A farm reunion and my new goat companion!

Little Owl Farm

My second University year is quickly approaching an end, and what an incredible year it’s been! I’ve expanded on my knowledge, developed new interests and, wholeheartedly, become more confident as an Animal Behaviourist. I’m currently away from Bangor for the Easter break, as I focus heavily on my studies in preparation for my upcoming May exams: Behavioural Ecology and Conservation Practice.

Let your mind and heart rest for a while. You will catch up, the world will not stop spinning for you, but you will catch up. Take a rest.

While I’ve been increasingly motivated to engage in my studies productively, I also began recognising that I was in dire need of a break after running out of fuel following the dedication I possess with regards to meeting deadlines and completing my assignments to the best of my ability. I regularly engaged in 14 hour library study periods and soon began feeling overwhelmed. I’m *slowly* learning that breaks are OK, and necessary in order for us to thrive and concentrate fully.

Thankfully, I’ve seized the opportunity to reunite with my wonderful friends at Little Owl Farm (animal and human) who continuously welcome me back lovingly with a warm embrace. Whilst also balancing revision, blogging and allowing myself to appreciate valuable family time. It’s been a pleasure spending time in my happy place, and I’m excited for the upcoming Summer months.

Being the goat lady of the farm, I was extremely excited to meet new arrival, Gabriel, son of Poppy and little brother to Mary-Jane. I was ecstatic after hearing of his arrival and I desperately wanted to leave Uni early to meet him, but I persisted nonetheless and counted down the days until I had one extra goat companion. This made the usually lengthy journey to the farm increase accordingly as I sat eagerly waiting to arrive in Oldham. Gabriel received his fitting name as per the “cross-like” marking on his head. Izaak wanted to name him Elvis, which I believe to be his middle name.

Of course, he was jumping around excitedly as I arrived at the farm while I cooed over his cuteness and remained in awe over his long legs, in-between suckling and making himself comfortable with other inhabitants of the farm. He’s begun favouring the Donkeys as he jumps into their enclosure contentedly.

Lots of quality time allowed me to recognise his distinctive brown eyes and soft, fluffy fur. And similar to Poppy and Mary-Jane, he had stunning markings and a wonderful personality.

As an animal behaviourist, I love spending time observing the different behaviours exhibited by animals and concluding the reasons behind them. It became apparent to me that Poppy is an incredible mum, she groomed Gabriel within seconds of giving birth and he’s certainly developing into quite the character! She also observes him carefully, allows him to suckle without rejection and enables people to get close to him.

Gabriel is currently under a month old and he continues to thrive and grow at Little Owl Farm, surrounded with his family, staff and volunteers who adore him.

 

 

Summer volunteering at the farm!

Little Owl Farm

28/07/2018

Arriving into Oldham at roughly 10:30am, I was eager to get stuck in to what was bound to be another wonderful, smile broadening day. I habitually inform Cindy of my “best day EVER!” whenever I have spent the day volunteering at the farm due to the enjoyment I gain from being there, surrounded with my animal friends and the loveliest of people.

This week was “Story Book Week” at the farm, a week dedicated to stories ranging from The Gruffalo and Alice in Wonderland, with a series of fun activities planned for children of all ages!

I highly praise Cindy and John for the hard work and dedication continuously going into making the farm as great as it is today. Knowing them feels like the greatest honour and I cannot begin to express the gratitude I have for my friends.

I was met with John, then Cindy who’re always the biggest pleasure to see and I was then ecstatic to catch up with Lizzie, the BEST face-painter and a wonderful friend of mine. We hugged, chatted and then I went on to get my hands dirty. Not that I minded. I love farm life!

Starting off with cleaning the Duck enclosures. A simple, yet fulfilling, task of emptying the old substrate and replacing it for new – following an array of wheelbarrow trips. Also cleaning out the water bowls and providing fresh water, which was soon to be muddy again in precisely two seconds with the Ducks and their dirty beaks.

I then went on to preparing some treats for the animals. A very important factor in enriching an animals’ life, saving them from boredom, providing fulfilment and ensuring all daily essential dietary needs are met. All treats must be given in moderation, though. Bananas are clearly a favourite…

Upon my wonderful (much needed) catch-up with Lizzie, I got tattooed and covered in glitter, like the big kid I am. Chatting about University, animals and goats. I was filled with laughter and happiness. Feeling content and like a sparkly princess. I went on to fill up the hay nets, carried out a quick spot-clean of the pigs’ enclosures and then cleaned out the rabbit’s hutches as they frantically hopped around my feet.

You can check out Lizzie’s excellent work at:

https://www.facebook.com/lizziefacepaints/

Time to walk Jay! After refilling the animals’ water buckets. Firstly introducing him to the other residents at the farm, starting off with Mary-Jane and Poppy (Of course!) And then going into the picnic area, carefully ensuring he didn’t cheekily nibble on any of John’s plants! Heading over to Mr McGregors’ Garden and around the entrance area as Jay strolled around curiously.

Who’s walking who there?

I could only giggle away as I was being pulled around the stunning countryside by a small looking Goat. Apparently, the wheelbarrow trips aren’t working wonders for my non-existent muscles after all…

Attaching the collar and clipping on the lead, it was then time to walk Bobby. Another Goat friend of mine, a beautiful resident at Little Owl Farm. Large horns to match his big, bright personality.

After a series of cuddles with my special, kind-hearted Goat friends, I went onto saying my good-byes after more hugs before catching the bus ready for my venture home after what had been another awesome day.

With each time I volunteer at the farm, my confidence grows and my happiness radiates too.

I love being a volunteer at Little Owl Farm!

Finding Little Owl Farm, and happiness!

Little Owl Farm

In January 2017 I apprehensively (yet also excitedly) got in touch with Little Owl Farm regarding volunteering after a Google search lead me to their wonderful Facebook page where I proceeded to spend lengths of time scrolling through animal photos and thrilling visitor reviews. I saw only happy, satisfied visitors reflecting upon their enjoyable and pleasant experiences at the farm, so I figured I should try to get involved too.

I recall receiving a speedy reply. I was ecstatic to learn that carrying out work experience at the farm was an opportunity available to me. Cindy got back in touch and informed me that she was “delighted that I wanted to gain experience at Little Owl Farm” – but I doubt anybody could be as delighted as I was!

Even from the email, Cindy seemed incredibly kind and welcoming as she offered to show me around, additionally adding that it would be great to meet me. And I couldn’t wait to meet her either! I felt a sense of hospitality. Meeting Cindy has been the most pleasurable experience that I’m beyond grateful for. I love my friend and her big heart! I was joyful about getting involved, delighted at the concept of making new animal friends too. Though understandably anxious about the new people and surroundings…

Fast forward a month later, during February half term, I leaped out of bed following the ring of my alarm. I ensured to wrap myself up in multiple layers following Mum’s request and according to the weather forecast, I was bound to be in for a chilly (yet thrilling!) adventure.

Putting on my thickest coat and fastening my shoes tightly, I headed on to the bus stop at approximately 7:30am ready for my first bus ride to Manchester. A blanket of snow sitting comfortably on the floor crunching beneath my walking shoes as I eagerly made my way to the stop. Since it was my first time at Little Owl Farm (and in Oldham) I used my phone as a navigator and felt near to Dora The Explorer with the wonderful assistance of Google Maps.

I then hopped onto two more buses and I was well on my way to approaching the farm. I lost my way partially but Cindy quickly came to my rescue when I plucked up the courage to phone as I stood speaking to Winston the Horse.

You came from where?! You travelled how far to find us…?

My first impressions of Little Owl Farm were only positive, as they still remain, as I was shown around and introduced to friendly John and intelligent Izaak and the lovely Naomi, alongside many gorgeous animals. After a cup of tea and a chat in Cindy’s Café! I thought Cindy’s accent was the sweetest thing and I was stoked to tell Mum all about my new Canadian friend. This is the day where I met Poppy and Mary-Jane! A major highlight of my experience at the farm has been becoming friends with my two girls. I was also given information about the activities held at the farm, such as themed days and crafts.

My only disappointment was that I hadn’t found this gem sooner!

My first time at Little Owl Farm involved the heartwarming opportunity of assisting in saving the most beautiful Duckling. She was incredibly tiny and fluffy with a sky high cute factor. Bright yellow and beautiful like a ray of sunshine. We had her wrapped up in a towel by a heater in the Cafe, encouraging her to have a bite to eat. She regained her strength and fought to health. The text from Cindy later on in the evening confirming that warmed my heart massively, especially as I was also asked to name her.

Meet Mabel. The name I chose with the Latin definition: “beautiful, loving and loveable.” Clearly a name that was well suited to my fluffy friend.

Since it was my first time at the farm, I stayed for a few hours before heading back home after the completion of some daily farm jobs, uncountable photos and animal cuddles later. Since I hadn’t taken the bus route home before, I wanted to ensure I travelled home safely and I knew that once I had taken the route once, I would be fine the next time and all the times following.

And this is how my time at Little Owl Farm began. An email and a bus journey lead me to making the most incredible friends. Almost 18-months-later and I can confidently say that my love for the farm increases every time I go, as does my happiness! I’m incredibly grateful to have my happy place, a place where I’m accepted for my goat obsession and smiley face, also filled with the best people and animals and volunteering there fills me with so much joy.