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Chris and our orphan lamb Dotty-Do

Hello, I know it's been a long time, but I'm here and I'm back. I had been hoping to write sooner to update you on all the happenings at the farm, but I needed a break to get organised, try to get some rest and re-energise. Life is busy as a mum to two young boys, but that's another story and right now there is so much to tell you since my last blog because the farm and the work doesn't stop for anything, not even a really bad storm. Don't worry, no animals were blown away on Friday.

It's difficult to tell you what the biggest news has been since the last blog, because there have been plenty of highlights along with a few sad stories. So, I guess I'll start at the beginning and say we have donkeys. I'm not sure if you've noticed them because we've been so quiet about them, but they are here and settling in well. Ok, maybe we aren't so quiet, but Edward, Dolce, Muffin and Nutmeg have captured our hearts and brought so many smiles already. We still miss Coco and always will, but we're happy that these four will continue what Coco began and keep her faithful friend Eli company at the same time. They're now all happily living together in the barn keeping each other company, meeting our new lambs and we are hopeful that their friendships will continue to blossom.

While we purchased our fantastic four donkeys from a loving home to fill a rather large gap left in our animal and education team, rescue animals are our usual residents. We now have Dexter's pen to house some of our smaller rescue animals and help transition some of our chicks and ducklings into barn life. Some of our newest residents in the area are a group of young guinea pigs who were in need of a home. We're pleased to say that a few moved on to a loving family while the rest are now enjoying an extension to their hutch. They're proving a big hit with Farmer Casey and some of our younger visitors and are enjoying the fresh vegetables from our local supermarkets.

We have had a few feathered newcomers as well who are isolating to ensure they are fit and well before integrating into the barn environment, but I'm pleased to say they are all looking well. Our most recent addition is a beautiful Appleyard duck who we named Dolly. She was brought to us by the RSPCA after being found wandering some gardens on a local street and she'll now stay with us unless her original owner is found. She's already made a fantastic friend in turbo and we hope they will stay the best of friends as they move into the main barn.

Casey learning to feed Dotty-Do with Grampy

Of course, we do have newcomers who are born at the farm as well and before January was over we had our first birth at the farm for the year. Back on 23 January we welcomed Julia (named after the farm's amazing neighbour) closely followed by Dotty-Do and Polly. Thankfully there was a bit of a break before our male triplets and two sets of twins arrived, so Chris had a little time out from midwife duty. Even I need to catch-up on all of the names, there have been a lot to keep up with, but I'm sure I will catch up and update you all when I'm able to get back to the farm to capture them all on camera.

Lambing is always an exciting, busy and nerve wracking time at the farm. Most of the time things go smoothly and little lambs appear with no trouble at all, things can so quickly change though and that's why Chris keeps a close eye on our expectant ewes all the way through to the first few days with their new arrivals. Some births need a little bit of extra help, Chris shared his help with lambing live last weekend, some lambs need a bit of help, like our little Minty (one of our triplets) who had a bottle while mum caught up with milk supply and unfortunately the unexpected can happen, like when we lost our beautiful Dotty.

Despite Dotty having a relatively straight forward lambing, we lost her a day later and unfortunately in the end there was nothing that could be done to help other than keep her comfortable with Chris at her side. Chris then jumped in to take on the care of Dotty's baby, Dotty-Do (named in her honour), despite a lot of sadness around the farm. Although Dotty wasn't featured as often as some of our other sheep, she was one of the most special, she was our first orphan, one of our very first rescue animals and one of the first animals to capture our hearts. Since Easter 2014 when she arrived she's been at Chris' side and has shown us how well humans and animals really can work together. She was the first sheep we'd look for in the field and already we miss her so much and we'll always miss her but, we know her spirit will live on and Dotty-Do will continue her legacy.

We're still expecting more lambs, so keep an eye out for more cuteness on the way. We're waiting to see if there will be any baby emus, so far no luck but we'll keep you posted. Our geese are starting to come into breeding season, so we'll see what happens there as we head into Spring. Then, as for the rest of the arrivals this year, it's all a bit unknown, but I'm sure there will be a few surprises.

In fact, we have a lot of surprises for you in store this year which we can't wait to share with you, but we're going to have to. Until then I can share that we have some new merchandise featuring the one and only Mo, check out our store, I hope you love it as much as I do. Plus, there are a couple of events on the way.

Our super dedicated and very hard working volunteer, Super Sarah, is going to be running 100km for us on 19/20 March. Most of the run will be a solo effort, but there might be a couple of guests from our CaenhillCC team joining her for sections of the run. I hear Chris is already in training so watch this space, it could be entertaining. Thank you so much to everyone who's already sponsored Sarah, check out her JustGiving page if you'd like to get behind her too on this incredible run.

We're also looking to host our very own fundraising event in June. It'll be a 24 hour special and there will be plenty of ways for you to get involved whether you can join us at the farm or not. We're still working on the details, but I'll share what I can with you over the coming weeks, until then the date for your diary is 18-19 June, we hope you can join us in some way.

That's all for now, but I'll be back soon with everything I've forgotten, even more news and probably some surprises. Don't forget, if you'd like to visit the farm or have your very own shoutout, book in ahead. We have a super busy half term week ahead of us and so much more in planning that we're unable to take last minute requests or unbooked visits. 


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