Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The new lake has been created!

Yes, late yesterday the digger completed work on making our farm ponds into one giant lake for rescue water fowl. It is huge!

new lake

The far side is terraced and gently slopes down to the water, and the near side is much steeper. The dark mess in the middle is a group of ancient tree stumps which he has left there as a sort of shelf within the lake providing a higher area under water. Once this lake has filled (yes he went below the water table) this will smooth out and become something like a sand bar under the water in case they need a shallower area.

left side done

The left side here is steeper. This is because this side will be the viewing and picnic area and we don’t want young children running down to the ducks and scaring them. The far side is where the geese and ducks can sit and sunbathe peacefully, and if any waterfowl do walk around to this side for titbits and to meet people, then that is up to the ducks! Lol.

both sides done

The old culvert leading into the pond has been cleared and widened, again giving another shallow area for access, and we shall line this with pebbles and mini waterfalls as the flow trickles into the new lake.

new bridge

Where the culvert comes in from the right here, a new fixed bridge has been made from recycling our old culvert pipes that were once at the entrance of the old driveway. To the right of the bridge is a larger ‘filter pond’. This is a very deep square hold so as the water from the culvert comes in, it will go into this pond first…. drop any sediments etc, and then only the higher cleared water will flow under the bridge and into the lake. Very clever stuff! All we have to do is keep this ‘filter pond’ emptied if it builds up with too much sediment. We shall place a large square mesh over the top (used in building sites) to stop anyone falling in should they wander this far.

base for toilets

The digger has now moved on to creating the level base for the public toilets. This will be at the end of the ‘picnic terrace’ and to the right there in front of the digger.

toilets on right

Two large gates will be placed here to separate our private ‘back garden’ area. Toilets on right, picnic terrace behind, and front left is where the MUV can drive back and around carrying the stock feeds each day to feed the animals every morning. It just ‘flows’ and this is what we wanted….to make it more practical, open, and with designated areas for visitors.

septic tank

A new 5,000 gallon septic tank has been installed to cater for having additional public toilets on the farm. The rule of thumb is ‘one chamber per bathroom unit’. Two new public toilets, plus our house bathroom means we needed a 3 chamber large septic tank. And here it is! I keep saying to everyone it looks like a ‘mini sub’ and we should paint it yellow…. I get disapproving looks all round! This has taken two days to install and a new huge effluent bed was created too. This is the correct way to install any septic tank, leaving no surface water, smell or waste. No one will ever know it’s there once covered over and this new one will last a lifetime or more. A huge expense and earthworks, but worth all the effort to ‘get it right’

Looking down the new ‘road’ down towards the septic tank and toilet area. This is the new retainer wall going up which creates the ‘flow’ for the MUV (multi utility vehicle = quad bike with trailer) to drive around dropping off the buckets of various stock feeds to the pens each day. It will be a metre high, and all the posts will be sawn off and levelled once the drainage and retainer planks are in place. A pipe with ‘sock’ and filters of graded stones are being put in place to avoid flooding or having ‘waterfalls’ in Winter. Clever stuff, and it’s all been lined up straight by laser beams and other technical gizmos! Today the digger will make a flat terrace, about a metre wide, and then the rest of the earth at the top will be pulled back and ‘curved’ away to the top level where the animal pens are. The perfect place for a beautiful hanging garden of pretties and no bending to do the weeding! Heaven!

the lake

Looking down from the public toilets area. It doesn’t look much now, but once planted up it will be stunning! The space here is enormous, and deep enough to now take rescue swans too! I shall put out an appeal for plants/grass seeds, and thought it would be lovely to let anyone from the community pop along and plant up anything they may have spare to help create this waterfowl haven. I think it will be great for people to pop along in future years and say “oh, there’s my old rose in the corner!” and suchlike. This way, the rescue farm is ‘for the community and by the community’. We have simply given over our land to animal rescue and set about the initial task of the huge earthworks and design. Now everyone is welcome to help with their input in creating it and finishing it off. We hope to save more lives, and more animals from far and wide can be catered for with better space and shelters, and more visitors and potential rehomers. “If we build it, they will come….”

Winking smile

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Echo meets Pompey!

It’s Sunday evening and all I can hear is the constant ringing of a ‘trim phone’! We have a new phone? No – but we do have a new Rainbow Lorikeet! His name is Echo, and he’s adorable.


Echo has come to us because his owners are emigrating back to the UK. They are an awesome family and love Echo to bits and have been searching for a good home for him. Echo’s Mum Genene contacted me and well… we have a little Lori here too, namely Pompey, who turned out to be a girl when he she laid a few eggs earlier this year. These two adorable birds will not be part of the rescue, but will be family pets and enjoy life here on the farm and sunning on the deck.


Here is Pompey. We have put them side by side for now in their own cages. Hopefully it won’t be too long until they can be together, but like the chickens I want to introduce them to each other slowly and not force the friendship.


This afternoon they both had a snack of fresh apple. Lorikeets do NOT eat seeds etc like other parrots or parakeets. Instead they are nectar eaters so love the juice of fresh fruits, and nectar of certain flowers and other plants. We make our own fruit ice cubes and defrost a few each day, and lorikeets love fresh nectar giving flowers in their cage too. I shall cut them some bottle brush tomorrow.


For now Echo is settling in very well! They have even been caught kissing through the bars of their cages… aw! Too cute! I predict they will get along very well as we have had no signs of distress or annoyance from either of them. Instead they keep calling the other one over, and have been chattering non stop!

Echo & Pompey

Here they are side by side. Echo on the left in his cage… Pompey on the right. A match made in heaven me thinks… and whilst I am run ragged with the farm revamp these two lorikeets were indoors making out like two little love birds! We are falling in love with him already, and every few minutes he does his perfect ‘phone’ impression and hubby yells “phone!”. Lol. Thank you Genene and family for allowing Echo to become part of our little family…. and as for Echo (you know what I’m going to say next) ‘Welcome to Little Acres!’


Saturday, 9 November 2013

And so the work begins….

Yes, it’s been a while! We have been extremely busy putting plans onto paper, getting permissions, consents, permits, having meetings, building up our facebook page, and coping with Winter. Finally, this month ‘that time’ has arrived and we are now able to revamp the farm!

car park

Work has started by cutting a new drive the other side of the big pine tree on the left here (looking from the house to the road). Our old driveway ran past the right of the tree. We had originally planned a new car parking area up in the top paddock, but the earthworks team suggested moving our current drive over which then puts the pine tree into the front paddock, and clearing a large open entrance as the car park.

leave the tree

I have never seen so much soil piled up on the farm! This area is to be cleared to make way for a double garage and workshop. We needed somewhere to store stock feeds, our rescue vehicle, and also for hubby to work making new coops and hutches, and general maintenance etc.

drive done

Here is the drive and car park area cleared. It’s huge! The old pine is now part of the front paddock which now forms an ‘L’ shape, and the tree will give shade for ponies etc. To the right is where the garage will sit in line with the house, and to the left up near the ute is where the entrance to the rehoming farm will be. Exciting!

garage area

Day 3 and the garage area is nearly completed and prepared. They come next week to install the base, and this area will be prepped and ready for them. Behind the garage where it slopes down to the valley will be a terraced orchard and an area to store the stock cage and trailer for pick up and delivery of the rescued animals.

new car parking area

Here is the view from the road. This is the large open car parking area and you can see the drive now goes directly in line with the house. The garage area is behind the pine tree to the left, and the rescue stalls, hutches and coops will be to the right.

rear access

They have also cut a wide access ‘road’ for us to get the MUV quad up and around the farm to feed the animals each day, top up their water and transport the stock food from the garage area. Our old carport where we currently store the stock feeds will later become our new kitchen, but that’s ‘on hold’ for now. We shall get all the animals housed first, and then give attention to the house later. It looks high now, but the retaining wall will only be 1 metre, and then this right ‘bank’ of land will curve away and upwards giving me an ‘easy reach’ terraced veggie strip. No more bending to do weeding! Heaven!

new effluent bed laid

In the middle of the rescue farm we shall have 3 new public toilets. To cater for this we are having to install a much larger septic tank, and so this huge filter effluent bed has been dug. This takes the waste away and through several layers of filters and pipework it will disperse everything away safely and cleanly. Rule of thumb basically for septic tanks is one chamber per toilet unit, so including the one in the house we needed 4. This will last a lifetime and avoid any effluent getting choked up and becoming smelly. Once done it will all be invisible and no one will even realise the work involved, but this is a very important part of the planning.


We have an almost permanent bonfire on the go while we clear away rotting posts, broken coops, and anything that will burn that we cannot recycle. Myself and Charlea walk round and spray a large blue ‘X’ on stuff we want to burn, and the diggers in between jobs grab it or push it down to the large bonfire. Old tree stumps, broken gates etc… it all ends up on the bonfire. We have piles of wire fencing carefully rolled up, and another pile of old iron and tin that we may reuse. It’s a huge and on going task, to keep things tidy as we go and sort what is salvageable and might come in handy for later.

going deeper

Now that the driveway, car park, garage area, effluent bed, and rear access has been cut, the biggest digger moves into the ‘Oasis’ and gives attention to our pond. Last year it dried up over Summer and so we realised we had NOT hit the water table. Also although the ducks and geese were happy, it was not deep enough to take swans who need a much deeper and wider water area. And so our two farm ponds are being merged into one huge lake!

new lake

This photo shows the new effluent bed in the foreground and work starting on making our pond deeper. The digger is using the soil from the pond to level out this paddock and raise that back left corner where every year it floods from the land on the left where the storm streams are. When the water recedes, it sits on our land like one giant puddle simply because our land is slightly lower. Re contouring and raising this middle paddock up will stop that happening in the future. He will merge both ponds together and we shall have a giant lake and bridge on the far right to gain access up to the 8 new pig pens.

moving bricks

And finally even Charlea gets stuck in! Hubby is teaching her how to use our mini digger and here she is clearing the old brick base where the old woodshed used to be. There were lots of squeals and screams, as the digger moved into action, but finally she got the hang of it and successfully scraped up a bucket of bricks. We have worked so hard over the past two years with just simple hand tools, now we too can take it a bit easier and have fun on the digger! Lol. Our ultimate ‘dream’ is being created, and in the weeks to follow the new shelters, stalls, pens, coops, hutches and fencing go up! Watch this space!


Sunday, 25 August 2013

We have piglets!

Yes, on Friday 23rd, we went outside to ‘do the rounds’ and there were some little piglets near Tango our red Wessex Saddleback. However, one was outside the sty on the mud, two were dead, one was on top of her and she was lying belly down so they could not suckle. We quickly fed Mum and removed the squished babies and put the rest back in the straw.

orphan piglets

We watched them closely all day, checking on them every hour and Tango did not feed them once or show any interest in them at all. Later another two had crawled out of the warm straw and onto the cold mud and despite their cries she left them. By 4pm I phoned the vet for some advice, to tempt Mum to suckle them somehow? The advice was to bring them in asap, or they would certainly be dead from exposure by morning. And so we did…..
special piglet
By the time we went out to get them in, this little piglet was on his side and cold stiff. We wrapped him in an old towel and Charlea sat with him on her lap for an hour in front of a heater. More advice from the vet said the best way to warm him up was to give him a warm feed, so he gets heat from the inside out. Rapidly bottles were made up with colostrum and he immediately started to improve. His back legs are weak and we assume she might have accidentally squished him too?

feed piglet

We have to feed these babies every two hours around the clock. Myself and Charlea have been taking ‘shifts’ in order to get them fed and monitor them. It would seem to hand raise a litter of piglets is not easy… success rate is 50%, so this is a huge undertaking and these are not just babies, but newborns that we need to get suckling and also keep very warm. Piglets cannot control their own body temperatures until they are about 3 weeks old and if too cold can refuse to feed.

bottle fed piglet

Tango has thrown some lovely striped saddlebacks… but wait! What are those spots on them? Yes.. thinking back that one day when Gaara got out and broke the fencing must have been when she was ‘nobbled’ and so these are kune X wessex. Pigs can have a litter with several different fathers of their young the same as cats and kittens because they release several eggs at once when they are ‘on heat’. It is just random luck which boar fertilises them, and it seems here Gaara has been a very successful candidate! Either way the piglets are gorgeous and without a mother to feed them are now orphans. We are finding it very tiring work, but cannot give up on them. Fingers cross for 100% success in hand rearing a whole litter… that’s one to notch up for experience! We will do our very best for them all and bring you updates. Winking smile


Thursday, 22 August 2013

Quick update on Bristle–our rescue hedgehog

Bristle has been doing remarkably well! Earlier in the week I posted on our LARA – Little Acres Rescue Animals facebook page his progress after treatment….

Bristles eyes

Look at this! You can actually see his eyes now! His oil baths have certainly helped his skin… gone are the thick powdery mange mites, and here you can see his soft crinkly skin underneath. Some quills were still falling out, but not all of them.

Bristle recovering

He no longer curls into a ball now with Charlea. He sniffs her hand and then uncurls… and walks around near her. He has made good progress.

Bristle weigh in

And tonight we did a proper weigh in. The previous scales were hard to read being a needle that weighs kilos… we estimated it to be around the 400-420gms mark. Today we weighed him on some new precision scales and he actually came in at 431gms! He is eating and drinking well, and has become very lively at night time. Doesn’t his skin look so much better!

Bristle face

And here is his dear little face, at long last. You can even make out his eyelashes that were once encrusted in mange. His nose is very similar to a dog’s nose, and he is just so adorable. Charlea strokes him, and barely the odd quill comes loose now. We think he may not go completely bald after all. Still a long way for a full recovery and I have the ‘hedgehog rescue’ people keeping an eye on him too Winking smile He is a lucky little fellow. If we had passed that stretch of road one minute earlier or later we wouldn’t have seen him crossing, and he probably would have died by now. We didn’t see a single car all the way back, it is that remote.

The little goat kid we went to rescue is doing well. He eats like a king, and is growing fast. Since then we have rescued another feral kid, and taken in 8 ‘river ducks’ (multi crossed breeds) a white pekin duck, 2 shaver hens, a large rooster, 3 pekin bantams, found a sparrow with a sprained wing in our goose house so he is resting up in a cage, and we returned the puppy we had been fostering that had rickets, and a kitten we treated for 6 weeks with ringworm. All are doing well, and it’s been a busy week so far! AT THE SAME TIME Tango is due to farrow (give birth to piglets) on the 23rd August… watch this space!


Saturday, 17 August 2013

Back garden sheep

Today we brought our 4 sheep down from the paddocks and into our back garden area. Why? 1. Well, even though we go up to them each day we kind of miss them being about. 2. They make excellent lawn mowers for shorter grass. Combine the two and we had a lovely day with our tame sheep mooching about!

Bakewell and cupcake

Here are Bakewell (rescued wether) and Cupcake (rescued Suffolk ewe) lazing on the ‘bank’ near our cottage. It was a bit cold, but the Winter sun took the edge off enough for us to get out and clean the critter hutches etc. We don’t let our goats eat this grass so much because it is shorter and therefore more likely for them to get worms. Sheep = short grass, Goats = long grass. Sheep are grazers, goats are browsers!

bakewell sheep

D’you know what this is? This is the face of a once completely ‘wild’ wether who was neglected, riddled with fly strike and lost 80% of his fleece. This is also the face of the same wether standing only a metre away from me by choice, who is allowing me to take his photo, and who has learnt trust and love here at Little Acres.

Cupcake tame

And d’you know what this is? This is a ewe who also had fly strike, lost her fleece, and was so skittish she would run from her own shadow. This is Cupcake, a Suffolk ewe who too was once wild as part of a commercial flock.

shared breakfast with sheep

And this? This is testimony of the work we do here with rescue and rehabilitation. These two once wild, neglected animals are now sharing and eating from the bucket in my hand. Completely tame, gentle, loved and love back in return. And this is why we do what we do….. for their sakes. This brings us so much joy, and is the reason why I am up at 4am after feeding 7 orphans and writing my blog post! Why we EVERY single day spend 3 hours feeding and tending to our rescued animals each morning no matter the weather. And why despite our meagre budget, and makeshift shelters, we still continue to help animals in need. This is our reward tenfold. So today when we brought our sheep down simply because we wanted to spend time with them… look how we were rewarded. My heart swelled so much I thought it would burst out of my chest and I would drop the bucket! Lol!

sheep and rabbits

While Charlea set about cleaning out the rabbit hutch, Cookie (Romney ewe) was very interested in Bella & Hermoine, our rabbits who were put in a temporary pet cage whilst cleaning took place. The rabbits pull their bedding out into their wired run part so every couple of days we have to give it a complete brush out and move them over onto fresh grass. They are fed fresh veggies and pellets each day, but we don’t let them live on mud.

sheep with rabbits

There’s something about those rabbits! Lol. Even Bakewell and Cupcake seem fascinated with them!

curious sheep

Cleaning over… Charlea puts the rabbits back in on a new area of grass. Cookie has supervised the whole process from start to finish so Charlea holds up the lid for a few more moments allowing Cookie to satisfy her curiosity. She’s a funny girl that Cookie!

sheep lawnmowers

Meanwhile Bakewell and Cupcake have trotted off to graze our back garden area down. When we revamp in 9 weeks, we shall get all these pathways redone and tidied up. Considering this was once open land a metre high in weeds and thistles, we haven’t done too badly Winking smile But where is Cherry?

sheep Cherry on guard duty

Cherry Pie has taken up residence on ‘guard duty’ outside the hen pen, lol. She sat there like a guard dog the whole time we were cleaning the rabbit hutch and as you can see, I don’t think she is that hungry! She is a lovely girl, full of curiosity and every single day comes up for her cuddles with Cookie. She is one of last years orphans and every 4 hours we had to pinch her eyelids and turn them the right way until they eventually stayed. Her poor eyes were scratch raw by her lashes, but we persevered and she came good. It is quite common in some lambs, and just takes time and attention to sort it. Cherry is the mischief maker of the 4, and the leader.

sheep on bank 
She is not interested in the treats we pour for them to nibble at. They are not really that hungry. The sheep are quite at home with the other animals here, and are so laid back and gentle. They normally graze in the far paddock, right up there in the distance where the big Macrocarpa trees are.

sheep licking the bowl

She finally joins the others to ‘lick the bowl’ clean, lol. It was lovely having our little flock around today. Later in the evening they joined Galaxy back up the top and we shall bring them down again for some more ‘lawn mowing’ tomorrow. Aren’t they adorable? A far cry from the wild ones you see out in the fields, and very overlooked as pets. We adore our sheep, they actually come up to us and nudge our legs if they want a cuddle or scratch and then ‘lean’ into us to cuddle us back. Now you can understand why we brought them down today, because we enjoy their company and love them.


Friday, 16 August 2013

Meet ‘Bristle’ our rescued Hedgehog!

Yesterday while travelling home with another orphan lamb, we spotted a hedgehog in the middle of the quiet country road. Knowing that usually a “daytime hedgie is a sick hedgie” we stopped and picked it up. I had no gloves in the car, so used hubby’s work coat to carry him back home on my lap.


Not quite sure what to do with him we placed him in a cardboard pet carrier, and then sought help. The last thing we wanted to do was second guess and end up doing more harm than good. Via Facebook we contacted a community page called ‘Hedgehog Rescue New Zealand’ and read that they offer help and advice for sick, found, injured hedgehogs etc, and that is exactly what we needed!

his bad side

It wasn’t long before a lady called Narelle phoned me at home and talked myself and Charlea through handling him, weighing him, and gave us other helpful advice. One of the things she asked for was to post some ‘close ups’ of Bristle so they could determine the best way forward and see what shape he was in. He is pretty bad… Sad smile

his bristles are falling off in clumps

She also offered to take him and nurse him for us, bless her. However after more discussions she then said she felt that with our experience as a ‘rescue’ we could probably handle nursing him ourselves and offered to guide us through the process. Here is a photo of the big flakes or clumps of quills that are falling off him.

his nose

And here is  his little nose with his hands on both sides. His hair has gone, leaving his face and nose looking more like a wrinkled elephants trunk, poor thing.

rescued hedgehog oily bath

One of the first things she suggested was to give Bristle an oil bath. This would help suffocate any mites on him, and give him comfort from his dry cracked skin. We filled a shallow container with canola oil, then pinged it in the microwave to warm it up. Holding him gently on his back (he was in a ball) we placed him in. We used a small dripper to get the oil in between his quills and under the big flakes of skin etc, and were very careful around his face. He’s not a pretty sight eh?

bristle eating

Later he uncurled himself and came out for some food. We had already heard that Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant so did NOT give him bread & milk, as so many do. Instead we were told that everything he needs can be found in kitten biscuits soaked in water, or kitten jellymeat but not the ones with gravy. He also drank 3 saucers of clean water, so we think he was dehydrated too. Another lady called Jacqui at HRNZ has assured us that once his mange goes down his eyes will pop back again, and maybe not all of his quills will fall out. She said it depends how bad his mange is…. fingers crossed for him.

Bristle's first night

His first night, and at 3am I checked him, then at 4am found him sleeping on his food bowl! Lol. We have lined a crate with plastic to stop any of his bedding ‘straying’. We didn't want his mange to spread to any other of our animals and so thought this was the best way to help quarantine him. He is inside in the warm and up high away from the dogs. However we have since learned this is NOT a good practice! The HRNZ team phoned me to inform me that hedgehogs can chew plastic!!! Not a good idea after all eh? Not only that but he could also get tangled up in it if he started chewing holes etc. Since then we have moved him into a wired pet carrier. He still has plenty of fresh hay to ball up in, and I've also been told a bit of polar fleece for added warmth won't go amiss! So don't do as I did.... but do as I've learnt! Lol

Others at Hedgehog Rescue New Zealand are also giving us advice via their Facebook page, and so we have a whole team of experienced ‘hedgie savers’ on board to help guide us through his recovery. I am so glad they are there. Sometimes despite having vast experience with animal rescue, a creature this small can have different needs and we are loathe to find out the hard way what NOT to do! I will keep you posted on his progress, and of course you can see more photos of Bristle on our Facebook page too at LARA – Little Acres Animal Rescue. We will do the best we can for him!