Last month I started telling you about the ever growing animal population, but that was only the beginning. Christmas of 2004 found us taking on perhaps our most difficult new addition – a new born baby goat! Holly, as we named her, was rescued from a local farm as she had failed to suckle and the farmer had left her to die. I was asked if I would have her and like a fool said yes.
She was a tiny little scrap, and could barely drink. I had to force her to take 1oz at a time from a baby’s bottle. She just about stayed alive though, surviving pneumonia over Christmas and to my relief gradually becoming stronger and drinking more. She thought she was my baby and had to be cuddled to sleep on my lap and followed me around calling muuuum, muuum. She slept in front of the fire with Suzy and Buffy – all curled up together, and tried to suckle from Suzy, who very bravely tolerated it! Eventually she turned the corner and got stronger every day, soon guzzling down a whole bottle of milk in minutes.
Just when we thought her problems were over she managed to get trampled by one of the horses, having followed me down to the field. Luckily she survived with just a bad limp, so off I went to the vet to find out if anything was broken. The vet could not believe that she was doing an x-ray on a goat! There were no bones broken but she came home with a full leg bandage. I certainly got some funny looks, carrying a goat with a bandaged leg through the streets of Antequerra.
Of course, once her leg was better and she became more lively it was obvious that her life living in the kitchen would have to stop – but how? She was becoming a menace and could jump up onto the table if anyone left a chair out. The problem was that she thought she was half human, half dog and did not take lightly to being put in a stable. The fact that goats never live alone was another problem – only one solution – we had to get another goat! We soon acquired Fudge and now they are the best of friends and living outside at last!
We seem to be destined to rescue birds too. Our most interesting was a Little owl that was on the road outside the house. It most likely had been knocked slightly by a car as it was not hurt but was in shock. We kept it in a cat box over night and fed it worms which it loved, then luckily it was able to fly away the next day.
Less interesting are the pigeons that we seem destined to rescue – we have now had two, one with a broken wing and one a broken leg.
They live in the tack room, pooing everywhere, until they have mended and can fly away. Buffy hangs around outside the tack room door ever hopeful that I will let her in!
On a bigger scale, we started collecting and rescuing horses. Unfortunately rescuing still meant paying for them, but when you have seen a horse in a sad situation it is hard to walk away.
With Polly, Carretta and Blackie already, we did hope that one day we would have a couple more so that the whole family could ride together. Sadly, Carretta died a year after we bought her from a tumor on her kidney. She had got very thin and had lost her appetite. We had her put to sleep, all of us having a last cuddle, and our last memories are of her standing amidst a blanket of poppies. We replaced her with Lucy (Andalusia) who was pregnant when we bought her, though we had no idea when the foal was due.
Typically, she had her foal in the early hours of the morning and when we went in to feed her, there he was, already standing up and suckling – what an amazing sight. His birthday was such a happy day, with our neighbours and family coming to visit the new born. Lucy was an amazing mum and seemed quite happy to show him off. She remains an incredible mum – the cheeky Leo, at nearly four still suckles from her occasionally – we wanted her to wean him naturally but she seems to have other ideas!
Our first rescue horse was Morena, a little bay horse who had been left in a field without enough food. She is a funny little character and to this day is possessive over her food, making a noise like a dinosaur if another horse goes to close! She is a great favourite with children.
Next we bought Bracken, a Shetland pony. She is ideal for small children to ride and is a cheeky little thing. She is an amazing escape artist and often gets out of the field. One day she disappeared. We suddenly heard a neigh and found her in the pool pump house – she had gone in and somehow closed the door behind her! We have had to put a padlock on the feed room and keep it locked – if you just loop the padlock through she can get it out and open the bolt! One morning I went down to find the horses having a party in the feed room – Bracken had opened the door! What a mess – there was poo everywhere and most of the food had either been eaten or spilt on the floor. We make sure we keep the door padlocked at all times now!
What with the pigeons and the horses our poor tack room is destined to be a mess. Another problem we have to deal with is mice. If left to their own devices they can be very destructive. Sadly we have to resort to putting poison down which I hate as I actually find mice very appealing. Ironically I will go to great lengths to save them if I find them drowning in water buckets.
Once I rescued one poor mouse that had almost drowned and put him up on top of some straw bales to dry in the sun. In the blink of an eye Buffy was there and before I could stop her had knocked the mouse to the ground, where one of the hens promptly speared it with its beak! (if you knew what went into your free range eggs they might not seem so good!)
That poor mouse just wasn’t meant to live!