2018 is already half over. It has been quite a difficult year so far and yet has brought some good changes too, notably getting the guinea pigs moved outside. They have been taking advantage of the unusually warm and dry summer to catch up on years of missed sunbathing opportunities. I think they have had a lifetimes worth in the two months since they made the move. They have gone from being too scared to set foot on the ramp to lolling about casually soaking up the rays.

The new set up in the barn is taking shape. There are hutches set up down the North side with a run area by each that can be used separately or with the hutch. These are for temporary housing, and we have a bit of a plan for these. Watch this space! In the middle is the replacement area for the office and treatment room. At the back is the bonding cage, guinea pig boarding hutches and essential tea and coffee making facilities for the time being because the power supply for the kettle is there. At the front is the bonding stable with two boarding cages over it and an area for tool storage. On the South side against the house is what will be the kitchen area for food storage where we hope to install a sink. There is already a loft over this area so we hope to enclose it somehow to allow it to be at least partially heated in the winter. This is only roughly set out for now. We need to get the roof covered with a tarp so we don’t get rained on inside (we cannot afford to have the roof replaced as that would cost a huge amount) and we need to get extra light into some areas and have the sink and a water heater installed.We also plan to extend the loft area to cover the entire South side to give us extra storage. This will of course cost us both time and money. But we are lucky to have such a large space to work with that will be able to be so multi-functional. We will do the work in sections, getting as much done before winter as possible.

We have taken in 15 rabbits and 4 guinea pigs so far this year and now have 89 rabbits and 17 guinea pigs. The guinea pigs live in two large groups in the new guinea pig sheds each with its own attached run. Apart from the newest arrivals  the rabbits are all in groups of from two to six members . It is a long time since we had such a big group of rabbits! There is room for all of them in good accommodation outside, with exception of the two singles yet to be bonded. Each group has a hutch or shed with its own large run or enclosure. So we actually have the right number of groups at last. Or will have once Black Currant is neutered and bonded and once we find a group that will accept feisty Freda. But we have good quality temporary accommodation on top of the permanent places so the numbers are fine and manageable. We have reduced the number of places somewhat  in order to improve some of the runs. We are now satisfied with the amount of space and with the level of stimulation that each set of accommodation offers. These vary enough in details such as how many levels there are and how many visible neighbours they have so that we can  meet the needs of different groups in different ways. We also have the stables in the barn to use if necessary if an animal shouldn’t be outside for any reason, such as being too high a fly risk or needing to stay dry or while recovering from an acute illness.

This website is another  positive addition. I hope it better showcases what we do. I still have a kot more work to do on it but I hope you agree it is going in the right direction. And it hasn’t cost anything so far. Ecohosting gave us free hosting and email with their soecial charities offer and I am using wordpress to build it with. I am very impressed with the hosting so far. We had endless difficulties with that which we used previously, twice losing access to email and websitecompletelyc. With Ecohosting it has been smoothe sailing and they have the green credentials too, something which is important to me and about which I will have more to say another time.

Not everything is rosy though, despite the month and the abundance of blooms. We have spent more than usual this year because of the guinea pig sheds and with the work needed in the barn after having had to vacate the house we are likely to spend quite a bit more than we bring in for the year cutting sharply into our reserves unless we find a way to bring in more money. We desperately need more sponsors. We are far better at looking after animals than we are at fund raising. Still I think it would be worse if it was the other way round! I don’t know of anywhere doing as much for so many rabbits and guinea pigs as we do and certainly not on such a low budget. I hope there are more people out there who would like to support us to be able to keep doing what we do. I think there are, but finding them is of course the difficult part…Please if you like the look of what we do, support us financially, be part of something and somewhere wonderful.

Twelve year old Nutbrown celebrates with a little sunbathing.

I can’t end this without wishing Nutbrown a happy twelfth birthday and twelfth gotcha day. He has been with us for twelve years as of today!  I am going to give him a special celebration feast tonight. Long may he be with us.