A Springtime Hello 🌷

Been so long since I wrote here and just wanted to say a springtime hello from us… Here in our wee corner of the world things are coming to life… the daffodils in the driveway have been out for a little while but our first doorstep daffodil opened up yesterday, causing much excitement among the kids!

We’ve had a mix of weather recently – mostly really lovely and warm and sunny which has been amazing, but also some dashes of rain, hail, wind and snow just to keep us on our toes. I’ve been reminded as I am every year of my favourite quote about this time of year…

Life has been hurtling on a fair pace, with the kids reaching new stages and keeping us on our toes, and in the past few weeks I’ve started a new job as well as taking on another voluntary role that’s been keeping me busy too. Really loving my new work – still in elderly care, but in a new care home I’m so enjoying settling in to; and also the new challenges and lots of learning as chair of the committee of the playgroup the kids have been to / will go to!

I’m going to start working more over the next little while – in the care home and also (eventually, taking a little longer to get all the training set up!) in the NHS at our local hospital too. Both are very similar roles and both on a relief/bank basis so I can build up my hours slowly and adjust as needed, and I’m really looking forward to it all.

But I continue to love all the time I get to have at home with the Littles – which has been all the more this week as we’re one week into the Easter holidays and filling our days with soft plays, park explores, cycles round the village and just all those chilled-out everyday things – and we met Bluey this week which definitely wasn’t an everyday thing and blew everyone’s mind!

Since I last wrote, we’ve had the whole spring term and got established a school start date for our biggest girl, something we’d been spending lots of energy deliberating over as she’d been on the younger end of her year and we had the chance to defer and therefore choose whether it was best to go at 4 1/2 or 5 1/2. We’re now set that she’s starting in August 2023, with one more year left of nursery, where she’s really learning and growing, which feels like the best decision – and it’s lovely to see everyone settle into a new settled-on plan! Our littlest too has been enjoying her toddlers groups, wee music class and a new gymnastics one too which is right up her street – building up her confidence of different places and groups before she starts at the playgroup in October when she turns 2 and a half.

It’s been lovely to have lots of time with both wee ones – and we had an extra special time last week as the tiniest turned a big 2!

We spent the day the four of us at the sea life centre we’re lucky to have just ten minutes away and are very excited to have booked a family pass so we can make trips there more often, as it’s something both girls are loving just now.

The animals have been doing very well too, with “young” Charmer creeping up on his 26th birthday and even younger Rosie and Theo following a few days later with their 1st! The last week of April is a big one for the furry members of the family, celebrating our oldest on the 23rd and the youngest pair of tearaways on the 29th… so expect more ramblings on all of them very soon!

Little Sparkle-hamster is doing great too, 21 months old and enjoying life – in fact this little positioning of chosen bed and food bowl the past few days have been making me laugh that he has life made – doesn’t have to move far! Though actually he really does choose to, such a happy wee exerciser, especially for his age!

We have actually added a new addition to our pet count since I last wrote (and it’s not Pidge, though more on him in a minute as he is still going strong – against all odds!! – with the rehabilitation people who have him) – a new very handsome six-year-old Sarasa Comet goldfish, inherited from family and here with us to join our household now. ❤️ I had no idea there was such a lot to learn about goldfish, it’s been such a learning curve so far! But also no idea how quickly you could become attached to one, very fond of my swimming friend.. ❤️

(As is Rosie….!)

(If anyone is a fish expert let me know!.. as I am learning all I can about them and currently like a little chemistry student with my test strips navigating the world of nitrogen cycles before we transfer Fish to a new tank we’ve got for him..!)

Last but absolutely not least is the handsome Pidge, who has made a remarkable recovery and is still in the very capable hands of the pigeon rescue experts at the moment. They don’t have the capacity to keep him long term so we do think at some point he may come back to us again for a wee stint before finding where he’s best to spend his days! Part of me would love to keep him and offer him a base here but I’m really not sure we’re the best place and want him to have a happy life after all he’s come through. But wherever we end up finding for him, or what next twists and turns his wee journey takes, Pidge has had some story and we will have been so glad to be a part of it for as long or short as we are.

It’s a very eclectic mix of animals at the moment! Been taking me back to my days of rat cages stacked up and new and interesting characters coming in from rescues and teaching me lessons every day. The last two have just found us when we were least expecting them, and very glad to have them all as temporary or permanent additions to our home.

Saturday morning now as I’m finishing this off and and have enjoyed a wee bit time with my biggest boy and some whole-family biking fun before my back shift later. With the new working routine time making the most of all the time we get to have the four of us and a proper springy day this morning to enjoy it.

Hope you’re all doing well, have a lovely weekend.

Building an outdoor area for the cats

This week we have completed a project we’ve been deliberating over since we first decided to bring home our cats almost a year ago now, and built them a secure outdoor area in the garden they can access from the house. They are absolutely loving it and thought I’d do a wee post just with the progress of it in case it helps anyone else doing something similar!

We live in quite a rural setting but on a really busy road that we’d never be happy letting a cat free roam on, so when we’d first started looking for one to join our family, we’d been looking specifically for a rescue who had already been used to living indoors and who would also be happy living with our young family. This turned out to be a bit of an ask however, and after a couple of months we started looking at whether it might be possible to have a kitten introduced to an indoor-only life from the off (and then ended up with two, but that’s another story 😬).

Theo looking out the front window over the road

I wasn’t too sure at first, always having cats freely accessing the outdoors growing up, but we found some really good articles and forums online with a lot of people who had chosen for various safety reasons to keep cats indoors, in cat-proofed gardens or with enclosures, and we started to explore it. Interestingly, we found out, this is pretty much the norm in some countries, either to protect cats and or to protect birds and wildlife; so when we started reading further we found lots of options on ways to let them out a little without letting them on the road.

Ideally we would have loved to cat proof our entire back garden, but although it’s a good space in many ways, and already had fencing we could definitely have worked with (when the kittens were little enough it was secure without us trying due to the height of the fences); the different levels in the garden and various extension and shed roofs made it too big a challenge once climbing was mastered; so we decided to go with a smaller “catio” enclosure in space just at our back door that leant itself to door and window access.

The kittens playing in the garden at a few months, before they figured out the scaling the fences thing!

We looked at a few different options – buying some panels with cat-proof mesh (which we found was recommended to be 16g) to put together, buying the mesh and posts seperately and doing it ourselves, or buying a ready-built enclosure; and in the end settled on the Omlet Cat Balcony Enclosure which fitted the space we had almost perfectly, and which we’ve made some adjustments to to attach it to the house and let the cats access freely from a small window in the kitchen.

I was worried that a small space would be too little for our Rosie, who is a big adventurer, and had already been trying to make a break for an open door at any opportunity; and also that Theo, who likes human company and is quite the opposite in terms of adventuring, wouldn’t particularly like it at all; but a few days in we are amazed at how much they love it!

Our space (spikes are next door’s and not part of our cat proofing!!)

On Thursday, we began work (overseen by the cats of course!) and started to get the enclosure itself put up. It was relatively easy to build between two of us and we were pretty impressed with it. We do plan to move in the next few years and it will be ideal for shifting to a new place, not being too permanent, and if we have a bigger space in the future it can also be added to with extension panels to any size.

By Friday morning, it was up, decorated with help from the kids and standing with all panels on and door access only; and Rosie and Theo had their first morning’s exploring – which they really enjoyed. Theo took a wee while to settle, but Rosie just sat as if all her dreams had come true chirping to the birds and enjoying the fresh air!

Later in the day, my husband did his handyman bit and began the DIY modifications to secure it to the house wall and remove a panel so that they could get in and out through the window.

This was huge hit with both of them and a game-changer for Theo who instantly warmed to it much more when he could come and go as he pleased – they have spent the entire weekend going in and out like a pair of little yo-yos and just loving their freedom.

Today some final additions have been added – a shelf to make access easier as the window was a bit awkwardly high (not that it stopped them!) and a ramp to make getting down easier too.

The result seems to be two happy cats and we’re so pleased to have done it. I’ll keep my fingers crossed the novelty doesn’t wear off and they start protesting to get further, but at the moment just having that little bit of the outdoors and their choice of in or out is making them very happy!

Theo flits between being in with us and having an explore out there, and Rosie can be found sitting out for hours on end just watching the world go by, between the deepest sleeps she’s ever had inside! (She’s also not diving for the door anymore as she knows she’s got her own route out which is a big relief!)

So far our little corner of Scotland has given them a crash course in just about every type of weather, and they’ve enjoyed zooming about in the wind and shaking their wet fur on their way back in out of the rain. One thing they’ve not yet got to do is lie in the sun, but I’m sure they’ll enjoy it when spring does come!

I still don’t know where I would land on contained vs free-roaming for them long-term – if we lived somewhere that felt safe enough in the future (and when they’re less reckless teenagers and more sensible grown cats!) I’d maybe like to see them finding their own territory, but I’m kind of a convert now to the idea of knowing they’re definitely safe, even if they could have a bit of a bigger space, and I’m relieved that for now it’s working, so we’re sticking with this for the time being!

Hope you all have a great start to the week! X

The Pets ❤️ ~ Winter update

Just a wee round-up of how the animal members of the family have been doing this last little while… 🥰 Have been feeling very lucky to have our wee brood recently and to be seeing them doing so well. Life has been as busy as ever here, with the kids at all their various ages and stages and lots going on, but (even though it’s been so packed it doesn’t feel much like it!) I’ve actually got a bit of time off for a few weeks before I start two new jobs; and so I’ve had a real chance to focus on these wee furry (and feathered!) characters!

First the biggest and oldest of them all, my Charmer 🐴❤️, who is doing very well at the moment despite some highs and lows of temperatures and a few storms in the last few weeks. He had managed until early January to winter out in his field pretty much all the time, coming in around 8am for breakfast and a wee stint of hay in his stable and going back out about 11 or 12. It’s wonderful to see him spending lots of time in the field and being enthusiastic about it at that – it’s his natural lifestyle he’s always loved, it’s good for his movement for his arthritis and it means he’s eating more grass than hay which is easier on his teeth these days.

However, I always do him a wee weekly weigh-in with condition scoring and a weigh tape on a Monday, and I did notice he was starting to lose weight ever so slightly week on week. Totally normal for this time of year I know but I know from the years I’ve struggled with his keeping his weight up that once he loses it can be hard to get back on, so we’ve had a slight routine change and he’s now spending every second night in the stable. I know that’s a strange routine to some but it seems to work for Charmer – it gives him more time in, building himself up with hay, some nights away from the cold but still some that he gets to enjoy being out in the moonlight. So far it seems to be working. He seems happy enough, I don’t feel like too much field time has been taken away and we’ve nipped any weight loss in the bud.

Last weekend he actually moved stable, just within our barn when there was a wee reshuffle happening, to one with extra thick matting for those wee arthritic knees, and he seems very happy with his new surroundings. Next week we have the vet for an MOT, jags and teeth so will see how everything is, but I’m very happy with how the old boy’s doing. ❤️

To bridge the gap between barn and home, our wee companion who began in the barn and followed us home, Pidge, our little rescued pigeon who I wrote about last week (https://amischiefmanaged.wordpress.com/2022/02/04/the-adventures-of-pidge-❤%EF%B8%8F/). We are not quite sure what Pidge’s future holds. Since I last wrote, I had been very grateful to have found some help with a pigeon rescue team not far from us who were giving me some advice on housing, feeding etc, as this was all so new to me. I’d been sending photos and when I did at the weekend the wonderful pigeon rescuer I’d been talking to was able to see that Pidge was looking unwell, something I couldn’t as such a novice.

He offered to help and I took Pidge over that night, where it turned out that firstly, he is definitely a boy, and secondly, he was a very strange case as although he presented very healthily to look at, shiny and clean and broad, underneath he was very underweight. Since the weekend, he has been in their care and he remains a mystery. There seems no reason for his illness as he’d been eating and drinking and appears generally bright but doesn’t seem to be putting on weight. I’m not sure what the future holds for him, and I think it’s probably most likely poor Pidge just reached us at the end of his life, but he’s got the best chance where he is just now, so we shall see.

The good thing is he seems to have no injury preventing him from flying so if he did manage to get back up to health the hope would be we could bring him back here and release him, but at the moment I think that’s a long shot, although you never can tell with these amazing animals, and the people looking after him at the moment for us are certainly doing all they can.

In the house, the cats and little Sparkle the hamster are doing well too.

Our big project of the week has been getting and building Rosie and Theo’s “catio” , their wee outside space out the back of the house. They are indoor cats primarily as we live in a small village but unfortunately right on an A road that gets very busy and we wouldn’t have them out there, but we have been so excited about giving them a space to come and go as they please and enjoy the outdoors. I’ll do another post on that when it’s complete and they’re in it (should get their first morning in today!) as it’s something we’ve wanted to do for ages and borrowed ideas from lots of other people online to choose what route to go down. For the moment however, certainly on these stormy nights, I would say both cats have been pretty happy with the indoors ❤️

Rosie relaxing
Theo ❤️

The project getting underway….

And last but never ever least, little Sparkle ❤️ For Sparkle, a part Winter White hamster, this is an interesting time of year as his coat lightens and much whiter.

He is around 19 months old now and still very active and a lovely wee character, we’re very lucky to have him.

It’s been lovely to have a bit of extra time to spend on the wee troops, and will post again soon with the kittens’ outdoor adventures and the progress of wee Pidge.

Hope you’ve all had a good week and have a lovely weekend. X