Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Super Cute Animal Pictures

No this isn't "Clickbait", this genuinely is photos of my super cute animals...and hens :)

Today I'm posting the sorts of photos I share daily on Instagram (@pumpkinbecki). They don't necessarily fit my blog posts, so you wouldn't normally see them here, but I wanted to share them with you anyway

...Ooh and don't forget to follow me on my other platforms, direct links are on the "Contact Me and Social Media Platforms" page :)
PB xx
Cute animal pictures photos
Cute pictures of some of my pets

Friday, 14 July 2017

Sad Days are Part of Life - Amended

I try not to write sad posts

There has been a lot of press recently about 'lifestyle' Youtubers and Instagrammers working themselves into the ground night and day, taking hundreds of photos of one set up to capture the perfect 'candid' shot, so they always look amazing, have perfect product placement, perfect lighting etc etc - all at the expense of actually enjoying the experience they are photographing. They are creating the illusion that only good things happen, their photos turn out Instagram-perfect first time and life is #nofilter

It's not the reality, and certainly not the reality of life with pets.
Pumpkin Becki eating Gelato Venice
Mmmmm Pistachio and Chocolate gelato!

We'd been away on a fabulous holiday to Italy, having not been abroad for 17 years we wanted to make the most of it. We ate gelato in Venice, saw wild gentians growing 2950ft up a mountain, looked at Juliet's balcony in Verona, all the time knowing that our pets, plants and home were in the safe hands of our lovely pet sitter.

Other than Daisy poking herself in the eye half an hour before we left the house (eye drops administered and additional notes quickly scribbled on the pet sitters 'to do' list), our pet sitter had a fairly straightforward 10 days. We got regular updates and photos of everyone looking happy, and I think the pet sitter enjoyed herself too.

We had a quiet couple of days at home, playing with the piggies, hamsters and chickens, and mass-murdering a 'bloom' of Red Mite that had taken over the chicken coop, unpacking and catching up on holiday washing. Then
I went back to my day job while Mr PB took and extra day off at home.

At about 4pm my desk phone rang. It was Mr PB.
"Something's wrong with Rosie! I heard a rumpus and found her stretched out on her back with her legs in the air! I managed to get her right way up, she's breathing, but not really moving..."
I was stunned, she'd been absolutely fine, apparently even wheeking for veggies at lunchtime, coming to the front of the cage for a tickle...what was going on?

Initial thoughts were that she'd had a stroke, I got Mr PB to make her comfortable, give her some cucumber to she could keep her fluids up and make sure she was positioned near the fan - it was a rather hot day. I rang the vet, explained what was happening and made an appointment that evening. The receptionist was fantastic, and said if Rosie seemed to be deteriorating I didn't need to wait, I could take her straight in.

Guinea Pigs can survive strokes and make good recoveries, but it needs some extra care. I used Peter Gurney's 'Guinea Pig Health Guide' website  to help Mr PB over the phone until I could get there.

I drove home as quickly as possible, expecting Rosie to be in a pet carrier, ready for the 5 minute journey to the vets.

When I walked through the door, Mr PB looked glum, "I don't think she's okay, she was fitting and now she's very still"

I spoke to her softly, looking for signs of breathing. I couldn't be sure, so opened the cage and stroked her head. Her eye seemed to respond to movement but her ears felt cold. I picked her up carefully, and her little body was completely stiff - she had passed away.

I was devastated, we had rehomed her just six months ago, to give her piggie companionship. We were told she was two, so that made her two and a half. That's so young for a guinea pig. I felt I had failed her and her previous owner, who had put her into our care.

I've just looked back at Rosie's Gothcha post, and realised she was four when we got her, so four and a half when she passed away. That feels a little better, though I wish she had been with us longer, we miss you Rosie Po xx

Rosie Peruvian Guinea Pig loves Tilly English Smooth Tri colour
Rosie loves Tilly
We don't know why this happened. I don't believe there was anything we could have done, her weight was steady, she was eating and drinking normally, and she had settled beautifully into life in a trio.

We desperately miss this little girl, who spent such a short time with us. With joy comes heartbreak, with life comes death, it's just the way the universe works.

Sleep tight Rosie, we love you very much xx

Rosie Peruvian Guinea Pig died July 2017
Sleep tight Rosie xx

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Never Complain About the Weather

It's Raining and I'm a Happy Bunny!

It's so easy to grumble when rain stops play, whether that's actual play, school sports days, outdoor performances, festivals, barbeques or whatever, but crikey the garden needs rain - real rain.

I live in the South East of England, and it's been over two weeks since we've had any precipitation, and even that was just a brief shower.

The grass is parched, the phlox are wilting and the blueberries are shriveled like raisins on the bushes, but the ones that worry me the most are my Carnivorous Plants. They must have a constant supply of water with a very low mineral content, the best source being rain water. I had gathered around 16 litres of rain water in empty drinks bottles stashed in my greenhouse, but it's been so hot and dry that I ran out over the weekend.

The Met Office have been threatening rain and thunderstorms for at least a week, but then they have repeatedly pushed their predictions out, eventually giving up on them altogether as the weather fronts move away.

In desperation I ordered 25 litres of deionised, demineralised water, which is due to arrive today.

Then yesterday evening, this happened...

Rain Potting Shed windows
Rain on the Potting Shed windows

Rain clouds over house
These rain clouds mean business!

The fact that I photographed it shows what a big event it is.

We have a big water butt (*and I cannot lie), but to maximise our rainwater harvest I have also placed four tub trugs round the garden. I can strain and bottle this water specifically for use on the carnivorous plants.

"Umm, so why aren't you using the water from the water butt?" I hear you asking. Well, we drained and moved the butt to a new location earlier this year, and Mr PB decided to fill it from the hosepipe. We've had rain since then, but the mineral content will still be too high to safely water the carnivorous plants with.
"But the water has been sitting around for ages, it'll be fine by now. That's all we do to age water before we put it in our fish tank". Unfortunately it doesn't work like that for carnivorous plants. It's the mineral content that is the problem. Minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium Chloride, Sulphate, Nitrate and Bicarbonate are held in suspension, simply 'aging' the water doesn't remove the minerals.

If you live in a low rainfall area - and let's face it, climate change means this will become more of a problem not less, you could buy demineralised water to keep in reserve for emergencies, or invest in a reverse osmosis water filtration system, usually used by people who keep fish and need high volumes of filtered water for tank water changes. Similarly if you are unable to collect rainwater (maybe you live in a flat/apartment), these really are your only options for watering your carnivorous plants.


Demineralised water and deionised water (aka DI) are produced in different ways, but have very similar levels of purity, they are not to be confused with distilled (boiled) water which should be avoided as the boiling process can actually concentrate the mineral content rather than reducing it. You need to look for water with a mineral content of less than 50 parts per million (50ppm). Double check what you are buying before you buy it, some people mistakenly used the term DI when they are selling distilled water...all three methods do begin with a 'D' I suppose!

Well it rained all evening, overnight and well into the morning, giving me around 45mm in each tub trug...it's not much, but it all helps.
Pumpkin Becki

*Funny pop culture reference