Volunteering – Walkden Sixth Form Centre

Work experience/volunteering

Where:

Walkden Sixth Form Centre, Walkden. Lancashire.

When?

July 2015 – July 2016.

I began working at Walkden Sixth Form Centre in the animal unit shortly after the completion of my 2 year Animal Care and Management Diploma, in which I proudly received a D*D*D* qualification.

My roles at the college consisted of basic animal care and husbandry (cleaning, feeding and watering), alongside assisting Student’s practical sessions within the animal unit. I also took regular trips to the local vets with unwell guinea pigs Gerald and Harold, who became poorly shortly after neutering.

I also became involved within the Hedgehog unit within the animal care centre, and worked closely with rescued hedgehogs. The first being an male, named Teddy, who was released months later. We worked on a rota, I engaged in the morning duties and often the afternoon duties before going home. This involved feeding, daily weight checking (to ensure healthy weight gain was occurring), recording and cleaning out the enclosure.

The role allowed me to build on my people skills, whilst growing in confidence and gaining experience with a collection of animal species. Ranging from small and large mammals, reptiles, birds and fish.

Volunteering – Greenslate Community Farm

Work experience/volunteering

Where:

Greenslate Community Farm. Orrell, Wigan.

Duration:

One day.

Roles:

I volunteered at Greenslate Community Farm for the duration of one day. This was nearing a scheduled open day, so my tasks were mainly cleaning and maintenance focused.

I collected the Hen’s freshly laid eggs, cleaned out the duck enclosure and scrubbed the outdoor rabbit enclosure. This consisted of a large, square wooden run which five of us lifted before proceeding with the disinfecting duties to assist the removal of faeces. I then refilled the water bottles, before carefully attaching them and placing the rabbits back inside the run, after the disinfectant had dried.

I then cleaned out a stable, which appeared to be filled with tools and other forms of equipment and necessities. This was to ensure it was safe and clean enough to house one of the goats overnight, as he had to be separated from his brother while receiving specialist veterinary treatment.

Following this, I weeded the overgrown grassy area in preparation for another enclosure being relocated to the area.

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.

 

 

A splendid Summer at Little Owl Farm

Little Owl Farm

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Well, Summer at Little Owl Farm has officially drawn to a close. My second Summer spent at the farm and I am extremely delighted about that! It’s been an incredible, fun packed few months spent volunteering with my upmost enthusiasm and the best of people who continuously bring me joy and happiness.

It’s been thrilling witnessing Cindy and John swimming in success with the emphasis that all of their hard work, and planning, has paid off as they’ve welcomed many visitors and carried out the best themed days throughout. Creating an enjoyable day for people of all ages. They truly do deserve The World.

Throughout the duration of Summer at the farm, I’ve had the pleasure of making new friends (both animal and human, yay!) aswell as catching up with familiar faces, including the wonderful Lizzie – a kind hearted friend of mine and an extremely talented face painter who often visits the farm to amaze myself and visitors with her dazzling, colourful creations.

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

I simply wouldn’t have opted to spend my time anywhere other than the farm. A place I view as a second home. (Well, I do live with the goats now…) where I am continuously welcomed with a warm embrace, aswell as my trusty wheelbarrow, surrounded with my gorgeous animal friends and the loveliest of people.

It’s been a pleasure resting from my hardworking first year of University down at the farm, expanding my knowledge and working hard to ensure the animals are content and spoiled rotten with abundance’s of love and cuddles. Oh, and the odd banana or two…

Could anybody resist that face?

I did have trouble choosing from my increasing collection of goat photos. Though, you can never have too many. Right? Poppy eternally brightens my day and widens my smile with her cheeky personality and charismatic face.

Countless hours spent travelling to the farm via buses and the treasurable number 407 which remains the most scenic, eminent route where I am dazzled with the most stunning views in Oldham upon my venture to the farm. Every visit is worth the 7:30am set offs where I am guaranteed the most happiness enhancing time where no two days ever replicate each other. The rapture of working with animals!

It’s been an incredible Summer, filled with smiles and hugs and I can only say how eager I am for Summer, 2019, and every day in advance.

Be sure to check out my fabulous friends’ social media for regular updates and the most adorable photos of our furry and feathered friends!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LittleOwlFarm/

Instagram: @littleowlfarm

Goat girl, eighteen months on!

Little Owl Farm

I began volunteering at Little Owl Farm back in February 2017. Wholeheartedly, the best decision I’ve ever made! (Yes, I’ll say this until I’m red in the face…)

Its been 18 months consisting of joyful memories, hard (but always super fun!) work, an abundance of bus trips and the most compassionate hugs. And, most importantly, the growth of myself as an individual.

I’ve known my magnificent friends (animal and human!) for 18 WHOLE MONTHS! My friendship with Poppy and Mary-Jane, the best of goat friends, is the most valued and treasurable thing that regularly gets described as “beautiful”. It makes my heart all warm inside, as does the pleasure I have of knowing Cindy, John and Izaak. I love everybody at the farm so much that it feels indescribable.

My diagnosis of Autism means I struggle with certain life aspects which others may find to be less of a challenge. But, challenges are made to be overcome like mountains are designed to be climbed. Communication has always proven to be difficult for me, as I’ve spent my life being dubbed “the shy one” and sticking to my usual habits, such as avoiding change. I haven’t always been able to step on a bus alone and I never imagined myself to be stepping out of my restrictive comfort zone, meeting new people voluntarily (now my favourite people!) and making the most beautiful animal friends.

Taking the first daunting leap of venturing to Little Owl Farm to begin with was hard. Firstly I was worried about getting lost as I anxiously navigated my way through Oldham with Google Maps. Eventually, very much to my delight, stumbling across the farm – a place you could say has become my own sanctuary, a place I’ve found happiness, comfort and safety.

I held so many worries and ran through high intensities of self-doubt, wondering whether I would fit in, whether I would be liked, whether I would be able to form a sentence or even do things in the “right way”. I threw myself in at the deep end and tackled my anxieties head on. No longer wishing to be restricted by my Autism, but wanting to flourish into the brighter Laur I had always been instead.

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there”.

Stepping out of my comfort zone, my compact area of safety, turned out to be a wonderful step for me. I believe I’m leaving my small shell and finding comfort in my surroundings (More than likely, the Goat pen…) I managed to find a place where I fit in, where I’m not judged and where I’m more than happy to shine gleamingly as my little crazy goat lady self.

Choosing to surround myself with incredibly kind, caring and dedicated people has really worked wonders for me. I’ve never felt the need to be anybody but myself at the farm, and it’s amazing how accepted I continuously feel there. Even in the simplest ways that my confidence has grown, I’ll willingly speak to people now and I believe in myself and my abilities progressively more. And for that, I’m thankful.

My role at the farm makes me truly happy, fills me with gratitude and appreciation and I’m excited for the future as Little Owl Farm continues to grow, welcoming new visitors and homing new animal friends. Pleasantly watching Cindy, John and Izaak embrace the success and happiness they well and truly deserve!

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!

Saturday farm day

Little Owl Farm

14-07-2018

Waking up at 6am, I was stoked for what was set to be another fun filled day at the farm. Though, I wasn’t due to set off for a couple of hours afterwards! I never have been one for lying in…

It wasn’t long until I was up, washed and dressed for the day. Appropriately choosing my very well suited “crazy goat lady” t-shirt in preparation of being surrounded with my very best Goat friends. A second home.

Firstly reaching Manchester, after a short wait at the bus stop, and then Oldham, I was soon to be setting foot on my last bus ready to approach the farm. A very pleasant journey filled with picturesque countryside views and clear blue skies as the sun beamed down, strongly. I also petted a very friendly, brown eyed, Jack Russell upon choosing a seat.

Greeting John and Izaak, I then went on to cleaning out the Rabbit’s hutches. Simply removing the old substrate and replacing it for new – it’s always a pleasure seeing it fresh whilst my furry friends are hopping around my feet. Replacing their waters and ensuring to keep a regular check on them, especially in staggering 24°c heat.

  • It’s vital that animals always have access to fresh drinking water. A simple, basic requirement.
  • Rabbits (and other animals) are extremely sensitive to warmer weather conditions. Taking steps to keep them cool and comfortable is vital.
  • Providing Rabbits with frozen water bottles, vegetables and fruits helps to keep them cool, alongside cool mats and shaded areas.

We fed the Pigs whilst adding new bedding. The full clean was undertaken, looking immaculate, by the time I arrived at the farm so it was just a case of changing the bedding and filling the troughs with water with the help of the extended hosepipe. I was very particular in ensuring the straw was fluffed up to their hearts content, wanting them to be in for a very comfortable sleep!

The ducks were next. Entering the enclosure armed with my trusty wheelbarrow and brushes as they happily quacked away simultaneously whilst I worked. Many filled wheelbarrows and walks up the hill later, I was well on my way to a fresh enclosure for the curious ducks. Ready to change their waters after adding fresh substrate.

I then went onto cleaning out the Goat enclosure. My favourite part of the day! (Alongside all the hugs I receive) Armed with brushes and shovels, it was a job that may have been quicker without the (many) additional Goat cuddles. Something I deem impossible! We even sunbathed together at some point. Admittedly, hay makes a very comfortable bed. Accompanied with three curious Goats and covered in…all sorts but with much joy in my heart. I refilled the enclosure with fresh straw, after it was clear, which made for very happy Goats and a very happy Laur!

During this time, I was also pleasantly surprised to see Cindy at the farm. With it also being the quickest I’ve ever jumped out of the Goat enclosure out of excitement. My day was made!

Following my animal packed day, I went on to spending some quality time with my animal friends (yay!) with my much needed hugs from Poppy and Mary-Jane, and chatting to some lovely visitors about my volunteering at the farm and giving a demonstration of how to hand feed the Donkeys – the friendly giants. And chatting about Goats (of course) Going onto giving Jay his favoured chin rub as he tilted his head, delicately placing his head on my hand.

I also helped the companionable Sarah with bathing her gorgeous Shetland pony, Dolly. Filling the bucket and carrying it together, it wasn’t long before Dolly was coated in shampoo and rinsed ready for a whole new, cleaner look.

I then headed off home. Backpack at the ready and a hug from John, until my next return. It was another excellent day!

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.

Pygmy facts with the Pygmies!

Little Owl Farm

Mary-Jane and Poppy are just two of the gorgeous residents happily living at Little Owl Farm in Oldham, Greater Manchester. I know for a fact they’d love to meet you!

Their cheeky, loving personalities and gentle souls are enough to broaden a smile onto anybody’s face. Especially mine, The Goat Girls’ – best nickname EVER!

I love these girls to pieces because they are incredibly affectionate and adorable. They love attention! Plus, they just have a tendency to warm my heart with their cuddles and inquisitiveness and they make me smile the biggest.

It’s always wonderful to educate ourselves into more animal facts, especially whilst making friends at the farm. And as The Goat Girl, it’s understandably my aim to convert others into Goat admirers too!

Mary-Jane:

The gorgeous Daughter of Poppy. Just over 2 years old, Mary-Jane is a beautiful soul with a heart of gold. She loves attention…and food! Her big brown eyes constantly melt my heart.

Poppy:

The beautiful Mummy of Mary-Jane, an incredibly caring and protective Mummy at that. A laid back character, loving, reserved and gentle.

Pygmy Goats are well known for their playful, bouncy personalities and their love of climbing.

1) Pygmy Goats are a domesticated breed of Goat, one of the smallest breeds. (We’re blessed to have many beautiful breeds!) But that doesn’t negatively impact their joyous personalities and bundles of energy!

2) They weigh up to 85 pounds, with Males typically weighing significantly more than Females. Additionally, Males are slightly taller than Females. Standing at a height of around 23 inches.

3) This applies to ALL Goat breeds: A Female Goat is called a Doe, a Male Goat is called a Buck and a baby Goat is called a Kid.

4) They will eat a variety of different foods and have very hearty appetites. With hay taking up the largest quantity of their daily diet. Alongside pellets, fruits and vegetables. Oh, and fresh water of course!

5) In terms of Gestation (pregnancy) Pygmy Goats typically have a gestation period of up to 150 days. Shortly after birth, healthy kids can nurse from their mothers within minutes and are able to run and jump up to 4 hours later.

Be sure to head on over to Little Owl Farm to meet lots of wonderful animal friends!

Facebook: Little Owl Farm

Instagram: @littleowlfarm