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

Saying goodbye to the lovely Rosie….

Our little old lady Rosie sadly left us yesterday, but thankfully at a wonderfully old age and without having really been unwell at all other than a gradual slowing down over the past few weeks. Rosie was a real sweetheart of a pet and will be very missed from our home. 

She arrived into it on a sunny May bank holiday Monday back in 2014, which feels so long ago now. Back then, she joined us and our house-rabbit Simba, who ruled the roost in those days, our first male rats Chae and Winston who were only a few months old, and our Giant African Land Snail Sandy. It was a really busy time for us for lots of different reasons – Charmer was very ill at the time and it was a battle to get him nursed back to health; both my husband and I were studying for exams at work alongside working full-time; and we were in the last few months of planning our wedding too, so our world was more than a little hectic – but our new little dwarf hamster was nothing but a lovely addition. Rosie was there that first summer while we managed to see Charmer through his illness, although also at the same time sadly lost Simba very suddenly. She’s been with us throughout almost all of our first two years of marriage, a time period that has seen the arrivals of Harvey and Ty and departing of Chae and Winnie, as well as our Pipkin living out his whole life with us. A lot has moved on since the day we adopted Rose, and she was a wonderful part of our lives as it did. She was never any trouble and always very content – a while back I enjoyed writing this post about her which sums her up: 

https://amischiefmanaged.wordpress.com/2016/02/13/the-adventures-of-rosie-hamster/

Two and a half years on, we were home again this week on a bank holiday Monday –  this time a stormy September one – when it became clear that Rosie was probably not going to be with us much longer, and we had a really nice peaceful day with her. She was a lovely part of our little family, and I’m so glad we had such a lovely long time with her. x

Caring for the little ones… the peace at the end of the day

Driving home last night at the end of a long and busy day, there were more thoughts in my head than I had a hope of getting to line up – until, that is, I reached the animals. First, the horse, drawing into the farm on a dark night and flipping the lights on in the barn, feed piled into his bucket and the stable door propped open before grabbing his headcollar and my torch and making my way across to the gate, from where I could just make out a few heads raising briefly in interest from their grazing down the hill and then, all making short work of identifying me, just my own boy’s bobbing as he made his way up the hill, confident of a reward when he reached the top.

Making our way in he was straight into the stable and nose straight in the bucket in spite of the fact that our autumn/winter routine is only a few days old, and stood happily chewing while I fussed around him with fly sprays and brushes in his short time in before back out to the field – not yet time for the overnight stays of the thick of winter. 


There is nowhere more still and more calming to me than the abandoned barn at night, our presence and the orange glow of the strip light above our heads the only disturbance in the silent yard, shrouded in darkness at the top of the hill, with the lights of the city across the water the only twinkle in the distance. We made our way back to the field gate where we part ways with a quiet and steady clopping of shoes on the track; and, C sorted for the night, I wound my way on and drew up once more outside home, still turning over so many topics in my mind, when the little ones all lined up to demand attention.

Little Rosie must have heard us mention her 100th birthday at the weekend as in the last couple of days she has all of a sudden looked her age overnight, struggling a little to get around her cage and sleeping more than ever. Although her teeth seem ok, some of her hard food seems to have been a bit of a trial in the last few days, so had her some soaked biscuits and a little rearrange of her cage to keep things close, handy, and up no slopes. Nursing her and making sure she had everything she needed while she used my scarf to nestle in and give herself a clean took all my attention – there’s no space for anything else when the wee ones are needing care.

 

Harvey and Ty, our little mischief, don’t need too much at the moment, but are always there to politely line by the bars and ask for some attention and a wee jaunt out of their cage all the same. We are celebrating Ty being fully back to health and off his anti-biotics now – in spite of being prescribed the good-tasting one, the sight of the syringe made him make this face……

 

… while Harvey, by contrast, became VERY interested in voluntarily finishing up any medicine we didn’t manage to force feed his poor brother!


As my husband despairingly said, it always seems to be the wrong rats who get ill! We’ve had this in the past too, with our old boy Chae spending years watching Winston and Pipkin be syringed medicine for their recurring respiratory infections while he always sported a very left-out expression, had to have some yoghurt to keep him the same, and was the only one of the family never to need it! Still, Ty’s plight is over, and the boys were doing fine last night, both in a very cuddly mood.


The pets we have in our home and have had over the years always bring so much happiness and good times; but, more than that, even in the times they need more help or support or aren’t 100% at their best, bring such a stability, routine, and steadying sense of purpose to every day. Looking after our little mischief is one of the highlights of my day, and especially when things are busy elsewhere, is a retreat and a focus I am so grateful for. 

Have a wonderful Thursday – and a wonderful Autumn Equinox 🍃 🍁 🍂 all, from all of us. x

The Adventures of Rosie Hamster

Rosie is our little Campbell x Winter White hamster, 2 years old in March and a little furry force to be reckoned with! She came to us at 10 weeks old via a Gumtree advert, turning up nearby after needing to be separated from her cagemate. Having had Syrian hamsters in the past, and the most recent of those being Darcy, a solid and classic large ginger and black hamster, little Rose seemed impossibly tiny when we first brought her home – and has grown very little since!

She is a wonderful presence in the house, a very contented wee soul who loves nothing more than organising her cage layout, re-arranging her bedding and building award-worthy tunnelling systems to transport her little self around.

In a household of boys, I have always been glad of Rosie’s female company, enjoying Friday mocktail nights in and joining in briefly with my hen do below..!

While very content to spend her time mainly in her cage, which she is very settled in, it is lovely to spend some time with her out and about – we’ve always let hamsters free-range in the past as the rats do in our living room, but she is just such a little minature thing that we tend just to relax on the couch where she always enjoys a scarper up the cushions and a sit on a shoulder, and especially some time exploring in a blanket.

I always find observing the way a solitary hamster chooses to live its life and its whole outlook very inspiring, and Rosie is just a joy to watch. She lives simply and is utterly content with her surroundings and all her favourite things, and is very structured in her routines and set in her ways – although now and then apropos of nothing she will suddenly shake things up and move from one of her little houses to another as her chosen bed, or dispense with the rules and relocate her food store, starting a new little rhythm she’ll settle to with enthusiasm.

In the last couple of months, wee Rose’s eyes have been almost entirely covered by cataracts, and when I first saw this happening – never having seen it before in any of our previous hamsters –  I was worried her quality of life would be affected. Quite the contrary though, she is utterly unabashed and is zootling around the cage, spinning her wheel and climbing the bars like she always has; and – with a new little extra sniff she likes to do first to be sure all is well –  is very happy to be picked up and to come out for free time with us.

She is a really lovely little soul, so friendly and so enthusiastic about every aspect of life, and I just love to enjoy her and her happy pootling.