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Christmas memories of Chris and Cuthbert

Through the years at the CaenhillCC project we're very privileged to say that a lot of the animals no longer at the farm have moved on rather than been lost. Some were housed with us for a short time and moved on with their owners, others went on to loving homes as pets (like my kitten Teddy), while the rest went to other projects or to support breeding. Though unfortunately, with life comes loss and even with the best care, on some occasions we do lose some of our beautiful animals and this week we said goodbye to Cuthbert. I think it's fair to say that no loss at the farm has had quite the impact as our much loved goose who died in Chris' arms last Sunday night.

Following a fight with two of our geese who were wanting to take Cuthbert's mate during the breeding season, Cuthbert had been struggling to get back to full health. Chris put a lot of time into looking after Cuthbert with vitamins, extra lettuce, regular swims, baths and even his own set of wheels. During all of this, Cuthbert showed a lot of positive signs from snapping at others trying to take his treats to building up a lot of strength, though unfortunately he took a turn for the worse a few weeks ago which we were unable to bring him back from.

My heart goes out to Chris (my dad) at this very difficult time because although Cuthbert was a social media star, an icon at the farm and a teacher to our students, before any of that he was Chris' best friend. Nobody could have cared for Cuthbert more than Chris and although a very sociable goose, Cuthbert trusted nobody more than Chris. It's a beautiful friendship that we're all going to miss watching in our social media feeds.

It's also a friendship that I was lucky enough to witness in person, although being Chris' daughter didn't really get me any extra credit with Cuthbert himself. Instead, through most of our relationship, we had more of an understanding than a friendship. Cuthbert understood that I was going to visit and I understood to give him space, I didn't give him any treats to deserve any more and to be honest I was a little wary of geese.

Though there were times I tried my best to get along with Cuthbert and he did his best to humour me for trying without treats, I wasn't at the farm enough to build anything lasting. Well, that was until Chris went to Kenya to support some projects out there in January. With Chris away and me keeping a regular check on the project, suddenly Cuthbert and I had something in common, we missed Chris.

Me trying to make friends with Cuthbert

Through every visit while Chris was away I'd make sure I found Cuthbert. I finally gave him the carrots he'd always hoped for from me and in return he tried to give hugs. We'd finally become friends and despite him being a bit over enthusiastic at times, I'd started to trust him. I'm sad to say that our friendship was cut short due to lockdown and Cuthbert's illness, but I'll always be thankful to have finally made a friendship with him. While also being thankful that he extended that friendship to Casey who'd feed Cuthbert with his scoop when he was tired and thankful to have been able to see his true character for myself.

There will never be another goose quite like Cuthbert, but while Chris along with Caroline and myself miss him, your messages of support and kindness have made such a difference. Unfortunately we've not been able to respond to each and every one of the messages personally, but we've read them all and send our thanks to each and every one of you who've been in touch. We'll be putting your kind donations to good use and making a pond area in Cuthbert's memory for our ducks, geese, team and visitors to enjoy.

If you'd like to know more about Cuthbert and hear the story from the only person that can do it justice (Chris), please check out this week's special Friday night live on the Caenhill Countryside Centre YouTube channel. There were tears, laughter, a song, but most importantly, the very best of Cuthbert. Thanks to everyone who joined live.

As much as there were times this week that we could have just hidden away from it all, life goes on and if Cuthbert has taught us anything over the last few weeks, it's how to be resilient, even at the most difficult of times. That's why we're back posting more fun from the farm, more of Coco and Marlene's incredible talents to getting through any door that stands in their way, more from our rabbits with Coffee's first rush hour door appearance and more from Pepper and her chicks.

The only change, other than missing Cuthbert, is our live schedule with our daily show now a little later at 6pm (GMT) on Facebook and some of our other social media platforms. This later time slot is a great chance to introduce you to our rabbits, give treats to our guinea pigs and feed carrots to our geese. We really hope to see you there.

I'll be back with the usual blog next with more farm news, but for this week I'll finish with a thank you to Cuthbert. Thank you for the memories, your cheekiness, your silly emails and for being you. You'll be in our hearts always.

Until next time, keep safe,

Kara, Casey and Teddy


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