A fond farewell to our mischief β€οΈπŸ€

Much has changed in our little corner of the world over the past few months as life has moved on in all its usual ways. As we move into another new season, and my very favourite at that 🍁❀️, it’s good to find the time to take stock on everything around us and find our feet where we are. There’s been so much going on, lots of it very exciting, and I’m very much looking forward to catching up on it all here very soon; but first of all I wanted to write just a little post in honour of my boys.

At the beginning of the summer, just a few weeks apart, we said our last goodbyes to both Jasper and Jet, our lovely elderly rat boys; and in doing so also closed a chapter nearly a decade long of owning and caring for pet rats.

Jasper and Jet were such lovely characters, and were a wonderful part of our home and family. Having lived with us two years, and reaching an age of around 2y10m each, it was lovely to have been able to have them so long and to have got to know them so well.

Arriving in July 2017, desperately needed companions for our little rat Perry who had been left unexpectedly alone, they could not have fulfilled their role as his buddies any better, giving him such comfort and friendship in his last months, before going on to live with us themselves through two more years of changing times and family life, adjusting to a new normal with the arrival home of our newborn daughter and over time as she grew older being her first wonderfully patient and kind teachers in animal handling and care. ❀️

For me, it’s very strange not to have any rats at home any more, having fallen so in love with them as pets and having had 14 over the last nine years, as well as the 4 in my childhood. Life seemed just a little too hectic at the moment to take on any more right now (though I found I just couldn’t be completely without pets in the house and we do have a new addition in the form of a content little hamster, Sandy, who I will write about very soon!); but I do hope maybe one day we’ll have rats again.

Our little group changed and evolved over the years and from 2010 – 2019 we were blessed to have Smokie, Peatie, Sylvie, Lizzie, Chae, Winston, Pipkin, Harvey, Ty, Reuben, Perry, Marley, Jasper and Jet in our home.

I named this blog when I first started writing about our pets to include the most appropriate group term I’ve ever come across – our “mischief of rats” were truly full of mischief, full of fun, and brought so much love and joy for all the years we had them.

❀️

April into May πŸŒΌπŸŒΈ

It’s been another month that’s passed in a flash here, but a good one – the weather is on the turn and days have been spent more outside than in which has been lovely after a long winter.

The little one in particular has been loving exploring the garden, parks, woods and all the flowers and animals we can find – especially enjoying all the ladybirds in the garden this year!

Had a family jaunt at Easter time to a favourite place not too far away, the Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder, an absolutely lovely place for a day out. Closer to a rescue centre than a Zoo in feel, it is full of animals including ex-circus lions and bears with amazing and sometimes very sad stories who it is just so lovely to see enjoying a second chance at life and finding their feet in their new surroundings. We all very much enjoyed our outdoor day in the sunshine and the chance to see all the animals enjoying it too. β™₯️

Charmer my lovely old boy has celebrated his 23rd birthday and is enjoying life at the moment now being out at night again and spending most of his time just chilling in his field, his favourite way to live!

The rat boys are doing not too badly too though very definitely in their old man stage now. Both are enjoying their evenings out on the settee with us and their arranging and playing in their cage. Jasper particularly is showing a fair amount of signs of slowing down and needing a little extra care and boost to his weight but seems happy cuddling with Jet in his bed and still getting around alright which is lovely to see.

Into May now, a showery and bright April come and gone and really enjoying the blossom season being back upon us!

Happy Sunday all, hope you are all having a good weekend. X

Summertime adventures β˜€οΈπŸ”₯πŸ’™

The last couple of weeks have brought with them a change in the weather, lightning splitting across the sky and cutting through the bubble of heat that had dominated the summer so far. Week after week of unbroken sunshine and dry weather, temperatures always in the mid to high 20s, gave way first to the heavy relief of lashing rain, and later to a steadier coolness, swirling some of the earliest leaves off the trees.

This is the first time I seem to have found the time and space in a while to take stock and catch up on what’s been a long and lovely summer. We had a holiday at the beginning of July – our first family break away, up north for a few nights to a little cottage where we happily self-catered, keeping everything relatively routine for the little one; had lovely long walks, in woods, along riversides and in pretty towns; woke to ducks waddling past the door in the mornings, coming to say hello; and enjoyed family firsts at swingparks and the swimming pool, all thoroughly enjoying the time together.

The summer has been a truly beautiful one and both while we were away and back home, we have had so many gorgeous days and sunny adventures.

Beautiful discoveries on summer walks

The pets have been doing fine – Jasper & Jet have been with us over a whole year now – we brought them home on 26th July last year to keep old man Perry company. I still remember so clearly driving them home and nervously doing the introductions, which were one of our most successful ever thanks to all three boys’ lovely natures. They’ve changed and mellowed a lot more even over that time, the bright-eyed and curious newcomers evolving into the two dumplings that are cuddling in of an evening this summer, so chilled out and so familiar. ❀

Jasper & Jet joining the family, July 2017

They had their first holiday too when we went away, as we had them booked in with a local pet boarder for the first time – I’ve never done that before with any of the little ones as we used to be just round the corner from my parents so the pets could just stay home, ably looked after by my dad. Last year we were due to board for the first time but I chickened out at the last minute due to so many ongoing needs the boys at the time had – and we ended up taking Reuben, Perry and Marley on holiday with us, a wonderful experience in itself. Jasper & Jet seemed to get on really well though at their holiday home. Dropping them off and picking them up was plain sailing, they enjoyed their adventures – and it was so lovely to have them home again when we all returned!

It’s been a horse-aversary this month too, celebrating 18 years with Charmer. It feels like such a huge spanning of time all of a sudden and it really is, been so lucky to have his company for almost two decades now. He’s been weathering the summer relatively well, with all its usual challenges – keeping him not too fat and not too thin, battling flies and midges, de-ragworting and keeping water and shade close by.. the usual fun! Overall though seems to have been enjoying it and been less plagued by midges than last year actually, so been able to enjoy some fly rug-free days with the sun on his back.

The extreme heat in the last few weeks has meant him sometimes needing to come in for periods during the day – which has brought me to the farm mid-day with my daughter in tow, the necessity giving me the push I needed to have the confidence to look after them both at once. He is just wonderful with her, affording the pram or sling the care he doesn’t bother to extend to me!!.. where he would happily give me a shove to get to where he’d prefer to be he’s always cautious, always watching and looking out for the baby. In the shade of the barn, now that she’s a little bigger, we’ve been able to spend a little bit of quiet time with her out of her pram or carrier and it’s been absolutely lovely to see her curiosity, his patience and them both getting to know each other. ❀

It’s been a really lovely summer – days long and warm and light lingering late. Outside, we’ve been enjoying watching the season roll on as the fields are farmed around us, the nesting sparrows coming and going, our resident robin in the garden, and the starlings that swoop around the village en masse – which I know will be coming to descend on us very soon as the berries on our rowan trees are reddening and almost ripe, and last year the starlings just went crazy for them – looking forward to seeing it again!

In the evenings, we’ve been treated almost every night to the most beautiful display from the bats who live nearby, swooping and gliding in the dusk. I absolutely love to just stand out in the garden as night falls and enjoy them passing by, they fly so very close but with such precision they never touch, they’re such amazing animals.

Hope you are all well and will hopefully write again sooner! Have a good week all. X

Home ~ A Year On

Coming back home the other night, I was met at the front door by the first opening bud on our rambling rose bush, winding upwards and standing tall. It reminded me so much of seeing it emerge this time last year – when we had only been in our new home a few weeks, everything still felt very strange and new, and we were just at the very beginning of settling in. I had been waiting to see what colour the roses would turn out to be when the buds opened, and I remember loving the vibrancy of them when they did.

Seeing them at the same stage again just transported me back and it’s strange to remember how different everything was then. When we moved in I worried I’d never love it like our last little house we’d been in so long – and yet in the one short year we’ve lived here it has been so poured full of memories and family life that it feels like we’ve been here forever.

We’ve had our first summer; watched the rowan berries appear – and the delighted starlings “disappear” them as quickly as they did; the autumn colours creep in, with the busyness of harvesting going on in the fields all around; our first Christmas, lights twinkling in the windows; an extra-long winter with history-making snowdrifts and village efforts to get dug out during the “Beast from the East”; a long-awaited spring, white and yellow daffodils lining the fence… and are now back in the season of days in the garden feeling the warmth of the sun.

Home in all its seasons

I remember the first time I watched the sun rise over the town in the distance – up early for a flight for work and needing to leave for the airport, but not wanting to look away for a moment.

Now, I’m so used to the view, watching the sheep graze outside the window and the windmill up on the hill whir and catch the fading light while we’re settling the little one down every night.

This year has been a whirlwind and there have been lots of changes as we’ve made our house our own. The utility room has become a totally practical space for laundry, storage and most of all our little rat boys – it’s the perfect home for them being so cool and set apart from the rest of the house but still accessed all the time, and they enjoy the coming and going so much. Upstairs, it’s been lovely to transform the spare room (briefly host to an air bed and a grand total of two overnight guests) into a bedroom for our daughter, enjoying decorating and adding new little bits and pieces all the time. There’s been a flurry of activity in the garden too since the weather improved, much-appreciated family team efforts to a build a shed and a fence to make it safest for when the era of toddling begins – and adding brightly coloured flower boxes, which caught Jasper’s attention on an early morning coffee in the garden before the rest of the house woke!

Life moves on at such a pace it’s hard to keep up with the passing of time, and I can’t believe it’s a year – and a good bit more now – since we arrived here. It is so lovely sometimes to pause and look back at the journey and appreciate it all – and catching sight of the bright pink of our roses once again gave me a jolt and a moment to do just that.. β™₯️🏑

Have a lovely week all xx

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