take him home and do whatever we could.
Back at the house, we discovered he had quite a bad skin condition underneath his fur and also had a severe chest infection. We made the earliest appointment we could at the vet’s the next day but for that night all we could think to do to ease his skin slightly was a warm bath – something I was not keen on attempting having had very little success in convincing even our most trusting rats in the past to do, but that amazingly Pipkin took in his stride. It wasn’t how we wanted to greet him and I can only imagine what an ordeal it was all in one day but as we held and washed him as best we could he made absolutely no complaint, just watched us with a calmness he hadn’t had before, and I honestly think from that moment made a decision that we were on his side and we were to be trusted. Once he’d seen the vet and been given all the meds he needed, it was a slow road to recovery, but one he handled so well.

As we got to know him, it became a bit clearer how his little life had turned out the way it had – for one thing he was almost completely if not completely blind, which we realised when we introduced him to his new cage and saw how he struggled with it until we’d helped him around it a while first, and how much he panicked about new or unexpected things, which we can only guess contributed significantly to his difficulties relating to other rats and the fights that had led to losing his ears. In the beginning, we really didn’t know whether he would pull through from his infections or not, and I told myself I was glad just to be giving him the best chance and at least some positives in his last few weeks if nothing more, but when, a week in, we thought we might lose him, I was as broken-hearted as if we’d had him years. Our Pipkin really had my heart from the word go.

(Pipkin’s way of sussing out the world around him, sniffing and whisker-ing his way.)

Thankfully, he did make it, and over the coming months really came into his own. Having seen so many times the joy rats get from company I still hoped for that for Pipkin and we planned to slowly and carefully introduce him to Chae and Winnie, but in our early attempts it became sadly clear that it was not something we could achieve – there was aggression and then there was Pipkin when faced with the other boys. I have never seen anything like it and could never have run the risk of having them together for any of them. The bizarre thing was though while he was ready to kill the other rats Pipkin would never in a million years have hurt one of us or any person at all. He was the gentlest soul you could wish for, and craved attention and human company, spending nearly every evening of his life sat between us on the couch for as long as he could just as content as can be, and so many weekend mornings lying on our bed, sleeping at complete peace.

(In some of his favourite places, coorying in ❤ )

Once we got established what life would be for him, we were able to get him settled into a routine and he really started to flourish. Making sure he got enough time out of his cage and that Rosie and Chae and Winnie did too was a challenge at first – free ranging in three groups hadn’t been in the plan but little Rose always needed such a short time and we’d make sure the other boys had had their run and plenty time with us – as they were very much people rats too – and then bring Pipkin out after for the rest of the evening as he’d mainly just sit happy to be there. He lived for cosiness and long nights in – the first night we lit the fire after he arrived was like Christmas for him, straining into the cosiness held fast on a knee and enjoying the crackling and the atmosphere. Film nights with the duvet on the couch were his all-time favourite – one election night when we stayed there all night to watch the results and he was allowed to stay with us til morning must have been his perfect night. I have a photo I will be glad to have forever from the night before our wedding, sitting in pyjamas on the floor in front of the fire with Pipkin in my arms and Chae and Winnie in their cage just behind us, all of us on the brink of a new era.

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(Loving the fire! October 2014)

Over time and with age Pipkin did mellow a little about the presence of other animals and lived happily in our little pet corner with Chae and Winnie, and later Harvey and Ty, in the next cage, as well as Rosie just above him, unfazed by their proximity and in fact often choosing to sleep quite close to the edge where his cage lined up with the other rats’ – but he didn’t ever desire to share his space and instead preferred just to curl himself in comfy pet beds which he got so attached to.


(Chae, Winston, Harvey and Ty lying together in their cage in March 2015, with Pipkin behind them next door in his own lying close to the others.)

(In his favourite beds in his cage).

 

He also shook off all nervousness about new people, happily greeting family and friends, although always just needing a little time to sniff at whatever new person or thing was before him first of all. He loved a blanket, and it was always quite the challenge to check all cushions and blankets on couches for him before sitting down just in case as he’d have curled all day in one if left to his own devices!


Pipkin lived to see his 2nd birthday, an amazing achievement for him considering he’d been dogged by respiratory problems all his days, and it was lovely to be able to celebrate that before we lost him. When he slipped away in our arms in October 2015, it was hard to believe it was only just over a year since he’d really settled into his life with us. He had been such an amazing character. Probably partly because he had such a long journey to happiness, and partly because we were all he had, the love and trust Pipkin had given us against all the odds had been overwhelming.

 

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(Opening his stocking, Christmas morning 2014)

 

We had got to know him in the autumn months of 2014, and said our last goodbye to him at the same time last year. This year, coming into the season again, I know without a shadow of a doubt that for so many more to come, the warmth of October nights by the fire will be intertwined in my mind with happy memories of sharing them with our raggedy-eared, handsome, one-of-a-kind Pipkin rat.

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October days… 🍁

This month so far has been a really beautiful one, full of sunshine from dawn until dusk – albeit that becoming a shorter and shorter window as the days go by. Night is descending earlier and earlier each evening, the smell of woodsmoke once again filling our little street as I pull up outside home – those who have beaten me to it already cosied inside, and our row of cottages shrouded in wisps from each chimney by night. Other swirls cover them too in the early hours of the morning  as the hanging mist stays a little longer and a little longer each day before it’s dispelled by the rising of a valiant wintery sun.


In between working and the usual dashing around, the last few days have been filled with some of my happiest times – fitting for a season of harvest and thanksgiving. Each evening at the farm has been more beautiful than the one before, and Charmer and I have been on a mission to catch the light while it lasts for games in the sandschool as the sun sets and the last of the post-work rides for 2016.

The last few days have also been filled with time spent with family, something that always fills my heart with joy – hands wrapped round coffee mugs in one or other of our family homes, meals shared to the sound of resounding laughter and long rambles with my parents’ dogs, their young lurcher and especially our old girl, their now 13-year-0ld and fairly arthritic collie who, despite her years and hurdles, has so much enthusiasm for life especially while trying to keep up with her new sister, and loves her walks and life. ❤️

Back in our little home, we’re been slowly creeping into winter mode with the fire lit in the evenings and lots of chillis and pies being cooked. We have been missing little Rosie around the house this week – this is the first time we’ve ever been down to one cage since we moved in six years ago and Pet Corner seems very small – but Harvey and Ty have been lovely and keeping us entertained as always.

This is such a truly beautiful time of the year, and I love it more than I can say.

Hope you are all having a lovely week. 🍁🍂🍃✨ x