Puppy playing with loo roll

Advertisements

I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love………..

Twiggy the chestnut mare

Twiggy the chestnut mare

Twiggy on right

Twiggy on right

With a beautiful chestnut mare called Twiggy……

What we’ve learnt looking after Twiggy the horse:

She likes being stroked and having her mane and tail de-tangled (you can get special brushes for this), Stella let us use her horse brushes, and a special de-tangling spray, but it’s better to spray it on the brush rather than the mane as it can scare the horse if they’re not used to it..

She likes the sound of your voice and to sing to her is very calming, she half closes her eyes and almost falls asleep her favourite song..  “I like you eyes, like your nose, like your fingers, like your toes…”

She prefers hay to frozen grass on the field in winter

She loves her oats, carrots and apples

She is very calm, even when you’re de-ticking her, it’s best to put her bridle on so she knows she needs to stand still

We’re going to miss you guys…..

House sitting at Christmas

Don't work with children and animals....

Don’t work with children and animals….

Here are some of the animals we’re looking after on a farm near Bordeaux. When you’re looking after other people’s animals it’s a big responsibility. These are Nikki’s ‘inside animals’ – there are plenty more outdoors (more on them later). We thought we’d get them into the Christmas spirit (and keep in touch with Nikki at the same time) and they were quite happy to have a play! There is one missing –  the very ancient black cat who is too old and fragile to move around. We just keep changing his bed everyday and he likes a good brush behind the ears.

When  you’re housesitting you can do other things nearby. We went to an antique market (‘brocante’ in French) in a town called Monsegur, a lovely bastide town. I bought a picture with a hole in it (see mantlepiece) and a clock that doesn’t work – I was happy. Hope you don’t mind Nikki I’ve rearranged your mantlepiece – just to try them out. I’ll put everything back – promise!

A good website to find out more about housesitting and petsitting is http://www.trustedhousesitters.com

Cleaning hooves on Bertie the donkey

Bertie waiting patiently for a hoof cleaning session

Bertie waiting patiently for a hoof cleaning session

Stella came to help with the equines again – she’s brilliant, de-ticking everyone and cleaning their hooves. She showed us how to put on the horse collars which to the uninitiated seem a complicated mix of belts and buckles.

Stella looking on

Stella looking on

Bertie is the easiest one to do because he’s so small. We felt really pleased after we’d done it. Satisfied that the animals were more comfortable and no nasty stones lurking in their hooves that could make them lame.

Getting up close and personal

Getting up close and personal

To clean a hoof you start by tracing your hand down the inside leg of the animal and then lifting up the hoof and supporting it with one hand underneath, using the other to scrape around the ‘frog’ shape bit of the hoof. Thank you Ellie and Tony for your demonstration of this action before we came here – forever imprinted on my brain. Although they didn’t demonstrate the bottom biting bit!

Bertie, Kay and Stella

Bertie, Kay, Stella and Twiggy

Bertie's hoof - showing the 'frog'  shaped bit, you don't touch this but scrape around it to get the mud and stones out

Bertie’s hoof – showing the ‘frog’ shaped bit, you don’t touch this but scrape around it to get the mud and stones out

Week 4 – Evening time with the animals

Walking in the oak woods with Gwaai and Sengwa

Walking in the oak woods with Gwaai and Sengwa – both these two like picking up hazelnuts from the tree outside the farm, cracking the kernel and eating the nuts

The woods here are really varied: oak, beech, hazel, sweet chestnut with an understory of christmas box, holly and gorse. We go for a walk here each morning and evening with the dogs. Although you can’t really go at the weekend as there are too many hunters about. It has to be seen to be believed. We’ve got Nikki’s acres of rough pasture to wander around then.

Twiggy having some hay in the evening

Twiggy having some hay in the evening

This is where the llamas sleep at night - they come in for hay

This is where the llamas sleep at night – they come in for hay which is their main diet

Jon doing a llama pose - head up and ears back....

Jon doing a llama pose – head up and ears back….