For as long as I can remember I have wanted to live The Good Life, much like Tom and Barbara Good, but on a larger scale. Maybe I’m being greedy but I want several acres in the countryside, not a surburban back garden! Anyway, this weekend was my first chance to try it out for real. I’m house sitting for my mum in Wales, where there are 6.5 acres housing 2 horses, 4 chickens and ten guinea pigs. There is also a house cat, who I barely saw as she is very suspicious of strangers 😦
I arrived on Thursday afternoon for my first shift – the putting to bed shift! My mum has the routine down to a fine art, including the most efficient way to gather food items from various locations and then feed things in the right order. I found it slightly overwhelming at first but after 2 days can do everything more or less in the right order without the list! The chickens and horses were most welcoming, both wanting cuddles and any attention you care to give. Not only that but the chickens also leave edible presents!
It must be like a 50’s housewife in terms of travel between key locations in the kitchen before the idea of efficient kitchen arrangement ws invented. I must be a lot fitter!
Today (Saturday) my experience included the less pleasant side of smallholding, which is when one of your animals is ill. Last night on putting the guinea pigs away I suddenly noticed a patch of very watery/serumy blood on the floor in the girls’ shed. Shitshitshit! Examined each guinea in turn until I found one with a wound. My first thought was that she’d been bitten so I put her back in the cat basket (used to transport them between night shed and day run) to take her back to the house where I could examine her properly. Completed rest of routine hastily! Upon further examination it didn’t look like a bite or an abscess which meant it could be something more nefarious. It was after surgery hours and wasn’t an emergency so I cleaned the wound with salt water and left the pig in the cat basket overnight with plenty of hay and put her in a quiet bit of the house. This morning I called the vets as soon as they opened and got an appointment. The guinea (Grace) looked OK and was eating (in fact she ate a lot over night as I felt guilty…) so I’m glad she wasn’t pining or too stressed for her strange night in a cat basket. She now has a course of oral antibiotics and anti-inflammatory solution and the vet will check her again on Friday to see what next steps to take (prob cell sample [FNA] or lump removal and biopsy). Poor Grace!
Today I realised I can be quite grumpy for no good reason. I went over to the yard and noticed there was only one section of hay left. I searched and searched through all the sheds and tack room/feed room etc. to no avail. Eventually I realised the obvious place was the trailer, which was probably used to fetch the bales…yes, there it was! Grumble grumble. Forgot how heavy hay was. Grumble grumble. Got the hay into the feed room and looked for a knife. Couldn’t find one. Realised in despair I’d have to go back to the house to get one (literally across the road). Realised I’d also forgotten the guinea pig medicine. Grumble grumble. Started to stomp back, grumbling under my breath. That’s when I realised. So what if I have to go back, it’s no big deal and nothing needs to be done fast here. I can take my time and not rush. I was much happier after that, and hopefully will be less grumpy when things go wrong next time! (I should also mention that when I got to the house I grabbed the medicine and went back over to realised I’d forgotten the knife so had to go back again!).
While thinking about the grumpiness I also decided that despite the grumpiness, miserableness of the almost continuous rain and sick animal stress this is the life I want to lead. Of course two and a half days is clearly not long enough to base a life-changing decision on but I might never try if I don’t just get on and do it. I just need a really really good friend to do it with me (or at least be within driving reach for when I need support!).
I’ll leave you with some photos I took while here…