There has been so much happening in the life of the ABC Animal Sanctuary- and me- since we became official at the beginning of this year that I have somewhat lapsed with writing on WordPress. I am still writing but with the speed at which the sanctuary has taken off most of my writing has been restricted to the abc animal sanctuary web site. There are just not enough hours in the day to do everything. We have volunteers doing all of the admin, about 50 volunteers looking after the animals, fund- raisers and trustees all working flat out to try and achieve a secure future for all the rescued animals- we are full to capacity- that we have at the sanctuary. A new cattery will be built shortly and we have plans- finances permitting -for a new stable block as well. So my apologies for not writing more here on a regular basis. If things quieten down a bit I will. Also I was quite ill but have made a full recovery so it is all systems go once again! All the best Alexandra Bastedo.
If anyone has spare pasture please give a thought to all the ponies that are losing their homes in the present economic climate as people cannot pay the livery charges any more. There are still other expenses like hay in the winter and vets bills occasionally but all the sanctuaries are full to capacity including us and it really is depressing not to be able to do more as there is such a need.
The other animal that we seem to be inundated with is Persian cats. They make wonderful pets but their coats are frequently neglected and they come to us in a parlous state frequently needing their whole coat to be shaved off as they are so badly matted. At the sanctuary www.abcanimalsanctuary.co.uk we brush them for a mere 5 minutes a day which is all that is needed to keep their coats in perfect condition so please contact us if you feel you are able to offer a suitable home. They love going outside but also make good indoor cats as they have very calm personalities.
Further lengthy blogs can be accessed through the abc friends section of the website.
With the arrival of Misty the laminitic grey pony a new element- a different dynamic has been introduced into the paddock.
We were warned that she could be a little head-shy and difficult to catch and indeed she was but with the introduction of a little equine psychology things are much better. The answer is to approach her but not very near letting her know if possible you have a tasty pony nut in your hand. However as she backs away instead of you going after her you slowly go in the opposite direction. This then should make the pony- certainly Misty- come after you. She and I are now the best of friends.
As far as the group is concerned she cannot be lead through them on a leading rein as she is protective of you against the other strange ponies. Equally Nutmeg the semi-blind horse who is top of the pecking order will protect her herd against the stranger. So what we have to do after sniffs across the fence for a few days is to put Nutmeg and Misty together on a one to one basis so neither is protecting anything else and they only have the other for company. Once they have accepted each other one by one we will introduce the others.
Copyright Alexandra Bastedo
As you may be aware with the credit crunch a lot of animals are losing their homes, There are 2 twenty year old Shetlands in urgent need of a home and also 3 brown and black goats and also a pair ofNorfolk Black turkeys . If you can help pleasae contact us through our website www.abcanimalsanctuary.com where you will also find more animal blogs and the book serialisation of “Beware Dobermanns, Donkeys and Ducks” by Alexandra Bastedo
from Alexandra Bastedo.
A girlfriend of mine has just rescued a Kune Kune pig thinking it was small. It does in fact weigh 17 stone and is difficult to keep fenced in. She wanted me to warn people of the potential size they can grow to. However it must be genetic as another friend with a rescue centre had taken in 2 small ones who were no trouble at all. Our 2 new rescued Vietnamese Pot-Bellied pigs are still very small but are learning fast. At first it was easy to forget them but not any more. At feed time they now make quite a row so it is impossible to overlook them!
The sanctuary blog and Pip’s Diary are now available through abc friends on our website www.abcsanctuary.co.uk
This winter has been very hard work as far as the animals are concerned and time has been very precious. There have also been a lot of changes in the framework of the abc sanctuary and our website. Alexandra Bastedo- the founder- will continue to write on WordPress about animal health and will also give updates on animals that are in desperate need of a home. We are happy to deliver them ourselves but there are home checks, We like the homes to be permanent but in the event of a problem which happened recently with 2 lovely Persians we had rehomed we ask that they be returned to us if the owners can no longer keep them.
At the moment there are homes urgently needed for 2 twenty year old mini Shetlands both very nice natured, 3 goats, two pigs and a number of cats. If you are interested please contact us through the website www.abcanimalsanctuary.co.uk There are also more blogs and animal diaries including Pip’s Diaryand the serialisation of “Beware Dobermanns, Donkeys and Ducks” Alexandra’s best-selling book in the ABC Friends section of the website.
By Alexandra Bastedo
Where did December go? It disappeared in coughs and colds, doing cards, putting up decorations for the volunteers’ party and preparing accounts for the tax man not to mention looking after the 150 animals at the sanctuary. Christmas doesn’t stop for animals – their life goes on as it always does with exactly the same requirements so life is even more hectic than usual. They may have noticed a difference though as some kind readers donated money for extra carrots and treats but apart from that we had a full complement of helpers on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day so life for them was just the same.
Our many thanks to all the 24 volunteers who keep the animals in such good condition and the sanctuary ticking over so smoothly. We also managed to avoid vet bills over the Xmas period which was a real bonus though with Pip the dobermann puppy’s intake of chocolate ornaments wrapped in gold and silver paper from the Xmas tree we were very lucky to avoid them. (See Pip’s Diary) Our most grateful thanks also to Gatleys animal feed suppliers- both the main store and the shop- for making us the recipient of their fundraising. Needless to say the money received will go right back to them for animal food !
Around the middle of December I was interested to read that the stoats had white coats for the first time in several years. We had also had sightings of those shy birds the Redwings and the Fieldfares which we have only ever seen in extremely cold weather so I suspected that the animals knew something that we did not. All the other winters recently had been wet and warm so I welcomed the prospect of a few frosts to kill of the inordinate amount of bugs- in particular the midges and the mosquitos- that have been plaguing the animals over the last few summers. However, the reality has proved to be quite a shock with 2 weeks of continuous freezing conditions with minus 6 ,8- even 10 possibly- which we have not seen for thirty years. With conditions like that in Canada my friends with animals keep them in heated barns but here—–!.
Fortunately there was a little warning from the Met Office and we were lucky enough to have our trusty volunteer Peter Kirkwood on hand otherwise things would have become somewhat desperate. We took the precaution of moving water butts into the barn and sheds in case the outside pipes froze – which of course they did. Peter removed and emptied the hoses so they wouldn’t freeze but in the event they were useless as there was no running water from any of the outdoor taps anyway. Fortunately we already had 2 small plastic tanks with taps that he was able to move around on a porter’s trolley getting water from the main house and then distributing it round to all the thirstychickens, guinea fowls, turkeys, geese and ducks not to mention refilling the water troughs for all the donkeys and ponies. Normally the cats get fresh water every day but with the tap frozen and water scarce it all had to be saved . However at least the little heaters in the catteries kept them warm and they rarely ventured outside! We also had to boil endless kettles to melt the ice and have now decided to invest in a large tea urn. That way we will have far more hot water available in a crisis and we can use it for our open days as well.
We discussed the merits of removing all the ice but in the end I remembered what I had done successfully several years before. By making a round hole in the ice sufficient for the animals to drink out of and creating an air vacuum between the surface ice and the water the remaining ice acts as a kind of lid with a window and the water underneath hardly freezes at all. Then when the animals drained it we had buckets on wheels that were filled at the inside waterbutts to replenish them However tomorrow they are forecasting 6 degrees and I hope it will be sufficient to melt the ice as the work has been doubly hard and we English are just not prepared for a continual big freeze.
We did our best for the wild animals as well making sure that they too had access to fresh water. It was funny to watch the wild ducks fly in and skid to a halt on the ice on the pond. Although perhaps the most amusing occurrence was when the fox tried to go after them and couldn’t understand why his legs went from under him and splayed out in different directions. In the event the animals have survived well. The shaggy Shetlands also knew something and have grown exceptionally long coats this winter. Peter managed to dismantle our mechanical manure picker and moved it out of the tractor shed so the ponies have had more areas to shelter from the weather. Little Gretel, the fragile donkey has a variety of warm rugs to choose from and boots on her feet every morning and Phil another of our volunteers has partitioned a stable for her with an infra red lamp overhead for her old bones. She is doing well in spite of the inclement weather. Charlie our most cantankerous Shetland had a bad foot with an abscess but in spite of a daily fight we have managed to poultice and cure it ourselves. (The call out from the vet for Hutch, the donkey, with a similar problem was £110). So that was a job well done! Icy hay can cause colic or laminitis so all the equines have enjoyed a constant supply of hay all day.
Inside the house I remembered a tip a plumber once gave me and that was to open the loft hatches one inch to allow the roof cavity to be warmed. We think of heating our homes but in extreme cold if you don’t warm the loft iced up water tanks and frozen pipes can be the order of the day
The tiny Shetlands- Jack and Jill- were brought into the barn with the donkeys for warmth and all of them got on very well so we will probably keep them there for the rest of the winter. Nutmeg, the one-eyed Welsh pony- has been rugged up each night as has Shabba the large black pony who is now 19. Extraordinarily Marty, the stocky Gipsy Cob who had always had a tantrum at the mere sight of a coat anywhere near, actually stood and asked for one the other evening so he too has been protected from the cold. We were told never to put rugs on Shetlands as they are supposed to be hardy creatures and all the animals have weatherproof shelters but if February proves any worse than January I think that may have to change and they too will get mini coats.
So far so good. All the animals are well and the new year 2009 for them at least has started well.I am only sorry this new year’s blog isn’t as jokey as usual but frankly December and January so far have been very hard work!
All of us at the sanctuary wish you a happy new year and for the first time we will be holding an open day- we will keep you informed about the date- so come and see us!
All the very best,
Alexandra Bastedo and the Animals!.
Alexandra is the founder of the ABC Animal Sanctuary at www.abcanimalsanctuary.co.uk We rely upon your help to keep going with feed bills and vet bills so any donation- we do pocket money adoptions for children- is most gratefully received.
There are two mini Shetlands urgently needing a a home in the next week. They are both stallions but both very biddable I am told. They are based in Hook, Hants. We cannot take them as we have mares and do not wish to increase their numbers apart from being very full. Apparently the bigger charities that have been contacted have turned them down. Please help if you can they don’t need much pasture at all and are usually very hardy,
You can contact us on www.abcanimalsanctuary.co.uk
by Alexandra Bastedo
After the morning let out session with the animals described in my last blog which is 8 to 10 am the volunteers start to arrive and it is thanks to them that I usually have five hours away from the animals in which to order feed, organise deliveries and deal with general emergencies until the light starts to fade and the animals are put to bed between 3 and 5 pm.
A typical day was yesterday when the Field Guard mats I had ordered were delivered to the barn and Peter Kirkwood and I decided which were the muddiest places most in need of them. There were 10 but we could probably have done with at least twice that amount. Meanwhile although Helen and myself had both worked on Hutch- the donkey’s- hoof as he was limping neither of us had been able to find anything wrong .We therefore had to call out a vet from Cinders Hill . Even he found it quite difficult to find the problem but eventually discovered a pinprick of a hole and after opening it up it was rewarding to see all the poison flow out. We then poulticed it with Animal Lintex dipped in hot water, bandaged it and finally put on a canvas boot to protect it from the elements. The poulticing, bandaging etc will now have to be done every day until the hoof is better. However the main thing is that Hutch is now walking properly once again. The vet also told me to pack the hole with a Mag Sulph (Magnesium Sulphate) paste which is an old fashioned remedy I have used to great effect on a number of animals in the past for drawing out poison. I also dry poulticed little Gretel’s two front feet and put more boots on . She has always walked badly in the winter so it may just be arthritis exacerbated by the lack of sunshine and damp, cold weather. However last year she spent most of the winter in boots and it did seem to help. My young Saturday volunteers who are all doing animal courses were all able to have a lesson in hoof poulticing. I was also able to explain how very different donkeys’ feet are. I always liken their upturned foot to a cup whereas horses’ hoofs are much shallower and more like a saucer. This means that with a pony mud falls out easily whereas with a donkey’s hoof it can become compacted with muck and they need to be dug out regularly. A donkey foot also has a rim round the edge where tiny stones can get trapped so you have to be on the watch for those too. Who said looking after donkeys was easy!
Meanwhile there was a call from Sharon at Worthing Cat Rescue who had picked up two of the Persians I had rehomed some time ago. I was fairly incredulous as they had gone to a lovely Worthing sea front flat to an estate agent and his partner. They had split up and neither wanted their cats- so much for people who swore they were cat lovers. Poor Muffin the old tabby had meanwhile died of kidney failure aged 17 so I was enjoying my uninhabited bathroom- however not for long! Sharon brought back the two Persians- Simone and Amelie- and with nowhere else to put them they are now back in my bathroom where they started out two years ago. We are totally full to bursting with only one outside pen free which is far too cold at present particularly for two effete Persians that have never been out of doors. They were thoroughly matted and their coats had lost the lovely sheen and softness that they had when they were with us. But now that they are on very pure food and their coats are being worked on hopefully soon they will be back to their former glory and be able to be re-homed to a PERMANENT home. I reckon they need 5 minutes a day grooming and if they are fed properly the coats don’t seem to knot at all.
Lastly I just manage to squeeze in a walk with the two dobermanns just across the road around the farmer’s fields. An incredibly necessary event in order to relieve Pip, the dobermann puppy , of some of his energy so we can enjoy a quiet evening and avoid the general destruction of the house.
Anyway that was my 5 hours off so on to the evening session! I start at the top stables and get Hansel and Gretel, the donkeys, into the newly divided stable which my volunteer Helen’s husband has recently constructed for them as they need a thicker bed of straw than the more hardy young Shetland ponies. Gretel’s raincoat is removed and exchanged for a soft padded coat while Hansel’s is simply removed for the night. The Shetlands- Charlie, Mickey and Gussie- do have coats but have such a good shelter and are so hardy that we only put them on in very inclement weather. The donkeys loathe getting wet and would simply never go out if it was raining without a raincoat on! They all get fresh hay in hay nets except Charlie who specialises in putting his foot through them and getting stuck. His hay goes on the ground. They then all get a bowl of a little Happyhoof with Cod liver oil, garlic and a multi-vitamin while Gretel gets Laminaze and Formula Feet added to hers as well.
On to the top cats who make you feel like the Pied Piper as they all come running over and some even stand outside the stables telling you to hurry up! The top cattery consists of 4 sections. On the right the 3 black cats Phoenix, Jessie and Suki are waiting and eagerly devour their bowl of Denes’ cat food ( without sugar, additives or colourants) mixed with a few biscuits by Burns, the vet. One tin is so packed that it serves 4 cats with mouse like portions. The remaining portion is fed to the sweet Siamese type tabby in the next enclosure who has recently come in called Tilda. Her rescue was something of an emergency as the owner was threatening to kill her. She is such a sweetheart it is almost inconceivable that she was so badly treated but she is so loving the calm and comfort of her small cattery that I can quite believe it. Next to her are also recent arrivals: a pale ginger boy and a terribly shy tortoiseshell girl who is beginning to come out of her shell- similarly enjoying the knowledge that there is nothing going to harm them. In the last pen are Otto, the one remaining fit 17 year old- his geriatric pals have all moved into the house of their own volition- and one long-haired tortoiseshell girl with beautiful blue eyes and 2 lively black and white long-legged siblings who are a joy to watch as they are so athletic. They all have the same healthy menu with a touch of Udo’s Oil added for their coats and general health and sometimes as a treat they get a packet of the equally healthy new Bozita cat food. This time of year when cold they all have little electric blankets which are a lot cheaper to run than radiators.
Down to the bottom to the barn and the other stables with the light beginning to fade. Starsky, Hutch, Chocolat and Phoebe the 4 donkeys come into the barn with Raffles and Jill the 2 Shetlands to a meal of hay and Happyhoof with the same vitamins as the others. Their raincoats are removed for the night. Outside Nutmeg,the Welsh one-eyed pony and Eddie and Jack the 2 other mini Shetlands are whinnieing away awaiting the delivery of their hay and bowls. The 2 little ones are locked in the stable while Nutmeg with her coat on is free to roam.
On to the left hand field where there is the same procedure with the 5 mini Shetlands- Hamish, Hogan, Beverly, Mistletoe and Rupert- are put in the 2 stables for the night while Rhett and Sky the 2 Welsh ponies are rugged up and left to put themselves in the shelter. They are both still tortured by itchy bottoms from Sweet Itch which despite daily treatment still hangs on so I fear we will have another vet’s bill shortly. They all also get their evening meals of Happyhoof, vitamins and hay. Meanwhile Marty and Shabba, the two horses, with the four sheep are observing the proceedings and pacing up and down in the far field. However it is important to get their hay bags and food- this time Alpha A mixed in with the general feed- in place before they are let in so you don’t get mown down in the excitement. When the gate is open they then come thundering by to their food bowls and hay in the stable while the sheep are discreetly fed out of sight round the corner so their food isn’t pinched by the horses.
By now the light has gone but with electric lights on in the bottom cattery the rest of the felines all come running in. Their cat flaps are set to in only so they are locked away from the fox at night. In the first pen are Sebastian- who did have a fight with the fox that I interrupted- Archie, Roley, and Candy, they are all relatively young-2 to 6- and keep the mouse and rat population in check. Next to them are Simba, Duchess and Duke three of the extremely fit oldies (on Walthams Sensitive Diet which I use on all the elderly cats) and at the other end there are Tigger, Oliver and Charlotte who are the all -night hunters in the barn. In an adjacent outdoor pen with an electric blanket is Toffee who is a twenty two year old Cornish Rex/Siamese feral who has always loathed human beings and prefers her own company. They too have their electric blankets and sometimes a heater when we attempt to dry out the equine raincoats. A dryer is on our wish list!
On to the poultry and by now the sensor lights are on which on the whole keep the mink away that can penetrate their enclosure of tennis court wire. The chickens put themselves to bed and in cold weather are easily shut in for warmth but with the enclosure 10 feet high and 18 inches into the ground AND an electric fence there is little chance of foxes or badgers getting in. The ducks and geese are all queing up for their last pail of grain before settling down for the night. Unfortunately the 200 wild ducks are now back asking for food too. On bonfire night the fireworks succesfully drove them all away as they thought an army of wildfowlers had arrived and they didn’t return for five days. In the interests of economy a weekly firework display would not go amiss. Fortunately though the display was away from the donkeys and ponies and the cats were all locked up so the night passed off uneventfully.
On to the house to have a late cup of tea with my husband and to feed the geriatric cats. Caspar the 18 year old deaf ginger boy is fed Sensitive Diet on top of the table in the utility room away from the dobermanns- in particular Pip the puppy who is quite capable of getting ON the table! Upstairs elderly Whispa, Fluff and Alfie are fed and locked up for the night in the study which also serves as the sanctuary office. The newly returned white and ginger Persians are fed Sensitive Diet to help get them back in shape in the bathroom and Teddy and Matty, the Selkirk Rexes and Olly, our white Persian with an incredibly luxurious coat are fed on hypo-allergenic food from the vets because of their allergies and let out of my bedroom for the night. They are free to go outside and I always know it is raining when a wet bundle lands on my bed in the middle of the night! One more cat – the elderly Bagpuss- who has been adopted by my husband. He too is fed Sensitive Diet before retiring to bed.Finally the two dobermanns are fed their dinner of Denes dog food in tins with biscuit At this point it is a tremendous relief when Pip the puppy goes outside for the last time and puts himself to bed! Finally there is the cleaning of the dog cage in the utility room which serves as the poultry hospital and contains 2 elderly chickens that cannot cope with the great muddy outdoors. Their food container is topped up and the water changed.
It is now 11.45 pm and I think it takes as long to write about what I do as to actually do it so I too am off to bed. Although usually I spend at least an hour or two on the website and there is still a lot of work to be done on that as apart from being all about the animals I want it to be informative so it is still work in progress. We will shortly have a section called “Running Costs”- a bale of hay forinstance costs £2.50- we are trying very hard to finance all these animals so if you can buy a bale of hay or a sack of corn or Happyhoof we will be most grateful and will happily e mail you the animal photo of your choice.
Goodnight- until next month-
All the best,
Copyright Alexandra Bastedo. http://www.abcanimalsanctuary.co.uk
By Alexandra Bastedo
The clocks going back an hour at this time of year is a real bore. You try telling an animal that it is going to be let out an hour later and that its feeds are going to be withheld for another 60 minutes. The cacophony of hee-haws,snorts, whinnies, miaows, quacks,hissing and cock-a-doodle-dos are quite something in the morning. As for the afternoons they are considerably foreshortened as I used to start putting the animals to bed at 4 and that is now 3 in the afternoon.
My day starts at 6.30- at the moment the old 7.30- as Teddy the young Selkirk Rex cat lands on my bed and purrs away. A lovely wake-up call but the ulterior motive is breakfast! Slowly I come to and throw on a track suit and a money belt in which I keep my mobile, a hoof pick, scissors and a few pony nuts.I immediately lock all the cats out of sight while I let out Pip the naughty dobermann puppy into the garden. If I don’t he chases them and forgets about the matter in hand, but once he has relieved himself he is put back in the utility room next to the kitchen with his morning meal of Burns puppy food. Upstairs I feed the 2 Selkirk Rexes and Ollie, the white Persian on hypo-allergenic cat food from the vet. All three were in the worst condition of any of the cats I have taken in, have taken ages to get right and get ill at the whiff of any chemical or the slightest change in their diet. They are locked in my bedroom for the day away from the unwelcome, boisterous playing of Pip the gangly puppy. I have been reading up all the books on puppy behaviour but nobody seems to give instructions on how to stop a wilful puppy chasing cats! On to the 17 year old cat called Muffin who is residing in my bathroom. Her owner died aged 96 and the daughter announced she was going to put her down. A neighbour rescued her and brought her to us. How cruel people can be she is very sweet but she is on medication with a serious thyroid problem so I don’t think she will last that long .In my study I feed and let out another two elderly gentlemen cats aged 18 – namely Fluff and Alfie who with the benefit of experience manage to work their day around Pip spending most of the time on high surfaces!
After feeding the upstairs animals I go back downstairs and take a cup of tea in to my husband who has unfortunately not been well recently and feed his cat, a lovely Maine Coone called Bagpuss. All the older cats are on Walthams Sensitive Diet which seems to extend the viability of their elderly kidneys. By now Nellie the seven year old dobermann stirs herself, gets off her bed and joins me in the kitchen where Caspar the 18 year old deaf ginger cat is yowling for food. He also gets the Sensitive Diet and is fed up high for obvious reasons but needs help in getting back down again. Nellie has her breakfast too also a Burns product. My “hospital cage” contains a fragile Poland hen and 2 rescued battery hens who I put outside the backdoor in an ark for the day but bring in to the house at night away from the frosts.
Meanwhile the sound of donkeys braying is growing in frequency and volume so I don my normal footwear – wellingtons – and put on a warm jacket. Off to the left at the large top stable I am met by Charlie, Raffles, Gussie and Mickey the Shetlands and Hansel and Gretel the donkeys. I push past to the shed and come out with half a bale of hay which on dry days I distribute around the field so they don’t fight and kick each other- if it’s raining I hang up haynets under cover in strategic places so the volunteers can clean up around them. Gretel, the delicate little moke, lags behind as she knows she will get her special feed full of vitamins if she stays behind out of sight of the others. However her extra feed full of Cortiflex, Shaker’s Guard,and Soya oil in a little Happyhoof is really paying off as her condition is much improved, though I still change her quilted night time coat for a lighter raincoat in the daytime.
On to the top cattery cats where Otto is waiting for me. After several altercations with Phoenix which resulted in Phoenix losing his tail Otto is now let out all night while Phoenix and the others have the day shift. Phoenix, Jessie, Suki, Otto, Millie, Fred and Adele – the 2 recent young siblings- are all fed on Denes kitten food or adult chicken and turkey along with a handful of Denes biscuit. Elderly Whispa is another highly allergic cat who is on the Walthams Sensitive Diet. All the cat litters are cleaned and all – except Otto – are let out to climb trees and generally race about.
Past the large bird enclosure ten foot high to keep out the foxes and badgers I then let out the cats in the barn cattery. Oliver and Charlotte have been out all night mousing and ratting but Tigger, Sebastian, Mandy, Archie, Simba, Roly, Duke and Duchess and the feral cat (aged 22) have been locked in overnight out of reach of the fox who was found with Sebastian in his mouth one night. Fortunately Mr. Fox was disturbed by me doing the 10 o’clock check and Sebastian was saved. All have the same menu of Denes as their staple diet with an occasional packet of Bozita as a treat. 18 year old Duchess is another Sensitive Diet client as it keeps her free of her occasional problem- cystitis- along with the homeopathic remedy Cantharis 30 if there is any sign of it. All of their litter trays are cleaned out.
By now usually I am getting calls about animals needing homes or people wanting animals and talk to them on the move usually with a background of strange animal noises. If I am having a bad day I may also be receiving texts from one of the volunteers that day saying that something has cropped up and they won’t be coming. Normally there are 3 to 5 volunteers a day to cope with all the cleaning, feeding, and grooming but if we are down to just two it is really hard work and my day becomes extremely busy. Usually we have advance warning in which case often helpers from other days can come to the rescue.
On to the four donkeys, Nutmeg and the three tiny Shetlands. Now the season of fly fringes and fly sprays is virtually over it means a close eye has to be kept on the weather and their raincoats are put on or taken off according to the variations in temperature. I go to the next field where the two horses spend the night in their excellent stable and lure them down to the bottom field where the grass is longer with the promise of a handful of pony nuts. I also change Shabba the older horse’s coat, while Marty the young healthy gypsy cob does much better without one. I then go on to Rhett and Sky’s field which they share with Rupert, Beverly, Mistletoe, Hogan and Hamish the mini-Shetlands. All the Shetlands and donkeys are kept on very limited pasture to prevent laminitis so they get a small supplement of Haylage to keep them happy.
This year has proved very problematical because of the inordinate amount of rain. My friend Moira offered me the hay off her 11 acre field but in the event my neighbour Jim had a lot of trouble making it as it was still damp with no way of drying it so it had to be made as haylage. The trouble is that you have to give much less as it is richer than hay so we are having to accustom the equines to it slowly so they don’t go down with colic. Likewise Nutmeg , the three miniscule Shetlands and the donkeys also get a few tufts of haylage to keep them quiet and contented.
Finally it is off to the large poultry enclosure where my heart sinks at the huge numbers of wild ducks that have flown in. It is far too large to put a roof on so I cannot control their visits. In order to feed our rescued domestic ducks and geese I have to feed the wild ones too or ours get nothing. The hens and turkeys are fed in their coops so they are not the problem but with at least 4 pails of grain a day the feed bills are crippling. They also know it is a safe haven from the foxes and word has spread so there must be at times over 200 ducks there.
By now 2 hours have passed and our wonderful volunteers have started to arrive to do all the cleaning and grooming and to prepare all the haynets and feed bowls for the night. I get to go up to the house for my first cup of green tea and some millet rice cereal. The next urgent task is walking Nellie and Pip the dobermann puppy in order to minimise the destruction of the house caused by his huge excess of energy. Fortunately there are some fields nearby where he runs in huge circles and chases rabbits and geese. The trouble is no amount of walking can actually tire him and he recently destroyed the back seat of my ancient Honda Civic and the headrest of my husband’s old CRV. Now when out of eyeshot I am afraid he has to wear a muzzle. But acually it is dual purpose as with his propensity to eat everything remotely eatable or indeed inedible it stops him from getting sick. I have to say he is quite a handful at 10 months and I only hope that adulthood will calm him down!
Looking after all these rescued animals is most rewarding and they seem to have a real sense of gratitude. They come as poor maltreated, wormy, unhealthy animals often frightened of humans and after a couple of months their coats start to shine and people remark at how contented they are at the sanctuary. What is lovely too is that there is a wonderful interplay and rapport with our animal -loving volunteers who really enjoy their time with them. A recent development is that my two neighbours Cathy and Helen are now actually giving me the odd morning to have a lie in so life is much improved and they take over completely if I have to be away so with their participation things are getting easier.
I then do another two hours before dusk putting all the animals to bed but I guess that schedule will have to be in my next blog as just writing about it is exhausting!
Copyright A. L. Bastedo
If you want to meet the animals please go to www.abcanimalsanctuary.co.uk where you will find their biographies and some photos though we are updating those at present. Any donation is much appreciated and is necessary if we are to keep the sanctuary going. The haylage was just the price of the baling, the local carpenters give us free shavings for bedding, Gatleys and Denes give us a large discount but our feed bills and vets bills are still crippling so we are most appreciative of any help whether financial or as volunteers if you live near Pulborough. I will also be writing a new blog on different animal topics on the actual website shortly.
I apologise for the lateness of this blog. I always say life is never a straight line and for reasons beyond my control mine has been a little bumpy recently.