Jacobs Ridge – Day Seven (27.07.2019) 🇪🇸

Jacobs Ridge

It was my final full day at the ridge. I was excited to fulfil another day in what set out to be a vegan paradise before venturing back to The UK.

7:30am commenced our usual morning dog walk. Julian, Rachael and I took the dogs and ventured nearby the peach trees before heading back to the sanctuary.

Julian and I then went kayaking at a venue located 30-minutes away from the ridge. Julian sailed solo, whereas I opted to paddle in the company of some lovely Spanish folk. The views were spectacular, the water was stunning and the sun was beaming down on what was proving to be another gorgeous day.

We returned back at the ridge an approximately 2pm. I got changed quickly and spent my afternoon siesta with the animals and by the pool, before heading onto the routine evening jobs.

We did the evening feeding and watering of the animals (today I fed the cats and Alfie, the lamb) before venturing on the evening dog walk. It was my final evening dog walk, emotions were running high, but I was excited to venture on my remaining one in the morning.

Jacobs Ridge – Day Six (23.07.2019) 🇪🇸

Jacobs Ridge

We begun the day at a slightly later time of 7:30am, to which the (always exciting) morning dog walk commenced.

Upon return, after another enjoyable dog walk with the canine companions, I prepared the animals’ feeds according to the feeding rota in the shed and headed down to the field to issue the morning feed to the animals. I then changed their waters.

Jade and I then gave a mud bath to Ben. Ben is the largest pig at the sanctuary and his brother Bill tragically passed away during the beginning of 2018. The life he fulfilled at the sanctuary was bliss in comparison to the fate he was otherwise destined to have.

I then changed the waters of the animals, which would then be changed again in the evening during feeding time.

In the afternoon, I relaxed in the pool and spent my time playing with the animals. Barney (one of the resident dogs) had quickly stolen my heart, and so a large proportion of my time was spent with him and playing his favourite game of fetch.

We then prepared the evening feed and gave it out before heading on an evening dog walk with the pack.

Jacobs Ridge – Day Five (22.07.2019) 🇪🇸

Jacobs Ridge

We headed for the morning dog walk at 7am. One of my favourite parts of the day, I loved being surrounded with multiple fur babies. The surroundings were stunning, as always, and I felt truly comforted due to the lack of noise and the absence of people.

The sunrise was coming up and the views were simply gorgeous.

We then came back and changed the animals’ waters. Before feeding time commenced.

Jade and I gave Ben another mud bath. He was becoming sunburnt and we were working hard to prevent this from worsening, we wanted to keep him free from pain and discomfort. His enclosure did have pool within it as an attempt to keep him cool throughout the warmer days, but as previously stated in a prior blog post, he cannot bathe himself effectively.

We then refilled the animals’ waters for the afternoon before relaxing during siesta.

Flora and I went lemon picking in the forested area surrounding the tents. I felt as though I was reliving my character on Animal Crossing (DS game) as I pondered for fruit up high. We reached up and grabbed those that looked the most appealing, before heading back to the house with a tray filled with fresh lemons, which would later be used to infuse cold, fresh drinking water.

We prepared the animals’ evening feed and refilled their waters. I hugely enjoyed witnessing them rushing to get the best pick at their food, which was scatter fed for the majority of the animals, placed in a basket for Ben and in food bowls for the cats and dogs. Scatter feeding helps to encourage natural feeding behaviours, alongside mental and physical stimulation, and works to eliminate boredom through motivating the animals to work for their food.

In the evening Flora, Amy, Jade and I spent time at a local (30-minutes away) spa. It was wonderful. However, it wasn’t like a typical spa where you’re rubbed down or relaxing with a face full of guacamole and cucumber. It had different components such as jacuzzis, a lazy river, and hot “springs” which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Following this, we returned home to the ridge. The evening feeds had been carried out whilst we were at the spa, and after playing with the kittens, it was soon time for bed.

Jacobs Ridge – Day Two (19.07.2019) 🇪🇸

Jacobs Ridge

I awoke at approximately 6:20am to the distinctive ringing of my iPhone alarm. It was time for my first full day at Jacobs Ridge, and I was excited about what the day would bring. I enjoyed my first night of tent living, it was extremely cosy and spacious.

I soon got dressed and headed to the house, after applying suncream as the weather was expected to reach conditions of up to 40°c.

Amy, Flora and I headed to the local secluded area to walk some of the gorgeous resident dogs. I opted to walk Goaty – a charismatic young being who was rescued from a terrible fate. His eyes were golden brown and his fur a pasty white. I’d been warned that he was a puller, but I appeared to have no issues with walking him around tall hills and through the murky surrounding waters.

Goaty was rescued from the side of the road by Julian around a year ago. He was in an incredibly bad condition and Julian stated “it’s the worst state I’ve seen an animal in before”. He’s now living a happier, and healthier, life at the sanctuary where he is constantly showered with love and affection.

The walk lasted for approximately an hour before we headed back to the sanctuary and went on to do the following jobs after putting the dogs away. Throughout the walking process, we also walked: Marley and Eyebrows, whilst Daisy and Django followed us all the way without the need of a lead.

We then changed the animals waters. This task is typically carried out 3 times a day at the sanctuary, since it easily evaporated due to the hot weather conditions, and to simply ensure that the animals have plenty of fresh water to drink throughout the duration of the day.

Then commenced the goat cleaning. I couldn’t wait to meet the resident goats, being a goat fanatic and all. Jacobs Ridge has 14 goats in total, who arrived at the sanctuary after being dropped off by a lady. The story being, she hoarded many animals and was forced by the local authorities to give them away, otherwise they ran the risk of being destroyed. In total, the lady had approximately 80 goats. Julian took 7, who quickly went on to reproduce.

I believe it’s incredibly easy to hoard animals. You can start off with the intentions of saving many different species, whilst focusing solely on the love aspect and not so much the costs and the commitment.

We cleaned our Star’s enclosure, walking in protected with sturdy helmets. Star wasn’t a known aggressive horse, but there stood a possibility that she may head butt us whilst we cleaned, which would’ve caused a serious injury. Prior to this, I had no experience with horses, so I was quite apprehensive about being surrounded by one for the first time. However, she had a calming nature and would only approach us for butt scratches, or curiosity.

Following this, we changed the animals waters for the second time. The animals’ waters were changed and refilled 3 times a day.

The dogs were then taken to the nearby river In the afternoon for a cool off. They loved it, and Marley stood in deep. This is an essential component of animal care, as animals can heat up extremely quickly and can become unwell, or start to show signs of heatstroke. Goaty remained hopeful as he searched eagerly for a toad he spotted over 3 weeks ago…

After the evening feed/water was carried out, we took the dogs on their regular evening dog walk. Again, in the local secluded area with lots of stunning scenery. The dogs were very well behaved.

The kittens (the sanctuary has 5) were let out in the evening for a run around, and we played with them as they climbed on our heads and clawed at our legs. They were adorable, and very mischievous!

Jacobs Ridge – Arrival (18.07.2019) 🇪🇸

Jacobs Ridge

The day had finally approached. It was time for me to volunteer in Spain for a week, and emotions were running high. Especially for my Mum, who was very tearful given the challenge I was about to embrace. 

My first solo flight was a success. I wore my Autism lanyard with pride as I sailed through the anxiety-provoking security section of the airport and eagerly made my way to the gate a short while after.

I landed in Murcia at 7pm, following a 2.5 hour flight, the sun was still blazing at this point, and it already seemed much warmer than The UK! Luckily, I got off the plane quickly as I was seated right at the back, enabling me to avoid the typical busy rush. Yay!

Shortly after approaching RMU airport, which opened earlier in the year, I collected my suitcase, briefly checking I had collected the right one, and headed into the waiting area as I stood waiting to be collected by a member of staff from the animal sanctuary.

Following a short wait, I was soon greeted, and hugged, by Rachael – Owner of Jacobs Ridge with her partner Julian. We fitted my luggage carefully into the boot and drove our way to the sanctuary. This lasted approximately 30/40 minutes. Murcia castle was within looking distance and the views were astounding!

I stepped out of the car and shook hands with members of staff and other volunteers before heading into the house where I filled in liability forms with Amie and was then given a tour of the sanctuary, by Julian’s Daughter Megan. She introduced me to the animals and told me more about the ways of the sanctuary.

The team included – Julian, Rachael, Jade, Amie and Georgia. All of who seemed incredibly lovely, regardless of only knowing them for the shortest time.

Following on from this, we took Alfie (new lamb!) for a stroll whilst I was simulatenmlusly shown my tent. When I say tent, it felt more like home. It was very cosy! I was provided with a comfortable bed, pillows and a double duvet. There were also lights and rugs fitted as extra amenities.

I then wandered around the sanctuary alone to find my bearings and to further familiarise myself with my surroundings, before heading into the house to play with the adorable kittens. The sanctuary currently has 5 kittens, who’re all very mischievous and playful.

I then relaxed after a busy day and watched the stunning pink sunset extending beyond the ridge, extending beyond the mesmerising cliffs in the background before heading to bed. This was in preparation of a 7am start.

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!