Walkies! Walking our dog, cats and ducks

I am new to having a dog, and new to the ritual of dog walking. With the advent of the grape harvest and Pumpjack working as an Oenologist in Chablis it fell to me to walk our young Chewie in the mornings. I wasn’t looking forward to this, particularly as the days closed in and the weather turned colder, potentially wetter, not to mention the time it would take away from my day.  Turns out, I must say, I love it.I have always wanted to be a morning person, and the animals have definitely cemented this  reality with their dawn (if not earlier) to dusk lifestyle. Continue reading

Animal Antics – Birth, Death, Amputations, Games of Spies and a retarded duck (Part 2)

This is the continuing chaotic saga of the animals antics that abounded this summer. Please do read Part 1 first, if you haven’t. Then follow the link at the end back to here.

From Death, we come full circle back to Gigi. With our attention diverted to the rabbits, our very pregnant Gigi was not getting all the right type of attention she would have liked and spent most of her days lounging under next doors sun umbrella. Much more tranquil, no other animals. Our neighbours texts kept me up to date with her location. Then she went missing for 3 days and returned one evening skinny, and starving, demanding to be fed. She ate everything in sight including the dog food, hissing in passing as Lapsong and Chewie watched. This set up the pattern for each night.

We were certain she had had the kittens in the neighbours garden, under their shed or in the garage. They were certain she had had them under our pool house. We decided we would try to follow her and see where she went. What ensued were a series of evening manoeuvres Special Forces would be proud of, but with maybe less favourable results. Continue reading

Animal Antics – Birth, Death, Amputations, Spy Games and a Retarded Duck (Part 1)

WARNING! Animal Antics are not for the faint hearted. My nerves and emotions are just about settled now. Thank goodness. This  two months have been a bumper roller coaster ride of happiness and sorrow, frantic activity and chaotic wonder in our little animal world. Not even a moment to blog a morsel of cheese for a mouse.

Our Gigi leads the pack by getting pregnant, again, and very, very sneakily. What we didn’t know was when her kittens were not even quite 6 weeks old, she tarted herself up and went on the prowl. First time lucky we figure since she appeared to be with her kittens the whole time. About a week after giving away the last of the kittens (at 9 weeks) we finally noticed she was a tad pudgy around the middle. Our first reaction was ‘No way!’, but Yes way and we had to cancel her sterilisation at the vet. (Honest, we had tried not to let her know what was in store for her.) By the next week we knew for sure as her appetite soared and so did her telling us about her day. It was like living with an opera singer on full non-stop vocal. Continue reading

Mother Nature goes to town dolled up in hat and handbag

This years spring has been like an old woman entering the cold sea, a tentative toe at a time. I’ve been told it is an El Nino year, so hence the strange lengthy cold and wet spell. Whatever the excuse, I am not bothered, I just wish it would come! The odd sunny warm day pops in, like a friendly neighbour for a cup of tea, but once drunk, disappears again and we are back to grey, damp days. And this is France! Tsk, tsk, tsk is what I have to say, pull your boot straps up Spring and get on with it! I am ready to garden.

We’re trying something new in our garden this year, building truly raised beds, using pallets. (No more bending and kneeling, and less weeds. Hopefully.) There will be more details on this in a later dedicated blog, but suffice it to say, its a slow project as I work between boughts of rain. Yup, I am a fair weather gardener and not ashamed to say it.

But what I really wanted to talk about here is how this year Mother Nature has gone mad. The garden may be delayed in its growth, but this has definitely been made up for in animals. We figure it is the colder, wetter, consequently darker days that have made the animals bored and looking for something to do. But, honestly!!! Continue reading

Make your own dog (and cat) food – easy peasy and cheap!

We like good food, real food here at Pumpjack & Piddlewick, so when we got a cat, and then a dog we felt it only fair that they get good, real food as well, e.g. no preservatives, fillers, etc. so we took the decision to give them natural, home made food.

With our cat, as a consummate carnivore, it was quite simple~ fish, chicken or beef. When I cook for us, I make sure some is set to the side for her (which I simply sautée up). When I buy for us, I simply buy extra for her. And when we have vegetarian nights? I often make double batches of meat and store in the fridge/freezer ready.  And the difference in her! Her fur in particular, amazing! So beautifully soft and shiny. And then life got easier when we got a dog. Continue reading

How much Time and Diapering does a pet Duck need?

One of my favourite and the most amazingly helpful websites is Backyard Chickens.  This has been my go to site for any questions about our chickens or ducks. And on the flip side, I try to help those who have, or more importantly are thinking of having, a Pet Duck. Recently I was asked how much time I spend with Maggie, as well as whether I diaper her (yes there are such a thing as Duck Diapers*). My short answer turned long, as it varies greatly, and so I thought it worth  adding as a post here.

Maggie grew up in our cottage, so is quite at home there, and it is where she sleeps at night. (Yes, in the house with us.) She wanders at will, even flying up on to the sofa.  Now, ducks are messy creatures. They are like dogs when it comes to eating their food, that is with great gusto, and slurping up their water, let alone bathing in it. There’s lots of wing flapping, feather fluffing and the odd moult. (Something we are going trough right now and I am finding feathers everywhere!)  They also can’t control their bowels. They have no sphincter, so when they have to go, they have to go. This is what puts most people off having a duck, or chicken, as a pet. Continue reading

What is it like to have a pet Duck? (Part 2) ~ She can fly!

We’ll blame Gigi, our kitten, for Maggie, our duckling, learning to fly. Gigi loves to pounce, playfully, when Maggie is around. Consequently Maggie got very good at moving away quickly. As running from a playful kitten is rather impractical when you are a duck, the next obvious step was to utilise the wings. First it was a high hop, then a longer hop, and as Gigi loved this new game and would jump with Maggie, the hop became further and further. Both of them were in heaven. Gigi because she had finally found a way to play with Maggie (something she had been searching for since her arrival), and Maggie because, well, she was flying. Continue reading