Animal Adventures – September into October 🍁

As we move deeper into my favourite season of all, watching the leaves slowly change on the trees and begin to tumble to the ground, just a wee summary of how the pets are getting on, filling our wee world as they do with so much character and love.

It’s not long since I last wrote about Charmer, and not too much has happened with him, just a shiny new pair of shoes since I last wrote, and a start to our October of charity walks with his first couple of half-mile wander on his rope this week, one just with me and one with the A Team in tow!

Little Sandy too is still pottering away very happily, almost 31 months now and I’m so delighted with the shine in his coat still and how he’s holding his weight.

The cats are our biggest changers ❤️ Rosie and Theo have just turned 5 months old, and been with us just over 3 months, and they are growing and changing all the time. Their characters are really becoming so clear and they have transformed life in our little house. ❤️

Rosie is very relaxed and loves cuddling and playing with the whole family, often joining in the kids’ games (kids’ toys and cat toys appear to be interchangeable, there is often a cat toy joining in the dolls house and one of the kids’ dinosaurs turning up in the cat bed!). She is always on some mission or other and tends to keep herself busy nipping upstairs to steal the bath plug and hide it around the house or paddling in the shower or sink after someone’s used them – and whenever I open a book, especially a big hardback, she jumps straight in, I barely do any reading anymore without a purring Rosie on my knee with her nose in the pages.

Theo (affectionately known as Teddy) is more of a reserved type, he’s very affectionate but keeps more of a distance from the chaos and comes into his own in the evening when the house is quieter – he has also settled to being a bit of a one-master cat, he definitely loves my husband most of all, seeking him out for 3am cuddles every single night, but now and then I get my moments with him and he’s a gorgeous and lovely boy.

Last week I had them both at the vets for their neutering, but in the end Rosie was still a little too little at just under 2kg, so she was given a few more weeks to bulk up. Theo, who was originally the littlest, has streaked ahead of her to become a strapping boy-cat, and at 2.4kg was ok going ahead with his operation.

He did really well, charmed everyone in the vets, the receptionist reported she’d barely been able to get any work done for cuddling him as per his demands! And when he got home he recovered really well. Unfortunately wee Rosie though was disconcerted by the smell of the vets or maybe just their first time apart, even though it was only a day, and gave him a hard time when he came back, hissing and not seeming to recognise him. It only lasted an evening before she settled, but it seems to have upset the balance a little between them and they had not been sleeping curled up together or spending all their time together since.

About a week later we actually made another appointment for Theo thinking something was wrong as he was sleeping round the clock and very lethargic but the vet could find nothing and believed the poor wee dot was just reacting to Rosie having been more aloof with him and missing the security of how close they were. The vet nurse at our local practice has a keen interest in cat behaviour so she gave us a few tips on ways to ease things for both of them to hopefully allow an improvement and fingers crossed it does seem to be working – We’ve gone from them keeping to opposite sides of the room to this….

To this..

And yesterday, briefly, their old tumbly cuddly selves ❤️

Teddy seems much more relaxed and like himself as a result so we do hope they get back to their wee pack of two before too long; but they are both such wonderful characters regardless and we just love having them in our home, it feels like they’ve part of the family forever.

Last but not least a wee cameo from our newest unofficial “pet”, Henry the Hedgehog (named by our eldest!) who frequents the garden at night. Was so happy to see what an excellent size he is! But we’ve been putting a wee bit of the cat’s food out nonetheless and a wee bit shelter in the bushes for him and love to sit out late and watch him in the dark.

We are on a week’s holiday here at the moment, and really looking forward to it, we were originally going to go away for a few days but have decided to stay closer to nine and do day trips here and there which we are all so excited about. Will post at the weekend some at-home adventures. Whether October break where you are or not hope you all have a really lovely week. X

Theo watching the world go by this morning ❤️

Happy (half) birthday to our wee Sandy… and big love for all the littlest ones ❤️

Our little Sandy hamster turned 2 and a half on Friday, and we decided to make a proper little fuss of him and give him a wee day of celebration! I think it’s quite hard to judge but have seen some hamster to human years “conversions” showing around 2 and a half creeping up to a very good age maybe even around 100 equivalent, and we are absolutely delighted to have little Sandy still with us and in very good health.

We brought him home at 4 months old from a lovely little hamster and small animal rescue not far from us in Fife where a couple of volunteers work tirelessly to help wee ones find their forever homes, and we’ve been lucky to have over two years of his company and counting. He’s a pottery wee soul these days, sometimes a little wobbly on his feet when he first wakes up, but he’s just doing away, enjoying life in his cage and some explores out and about with us too and he’s actually holding his weight really well which is great. He has been completely and utterly unfazed by the arrival of two curious kittens into his life who like nothing more than to watch him going about his business, and regards them with interest but no fear whatsoever, getting on with his important work of moving food around and now and then doing a wee bed reshuffle.

The kids loved making him some decorations and giving him a treat stick which he got straight to work on and is still very much enjoying a few days on!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the small pets in our lives the last few weeks as it was August eleven years ago, just as the back to school feeling was around us and the change of autumn in the air, that I decided to really start our little animal family. I’d already had a lovely wee companion for a couple of years while at uni, briefly back home, and then in my first flat of my own, in the form of my very first hamster, little Annabelle, who I’d always so enjoyed the company of. She had died a few months before and I had really missed her. I always remember so clearly the day in August 2010 I came back from a weekend at home with my family and all our assorted animal companions (always a full house ❤️) to my empty flat and realised that I wanted so much to have a pet again. That led to me bringing home Smokie and Peatie, my first rats, two such wonderful wee characters – and never having been without pets since.

Smokie, Peatie and Simba, our original wee team ❤️

I knew so little about small pets then (Annabelle never having caused me any trouble, we’d never even seen a vet!) that it took me a few weeks to realise the boys I took home (originally Smokey and Petey) were actually girls. They taught me my first lessons early on and from that day on I’ve loved and lived and learned so much with my tiny companions. Within six months Smokie and Peatie and I had moved in with my husband and his house rabbit Simba and since then we’ve had a total of 14 pet rats, 5 hamsters and the rabbit (and also two Giant African Land Snails who were more my husband’s charges, I still know very little about them!) – mostly rescued or given their second home with us and all of them bringing so much joy to our home.

The rats: Smokie, Peatie, Sylvie, Lizzie, Chae, Winston, Pipkin, Harvey, Ty, Reuben, Perry, Marley, Jasper and Jet

Keeping small animals has been so incredibly rewarding for me. The rats in particular always taught me so much, there were so many health issues to learn about and absolutely fascinating behaviour to study and interactions to be had. Our hamsters too, Annabelle, Grace, Darcy, Rosie* and Sandy, have been such amazing characters. I always hear of people complaining of grumpy bitey hamsters but the five I’ve been blessed to share my home with have been such lovely wee souls.

The hamsters: Annabelle, Grace, Darcy, Rosie and Sandy

As the kittens keep us busy with new lessons to be learned (back on the back foot again after almost always knowing what the vet would say before I took the rats with a few years of experience under my belt, suddenly I realise how little we know about our new pets and I am googling and researching cat information at every turn!); and Charmer – as he has for over twenty-one years now – fills my animal world; I’m so so glad too for all the space taken up in our home and hearts then and now by the tiniest of our pets – and love having wee Sandy around so much.

Happy birthday little gent 🧡.

Hope you all have a lovely start to the week. X

*yes we have now had so many pets that we are repeating names! Little Rosie-ham who we brought home back in 2014 was our first Rosie, named for her pinky-red eyes and bright wee face, but when our oldest daughter was determined to call our girl cat Rosie from the moment the idea of getting a cat was floated we went with it, she can be Rosie-cat for long! My husband’s second snail was also called Sandy so it’s not even our first offence… But when Sandy hamster arrived to us so perfectly coloured and so in love with his sand bath he couldn’t be anything but…. ❤️

Our very first weekend away as a four ❤️ lovely time staying with family, Scotland touring and rambling, and meeting our kittens for the first time.. 🐾 (Wordless Wednesday)

Travels down south – service stations, car games and dinner break, stopping off in pretty Roslin on the way home for an ice cream and a wee glimpse of the Chapel
Summer holiday read and enjoying lovely stay with family 🥰
Enjoying the winding roads
And meeting our beautiful little soon-to-be new family members 🥰

Sunny farm days, growing kittens and back to some travel adventures… summertime begins ❤️

We’ve been lucky to have some wonderful warm weather here the last few weeks and have all been enjoying moving into summertime. It makes such a big difference to see the sun shining after what seems to have been a long winter and it’s wonderful that it’s gone hand in hand with the easing up of Covid restrictions to let us get out more places, and spend some time with family and friends. Last week I took the most wonderful trip with my mum and the kids up north, just all in a day, but it felt like a few days away by the time we were done – up to my uncle’s in Kirkmichael for a lovely visit, making a big loop and stopping off in Blairgowrie and Pitlochry as well as enjoying all the countryside and villages along the way. It was absolutely wonderful to be back in some favourite places again that I haven’t seen in so long and to spend some wonderful long time with family in such a relaxed way.

And this weekend in fact too we’re doing a trip not just for a day but our first overnight since our littlest was born 14 months ago, again enjoying time with family then too, and are so looking forward to the novelty of it!

As part of our trip we are also going to visit our soon to be new kittens, who are 6 weeks old today and growing well. Their breeder has been so lovely sending us photos and videos of them growing and changing and it’s going to be so lovely when we get them home to have had such a lovely insight into their early days.

Kittens at 4 weeks

One of the most absolutely fascinating things about their early days that’s developed more over the past couple of weeks, is that there are actually two cats with kittens in the home at the moment, born 7 days apart, and although the mother cats were originally each given their own space, they have chosen to raise the kittens together, and form a shared group between them. It’s incredible in the videos we’ve seen watching the two litters of kittens interacting with each other – the others so much bigger than those of ‘our’ litter, the mum of ours being a very petite black cat and the mum of the others a much larger ginger. The kittens will go to either mother even for milk and one will watch and look after all the kittens together while the other goes out. It’s really incredible to see the way they’ve organised themselves in such a similar way to big cats in the wild, and just lovely to observe.

Kittens at 6 weeks, and other litter at 7, with our lovely mum cuddling up with them all

I’m so looking forward to getting to meet them all this weekend and to bringing our two home in just a few weeks. Still reading around the clock on best care in the meantime and the catio project is underway too!

As part of our getting ready for the little ones coming I was doing some organising of our old small pet cages out in the shed – we are planning to use one of our larger rat cages as an “outer” cage for little Sandy hamster, so he can stay in his own environment in the kitchen where he likes to watch the world go by but be extra secure from any feline attention! Having a clear out of the rest of the cages and going to send them to the lady who runs the Hamster Rescue where Sandy originally came from so gave me a lovely chance to speak to her for the first time in a while. Had sent her a photo of Sandy and only when we were chatting about how he looked for his age, – and when I looked back at the photo I’d sent her of a young Sandy first settling in with us – did I realise how much he had changed! Such a little elderly gentleman these days!! She also mentioned his date of birth was down as 3rd March 2019, something I’d not realised before – we were giving him an approximate birthday mid-month! – so now he can definitely enjoy a monthly fuss right on time! 🥰

Sandy in July 2019 & May 2021

For Charmer the new season is definitely here, bringing with it the world of fly sprays, rugs and summer field maintenance. He’s in a lovely routine of taking a long lie in the morning before I bring him in for his breakfast and his fieldmate’s owners pop him back out after a couple of hours respite in the stable, and every morning just now I am finding him very relaxed in his field. ❤️

Been spending a couple of evenings at the old ragworting, and it’s actually been so lovely. Because I’m often at the farm in the mornings just now and because Charmer is all taken care of early doors, it is lovely to have the chance to just be in the field with him watching him graze and just co-existing. That’s always one of my favourite things to do especially at this time of year.

De-ragworting begins

Charmer is doing really well at the moment all-round. Got his new shoes again this week and he’s sound and happy… possibly edging towards being put on a diet shortly! But that’s quite a good problem to have, just really pleased he’s kept condition coming out of winter, and enjoying him enjoying this new season.

New shoes day
Summer nights ❤️

We are all really enjoying the good weather here and the beginnings of summer time.. hope you are all well and getting to do a little of the same! Have a lovely weekend x

Pony diaries: New shoes, a happy hack and snow days

Despite ever-changing weather and a few challenges in getting to the farm this last week or so when the worst snow in a few years descended on us here; 2021 has got off to a very positive start for my fluffy boy Charmer, who has really enjoyed the past few weeks.

We started the new year in a cold snap of frosty weather, although on New Year’s Day itself there was a thaw and a bright warm sun that got our morning at the farm – and family ramble down by the horses’ fields, watching them graze – off to a beautiful and uplifting start.

Charmer continues to be doing really really well at the moment with his arthritis and in January enjoyed some in hand walks down the hill he used to struggle on, loving exploring. On the 22nd, it was New Shoes Day once again for him, and this time around – after being shod the last twice since his equilibrium shoes were put on with a bit of sedation to help him cope with it – he managed without any sedation whatsoever and without a hint of discomfort the next day which just made me so, so happy. It’s wonderful to see him thriving again – and unbelievable to see my brave boy have hot shoes put on unsedated for the first time in his life since a disastrous attempt when he was 4… who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!!!

He had his annual injections the same week, and both the vet who came out for them and the farrier were so happy with how well he was doing on his walks and in his day to day life, that we agreed if he seemed to be up for it there would be no problem with trying him with a little walk back on board to see how he managed. That’s a thing I never thought I’d do again, back in August when he was as lame as he was I was absolutely happy to retire him and didn’t expect to ever reverse that; but at the moment he is so enthusiastic about life and about his walks in hand and taking the lead from him he really did seem that getting out an explore together would be something he’d love.. so on one quiet morning when the conditions were briefly not too wintery, I just popped his bridle on and got on, just bareback and just for a quick wander around the yard, to see how he managed.

It was such a wonderful experience, I couldn’t believe how happy he was. As we wandered more of the hail stones we’ve got used to these days started, but this deterred him not one bit, and he was so keen to go. We ended up walking down the track a little, where he was pulling to just go on and on, so keen to explore, and when I turned him back, just wanting to keep it to a little wander, I had to hold him back to a walk, he was so enthusiastic and his wee head bouncing as he strained to break into a trot; it was beyond lovely to see.

So far that’s the only wee hack we’ve had, and I’ll keep them to occasional, as they always tend to be for us anyway, with some in hand walks and some little rides but everything still very steady for him. But it’s just lovely to see how much he enjoyed it and just lovely whatever he can manage to see how well he’s doing just now.

Yesterday was dentist day, with his teeth done by our same wonderful vet who has helped him so much over the last year first with his dental operation last February and then with his arthritis in the summer, and although he’s got a few things going on with his teeth that are to be expected for a boy turning 25 in a few weeks, and we’ll be keeping an eye on them with another appointment in 6 weeks time, he seems to be doing ok and at the moment is managing just fine to get his hay, grass and feed fully enjoyed. It was brilliant to have a chance to see his usual vet and get her take on how he was moving and thoughts for him, and to my relief his weight etc all seems ok and she’s happy with how he’s doing for the moment.

The last few days have been very snowy, which has been a beautiful winter wonderland (the difficulties of winter driving and practicalities of getting up to the farm aside, thankfully managed!) and Charmer has enjoyed a play in the snow as much as the kids have back at home, – rolling, running around with his field mate and some big happy bucks in the air I couldn’t quite believe his old legs could manage! It’s been lovely to see him out enjoying it.

We’re still under a blanket of snow just now, although thankfully getting around a bit easier these past couple of days, no need to park and hike up the hill anymore and just the perfect amount now for kids and ponies playing in. We’re starting to see the nights lengthening which is really lovely, and I’m really looking forward to getting my boy into spring; but am really so glad he’s managing (hopefully the last of!) the winter so well.

A happy Friday all from our snowy corner of the world. Hope you are all well xxxx

Lockdown times at the farm

Just a little good morning from our corner of the world… hope you are all well despite the times we’re living in, and are finding ways to navigate through these next few weeks.

Here, we’ve been back to a life at home, trying to keep the little ones busy and happy, stay as connected to family and friends as we possibly can, and find a routine within what looks to be our new normal again for some time to come. One of the constants in life in lockdown and always is looking after my boy, and I’m very grateful that, just as last time, we have still been allowed access to the farm to look after the horses, just with separated slots to keep us distanced – and so Charmer’s schedule brings a steadying routine to this new time. At 10am and 5pm I find myself there with him, an anchor in this strange January as he has been at so many other times in the decades we’ve had together.

Our morning slot being 10am this time means I’ve had to take the girls with me which has actually ended up being wonderful – a safe, fresh-air way to get them out and bring the routine to their days that playgroup and baby classes normally do, and they’ve loved helping as much as Charmer has enjoyed having his little fans on hand.

And for me too, my dark evenings settling him in to the stable for the night, giving him a brush and sometimes reading a little in the quietness beside him, or weekend mornings like today, catching up on the barn chores and enjoying a wander just me and him; are valued even more than ever amidst all the uncertainty.

Charmer continues to be doing really well just now and amazing everyone with his enthusiasm for life and how well he is moving. I would actually be amazed at how well he was doing if this was summertime but for this to be the coldest winter we’ve had in a couple of years, coming in from nights out at -7 and weathering damp days and changing temperatures; I really can’t believe how much he is thriving. Something in amongst his medication, supplements and shoes is working more than I ever dreamed possible and I am over the moon to see him restored to such health.

I took him a walk on his rope this morning down the hill he used to really struggle with, his feet hitting the ground steadily and certainly, and let him have some grass at the bottom while I drank my coffee, read a few pages of the horsey book I’m reading, and watched some of the younger horses in the field opposite Charmer’s showing off some spectacular boisterous play.

Landing up back at the gate, time was up once again – as it is quickly now – for the farm window in the day, but I was very grateful both for it and for the strides forward C has taken in enjoying life and living it to the full.

Really hope you are all staying safe, taking care and feeling ok, as we all count down to spring and better days. X

Pottering about with the pony

This weekend brought with it September’s beautiful mix of the last days of summer and the first of autumn, newly yellowing leaves on the trees and the odd one floating down already.

Bringing Charmer in on Saturday morning, after catching up on some mucking out and barn tidying, I decided to take him for a little bit of time in the sand school.

At the moment he’s not meant to do any forced exercise of any kind, and I feel a little hesitant even leading him as he’s often reticent and worried about where he’s placing his feet, but I thought in there with his headcollar off he could decide himself exactly what he felt comfortable with. We’ve used the space for games and join-up and ambles before, and when I took his ropes off and started just having a wander around myself, I found I had a very happy follower. ❤️

It was really, really lovely. I’ve missed even just walking in hand with him and know he has too, and it was so lovely just to move around together and to know he was only doing what he felt up to. He found plenty to explore and investigate, and when I got him in to his stable afterwards he was exhilarated and happy-looking just for having seen something ever so slightly different!

It was a lovely morning, and so enjoyed finding new ways to have adventures with my boy. ❤️

Hope you are all having a lovely week. X

Happy retirement to my old man ❤️ 🐴

Earlier this week, Charmer and I had another visit from our vet to see how we were getting on with his wee old legs. We’re seeing him feeling a little better and comfier on his feet around the yard which is great, and have some more plans in place to try to help him further – so all is looking more positive and I’m starting to feel very optimistic now about seeing him comfortably enjoying his life.

However, we did agree that now is the time to bring his working life to an end. To be most representative, “working” should really be in inverted commas, as over the years we’ve really done nothing more than playing. When we were very young, the odd local show, a little dabble in jumping, but it’s generally just been a life of exploring the countryside around us at a very leisurely pace!

And it’s been a wonderful one. I have absolutely loved all these years of rambles and ambles and have pondered some of the biggest moments of my life from my seat up on my boy’s back. I’ll never forget steadying rides on the mornings of my graduation and my wedding day, all those autumn hacks through stubble fields and crunching leaves, wintry ones all wrapped up with our clouds of breath in the air, and summertime canters along bright green verges here and there in all our homes over the years.

Watching the world through his ears ❤️

When he was first diagnosed with arthritis in 2011, I was completely happy to bring the riding to an end if it helped him. Somehow though we got another nine years of adventuring, only putting a stop to the jumping; – although even then not quite as the photo in the woods below was taken much more recently – just a fallen log we often came across in our local woods that he absolutely loved to pop over and, taking the lead from him as always, I was happy to let him occasionally just to see his burst of happiness at flying over it again. ❤️

I really never expected to ride again after I’d had my second daughter so the fact that we got even just the three little rambles we did this summer with him so strong and so loving it was incredible – they were just a bonus, one I loved having and know he did too.

Riding fun and games over the years ❤️

So now we’ve hung up the tack for good, and it’s a very happy retirement to my boy – I have no doubt he’ll have no trouble at all in enjoying the views, watching the world go by and keeping an eye on all the goings-on! ❤️ xx