Saturday, November 24, 2007

Santa Clause is coming to .. the farm

Right, I officially know its nearly Christmas now because Santa is at the farm! XD
I got there at 8.40 - I was late because the lane has been shut because of road works so I had to walk down, I told Greg and he went and put up diversion signs for customers.
We cleaned out the pigs and gave them all their food and water really quickly then rushed to do the goats waters. I did the first sit-ons and not many people came so I had to go looking for them - I think Santa is more exciting than Me + Diamond :( and Dolly wasn't even there because she's starring in the Nativity!
The goat kids, Jacob sheep + Dolly have all been moved down to be in the Nativity scene where the children act it all out then sing to wake up Santa. I remember doing it when I was little, used to be so much fun!!
I cleaned out the duck pond with my Santa hat on and had a little audience aswell!
We had quite a big clean up of all the goats, sheep, chickens and quail and swept the whole farm for all the Christmassy visitors we're expecting. I fed and watered all the chickens which was good.
Durng the sit-ons after lunch there were children all gathered around Rudolph + Prancer the Reindeers' paddock singing to them and rattling their jingle bells - then we had a massive swarm of people come over to us.
We did some lamb walking and the lambs are getting really strong - a bit too strong so we had 2 children on each lead, and as we started to walk back from the play area to the sheep building Lavender and Boy George went crazy and started running, the children couldn't keep up so we told them to let go and the lambs ran straight back into their pens :)
More sit ons, I took Lady Sarah down to the field, cleaned out her stable and left at 4.15.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Empty ...

I've just done 8.30-4 at Ash End and the whole atmosphere at the farm has changed.
Loads of the animals have gone - apparently the lorry came in the week to take them off to 'market'.
In the goat building Mary, Anastasia Angora and 2 goat kids (they have gone to market) have gone, apparently Mary has ringworm and a cyst on her face - shes the one I'm most gutted about from all of the animals on the farm, she was the first goat I ever milked and I 'broke' her when she got mastitis, she really had a personality and I think she recognised us.

In the sheep only Beatrix Beltex has gone because she's old, she used to sit in the corner and couldn't move very well. Some of the mixed breed chickens and cockerels have gone because there were too many for the farm, and the ill Guinea Fowl from Board-a-Bunny has been taken aswell. The chest freezers full of chickens, rabbits, goat kids, piglets and who knows what else have all been emptied aswell - sent off to be incinerated.
Rodney the 'pigeon guinea pig' died of natural causes aswell last night. Joan and Bob are away on holiday.
We just had to get on with jobs as usual with a few empty pens around the place. I went and cleaned out the pigs with Greg first, gave them all water, and then gave the goats water while Sammy did their hays and straw, then we did the same with the sheep. We sorted a few of the goat pens out and let the others have the space from Anastasia, the kids and Mary's pens.
We did the first sit-ons and then took some lambs for a walk which was fun. I picked Paddy + Claudius' feet, and Sam had to help hold up Claudius, then we hibi scrubbed Paddy + Sarah's legs.
The goats milk from last year was all bottled up and put in chest freezers for this years use - they had 3 power cuts so the milk has all gone off and Greg asked me + Sam to empty it. It was full of maggots and rotten milk which we had to scoop out into the bins and get as clean as we could!
At the end of the day me + Sam shut down the farm, we took Peony out from being with Gorse (the male goat) and put Blackberry in with him - hopefully some more goat kids will be on the way in a couple of months. I took Samson out to the field and cleaned out his + Sarahs stables.
Not the best day, but it all had to be done and I can understand why but they didn't mention it last week.

The health inspector is coming on Monday -coincidence?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Guide Dogs - Day 2

I arrived at the centre today at 9am and Mark came to reception to pick me up. I met 2 of his dogs which we loaded into one of the Guide Dog vans and drove to Warwick. We walked his dogs around Warwick to get them used to being in a busy town centre and around lots of people, making sure that the dogs sat at kerbs, waited to be told before walking on. After those 2 dogs have been walked we went back to the centre to pick up 2 other of Marks dogs. We repeated the same thing with those 2 and walked around Warwick again. After Warwick we drove to Leamington to walk around the shops. We took the dogs in the shops and the shop keepers were more than happy for us to be there.
Back at the centre we had an hour for lunch and watched a bit of TV in the staff room.
Simon came to pick me up from the staff room at 2, and we went to kennels to see Claire and her dogs. Simon is teaching Claire to be a trainer which is all hands on training for 1 year on the job. She then has a one day assessment working with the dogs and does a written test, if she passes she will get a City & Guilds qualification and will be a qualified trainer. We drove to Leamington and took 2 dogs with us, we went around the shops again and then into the park. I had a go at walking one of the dogs with a harness on. There are 2 types of harnesses, the A and B, which are fitted to the dog and the dog walks on the left hand side of the owner, so that the right hand can be used for other things. it sounds strange but you could really feel the movement of the dog through the harness and could tell if the dog was standing still or sat down. If an owner is left handed there are some dogs which are trained to walk on the right hand side.
I swapped dogs and walked the other one on the harness. The dogs are taught to walk in the centre of the pavement, away from the road or bushes on the other side, and at any obstacles they sit down, you can feel
Back at the centre and after a 10 minute tea break we went for a walk around the block and I took a dog with us, just on a lead. Simon and Claire had some paperwork to do so I went on the computers and read a bit about the dogs. When the puppies are born they are kept with their mother at the breeding centre or someones house for the first few weeks, and then a puppy walker looks after them. The puppy walker has to take them places like the train, in shops, around children in school and also get them used to the vacuum cleaner and household things like that. When they go to the toilet they have to say 'busy busy' so the dog associates it with going to the toilet and can go when told to.
I left just after 5.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Guide Dogs - Day 1

I started my first day with Guide Dogs today, its in Leamington Spa so took about 45 minutes to get there. I arrived at 9.30 and met Jon the Senior Guide Dog Trainer in reception. He gave me a safety talk and a tour of the whole centre, there are dogs everywhere - under people's desks and behind reception.
We had a cup of tea and then Ian, another trainer took me and one of the dogs for a free-run down by the river.
I met another of the trainers called Ann and went out with one of her dogs in a van, parked up and walked back to the centre. When the dog gets to a kerb, they are taught to sit and wait for the trainer to tell it to 'walk on', and they also swing their right hand forward.
When we got back we went to the staff room and had lunch which took with me.
After lunch I went out with another trainer called Marina who is from spain, we took a new dog out from the kennels for a free-run to tire it out a bit, and then for a walk around the block, we took her back to the kennels and did the same with a male dog. We took him back and got another dog out to go and have a play in the maze and field - the dogs have to have Environmental Enrichment (EE), so there are lots of runs with mazes, swings, toys and tunnels for the dogs to play in. Marina showed me around the block of kennels, there is a team of people who look after the dogs in kennels, and make sure all the dogs are healthy.
Marina has one dog which she is training who is being spayed on Friday, so we took her to the 'chill out games room', which is a little house with soft toys and balls in it which the dogs go in to bond with their trainers and to play in.
She went back into kennels and we got another female out, took her for a walk and got her used to socialising with the cat.
There are 100+ dogs on site, and there is another breeding site around the corner. I didn't realise that Guide Dogs breed 80% of their dogs to be trained. The puppies start to be trained at 12 months old and training lasts for 4 months.
Mom picked me up at 5 o'clock.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


The Health Inspector came on Monday and everything is ok - we passed.
I got there at 8.30 and Sam + Chrissie are away - Amy is covering for them.
We did the sheep and goat's hay, straws and waters (it seems strange to have no Mary) together then I went and got all the Heavies in, I was nearly late but did the first sit-ons with Paddy on time :)
We cleaned out the pigs and gave them all their food and water then did some goat kid walking with the children - they were jumping everywhere and even ran up the climbing frame!
After lunch I cleaned out the small duck ponds and then did some more sit-ons with Amy. While we were doing the sit-ons I saw a little boy kick a football from Tractor & Trike into the Lawrence the Llama's pen, so after I climbed over his gate to get it back, he normally runs outside into his little field but today he came over to me and let me stroke him because I had a little bucket of feed!
He used to be halter trained and Jenny would walk him around the farm, but after she had her children she had less time and he doesn't like the halter anymore :(
The belgian quail bantam house needed cleaning out so I did that and got attacked by the cockerel! He ran at Amy and cut her leg by jumping up at her - little man syndrome.
I took Sarah and Claudius out into the field and cleaned their stables then left at 4 o'clock.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Rain rain go away

Quite a rainy day at Ash End today from 8.30 until 5.
I got there and helped Greg (Joan + Bob's son) to clean out the pigs and change their waters. After I did that I went and did the goats hay, straw and waters. The hay from the hay racks goes to the cow and straw goes and beds down the ducks. I had to get rid of all the soggy wet straw from the duck pen because of all the rain and put the new stuff in.
After that I bottle fed the cade (orphaned) lambs and then went and fed and watered all the horses and ponies with Sam.
We had lunch at 12 and did some sit-ons at 12.30, I had Paddy :D + Sam had Dolly - she bites and kicks if you go behind her, so have to be careful!
They got a big drainage company to come and empty to main duck pond with a big lorry and a tube that sucks up all the water, but the bottom was covered in mud and stones so we had to get in and sweep it all out to get it clean. After that we changed all the sheep and goat waters so the duck pond could be filled up - its quite clever because on one side there is a pipe and box, so you pour the water into the box and the water goes into the pond and and straw and hay stays in the box.
I had to carry the cade lambs into the hatchery for Emma's tour so they could bottle feed them, and then it was time for more sit-ons, this time we swapped and I had Polly. We fed the horses again and after the last sit-ons it was time to leave.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Horsing around

8.30-5 day at Ash End and Sam is back :D Vicky wasn't there so I'm not sure if last week as a bit too hectic for her!!
We did the usual sheep + goats hays, water and straw and then went and gave the pigs some water. We did the morning horse sit-ons and after that I had to go and clean all the horse tacks and tidy the horse feed store because theres a Shite Horse day on Monday. It took ages to do with a damp cloth because it was all thick with dust and mud and they are really detailed.
I learnt where everything goes on the horse. Me + Sam went round to feed and water all the horses.
We had lunch, did some more sit-ons and took out the heavy horses, I took out Samson :) After that we did a big clean out of the stables and made them all fresh so they look good for Monday - but I'm sure they'll need doing again tomorrow!
Me + Paddy:

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Ash End

Another 8.30-5 day at Ash End with no Sam.
There waas a new girl in today called Vicky, so she was with me doing some of the jobs Sam would have done. Lois, Alex + Lucy were all there but doing party tours.
We did the goats and sheep as usual, fed the rabbits and guinea pigs, fed the horses with Hi-fi with a bit of water and then did some sit-ons. I had to milk Mary which was really strange + good at the same time. We fed the pigs and piglets with nuts - pelleted feed.
After that we came the ponies + Paddy hay and water + went and did Guinea-Pig Corner grooming. After the 12.30 sit ons we went and had lunch in the cafe - cheese sandwich.
After our lunch we gave the lambs their lunch (a bottle of lamlac) and went and did some more sit-ons.
There are some new turkey chicks called 'poults' in the hatchery which will be raised for Christmas. There were a couple of Silkie cockerels fighting so we separated those and put them into separate pens.
At 3 Vicky + me had to start shutting down the farm! We got the pigs in and gave them all some water, took the Heavy Horses down to the field - 'Stand' means to stand still and stop walking, and 'Walk on' means just that. They're so strong and taller than me, but gentle at the same time, we cleaned out their stables and because it's been really windy, we had to sweep all of the paths around the farm to get rid of all the straw everywhere.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Another day down on the farm ...

I did 8.30-5 at Ash End today.
Sam is ill so when I got out of the car Joan asked if I could do the full day to cover for her instead of working until 12.30, and she is going to pay me :)
I did what we usually start with - the goats, but cleaned them out aswell today.
I went and did some sit-ons which I'm a lot more confident with now because I think Paddy knows me and can trust me, and I trust him.
I've not had anything to do with horses before but I'm starting to really like them. They've got Polly the Sheltand, Dolly Donkey, Paddy, Diamond, the 3 Heavies-Samson, Sarah and Claudius and Thomas the race horse so 8 in total :D
After the sit-ons I went and gave all the pigs some fresh water, and did the same with Doris Dexter the cow.
Mary the goat who's leg I held has mastitus which is like a blockage of the udder. She has to be milked out - until she's empty, and then they put some special udder cream on the udders.
I helped with a chick chat by passing around the chick for all the little children to stroke, and the older chick for them to have on their arm/head. There was a wild duckling running around the heavy horses field so the farm are looking after it. They've put it in the dome brooder to keep it warm. I had to go and get some guinea pigs out of Guinea-Pig Corner and get the children to sit down on straw bales and groom them. After that they all went and had sit-ons on Diamond.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Second Easter monday

I did a full day at the farm today, from 8.30-5.
I met some of the other staff, Jenny is in charge of the farm during the week, Amy is the same as me + Sam and has worked here for 6 years! and Lucy was there aswell who works on Saturdays and weekdays.
I went and did the usual goat routine - hay, straw and waters. After that I went and collect the eggs from all the chicken pens which will be incubated in incubators.
They have 2 big yellow 'Brinsea' incubators which run every day of the year, and the day that the eggs are due to hatch, they are moved down to the hatchery so the children can watch them hatch.
Joan taught me a bit about incubation, large chickens take 21 days to hatch, and little bantam chickens take 18 days to hatch. She showed me how to candle eggs which was really good. You get a special candling torch and hold it up the the egg and you can see inside the egg! It lets you know if the egg is fertile and if the egg is developing into a chick! Very cool.
I walked the ponies and donkey in from their field with the cow into the barn where the sit-ons are done, then cleaned/poo picked the field. Theres a MASSIVE muck heap at the bottom of the farm where all the cleaned out mess goes onto.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Easter Holidays at the farm

Another 8-12.30 day today at Ash End.
Sam was away ill today so I had to do the jobs on my own which was a bit strange, but she's showed me what we have to do well, so I was ok.
First I did the goats hay,straws and waters, swept the goat building and had to go and do the first sit-ons, I learnt to tie on Paddys lead rope onto the post so he wouldn't run off with a child on his back.
I had to give all the horses hay and water. There are some Heavy Horses in the goat building, Claudius Clydesdale, Lady Sarah Shire Horse and Samson the Shire. Claudius is a bit naughty so his top stable door bars have to be shut so he doesn't bite any childrens fingers, but the other two are really nice. I had to bottle feed Easter which was really good, we used Lamlac, which is a powdered milk substitute which Joan mixed up with hot water.
I went into the hatchery to help with a Chick Chat and stayed in there afterwards to clean out the Quail pens. They're funny little birds and try to fly off when you open their door, but they don't get very far!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Easter Monday

I'm back at Ash End again today, Joan is the boss and she asked me to come in and help out. Its Easter Monday and there was a goat kid born this morning which they have named Easter :) and I saw him when he was 2.5 hours old!
I only did half a day (8-12.30) so did the goat waters, hays and straws. The goats have kids which are bottle fed if they reject them, using the mothers milk, so the goats have to be milked! I stood there and held Marys leg while Sam milked her.

There is a black + white horse called Paddy, a little ginger shetland called Polly, a donkey called Dolly and a pony called Diamond who the children can sit on the back of in 'sit-ons'.
I just stood next to the horse while Sam did the sit-ons so I could get used to what you have to do, but Sam showed me how to put a head collar on a horse.
After the sit-ons we went and did a Chick Chat in the Hatchery, I remember coming to the chick chats and singing to the chicks when I was little.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

2nd day on the farm

Today was my second day at Ash End and its the Easter Holidays. I got there at 8.30 and met a few new people.
I'm working with Sam the most, shadowing her. She shows me what we have to do, which animals eat what, where all the taps are, who is friendly + who bites/kicks etc.
When we first got there we did the goats hays, straws and waters then swept the paths around the goat building. After we'd done that building we went into the sheep pens and gave them all fresh straw, hay + water.. The goats were really friendly and came over but the sheep just ran off.
We got lunch in the cafe + when we'd done that we had to empty out the duck ponds with a bucket, then filled them back up.
We changed the waters again + swept the paths and that was pretty much it because it took so long to go round the farm getting to know everything. The day went really fast.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

2nd Day in a Vets

Today was the 2nd day I've spent observing practice - I got in at 8.30.
This morning I observed consults, and after each consultation I cleaned the consult table which needs to be done so that no germs or bacteria are left on surfaces or equipment. Cross contamination can cause big problems, so it needs to be stopped.
Then I went and observed surgeries - I was shown how to insert an endotracheal tube into a dogs wind pipe (trachea), which is used to give the animal anaesthetic gas. I then got to insert an endotracheal tube into another dog.
I saw an operation on a cats hip which was interesting.
When the cat's operation was finished, straight away a border collie which had been run over came in. It has a dislocated hip and a crushed foot, so the kindest thing to do was to euthanize it.
Another cat was bought in which had to be euthased.
After the rush I cut up some blue surgery cloths and folded them into bags. All of the surgery equipment and tools needed for each operation is sorted out and packed into bags and sterilised in the autoclave.
A cat castration pack contains surgery cloths, all the equipment and tools required, surgery gloves, a mask and surgery cloths.
I left at 7.30, so today was a really long day.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

1st Day Seeing Practice

Today was the first day I've spent observing in a Vets Practice.
The place where I went is in Bourneville - about 40 minutes away. I got there at 8.30 and met the Vet Nurses and Vets and then the patients started being checked in.
I saw a few Cat and Dog spays (female) and castrates (male) which are done for different reasons including preventing pregnancy and tumors.

I also looked at the X-rays of different patients and then sat in on the consultations with owners.

Not having one myself, I learnt how to sex a cat today! It's quite easy though.

I saw my first euthanasia - it was a female Rottweiler with a huge bone tumor called an osteosarcoma on her shoulder. I was sitting in the corner while the consult was going on and understandably the family were really upset and loud when she was put down.
Her muscles relaxed after she was PTS so she messed on the floor, I helped Andy the vet clean up, put her into a big yellow bag and then she was sent off for cremation.
It wasn't really what I expected to happen, and it wasn't nice, but I was ok with it.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ash End Farm

Today I started some voluntary work at Ash End House Childrens Farm :)
It seems quite strange to work there because I've been going there for years as a visitor, but its fun. I only worked from 8.30-12.30, but I still did quite a bit.
I did they sheep and goats waters and hays + straw.
I watched a "Chick Chat" which teaches the children about incubating and then you sing Happy Hatch Day to a newborn chick which everyone gets to stroke. Another chick which is a few weeks old is passed around and placed on the childrens head, hands or shoulder. I'm mainly shadowing Sam and she shows me how to do things, and also Alex who shows me how to do other jobs.

They had a delivery of 280 bales of straw which I helped Greg to unload and load into the straw barn - I chipped one of my teeth when the delivery man dropped a bale on my head, but it's alright now!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I'm Lewis, I'm 15 and I've started this just so I remember things basically and look back on the experience I've had, I don't really expect lots of people to read it!

I want to, and have for a long time wanted to be a Vet. I've grown up with animals (at home, at childrens farms, zoos etc) and working with them really appeals to me.

I know it's not all just playing with and and looking after animals all day, I also want to help them if they need it. I'm interested in science which is obviously a big part of being a vet.

If I want to become a vet and get into university, I'll need to get some Work Experience, which will hopefully teach me things and how to handle animals. It will show me whether or not the job is right for me, and if it turns out that I really don't like working with animals, well then I'll have to start again and find the perfect job for me.

This is basically going to be my blog of Work Experience, with hopefully a few photos and stories, so I can look back at it in the future and remember what I've done.