A Busy Valentines Day at Marias Animal Shelter

Surprise Filming

I found Maria at the shelter cleaning the indoor animals and in a bit of a confused state worrying about the busy day ahead and having to be filmed! After being told they had finished all the filming, they phoned Maria and told her they were coming again! The film crew were due at 11am, so we all quickly set to work. I helped Maria clean the indoor animals and then all of a sudden the film crew arrived peering over the door. Cameras and microphones were quickly set up and they began filming presenter Andrew Lamberty at the front gate. We carried on cleaning and then I had to take four female guinea pigs up to the top field and introduce them to the outside guinea pigs (many females living with one very lucky male called Howard!). By the time I got back, the film crew (presenter, director and cameraman) were in the room talking Maria through what they would like to do, so I had to wait outside and play with the goats until they came out and headed towards the top field. I then could carry on with cleaning indoor animals.

The lucky neutered male guinea pig, Howard, who lives in a big house with lots of females
The lucky neutered male guinea pig, Howard, who lives in a big house with lots of females
The 4 guinea pigs I took to the top field to introduce to Howard and the other females, from left:Olive, Candy, Lucy, Megan
The 4 guinea pigs I took to the top field to introduce to Howard and the other females, from left:Olive, Candy, Lucy, Megan

Sssh Filming in Progress

While they were filming Maria, Morgan arrived and Maria asked him to tidy up the big animals housing, yards and paths, however, as soon as he began to sweep he heard ‘ssshhhh, be quiet, we’re filming’, so headed down to help me for a while. I groomed Louis, a dear old rabbit that has arthritis and has just lost the last of his two girls and put him outside in a new hutch and pen. He now has a lower hutch without a ramp, so he can easily get in and out. Morgan then headed off to do the hay nets and was startled to find himself being filmed! I think John and James also got caught on camera while working.


Maria said they were working on the continuity and asked her to wear the same pink gloves as she was wearing last time and they wanted her to remember where they filmed her talking to Andrew last September!! Its hard to remember what happened five minutes ago sometimes at the shelter! They turned her into a little actress, as she was directed to do things like just standing and nodding with Andrew, which she found hilarious and I can’t wait to see!
Just before we stopped for a break at lunch time, Sam the cameraman wanted to film me doing something with the rabbits, so I just went in and gave some their dry food,  but he dropped his microphone in the mud and had to stop. I think most of his equipment became caked in mud…..he’ll never film at an animal shelter again!

No Rest for the Wicked

Maria had just sat down and had one sip of coffee and a little nibble when a couple arrived to look at the guinea pigs, as they wanted to choose another female to rehome with the one they already had. Maria went off to the top field with them and then the film crew started packing up. They had said they would do a little more filming of us all working or saying goodbye to Andrew or something, but I think they had to go and catch their flight back to London. I had to go and find Maria, as she was still wearing her microphone! Maria went back to them and I took over with the couple who chose a lovely guinea pig called Lucy, one that I had only just taken to the outside house that morning. I took them back to the room to write down their details and found that the film crew had left, so Maria took over again.

Finally a break for Maria

The couple left and Maria finally sat down to drink her coffee and eat the rest of her lunch while watching the rest of us prepare the animal food. She told us that the new BBC 2 series ‘Auction Hero’ has been brought forward, so now it will be shown in March! Really hoping it won’t be during our fun auction evening on 22nd March!! She also said that she had cheekily asked Andrew lamberty to be the shelters patron! He kindly agreed, so we will be allowed to mention him in publicity from now on.

Andrew Lamberty, the new patron for Marias Animal Shelter
Andrew Lamberty, the new patron for Marias Animal Shelter


After feeding the animals, Maria and I were washing the bowls when a potential new volunteer arrived to have a look around, so off she went again. After showing the volunteer around and saying goodbye, a lady arrived to choose a neutered male rabbit to rehome with her female and a young lady arrived with two male guinea pigs for us to find a new home for. Maria showed the lady to the rabbits and I dealt with the young lady and guinea pigs. The two male guinea pigs had been rescued by her from a home where they had been mistreated and had to hand them over to us to find the best new home for them. I asked her to fill out the entry form, while I put them in their new temporary housing. Meanwhile, Maria came in and started to fill out the rehoming form for the lady who had chosen her new male rabbit. I saw the young lady out and then another lady arrived with a hamster for us to take in, a sweet little female Syrian hamster called Boris. Another entry form was to be filled out. The lady taking the male rabbit then fell in love with two gorgeous male guinea pigs called Basil and Dumbo and decided to take them too! Maria then had to fill out the rehoming form for them.
We chatted about the animals for a while and then saw both out.

Dev, the handsome neutered male was rehomed
Dev, the handsome neutered male was rehomed
Also rehomed were the gorgeous Basil and Dumbo, the lady couldn't resist!
Also rehomed were the gorgeous Basil and Dumbo, the lady couldn’t resist!
Zac & Zingy, the two male guinea pigs that were rescued from being mistreated
Zac & Zingy, the two male guinea pigs that were rescued from being mistreated
valentines day at shelter 2013 011
Boris, the sweet female Syrian hamster that came into the shelter

Vet call while on toilet break

Maria had been meaning to take me up to the public toilet (still waiting to hear about being able to get one at shelter) right after lunch, but it didn’t work out that way! We only now had the chance to go. Maria had to telephone the vet while we were there because Oliver, the little goat we recently rescued, has not been eating properly and getting thin. The vet asked for us to take his temperature, so Maria had to pop up to her house, pick up a thermometer and take us back down to the shelter. While we were gone, Morgan, James and John had been busy tidying and finishing up.

Temperature Time

John distracted Toffee (who was trying to get Marias attention) and Maria and James restrained Oliver while I took his temperature. It was 39.5 C, which the vet said is normal, so it couldn’t be an infection. The vet said he would come and have a look at him the next day. After using Marias own thermometer from home, we found the animal one in the medicine cupboard! I told Maria she was welcome to take the thermometer back home and use (with a grin on my face), but she wisely said we can now have two for the animals.

Olivers First Walk

After I had quickly taken some photos of new guinea pigs and the hamster for rehoming, Maria decided to take the goats for a walk with Oliver on his first walk since arriving at the shelter. James and John took the leads of Toffee and Fudge and Maria took Oliver with a lovely red lead that matched her coat! We went on a lovely little short walk finding some lovely fresh grass for them to enjoy and a hedge full of ivy and brambles to browse. Maria, John and James started to get a little bored just standing around waiting for the goats to finish munching before moving on. Oliver really enjoyed the grass and a few brambles, so we hope the vet can get to the bottom of why he is not eating the food we give him.

Oliver enjoying a hedge
Oliver enjoying a hedge
John, James and Maria looking bored while the goats have a good time eating the hedge
John, James and Maria looking bored while the goats have a good time eating the hedge
Toffee and Fudge enjoying some grass on their walk
Toffee and Fudge enjoying some grass on their walk
Oliver enjoying the fresh grass on his first walk
Oliver enjoying the fresh grass on his first walk
The goats trimming the grass in someones garden
The goats trimming the grass in someones garden
On the way back to the shelter
On the way back to the shelter


Home Time

When back in the shelter, Maria put Oliver to bed and James and I had to leave her and John putting the other animals to bed so that we could catch our bus and have a welcome sit down!

Poor Maria

I don’t know how Maria copes with so much. She constantly has busy days like this, sometimes without the help of volunteers and it doesn’t stop when she gets home. There are constant phone calls, text messages, Emails and messages on the Facebook page to be answered. She also works 5 nights a week and makes delicious preserves to sell and make money for the shelter. An amazing and inspirational woman. Please have patience if your questions are not answered straight away, but the busy lady will get back to you!haha

Keeley x

February 18, 2013Permalink

A Typical Day At The Shelter With John & Keeley (13th November 2012)

A Quiet Start

I arrived at the shelter at 10am and all was quiet and calm. Beautiful. I found all animals happily foraging and eating. Fudge (goat) was standing on the trampoline and Toffee (Fudges brother) on the stone steps next to it. They looked at me with those sweet innocent faces that make you think ‘Awww, lovely boys’, then you suddenly wonder what naughty things they have been up to and are trying to hide with those faces! I couldn’t see anything they had done, so got straight to work on cleaning the top chicken house.

There Goes The Quiet, Peaceful Start!

All the time I was cleaning out the chicken house, Toffee & Fudge were calling to me through the hedge. I could see Fudge on the trampoline looking through the foliage at me and I talked back to them, thinking they just wanted attention. They certainly got my attention when I suddenly heard a louder bleat behind me and turned around to see Fudge on the hedge!

The naughty boy had stepped through the fence and got up to eat the better foliage higher up. I went to see how he had got through the electric fence and discovered it was not clicking, so the battery must have gone. I decided to leave him eat some good stuff, while I finished off the chicken house. At one point I think I startled Bonnie the goose a bit and she tried to walk away from me too quickly and ended up slipping in the mud, getting her pristine white chest all brown and mucky. Poor bonnie.

Fudge enjoying the hedge








Toffee & Fudge realising the electric fence isn’t working
John guiding Fudge back

John The Saviour

Just as I finished my cleaning job, John arrived and helped fetch Fudge back from the hedge (after I took a couple of photos!). He put some more poles up between the existing ones to hitch the wire on to try and deter them from just walking through, although Toffee didn’t go through because he is a little too fat to fit! ha ha
It may not deter them for long, but hopefully Maria will be able to replace the battery real soon.

One of Jessies babies squeezing through the fence


One of Jessies babies trying to squeeze back through the wrong hole!
Two of Jessies babies having a rest in Jake & Elwoods pen
Babies having a nosey at John while he fixed their fence

What Would We Do Without John!

As the makeshift fence repair was complete, John suddenly saw something out of the corner of his eye and gasped. I turned to see where he was looking and was amused but worried to see Jessie the rabbits babies had escaped from their pen into the next one (Jake & Elwoods) and then out from that pen into the field. They were loose!

We quickly rushed over and two ran back through but we had to coax the last one to go back. I then stayed there while John went to the tool shed and found some more chicken wire. We fixed this over the hole and made it secure.

Meanwhile, some of the babies were being very daring and running up to Jake & Elwood and touching noses with them. Jake & Elwood weren’t bothered in the slightest. We then went into Jake and Elwoods pen and found the hole the babies were squeezing through. John went in their (Jessie and babies) pen and fixed the hole from that side with the sweet little babies running up to see what he was doing. Babies in, holes fixed. What would we do without john?!

Feeding Time

We chopped up all the fresh food and began to feed all the animals. We have a little system we try to stick to, to make it easier (sometimes it doesn’t work!). We feed the bottom chickens, geese and ducks and shut Toffee & Fudge away with their food. Then shut the pigs away, which leaves the yard free to feed Charlotte & Ralph (sheep). Marshall (Goat) is shut in his stable and Maisie (goat) shut in the room next door to him, then Molly (sheep) can eat in the goat/sheep yard. This way they don’t fight over food.

We then feed top chickens, goose, ducks and guinea pigs, indoor animals and, finally, the rabbits spending time with them as we go through each of the pens (0-20). After all were fed and let out, the feeding buckets were collected up and washed, ready for the next day. The pigs night time feed was then prepared.

Our Experience During Feeding Time

It was all going to plan until I went through the gate into the goat/sheep yard and Molly ran into Marshalls stable and began eating his food (she beat him to it!), I was holding Maisies food bucket (with medication in) in my other hand while trying to separate Molly from Marshalls food and then Marshall started to eat that! It was a few moments of chaos until John coaxed Molly out with her own bucket.

Then they were all eating what they were supposed to. However, we were a bit baffled as to why Ralph & Charlotte raced like maniacs to their food and then didn’t touch it! Funny creatures. John fed the top lot (chickens, goose, ducks and guinea pigs) then, while I fed the indoor animals. We then fed the rabbits.

Rabbit Feeding

Feeding the rabbits is always fun and I couldn’t stop laughing at the sight of Johns surprised face when Polo (a feisty old girl) lunged at his hand when he tried to offer her a piece of bread for a treat. He was shocked! It happened to me the week before when trying to offer banana. Shes a funny rabbit.

We noticed Coco had trashed his hutch again, dragging all of his bedding out and onto the grass. Of course, we spent just a little longer in Jessies pen with her gorgeous babies. John put the fresh food down for Jessie, but the babies ran in and snatched it from under her. Poor girl, we gave her a little extra after babies had finished. All rabbits were looking happy and healthy and were sorted for dry food, fresh food and water. Job done!


I went up to sweep Marshalls path and yard (getting very muddy now) while John touched up on fences and then decided to fill the hay nets first. I tackled the pigs (Blossom & Tammy) to get to the hay and filled the nets, one for the sheep, one for Marshall and one for Maisie (Marshall won’t share a stable with Maisie so we have set up two and they can choose who goes where).

After replacing hay nets, I set about sweeping the yard and path, rinsing it as I went. John came and helped scoop up the horrid sludge and the job was done. I was hot and red faced by then. 10 minutes later, Marshall happily pooped on the lovely clean path and then disappeared up the field!

Another Cleaning Job

Everything done, I suggested we walk the goats (Toffee & Fudge), but then I looked in Mays (goose) house, and decided it was more important to clean that, as it was pretty dirty. I swept out and John disinfected. The straw bedding was replaced and food bowl filled with corn ready for bedtime. We had it done in no time at all.

Time To Walk The Goats

With about 25 minutes before the animals bedtime, we took Toffee & Fudge for a quick walk up the village. They munched their favourites (grass, ivy, brambles, dead leaves and a little holly) and Fudge scratched himself along his favourite walls and fences. Toffee was surprisingly well behaved, only slightly turning to butt John a few times! When we got back towards the shelter gate, Fudge had a mad little run dragging me with him.

Blossom & Tammy (pigs) were at the gate and we didn’t want a fight between goats and pigs to break out, so I held Toffee & Fudge, letting them eat from the hedge, while John fetched the piggy girls food buckets. He shut them in with their evening feed, as it was time for them all to go to bed anyway. We got Toffee & Fudge back in and started putting to bed.

Night Night

John prepared Buttons the cats food, we heard him meowing but couldn’t see him, and I got the geese (Mays gang) into their house. We both coaxed the sweet little call ducks in with them quacking the whole way (I’m sure they were telling us off). The chickens were all inside already top lot and bottom lot, so the hatch was closed for the bottom chickens and then we coaxed Bonnie the goose and Charlie drake the Muscovy duck in, Bonnie sleeps in duck house and Charlie sleeps in chicken house, and closed the hatches. All were safe and cosy for the night and it was time for us to go home.

Just a typical day for us, thank you for reading and I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Marias days are much busier and hopefully one day she will have time to tell you all about it!

Keeley x



November 14, 2012Permalink

An Eventful Day At Marias Animal Shelter

Greetings From The Kune Kune Pigs

When I arrived at the shelter on Thursday I was greeted by Tammy and Blossom’s, the kune kune pigs, noisy snorts, I continued as usual to the barn to see who was already there and to find out my tasks for the day. I entered the barn to find Maria, Keeley and John trying to figure out how all the jobs needing doing could be completed, we were in for a busy day!

Getting To Work

After deciding on prioritising the most important jobs we all started work. Maria and John started to measure for materials, and Keeley went battle with Toffee and Fudge whilst I cleaned the animals in the barn. Whilst cleaning I had lots of cuddles with the rats, degus and gerbils, especially Sammy the rat!

Lunch Break

At around half one, we finally had a chance to sit down, eat our lunch and drink a cup of coffee and enjoy the peace before the challenge we all knew was ahead of us. We all noted that the Degus were being very quiet for once, which was unusual as they usually start making as much noise as they can as soon as we sit down! After lunch John and my granddad went back to work on the rabbit pens, whilst Maria, Keeley and I looked through some of the records to see who had come in to the shelter and who had been re-homed in the last year or so. Finally we decided it was time to get back to work.

Animal Feed Time

Keeley and I started to prepare the food for the goats, sheep, pigs and poultry, whilst Maria prepared the food for the rabbits and guinea pigs. After getting in each others way we managed to finish preparing the food and had to go feed the animals, I went to feed the chickens, ducks and geese on route to the guinea pigs, whilst Maria and Keeley fed the large animals and the rabbits. Whilst Keeley and John were finishing feeding the rabbits I went to have a cuddle with Jessies beautiful babies! After feeding the animals, I went to find Maria to see if she was ready for the challenge!

The Great Challenge

Keeley shouted to Maria saying that she let the sheep back through to the big field, a force of habit, thus making our awaiting challenge even more difficult. Our challenge of the day was to worm the sheep and goats and none of us were looking forward to it! Coaxing the pigs back in to the stable was the easy part, but trying to get the sheep back through to the yard was going to be harder. Marshall was put back in to his stable and Maisie in to the pig yard. We managed to coax Ralph and Molly back in to the yard, but Charlotte was a different story, Charlotte becomes suspicious easily and as soon as she does there would be no way of getting her back in the yard.

Just as we were about to give up on Charlotte she moved back in to the yard, much to our amazement, and we managed to shut the gate. We decided to grab the bull by the horns and get Charlotte out of the way first. Every time we tried to restrain her she managed to get away, then, much to Keeley, Maria and my amusement John went for the rugby tackle method and ended up on the floor, the look on his face once he realised what was on his hands was priceless! (I tried to get him to re-enact it for a picture, but he wasn’t having any of it!)

The Great Escape

Our next attempt was looking much better, or so we thought. We had hold of Charlotte against the gate, but with the weight of Charlotte and us the gate flew open allowing Charlotte, Molly and Ralph to run down past the rabbit pens to munch on the grass. After rounding them up again we were finally successful in worming Charlotte. Molly and Ralph were much easier!

Whilst I went to fetch some well deserved custard creams for the sheep, Maria, Keeley and John managed to worm Marshall. We then wormed Maisie who was as good as gold, all that was left were Toffee and Fudge. Toffee and Fudge were surprisingly well behaved, much to our delight, and were rewarded with a custard cream too.

Hay Net Drama

After worming the livestock I went to fill the hay nets, I gathered the nets up, after struggling to untie one that hadn’t been hung with the quick release knot, and battled my way past the pigs to fill them. Once I had filled the nets I stumbled out of the stable with the nets over my shoulder, quite an achievement seeing as I’m only 5ft 1”! As I got to the gate to the yard John saw that I was struggling to lock the gate with 3 hay nets over my shoulders and took one from me and closed the gate for me before I strangled myself! I taught John how to do the quick release knot in Marshalls house, and sent him to put the sheeps net up whilst I did Maisies. After inspecting Johns knot I nearly went flying in the mud outside the sheep house, much to his amusement.

The End To A Tiring Day

As Maria and John sat down to groom Jazz the rabbit it was coming up for 4 o’clock, time for me to leave. Every week Maria, John and Keeley laugh at how impatient I make my granddad by my stalling and reluctance to leave, but they were amazed that I left on time this week due to my developing cold, courtesy of John.

November 9, 2012Permalink

first weekly post

My name is James and I’ve been volunteering at Maria’s for almost a year now as part of a work placement scheme with duchy college. I can only manage to come in on Thursdays as the bus is quite expensive now.

When I arrived this Thursday, I thought that i had beaten everybody else as it was pretty quiet apart from Tammy and Blossom, the two pigs who were making a lot of noise and alerted Keeley to my arrival, I’ll try again next week haha.

Before finding out what i was doing I was introduced to Sammy the rat who I’ve taken a liking to.


Maria asked me to clean out Marshal’s house which confused me since him and Maisy had been swapped around, maria and I checked to see which one looked worse and they both seemed as bad as each other, just as we were about to decide who was going to clean which house, that question was soon answered when I banged my head on the roof and i decided to clean the bigger house.

After sweeping out the house I started to sweep the path but it seemed Marshal had other ideas and started being very cheeky by leaning against me and putting his head against my leg and trying to push me backwards which made everyone else laugh. Thankfully marshal let me finish in time for lunch.

After lunch I helped Keeley feed the goats and the sheep, which was a lot easier than last week when she wasn’t there, also keeping an eye on Morris and snowflake while we were trying to introduce them to each other.

when everybody was fed Maria and I took toffee and fudge for a quick walk while Keeley took pictures for Facebook, thankfully Maria had toffee because he was being naughty and kept trying to butt everybody while fudge was trying to pull me close enough for toffee to get me as well. When we got back I had to run for my bus to get back home.

Walking goats Toffee and Fudge in Probus


Fudge enjoying a scratch on the fence on a walk in Probus


Toffee trying to butt Maria


At the end of the walk with Toffee and Fudge where you can see a great view
November 5, 2012Permalink