Jacobs Ridge – Final Day (28.07.2019) 🇪🇸

Jacobs Ridge

My time at Jacobs Ridge had quickly approached its end. I had the most incredible time spent with some of the most inspirational and kind people, and beautiful animals.

Before leaving for the airport, I went on my final morning dog walk, changed the animals’ waters and spent quality time with them. Barney (one of the resident dogs) followed me around and I couldn’t help but feel guilty for leaving him behind, yet, motivated to return to the ridge again in the future for more love and cuddles. 

I was driven to Murcia (RMU) airport at 5:45pm by Amie – Volunteer Coordinator. The drive was lovely, and very scenic along the way. We chatted about my time at the sanctuary, animals, family and uni.

I arrived at the airport, and prepared myself to say goodbye to Amie, who I had been lucky enough to spend a large proportion of time with throughout the week. We unloaded my luggage from the boot, hugged and then I wandered into the airport in preparation for check-in and security.

RMU airport opened in January 2019. I found it very Autism friendly! The staff were extremely kind and accommodating, and the airport itself was quiet and easy to navigate around as it was very small. Bliss!

I then waited by the gate ready to board the plane at 7:45pm. I went in first to reduce my anxiety-levels, and the staff were very understanding with regards to this.

I boarded the plane and was set to travel the 2.5 hour journey back home to Manchester. I sat comfortably and read my book whilst peering out of the window occasionally to take in some of the most stunning landscape views.

I arrived in Manchester and was quick to collect my luggage from arrivals, after showing my passport to the lovely men sitting at the arrival desk.

Following this, I was met outside of the arrival section of Terminal One by my Mum and Grandad, both of who kindly offered to pick me up from the airport to take me back home.

I sat and chatted about my time at Jacobs Ridge, talking about the wonderful people and the beautiful animal residents I met throughout. I’m extremely excited to begin planning my next overseas work experience adventure, and I’m glad I chose Jacobs Ridge to be my first placement abroad.

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.

08.07.2019 – Woodlands

Woodlands Animal Sanctuary, Work experience/volunteering

With the sun blazing through my bedroom window and following the distinguished ringing of my alarm, it was time to wake up.

The time was 6:00am.

I got out of bed leisurely, in preparation for a long (yet enthralling) day ahead. Today was to commence the beginning of my work placement at Woodlands Animal Sanctuary. I had been pining to volunteer at the sanctuary for quite some time, but had always encountered problems along the way, including sudden transport alterations and exam commitments.

I was soon washed and ready, rearing to go. Dressed in my casual green t-shirt and black shorts, gladly ready to match my work (or hiking) shoes alongside.

I headed to the bus stop and approached Bolton ready for my first train to Preston at 8:25am. The journey lasted approximately 30 minutes, and I then caught a train to Rufford. A brisk 30 minute walk, where I was faced with extremely narrow pavements, from the station lead me to the animal sanctuary.

I was directed to the reception area, I rang the bell (which turned out to be louder than anticipated) And was welcomed by Louise – An animal career at the sanctuary. We had spoken a few times prior, she was even lovelier in person! I was guided to sign in and to hang up my limited belongings before heading back outside to meet the animals.

I began with cleaning out the stables, which house the resident goats and equines overnight. Throughout the day, the animals spend time outdoors – a necessary freedom to express natural behaviours.

This was a simple process of removing the old substrate, which was placed into large troughs and placed into the skip, and replacing it for new.

The afternoon feeds were then arranged, with the hay being placed into designated hay nets which were then placed outside the enclosure doors. Hay nets are an excellent way of encouraging natural feeding behaviours, they also help to enhance both mental and physical stimulation as the individuals have to work for their food.

The stables and their surroundings were cleaned. Alongside the stock room, which rooms a collection of tools, food and bedding materials. And situated on the wall was a feeding and medical rota tailored for each individual at the sanctuary. I was then tasked with cleaning out the resident hedgehogs. Woodlands take in injured hedgehogs throughout the year and nurse them back to health to enable them to be released back into the wild. Hedgehogs encounter all kinds of medical conditions, from weight loss, to dehydration and a loss of appetite. They’re housed in large plastic drawers (the most convenient material to disinfect) which are then filled with newspaper and hay, alongside food and water.

Rescue, Rehabilitate & Release.

Two of the larger, healthier hedgehogs were chosen and carried away into carriers ready to be released. All available drawers were prepared ready to house future hedgehogs, and the current hedgehogs underwent a full clean – The removal of wet newspaper in replacement for dry, and the providing of fresh hay, food and water.

I weighed and recorded the hedgehogs weights before placing them back into their temporary enclosures. This is essential to monitor any signs of drastic weight loss/gain to enable further measures to be implemented if necessary, to ensure that the individuals remain in good overall health.

Hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal animals, and are therefore increasingly more active during nighttime hours. Some of the individuals were curiously wandering around the enclosures, while some opted to stay cornered into a tight, compacted “ball”. Fascinatingly, this behaviours helps to fend off predators in the wild as it acts as a protective armour. It also allows the individuals to feel safe.

I then cleaned the small chicken coop, refilled it with fresh substrate and replaced the old food and water for fresher alternatives. The sanctuary has a vast selection of resident poultry, ducks and a stunning, flamboyant peacock.

The rabbit enclosures were then cleaned to house current and future sanctuary residents and the underneath area was swept for general upkeep.

The goats (Bert, Ernie, Chips and Isaac) were then fed and fussed over admirably. They were highly inquisitive and played alongside Dolly the sheep.

The Goats are commonly taken around Rufford to aid fundraising efforts and have previously been taken into local schools to teach the children about animal care, welfare and management.

Woodlands Animal Sanctuary (08.07.2019)

Woodlands Animal Sanctuary, Work experience/volunteering

Monday 8th July will commence the start of my 4 day placement at Woodlands Animal Sanctuary, Ormskirk. Where I plan to be involved in all aspects of animal care and husbandry.

Woodlands is an incredible sanctuary home to a vast collection of animal species. Including: Goats, donkeys, horses, hedgehogs and birds. They are a non-profit charitable organisation who work under the clock, with the hard work and dedicated volunteer and staff members, to enhance the lives of each individual in their care. I’m honoured to have an opportunity to help out, whilst expanding on my knowledge and currently evolving experience.

Journey planning is well underway. 1 bus and 2 trains which will land me in Rufford, followed by a short brisk walk to the sanctuary. With the assistance of Google maps and my rusty navigation skills.

Here I will be documenting my time at the sanctuary alongside the information I gladly learn along the way. Stay tuned!

Jacobs Ridge Animal Sanctuary (18.07.2019)

Jacobs Ridge, Work experience/volunteering

I’m going to Spain!

In just over 2 weeks time, on the 18th July, I will be flying to Murcia (JMU) Airport. And I will be staying in Murcia for the duration of 1 week. 

I’m embarking on my first solo venture, and I’m excited. I’ve never flown alone, and being Autistic this can be challenging: Busy airports, new people and dissimilar surroundings. The task isn’t impossible, though. Over the years, I’ve developed coping techniques and an abundance of strength to assist me in my journeys. And with a new mindset, “My Autism doesn’t define me, I define Autism”, I refuse to be restricted in life. I’m determined to achieve and to exceed my own expectations.

Jacobs Ridge is a Vegan Animal Sanctuary located in Murcia, Spain. It houses hundreds of animals rescued from slaughter, individuals branded as unwanted pets and those otherwise destined for short lived and torturous lives. Species including: Goats, sheep, donkeys and cats.

An essential component of the mission statement placed by the team at Jacobs:

We believe that every being has a right to live and to live life without fear. Thus, it is our mission to create a safe environment to last as a forever home to animals who need it, one where they don’t have to work or provide for us. One where they can just be what they are and do as they please. 

I stumbled upon the sanctuary following a Google search. The reviews were outstanding, the animals were the heart of the sanctuary and a clear compassionate side was viewed. After the completion of my Florida field course earlier on in the year, I quickly became encouraged to participate in more overseas work. I was eager to expand on my knowledge and experience within the animal care industry, yet, I wanted to work alongside people who share my beliefs – Veganism and compassion to ALL beings. Jacobs Ridge seemed perfect, and becoming involved in such an incredible cause issued me with happiness, fulfilment and joy.

I eagerly contacted the ridge and secured a place, ready to tackle my anxiety hands on. I’m excited for what the week will bring, to meet new animals and to broaden my horizons.

Here I will be documenting my time at Jacobs Ridge Animal Sanctuary and sharing my first experience as a solo flier. Stay tuned! 

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.