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

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…. ❤️

Happy 26 months to wee Sandy hamster….

Last month we had Charmer turning 25 years old, and this week coming our wee Sandy hamster turns 26 months…. making both of them actually very similar in age when calculated in “human years”… two distinguished gentlemen in their 70s!

While he enjoys spending most of his days cosy in his beloved little hamster pocket, we coaxed him out for a bit of a play with the wee ones and made him a little obstacle course he thoroughly enjoyed.

Usually Sandy’s out of his cage time takes place when the littlest among us are safely asleep and he can enjoy a pootle away from all the excitement that arises in his no1 fans whenever he appears for a drink of water, nods in our direction and slinks back to bed; but he cheerfully rose to the occasion of a play out with us all in his usual super way before cosying back down. ❤️

Hope you are all having a lovely week. X

Little Grace and the rest ~ In praise of rescue pets

This morning’s “Facebook memory” transported me back to a day I remember so very well, and I felt the same wave of excitement and happiness I did at the time – six years ago today we adopted our very first rescue pet, our beautiful little hamster Grace.

I’d grown up with rescued dogs and cats in my childhood and knew how rewarding the journey with a pet given a second chance at life could be; but we’d never adopted or rehomed in our adulthood pets journey – and in fact I didn’t really know there was the opportunity for it in the small animal sphere.

I heard about Grace through a fellow rat owner, who had seen her advertised for free online and been worried about her fate so decided to take her on and find a good home for her. When she went to collect her, she found her being kept in a small plastic tub with air holes cut in, no way of seeing out, and an old injury had left her with only one ear. She was also extremely small for a Syrian hamster, but, no doubt due to what we would come to know was her irrepressible character, she didn’t let anything that might have happened in the first few months of her life dampen her spirits; and within hours of her temporary owner getting her home she was racing around a new cage, and had commandeered a 12″ rat wheel put in with other odds and ends “just in case” to give her some enrichment. She was so tiny on it but made it go effortlessly and absolutely loved it – in fact when she came to live with us we got her one the same size and she loved it all her days.

We brought Grace home on Valentines Day 2012, and she was the most wonderful addition to our little family and brought so much joy in her time with us.

She also began for us a habit of seeking to rescue our pets whenever we could – I had already decided to avoid pet shops for any new additions after learning about the rodent farming practices that can often be used by them; and as this left us with independent breeders or rehoming as our main options, we were always so happy if we found the chance to give a pet a second chance at life come up.

Just as I know it is with larger pets – and in many cases more so as time with the little ones is so much shorter and more precious – it’s so very rewarding to see rats and hamsters find their feet in a second home, and I have always found it such a wonderful thing to be able to do. There are often challenges of course – Lizzie, our first rescue rat, who came from the SSPCA in 2012, and Pipkin, our very troubled but so wonderfully special boy, adopted in 2014, had significant behavioural issues, but seeing them gradually overcome their fear of the world around them was the best feeling in the world.

Lizzie and Pipkin ❤

Healthwise too, the little ones’ starts in life often compromised them – Chae, Winnie and Pipkin were part of a large-scale rescue that made the news in our area, where 300 rats were found being kept in one house in terrible conditions – they were actually kittens born in the SSPCA centre to one of the many pregnant does, so never lived in the house, but the in-breeding that had happened over so long left them all with very poor health and they all suffered from respiratory issues most of their lives. Still though, in spite of the odd jaunt to the vets and medication hidden in fruit juice every evening, they got so much out of their lives, and gave us so much too in return; really appreciating everything we did for them.

Winston Rat loving old age despite his ailments ❤

Of all the lovely animals we’ve owned, the rescues have often been those we’ve grown closest to, and the length of time they’ve had to spend with us has had no correlation to how much they’ve meant to us – Darcy the bustling hamster only lived with us the last six months of his life but I loved him so very much and he was a wonderful character.

Darcy

There are so many wonderful aspects to a life with rescue pets, big or small, and I’d recommend it to anyone considering taking on a new addition.

Grace, Sylvie, Lizzie, Chae, Winnie, Pipkin, Darcy, Rosie, Jasper and Jet all in their second home with us. ❤

Enjoying looking back on little Grace’s arrival and all the others’ time with us too.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend. X

Happy 100th birthday to little Rosie-ham… ❤️

The littlest member of our household, Rosie, was celebrating a milestone today at 2 1/2 years old. She is doing amazingly well for her age, being a Campbell’s x Russian Winter White, and both breeds being listed as among the shortest life expectancies of hamster variations at 1 1/2 – 2 years. From as close a comparison of these into human years I can do, this should have made Rose approximately 80 back in March on her second birthday (which we made a suitable fuss of!) and now at 2 1/2 should make her the equivalent of 100 years old! ❤️

She is just a gem of a wee soul, so content, and pootling around as much as ever. Here are some photos of her the day we brought her home aged just 10 weeks on 29th May 2014, looking very bright-eyed and youthful, and some from today, celebrating her centenary!! 💯❤️…

… plus just one more I couldn’t resist, on her wheel this morning working out in spite of her advanced years!

Happy birthday Little Rose… 🐹💞 xx

Carefresh bedding

Had to share this photo of the set ups after their weekly full clean – looking very (I promise accidentally!) sexist in their distribution – Rosie’s girlie cage now bright pink and the boys’ blue one below! 

Didn’t quite mean to distribute so stereotypically but am in love with this Colours range by Carefresh – have used this brand for years, normally the brown or white or confetti, but really finding the Colours to make cleaning so much easier with any mess so easy to spot, and brighten up pets’ corner too! 

Everyone seems very settled and happy greeting the weekend after their Friday cage tidy, Rose testing her climbing frame and the boys lazing as they do best!



Happy weekend all. X 

A quiet weekend at home with the pets 

Loved the chance to spend some quiet time this weekend at home having a relaxing couple of days, staying in and enjoying the down-time, with Harvey & Ty gambolling around the living room and Rosie pottering neatly around.

The sun shone for parts of the weekend too – in amongst everything from frost to rain to snow – and got Charmer out briefly for a little wander on Saturday morning before leaving him happily rolling in the field where he is now shedding the old winter coat at a very fast pace!

Saw our first daffodils open at the side of the road as we hacked along the track, the fields are continuing to dry up more every day, and little Rosie who always takes on a whiter hue in winter (being part Russian winter white) is looking darker and ready for the spring and summer months – a lovely first weekend in March, looking forward to a new season.


       
  

 

“The Little Things” – In praise of pets, the joy they bring and all their little moments

“Enjoy the little things in life, because one day you’ll look back and realise they were the big things.”

I read this quote years ago on a typically happy Pinterest-and-coffee morning, no doubt with Simba or Pipkin – our most dedicated bed-lounging former pets – on my feet, enjoying time and thoughts on an easy Saturday. It really struck a chord with me, as someone who has always enjoyed the little things in life the most and seen in them so much of value. Those quiet weekend mornings, the first few moments of fresh air and daylight in the morning, beauitful views, cosy coffees with family and friends and time with our pets.

Over the years, I have found so much strength and inspiration in some of the everyday moments in life and in huge part this has been contributed to by my relationships with my animals. Of course to a massive degree with my little horse Charmer, my partner in crime for sixteen years now; or my mum and dad’s collie Ginny, with us since I was living at home as a teenager, our loyal companion for over thirteen years. These pets have shaped whole chunks of my life and times spent with them have been the cornerstones of my growing up, in all the little moments that do really and truly add up to be one of the biggest blessings, “the big things” in life.

Yet it is not only those who are lucky enough to have this longevity that I feel this way about – over the last five years we have had the pleasure of owning thirteen little bundles of fur and love, and each and every one of them has brought so much joy. I am well aware that many people would wonder quite how rewarding these very small pets can be and whether they really give much to their owners – to me, they always have, more than I can say.

“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”

The hamsters, rats and rabbits we have had the pleasure of sharing our home with in the past may have been small things in size, but have deserved – and often ethusiastically demanded! – a huge space in our hearts as their lives with us have unfolded. The first time Pipkin ran to the cage door to greet us; the first time Grace saw her new cage and wheel and had to be persuaded to take a break after an alarmingly long gym session; the day we moved into our new home and Simba settled himself on the rug in front of the fire to set the seal on our new life; the day an elderly Chae surprised us with an uncharacterstic leap up on to the settee to join us; the first time Lizzie was afraid but didn’t bite and cuddled into us instead, in one little action turning a big corner for her into a happier way of life. All of these memorable moments – and even more than that, each and every boring, normal night watching Friends with Harvey on my knee, Ty playing with my hair and Rosie’s wheel rattling down in the kitchen; are the moments – the little things – that often provide me with everything I need for the more challenging aspects of life.

Our pets may be in some ways the smallest things, but they do truly take up an enormous space in my heart, very often being some of the highlights and biggest blessings in my days; and I will always be grateful for them.