Animals Domestic and Wild!
We have three dogs, all very friendly and soft. The youngest is Maggie the puggle, she is a very cute but ugly dog. A 3/4 cross of Pug and Beagle, now almost 7 years old. There’s Barney and also Holly, a tiny Yorkie, now 14 years old who has the personality of a lion and yaps at everything, including cars, bikes, cows, sheep and pheasants.
On our return from holiday in February a couple of years ago, we discovered that we had acquired a Great Dane puppy, Polly, now 2 and enormous!! Our daughter Beth decided that Holly and Barney were getting a bit old and may not have a lot of years left, so thought it was a good idea to buy a new puppy – whilst we were away!! Bringing the number of dogs now to 4!!
Polly is lovely, but big and clumsy. Her paws are huge and as expected, she has blossomed into a large dog. Poor, tiny Holly is in fear for her life, being trod or sat on by Polly. You can ask to meet any of our pets if you wish to do so.
Occasionally you might see 2 ginger cats, Tiger and Spike. Both of which came from the cat rescue at Blackpool in July 2016. A lot of the daytime is spent fast asleep on a couch inside our home. At the same time we also re homed 4 wild feral cats which were to live in our Stables, however we only see the black and white one occasionally. The food we put in there keeps disappearing so we presume they must be still around.
There is also Fluff the pony. He is 28 years old and very sociable and friendly, which is just what we wanted for Callie our daughter. We needed a safe and bombproof pony for Callie just to sit on and ride, nothing exciting! Fluff had previously been owned by a nearby family and was well ridden and played with by their 3 young daughters. They were sorry to see him go but they had progressed onto pony club activities which required a livelier and younger pony.
A companion for Fluff is Timmy the pet lamb who came to us at Easter time 2014 as one of the baby lambs that we got for bottle feeding. They are great friends and always to be found together. When the weather is good, we will sometimes saddle up Fluff so that some of our younger guests can have a ride or just get to meet him.
Then we have the pet free ranging chickens which are supposed to reside and lay their eggs in one of the stables.
For those of you who only buy free range eggs, you may or may not know, but chickens do not lay eggs once the weather has cooled. There are lots of months of the year that we get no eggs at all and have to buy feed for them. The only way to ensure year round production is to have them in a cabin with heating and light, which then, does not make them genuinely free range.
The chickens are very astute, working out which of the cottages are occupied and will go visiting in the hope of acquiring treats, toast, cake, bread etc from the guests. When the chickens are in egg production, a supply of eggs will be given to our guests and the children are invited to collect fresh ones direct from the stable.
You will see lots of pheasants during your stay. Typically, the males are the fancy, multi-coloured ones with the large tail feathers. The females are rather dull in comparison. From the end of July they are released from the breeding pens in the surrounding woods. There are quite a few local shoots in this area and the pheasants are reared in their thousands by the gamekeepers that are employed full time by the syndicate members. When they are released, many live to survive another year, although quite a few do get knocked down and killed on the lanes. Particularly in the autumn when the acorns have blown down from the oak trees onto the road, they just stand there eating the nuts and seem almost suicidal. Occasionally you will see a pure white pheasant. These are not meant to be shot and the penalty for doing so can be £50 minimum or pay for the drinks for the whole of the shoot!
On the bird tables and nut holders in the gardens are many varieties of birds including the Greater Spotted Woodpecker, which can also be heard drumming away. They live in the big oak tree at the end of the tennis court and in the dead tree in the other field. There are blue, long tailed, coal and great tits in abundance. Nuthatches, siskins, wrens, bullfinches, chaffinches, green and gold finches. The swallows, house martins and swifts all come back from their tropical holidays year after year and still manage to find somewhere to nest even if it is in the garage or up in the eaves of the roof.
We seem to have acquired a resident sparrow hawk. It has decided that the bird table in front of my house and the Piggeries is a self service buffet! It waits under the cover of the climbing roses and even rather cheekily on the rail under my front porch! Then it swoops onto whichever unsuspecting little bird is feeding at the table and that’s it, lunch sorted! But word has spread, the birds are definitely giving my feeding table a wide berth, something will have to be done!
At night there are bats swooping around and the occasional owl can be heard and seen sitting on the rooftops. There have always been buzzards in the area, some years they seem to be about a bit more and you can hear them mewing as they are gliding over.
In the field we have hares. Some year’s the field looks especially lovely covered in buttercups that we don’t have the grass cut. As a result the wildlife in there seems to really prosper. It is normal when driving up through the field in the evening, to have rabbits running for cover.
Best of all, the deer have got braver. Previously they would walk along the side of the field so they could jump into the woods quickly. Now they walk in the gardens of the cottages or across the field, making it easy to see them. One time, there was 3 of them in the tennis court! Morning or dusk is the usual time to see them. Depending on the time of year, they can be a lovely red colour or a dull brown, but it is normally the white bottoms that you see moving first!