24th June - Raffle Prize - ticket 49 wins

Ticket no 49 was drawn at the Open Day and the winner was Ian !

However Ian is such a lovely chap he has donated the stereo to the Sanctuary to raffle off again or sell on ebay. Thank you Ian ! I will let you know what we will do on this page at a later date.

127 tickets were sold at 50p each raising £63.50 for the animals - thanks you again to Andi for suggesting the idea & buying the unit.

23rd June - Sheep Shearing Day

Unfortunately the chap who normally does this for us couldn't fit us in this year, so we have been a bit stuck. It is very important to get the long coats off the sheep as with their thick coats on and the warm weather they are very susceptible to fly strike. This is where the greenbottle fly lays eggs in the fur & the maggots burrow into the flesh - it is as appalling as it sounds.

Although it has been warm, the sheep are OK in their coats as long as they have plenty of water, which of course they do, but today was the day we decided to clip them ourselves. We have some nice horse clippers which were donated a few years ago - although they didn't work ! However the nice people at Wolseley (www.stockshop.co.uk) repaired them for us free of charge !

We have taken most of the coats off this afternoon and the sheep are fine. We will finish the job tomorrow evening and then they can go back across the road to their paddock.

18th June - Open Day

The Open Day went very well with around fifteen different "parties" totaling around 40 people visiting the Sanctuary. My two dear friends Kostya & Iraida from the Russian Charity VITA were in the UK attending a WSPA & BUAV conference and were able to make it over from their base in London for a few hours, which was great. Regular readers may have seen these names mentioned before as the two baby goats born to Natalia who was rescued when pregnant were named after them ! Also a tremendous effort was made by Peter Simpson who came on public transport from Milton Keynes after first arranging and attending a Vegan Runners training meeting in Hyde Park - Peter is the head of the Vegan Runners Club.

The weather was warm and sunny and I have had lots of feedback from people saying what a nice day they had. Around £400 was raised for the animals and I would like to thank Rob from the Happy Hamsters for providing the catering.

It was very nice to meet everyone and I can only apologise if I was not able to spend time with everyone as I would have liked - there just are not enough hours available !

Hopefully we will have a few photo's to post soon !

The raffle was drawn and the winner will be announced in the next few days - 127 tickets were sold in the end.

Also - don't forget this is the last chance to sponsor Robin who tackles 147 miles on the Yakmobile this coming weekend to raise funds for the animals - 5 sponsors so far have pledged £115 between them - see here for more details

15th June - Poppy arrives

We have a little rescued pony called Poppy & now we have a rescued dog with the same name. Poppy is a mongrel who had been suffering abuse but was facing the needle at a Dog pound because she could not be homed due to her appearance. She is old, and thin. Her predicament was not helped as she has diabetes as well and needs a daily injection.

Poppy is a quiet dog and has settled in well with the others, we will monitor her progress and try and get some weight on her as quickly as possible. I will publish her picture as soon as I can

13th June - Kelly raises over £200

Sanctuary supporter Kelly, decided to do a sponsored bike ride over 30 miles. Kelly completed her mission successfully and raised a brilliant £202.79 - see more details & pics here

12th June - Irrigation Plans Advance

Last year we started a project to lay on mains water to as many fields as possible and also to the individual stables. This was always going to be a big project as the parts needed are not cheap and also it takes quite a lot of time to do the work. There are a number of reasons we wanted to do this. Firstly because of the huge effort it takes to hand carry water around the Sanctuary - we have used hose pipes where practical, but these tend to perish when used a lot & so you find that they spring leaks everywhere. The other main reason is that having mains water piped to all the big animals, ensures that that they always have a fresh supply - particularly important in the hot weather.

We had made a little progress with the project following putting the details on the wish list page, but in the past few weeks three very kind people have bought all the items that were outstanding ! I want to really thank Rae and Roger for buying (& delivering!) all the Polypipe and all the various fittings required to connect everything together and also Andi for splashing on a large number of troughs !

Now all we have to do is to "Plumb them in" !!

So far we have laid water down to Dolly's field where she is living with Skipio, Babushka, Holly & the Cows - Hank, Driver & Daisy. This is a great time saver as I was having to hand carry 25 buckets of water a day to them - as in the heat they were drinking an awful lot !

Major the Shire is in a paddock next to Dolly & he had his own trough plumbed in today also.  More troughs will be plumbed in during the next few weeks.

4th June - Sponsor updates

90 raffle tickets sold so far ! & 5 sponsors for Robin pledging £115 - thank you - there is still time to buy tickets for the draw on 18th June & for the epic motorcycle ride on 24/25th June

3rd June - Minki the Cat uses one of her lives

Minki is a little black cat who came to live her a few years ago. She is a very friendly cat and likes to sleep in the hay. This weeks feed delivery arrived as usual on the back of a low loader and after it was unloaded, the lorry pulled out down the drive to make it's next delivery of hay before heading back home. Everything went smoothly. The next morning I received a phone call from Andrew at the feed merchants to enquire whether we had lost a black cat? - as there was one asleep in their hay barn where they park the lorry !!! - He said he thought it might be Minki as he half recognised her as she is often about when he delivers

With quite a few cats down the stables, it is impossible to check that they are all about everyday, particularly as many are feral and wander about the fields - especially at this time of year. I had not seen Minki that morning... Andrew came back with the mystery cat in a carrier... it was her !! - She must have jumped on his lorry & curled up in the hay. She was then driven about 80 miles as various feed deliveries were made & finally arrived back at the main farm where the lorry is parked. Given that this is an open sided low loader she is very lucky to not have jumped off at one of the many stops the lorry must have made. Minki is soooo lucky.

She has taken it in her stride and was in the garden today enjoying the sun. What an adventure and a close call.

1st June - Sad News for the Cows

I regret to report that further to the Cow rescue story below (15 & 16th May) the vet (not one we use) who was aware of the situation killed all 4 girls by injection following instructions from the executors of the estate. Even though there was a loving home waiting for the girls here. It's heartwarming to know that some people would see healthy animals killed just to spite someone they hate. Poor girls. Martin has dedicated a tune to them called "Dearly Departed" - he says it will be on his next CD - MP3 here

24th May - Please sponsor Robin - £115 pledged so far

Robin, the lead guitarist of the band Yak is, all being well, going to ride an unusual motorcycle from Hartlepool to Whitehaven to raise funds for the Sanctuary - More details here

21st May - Updates

Ashibka, one of the horses had us worried on Friday night. He had been out all day & came into his stable fine. However later in the evening when I went to check them all, his breathing had become laboured and his whole body was visibly gasping with each breath. We immediately walked him out of his box & put him in his turnout area where he started to paw the ground with his hoof. This is a typical sign of colic (stomach upset) which is a very serious condition in horses and can lead to death.

Walking him round induced him to pass wind, which was a good sign, but an hour later he was still breathing funny. At about 11pm we decided to bring him back into his stable as the weather was grim (it is May isn't it? seems like November at the mo) He cantered up the corridor of the stables, missing his box door, but this "excitement" caused him to pass a lot more wind. Once in his box he went to the toilet, which is the best possible news with a colic as it shows that there is movement through the intestines. A colic can be caused by a blockage, which as I mentioned can be extremely serious. Although his breathing was still not normal he was much calmer and not as "warm" to the touch as he was earlier. We checked him a few more time during the night, but by morning he was back to normal - phew !

There has been no further news with the Cow situation during the weekend. We hope to make contact with a solicitor (via the farmers sister) tomorrow.

Just a quick mention of thanks to Andy Hind who works with Martin for helping out on Saturday with a repair to Majors stable amongst other things. Major (the Shire) likes to scratch his bum against the stable wall between his & the next stable. Because the walls are not as strong as say the walls of the average Castle, Major has done considerable damage. The walls have been reinforced (both sides) and hopefully this will do the trick!

20th May - MySpace

We have set the Sanctuary up at www.myspace.com/towerhillstables - if you have a page there, please feel free to link up!

17th May - Summer Open Day Grand Raffle - see here

16th May - Worse News for the Cows

Things have taken a real turn for the worse now as the lady who owns two of the cows has now convinced the beneficiaries of the farm that sending the other two girls to the Sanctuary is the wrong thing to do and so they have issued instructions to have all four of the girls killed.

The lady convinced the beneficiaries that the Sanctuary here is not a suitable home for animals having claimed to have been here at the weekend to check it out and having decided that it would not make a good home.

Has she been her? Of course she hasn't. At best she may have driven past or even stood outside unknown to us, but as anyone who has been here will vouch, you can't see a thing from the road. If she had ventured down the drive we would have known as one of the 15 mobile alarm units (the dog gang) would have sensed her and there would be a lot of barking - which there wasn't this weekend when she claims to have been here.

In desperation we have written to one of the beneficiaries directly by email to explain that what they have been told by the lady is simply not true. We have also sent the story to all the daily's in the hope that one of them may pick it up.

The real issue is that the lady is saying that the farmers wishes were for all the Cows to be killed, whereas his sister is saying this is not true & he would have wanted them to go to a safe home. As nothing is documented it is difficult to prove one way or the other.

If anyone has any knowledge of the law with regard to a possible injunction being taken out to prevent the immediate slaughter, we would be grateful to hear from you. The Cows now only have a few days to live.  We believe that the motive here is simply spite - aren't some people wonderful?

15th May - Cow News

It has all gone rather "Cow" at the moment ! - Firstly from the item below about the 4 old girl Cows whose owner died (see 8th May entry). Some awful news has come to light. It transpires that the farmer only actually owned 2 of the 4 friends, the other 2 are owned by someone else. The executors of the farmers estate are happy for the 2 that they are responsible for to come here, but sadly the lady who owns the other two has asked for hers to be killed. Having been up to see the 4 of them this evening with some food & carrots it is heartbreaking to think that two face death whilst two will have a happy retirement. They are far too old to go for food, they are just being killed as the lady doesn't want them to come to a sanctuary. We are desperately trying to negotiate with the solicitor and I have offered to talk to the lady directly if it will help.

Also we have a problem now with Olga the calf who doesn't officially exist !

You may recall the story of Olga. She was registered as a calf with DEFRA one day too late by the farmer (there is a period after they are born within which they must be registered). Because the day was missed by 24 hours, DEFRA refused to issue a licence. The upshot of that is that the farmer was unable to use or move her. The only licence available was to take her to a slaughterhouse. Anyway after weeks of wrangling, they eventually agreed to let her be moved here - this was about 2 years ago. About a week ago, Olga was down in her stable, and lying in a funny position. When we opened the stable door, she struggled to her feet, but was unable to bear weight on one of her front legs. She was able to hobble about on three legs, but was clearly not happy to put weight on the 4th. Initially we thought it was a muscular strain and we monitored it. Unfortunately it has not got much better & so the vet has had a look. Nina from House & Jackson called today but it is a bit of a mystery. It could be a hoof infection, or some other infection - so Olga had a pain killing injection & is on tablets now. However if not, and it does look likely, it could be a fracture to her shoulder or leg. This is not good news at all. With horses & cows, most leg bone injuries mean one thing. However I am not prepared to give up on Olga. The vet is going to take an X-Ray on Friday & then we shall see what we shall see. Worst case is an operation, which will clearly cost a lot of money - if anyone want's to get an extra lottery ticket this week - please bear us in mind!!! I will keep you informed of the progress

10th May - Big Day for Dolly the Shire

Today was the day Dolly had to have her foot re-shod by the Farrier. If you are a regular reader you will know what a near disaster this event was last time - see below 23rd Feb entry. Following that escapade I decided that there was no way Dolly would be made to travel in a lorry to the vets again & they would have to attend to here. X-Rays were taken here last Friday as the Farrier needs to see the position of the pedal bone in her foot in relation to her hoof as he needs to judge how far the hoof can be trimmed without getting too close to the pedal bone. In a normal foot the pedal bone is not near enough the hoof to be troubled by a Farrier, but Dolly's foot is not normal, her pedal bone had at one point almost protruded through her foot - hence the problem. Thankfully with the special treatment & corrective shoeing, the situation is much improved.

A vet attended today together with the Farrier to administer a sedative and Gary & Cameron the farriers spent a couple of hours working with her. The mission was a complete success and Dolly was soon back on the garden grazing the lawn ! - well the mower is broken afterall...

Thank you to all who have contributed to the Dolly Appeal !

Also a big thank you to Keith who today brought over a very large quantity of food from Sainsbury - nearly a whole van load of fruit & veg & bread - all destined for landfill, but donated by Sainsbury. Thanks Keith, the Pigs are very happy today !

8th May - Cow Rescue & Appeal

I have been approached to rescue 4 old Cows from a farm in Althorne (just down the road from here) as the man who owned them has passed away and the Executors of the estate want them out ASAP. They are facing slaughter if a home cannot be found. As anyone who has been here will know, we are pretty tight for space, but I cannot stand by and see 4 old girls who have been doted on whilst their owner was alive go to slaughter. Clearly Cows need somewhere to stand that can be easily cleaned down - i.e. concrete is about the only thing, so I am looking at what can be done to accommodate them. I have no pictures of them yet, but one is Jersey Cow colour, one is brown & white, one is black & one is black & white.

My provisional plan is to partition an area of the existing menage off, and let them live in that, but I need to get it fenced off and some "bays" made up for the concrete. We have arranged a 'stay of execution' with the executors for a couple of weeks whilst I see what can be arranged. I have written to a Concrete company to ask for their help, but no reply yet.

If anyone has any fund raising ideas they can put into action - boot sales etc, or knows of others who might be interested in helping with organising something - please feel free to proceed!

I will keep you informed of progress.

Also the Members & Supporters open day will be on Sunday 18th June - I will e mail you with the specifics in a day or so.

5th May - Baaart unwell

Baaart is one of the 4 sheep that live at the Sanctuary along with Homer, Stephanie & Felicity. Baart was the smallest of the babies when they arrived here having lost their mothers when they were born. All have done very well, but a week or so ago Baart stopped eating. At first I just thought he was having an off day, but after a few days he still wasn't interested in his feed and we became quite worried. The 1st thing to look for in sheep, particularly at this time of year (wet & warm) is flystrike. This is appalling and can affect rabbits too. This is where the greenbottle fly lays eggs around the back end of the animal and when the maggots hatch, they eat into the animals flesh causing extreme pain. Animals that have a tendency to have "messy" behinds - like some rabbits (& sheep!) do are most at risk & this is why it is critical to check these animals daily for this problem. The condition is so severe it can kill in 48 hours. However this was the 1st thing I checked Baart for on day 1 of his illness & he was clear - thankfully. If you do come across it in an animal you must seek veterinary attention immediately. If you can shave off any long fur or hair in the affected area & you can manually remove any offending maggots etc, but you must ensure that they are eradicated entirely & usually via chemicals applied to the area - however as this is clearly a very sensitive area, do not attempt to do anything yourself unless you are experienced - which is why you need a vet.

As a routine procedure I 'wormed' all of the sheep with an oral sheep wormer & whether this was indeed the problem or not I do not know, but the very next day Baart was back to his usual self - which was a big relief all round! - If you have not seen the story of the sheep when they arrived please click here

2nd May - Cheeky Beaky Rescue

A few days ago I came across an injured dove in the road as I went to feed Percy Pig & his friends. She was quite hard to catch as although she couldn't fly she was desperate not to be caught. She scrambled into the hedge where ironically a cat who had been stalking her was waiting. I was right behind her and as the cat pounced, she scrambled back the way she came straight into my hands!  The problem with this kind of rescue is that the bird is so shocked at what has happened to it, it dies of shock on the 1st night - if you can get them through the 1st night then the chances of survival are greatly improved. Happily Cheeky Beaky has made it through 4 nights now so I am hopeful that she will make a full recovery. I think she was stunned by a car but has some injuries under her wings that suggest she has at some point also been attacked by a Cat.

She is comfortable & living in a large Dog kennel which I have positioned some perches inside. She has a grill up at the door & a window to look out off. As soon as she can fly again I will take her to a cat free area and let her go

23rd April - London Marathon - Fiona's Race Report Here

Fiona came 22nd in the women's race, up 8 places from last year ! A fantastic result for Fiona who is still devastated by the losses of both Pan & Simon below. If you watched the women's race coverage you can see Fiona in the front line at the start at the left hand side of the screen, unfortunately I don't think you see her again until the end, as she crosses the line a few seconds ahead of the mens winner & is caught on camera as they follow the mens finish.

Thank you to all who sponsored Fiona - you can still sponsor her retrospectively by clicking on the red button at the top of this page.

A monumentous marketing opportunity was missed (in my opinion) as right at the start of the women's race, someone asked the commentators a question as to whether there were any veggies or even vegans running? Unfortunately the commentators clearly did not have a list of the 100 or so elite women - nor even a list of the UK ones (come on, it's only the UK's biggest marathon - why would they want a list of the UK elite women's names...doh!) So the best they could manage for an answer was that they thought you would need to eat meat for your protein. Great answer, well done guys. Mind you I doubt they would recognise a good "link story" if it got on the table in front of them waving a luminous flag shouting "Hello I'm a good link story"

If they had of had a list of the UK elite women, they would have seen that there was one running for a club called "Vegan Runners" - so probably a vegan then...

Here endeth the sarcasm

Thee cheers for Fiona Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray !!!

16th April - More bad news

Today we regrettably had to say goodbye to Pan, a 31 year old thoroughbred who Fiona rescued 2 years ago. Pan was old for a horse of this type but his loss today was very unexpected. He was skin & bone on arrival and Fiona had worked so very hard to build him up. She even managed to sort out a tumour that he had - the size of a golf ball - hanging from his flank.

He was not quite right this morning and it took us a little while to get him to his feet as he had been down in his stable. We let him out onto the lawn - where he was turned out last Summer - as it was a sunny morning. He was clearly delighted to be there as he had a little run about & quite a few rolls. After a few hours, he sat down. We let him rest & after about 15 minutes we got him up & put him back in his stable.  An hour later he went down again in his box & his breathing became laboured. The vet was called & Ralph from House & Jackson arrived and tried his best to revive Pan. Unfortunately, he explained that as Pan was very old there was not much chance that he would recover. In spite of this we tried a number of different injections to see if Pan would respond, but very sadly in the end we let Ralph put Pan to sleep as it was clear that he had given up. There was nothing actually wrong with Pan other than old age.

It is a wretched shock for poor Fiona who is still in pieces from loosing Simon on 7th. The tragedy is that she takes in the poor animals at the ends of their lives - many of whom have been thrashed by their previous owners until every last drop of "value" has been extracted and then Fiona looks after them for the last phase of their lives, becoming extremely attached - as you would expect from someone who cares as much as she does - feeding them bucket after bucket of lovely food, carrots & treats, making sure their rugs are on or off at the right times etc. When they go, it is so very sad, especially at this time of year as the Summer is just round the corner and having survived the winters cold it is just numbing to loose them now.

7th April - Tragedy Strikes

We awoke this morning to discover that Simon the Shire had passed away during the night. This was very unexpected, yes he was 19 years old, which is old for a Shire, but a good 7 years younger than Dolly. Simon was rescued about 18 months ago from a riding stables. He was not able to earn his keep being "too slow" for the clients. He was very underweight and had a terrible limp with his hind leg. Simon was a lovely gentleman, he put on a considerable amount of weight whilst he was here and the limp completely disappeared. In the past few weeks Simon was not well, seeing the vet for a swelling that had appeared in his lower body - see below. However this had got better and he was back to his normal self, If fact Fiona remarked last night how Simon was 100% again and eating all his food and was in fine condition, his coat positively gleaming.

I cannot begin to describe the shock that Fiona was in on discovering the scene in his stable - just awful. He did look very peaceful and calm, there was no sign of any thrashing around and we must assume that it was a heart attack - even though his heart when tested a few weeks ago was strong. You just can't tell what is going to happen, one minute everyone is well, the next minute...

I would like to thank Ben & Tony Skeggs & co for again coming to our aid in getting Simon out of his box & into the yard. At over 1.5 tons you need specialist equipment and careful driving to manouevre a fallen horse out of an internal stable. I arranged for someone from the Cambridge Pet Crematorium to collect Simon and take him away.

I also want to thank Keith who kindly volunteered to collect the food from Sainsbury today (as I had to take a day's holiday) and bring it over to us.

Major, Simons stable neighbor seemed OK when out today, but is not settling tonight. We have had to bring Bunny Babe in to Simons old stable & hope that he will calm Major down as Major is quite capable of bringing his stable down if he wants to. Having lost his best friend of these past 18 months it is no surprise that he is upset. We let him into Simon's stable before they took him so he could see for himself what had happened. We will check him during the night to make sure he is OK.

Needless to say Fiona is devastated. - Read the story Simon's Rainbow here

6th April - Marathon Sponsors

£263 pledged in sponsorship from 7 sponsors - thank you very much - If you would like to sponsor Fiona please see the on-line pledge form here

Regarding the Bird Flu position, just to let you know that Fiona spoke to DEFRA on 17th & 18th of February, advising them they we would be bringing all our birds in. We were told not to be hysterical & not to bother. They were all inside by 21st Feb (see entry below) & we have disinfectant at the gate.
 
31st March - Sainsbury helps the animals

We have applied and been successful in getting onto a Sainsbury scheme which allows certain organisations to take the food they would otherwise throw away. On Wednesday this week Martin collected a car load from the Brentwood branch of Sainsbury and there is enough to feed the Pigs for 3 days. The food collected consisted of bread, cakes, some veg and fruit too. As Martin works in Brentwood anyway it is ideal ! We are very grateful to Sainsbury for their help. We are starting off with one collection a week and we will build from there.

30th March - Simon Update (see 18th March Entry)

Simon the Shire has not been well, but over the past few weeks, the swelling on his underside has reduced. He is still on daily painkillers and some days are better than others. Each day he is turned out with Major the Shire & I have been grateful that the weather has been at least a bit sunny this week, as they love having the sun on their backs. On Tuesday this week, Simon had a bad day & went down in his box making a lot of groaning noises. It is always a trauma when a Shire "goes down" in their box - at least when they are unwell - as if they are unable to get up under their own steam, well it is a major problem. He did however get up with a helping hand although didn't eat much at all that day. Today he was eating normally, so that was a relief. Major is a much younger shire & he actually prefers to sleep lying flat out every night on his bed. He has a lot of hay piled at one end & he uses this as a pillow ! - Honestly - it was a bit of a shock to see him do this at first, as he is such a big horse. Mostly the horses sleep standing up.

28th March - London Marathon Looms

As you may know I am hoping to compete in the London Marathon again this year which is on 23rd April. All being well, health and injury permitting I will be competing in the Elite Women's race which sets off ahead of the main field. If you or anyone you know would like to help me through sponsorship, please let me know by completing the pledge form at this link here - thank you very much.

Note from Martin - Fiona has been training so hard for this, taking only 1 rest day in 10 since Christmas & 2 sessions per day for 2 days in the week + all the animal jobs (the work of 5 men) - it's beyond belief. Fiona should be easy to spot as she will be wearing her green & black Vegan Runners top !

27th April - Sanctuary shop generates £64 in commission

Last month, 7 purchases were made through the Sanctuary's webshop generating nearly £65 in commission !! This is such a great way to help the animals without  sending any money direct. If you do shop 'on-line' do have a look at the shop as there are over 90 retailers in the scheme. Whilst it wont cost you a penny more to go to the retailer via the sanctuary shop, everything you buy will generate commission for the animals. The link is here. It seems too good to be true !

23rd March - Car Ploughs into Percy's Field

Percy Pig lives in the field across the road with Nadia & Dinara in a paddock. In separate paddocks are Jayne, Matilda & Amelie & also Sam's gang & then down the bottom of the field live the 4 sheep (Homer, Baaart, Felicity & Stephanie) & 3 of the goats, (the Likely Lads & Betsy). At first light as I wheeled the barrow of food across the road, I didn't notice anything untoward. However, once in the field, I glanced left & thought, Hmm I didn't notice that smashed Vaxhaul on top of the muck heap yesterday....

Fortunately, it had ploughed through the fence & gone straight into the muck heap & not actually gone into any of the animal paddocks. It was a good 20 feet into the field & clearly a "write off". Although none of the animal paddocks were smashed, the boundary fence is very important as it is the safety barrier between the field & the road - sometimes the likely lads (when I say sometimes, read "every day") jump out of their paddock & wander round the field. They have not yet tried to get out of the field, but with a new gaping hole, this would be bound to happen.

The Police arrived quickly, and arranged to have the vehicle towed out of the field (as it had been reported stolen). This was a bit of a job, as it was well & truly embedded in the muck heap! After they had left, Martin & I fixed the fence. We had some spare sheep wire & some fence posts - which was lucky. Sadly several boundary trees had been destroyed as a result of the accident, so they were not so lucky. 

19th March - More Abuse for Fiona

As if it is not hard enough to look after the animals as well as slot in 80-95 miles a week hard training for the London Marathon? Today Fiona was shouted at by a woman on a Hunter (horse) telling her she was stupid. The scenario - There's Fiona tonking down the road in mile 16 of a 22 mile training run, running at 5 min 55 sec per mile pace (try that down the gym!) when up ahead she sees this woman on a horse that she is failing to control. On her approach - Fiona removed her fluorescent green visibility vest in case the colour would upset the horse. Then the woman shouted "YOU - YOU THERE - STOP RUNNING" - Fiona startled by this, slowed. The woman's horse was now all over the road. As Fiona had not stopped, the woman shouted again "YOU STUPID GIRL - I TOLD YOU TO STOP RUNNING"

Fiona had to stop as the woman struggled to grasp the basic concepts of riding a horse.

Having gone past, Fiona now had to start running again - this is so hard. When you are training like she is, you can't stop & start without seriously affecting your ability to carry on as before - essentially it destroys the training session.

So lets examine the facts. Fiona was running legally on the correct side of the road. It was a dark & windy afternoon & so she was wearing her florescent running top.

The 'thing' on the horse was clearly not a competent rider, was overhorsed (on a horse far too big) was wearing black, was not wearing a "Caution Young Horse" or "Caution Youngster" vest to advise the traffic and had gone out on a dark & windy afternoon - ideal conditions to spook any horse let alone a nervous one - also there were places to the side of the road where she could have gone on seeing Fiona approach - yet...Fiona was the Stupid one?? - I give up

Oh & by the way...

Here is a message (not for supporters or general readers of this website) The person this is for, will know this is for them.

I am very sorry that  you find my efforts to help animals and people so very offensive and upsetting. Just perhaps if there were more people prepared to put themselves out for the benefit of those less fortunate than themselves, rather than focus on egocentric and banal activities, the World might not find itself in such a sorry state. Please remember kindness & caring is not a crime.

18th March - Vet for Simon

Simon is a 20 year old Shire Horse we rescued over a year ago. He is stabled next to Major who is an even bigger Shire (see Major Problems button above left). Simon has come on a long way since arriving having probably put on about 150 lbs in weight ! He had a really bad leg problem when he arrived & walked like he was arthritic in his hind leg. This completely disappeared after about 3 months of being here.

On Friday however, Simon wouldn't walk very far and he also refused to eat much - both these together spelt "not good news". I left him & Major in their boxes to rest for the day. By the evening he was improved and was able to walk to his turnout area, but still wasn't terribly hungry. On closer inspection I found that he was swollen in his genital area and the normally soft skin in that area was hard. As he now eating & "necking" with Major, we decided not to panic and wait till morning to call the Vet.

Russell from House & Jackson arrived promptly in the morning & confirmed that Simon has something called an oedema - which is basically a swelling. The cause can either be infection such as cellulitis or they can be caused by trauma to the area - i.e. a kick can bring them on. Simon had his temperature taken & this was normal, suggesting that it was not an infection. As a precaution he is on antibiotics, as well as tablets to clinically dehydrate him in an attempt to draw the fluid out of the swelling.

Simon must have plenty of walking exercise and have the area hosed with cold water several times a day to reduce the swelling. Given the location of the oedema, i.e. the lowest part of his body, there is a tendency for this area to become swollen, as this is where fluids will tend to collect. Rusell said that this could take a long time to clear up, and he may never get back to a normal shape in that region - but to be honest, as long as he is OK, we don't care what shape you are Simon!

I will make updates of his progress as often as possible.

12th March - Another busy weekend !

On Friday we cared for 14 Dogs - now it's 16 !

Bambi is a 13 year old Yorkie with a heart, lung & waterworks condition who was put on death row at a pound in Huddersfield as clearly no-one would want an old dog with all these problems... He is very cute and I will get his picture posted just as soon as possible.

Next thing I knew the Police we at the gate asking if I would be able to take in a dog they had found wandering - presumed to be dumped on the "flats" near here. They had tried the usual organisations - no names - can you guess? can you? can you??? without any success & so decided to try here ! She is an Alsatian, about 8-10 years old we think and we have called her Sasha. I was very worried about how the "pack" would get on, but touch wood she has settled in OK & just wants to sleep in a corner. She is a little bolder today, but is 'passive' so far and there has not been any "trouble".

I have had to move Bambi, Duffy & Horace out of the main gang & they now share a room together as they are all so old, feeble, and with Horace being blind, he can sometimes walk into the bigger dogs and some are better able to cope with this than others. Monty can be particularly grumpy when bumped into, and so to keep the peace all round I think I have done the best thing. This does mean there is another "set of Dogs" to let out 3- 4 times a day separately.

I will get a picture of Sasha posted as soon as possible.

Clearly, if you are not already a member of the Sanctuary I would be very grateful if you would consider joining as the cost of feeding and caring for the ever growing family of rescued animals is increasing on a weekly basis ! - Thank you - see here for details of how to join

11th March - New Link

We were invited to post our link on a new website called "Essex Pixel Homepage" - they make a charge for businesses to post their logo, but for charities & not-for-profit organisations it is a free service. Hopefully it will bring some more visitors to the website

Pool Night Raises Cash - 7th March

Special thanks goes to Scott Stammers who works for Mellon International in Brentwood for arranging a "Pool Evening" for his colleagues at Mellon last night at the Castle Public House. £78.42 was raised for the animals.

Near Disaster for Fiona - 3rd March

Update by Martin - Further to the 'Near Disaster for Dolly' event below - today saw Fiona almost pushed to the point of breakdown. Anyone who knows Fiona will know how committed she is to her animals, know what it means to care for them on a 24/7 basis, know what it is like to never have a holiday (unless you count running marathons - which frankly I don't) know what must be sacrificed on a daily basis to put the needs of the 260 animals before her own needs - and know that, especially for Dolly, how much effort, love, and money has gone into caring for this beautiful Shire. So when out of the blue she found 2 RSPCA inspectors at her gate on Friday - together with a film crew - accusing her of being cruel to Dolly - well you can just imagine the mental torment this caused.

Apparently they were responding to the 'concerns' of a very concerned member of the public who reported seeing Dolly being lifted with 'machinery' (see story below).

I have a few concerns of my own over this:

Dolly was being lifted in an animal sling - the exact same type of sling the fire brigade would use to rescue an animal in say a ditch - I can't see why this is cruel. If indeed Dolly had not been lifted in this way, she would now be dead - if the equipment wasn't available at the time that it was needed, we would have had no choice other than to put her to sleep.

If the 'concerned' member of the public was that concerned at what they saw in the 10 seconds it would have taken them to drive past - why did they not stop to see if an extra pair of hands were needed? - there were 5 men + Fiona attending to Dolly at the time, plus of course the Vet was on the phone. Incidentally the vet thought that using the sling was an inspirinational idea as we hope to use it again to take the weight off her feet next time she needs the Farrier - hence avoiding the trip to the vet for a nerve block injection.

What did the RSPCA call centre say when the 'concerned' member of the public complained? - Did they explain that lifting an animal such as a shire is common farming practice? Did they ask whether they saw someone actually abusing Dolly - like say beating her with sticks? - er... & even if the 'concerned member of the public had lied and said we were doing
something like that - what is the point of turning up some 8 days later?

Dolly remained totally calm throughout the procedure - not struggling or even moving her legs about once. She knew that Fiona was helping her - as always

I would like to know what the RSPCA recommended way of lifting a ton & a half of "cast" shire horse actually is? - particularly when time is of the essence

The irony is that they will have driven past a slaughterhouse to get here - places where animals are hoisted by a single leg before having their guts spilled open - the juxtaposition is just incredible - apparently though that's not "cruel".

Having gone through this with them, they were not of course able to respond other than to admit that that were wasting their time - and their supporters money.

My further frustration is that they knew were they were going - i.e. Towerhill stables animal sanctuary - Fiona is known to them, and has taken many animals from them in the past. They could have so easily avoided the waste of their morning coming out here by doing the tiniest amount of research. If they had even taken a cursory glance at Fiona's website they would have seen exactly what was going on with Dolly.

The inspector had never heard of lifting animals with a sling - never heard of cattle clamps (used for lifting cattle), never heard of cellulitis (Dolly's rear leg infection that caused the original problem), never heard of the pedal bone (the bone in Dolly's hoof that is worn & therefore sore) - why not?.  I have never heard of Quarks, The Chaos theory or the possible existence of Dark Matter in deep space - but I don't make a point of challenging Stephen Hawking about his views on them.

Fiona was very upset by their visit - it's a real slap in the face. Dolly is cherished. Every move she makes is monitored meticulously to anticipate any signs of trouble so they can be nipped in the bud. Even when the vet came out to see "Pan" another elderly resident here, he commented how lucky the horses were to have such a caring home as so many are not afforded this in old age.

Fiona does not believe in hiding behind the excuse of ignorance. There is no excuse for ignorance in the 21st Century.

Near Disaster for Dolly - 23rd February

Today was the day that Dolly had to make the trip to the vets to have her feet clipped and her poorly front foot treated and re-shod with the orthopaedic shoe. Dolly was last seen by the Farrier and Vet in November and the plan was for her to be re-done every six weeks or so - however I have had to weigh up the pro’s and cons of taking her carefully, as it is potentially hazardous to travel her in a lorry. She tires easily and the stress of the journey to the vets weighs heavily on her. As she has been doing so well and has been getting about well, I have left an appointment for a long as was reasonable. However, her feet were in need of a trim and the vet wanted to do X-rays to see how her pedal bone (in her foot) was behaving - as this is the cause of her problems - a worn out pedal bone probably caused by laminitus long ago.

The transport arrived at 9am & Dolly made it to the vets for her 10:30 appointment. Several X-rays were taken and these showed that in fact her pedal bone was rotated and almost upright - this wasn't good news. However the Farrier did a wonderful job in trimming her hoof right back and the “after” X-ray showed that the pedal bone had shifted round into a more normal position. Gary the Farrier & Ralph the Vet were very pleased at the result and both agreed that Dolly was in better shape now that after they had first seen her back in the Summer of 2005.

Dolly was well behaved although trimming her back feet proved a challenge as she was not keen to put her weight onto her front foot - even though a nerve blocking injection had been administered. Dolly left the vets at about half past 2 and the transporter brought her back home to where I had been anxiously waiting as well as seeing to the rest of the gang. (Martin went with her to the vets & on to work afterwards).

However when the ramp was lowered - tragedy.  Dolly had become cast in the lorry and was in a terrible state. She was groaning, her eyes were rolling and she unable to move, her legs trapped beneath her.  There was no way she was going to be able to get up in the lorry and the driver & his friend and some other people who stopped to help could not believe that I was serious when I said we had to do something. To them she looked like she had given up and the only thing to do was to call a vet to put her to sleep. However I was not prepared to give up on her and called Tony & Ben Skeggs my Hay merchants as they have a lot of machinery and have saved the day a number of times previously with their help. Even they however thought that Dolly had had it. Tony & Ben have a very powerful tractor digger with an extendable front loader which they brought along. I knew that the only chance Dolly had was to get her out of the lorry and on her feet as quickly as possible. With the loader and some support webbing Ben had brought along he managed to pull her towards the back of the lorry, then he attached the straps around her body and in what was an incredible bit of driving, managed to gently lift her out with the loader and hold her in a standing position - much to the disbelief and astonishment of the gathered crowd.

Dolly was held upright for 15 minutes and with micro adjustments of the loader she was lowered to allow her to take more weight until she was eventually standing. Then we got her to walk forward and the loader crept behind still attached with the strapping in case she fell - but she didn't. In fact she almost ran up the drive, eyes now wide & bright again and was then able to be led back to the yard and onto her area with Skipio & Babushka. As of now she is OK but tired. She is eating from her food bucket which is excellent news.

This was the closest call yet with her, and in the back of my mind, this kind of thing had been the reason I had not wanted her to go to the vets. I knew she needed seeing to, but I also knew the journey might prove too much - which it nearly had. I am mentally & physically drained now to the point of - well I don't know what
 
Dolly’s Farrier work cost £250, the vets bill for X-Rays & treatments was £267 & the transporter costs £110.

Tony & Ben I cannot thank you enough for your help today - Tony has suggested that next time she needs a trim, they will bring the loader here - strap her in & take 80% of the weight off her legs - this will mean that the Farrier could do the job here & not need the vet to administer nerve blocks etc. This is a brilliant idea and I am again very grateful to Ben & Tony for their continued "International Rescue" type support

23rd February Farmrite Helps

Farmrite are the company in Northern Ireland that we have been buying the water troughs and other equipment from. We stumbled across their website whilst searching for suppliers of agricultural equipment and were impressed with their range (& prices!) We ordered a few more earlier this week (thanks to Val & Andi) and they arrived this morning ! The company phoned us today to say they are giving us a rebate on the cost of our last order of £30 - about 15% this is excellent news and I am very grateful to them for their help. I have put a link to their site on the links page and also here - On the wish list page we have listed the kinds of equipment we need for the animals - If you are able to help with the "water fittings" campaign - please do let me know - thank you !

21st Feb - All Birds In

With the threat of the hysteria the media will cause when the 1st case of Avian Flu is reported on these shores we decided to take action this weekend to secure indoor accommodation for all the rescued birds. With all the normal work to fit in, it took all weekend and Monday to wire up & secure a number of suitable stables and build suitable pens for the horses that had to move out to make room!

Everything was ready Monday night & when everyone was roosting we started operation "shenanigans". The Chickens were rounded up and all the hens plus the few cockerels living with them went into a stable. All the Cockerels went into another. A small number of Cockerels who do not get on with the others have had to have separate runs constructed. All the Geese were rounded up and moved into another stable - likewise Mr Peacock has gone in with his three babies who were already living in a wired up stable due to their tendency to wander into next doors garden which was the cause of understandable complaints  - The Ducks were a challenge, which was expected, and even the purchase of a large net had not yielded the required results by 10 pm. Eventually employing our best wild Duck rounding up techniques we managed to corner them enabling Jacques Cousteau, (Martin), to emerge from the waterlogged vegetation armed with his attractive thigh length galoshes with matching net accessory to seize Ferdinand & Fuzzy the Aylesbury's, pass them to me & then pounce on the stunned Indian Runners, Ravi & Shankar before they had a chance to flee back into the water. The Turkeys were already inside as they don't tend to venture out anyway till the warm weather.

So everyone is in now - it's all quiet on the Pond & there are no Chickens or Geese roaming about. We have protected our birds from coming into contact with any wild bird who may be carrying the virus - more we cannot do. We would like to vaccinate the flock, but apparently that's up to someone in Europe - wherever that is... 

18th Feb - Water Trough Pics

Further to the update on 5th below - I have managed to get a pic of Olga and Marinka's splendid new mains water trough! - see here - I have also added some more pictures of the two of them on Marinka's page here

15th Feb - More Murphy Pics

See the New Pics link on his page here

7th Feb - Goodbye Cindy

Update by Martin - I would just like to thank the car driver who ran over our beautiful Cindy this evening. You might have stopped to see whether you had killed her or not, you might have even moved her broken body to the verge - but no, too busy, in far too much of a hurry to bother about a Cat. My continued thanks also to the countless drivers who continued to drive over her body without stopping. I saw her little body in the middle of the road as I arrived at the junction outside the Stables. The three cars in front of me just drove over her & I stopped to pick her up. She was only a baby herself really having arrived here last Summer aged just about 1 year with her tiny kitten who is called Rascal. She was a very tame cat but Rascal is still a little wild. Both short haired tabbies, Cindy was so friendly & would always stand on her back legs to have her head scratched & make loud purrs. But now she's dead. Rest in Peace Cindy, we will do our best to look after your baby.

5th Feb - Water Troughs ! & some sad news

One of the most important things is to make sure that all the animals have access to fresh drinking water at all times. With this many mouths to water one of the daily jobs is to check all of the troughs and water stations to make sure they are clean & full. For many of the animals who are in stables at this time of year this means filling their troughs many times a day. Simon the Shire can get through 6 buckets a day easily and of course more often than not I find that they will have knocked their bucket over - and so keeping on top of the water is a bit like painting the 4th bridge.

Last Summer we managed to 'plumb in' a few field troughs which being connected to the mains are now always full. You still have to check them daily to make sure the water has not been "fowled" but this has proven to be a big time saver. To improve things further & particularly for Marinka and Olga the Cows who share a large stable we decided to get a stable water trough fitted, so they would have a good supply of fresh water. Particularly important for this stable as even though they have a very large water bucket, they are continually knocking it over & if I have to fill it once a day I fill it about 10 times !

So we ordered a few troughs on-line and they arrived this weekend. Marinka and Olga now have a lovely new wall trough in their stable (£28 + fittings) with a permanent supply of fresh water. It has worked a treat. We also plumbed in troughs for the Sheep across the road and the 4 Pigs in Ellie's gang (Ellie, Nellie Longnose, Sophie). 

I would like to get the rest of the stables kitted out in a similar way as now I have seen how effective they are. If you are able to help with the "irrigation" project do let me know. I have put the details of the kinds of things we need on the wish list (see water fittings).

Also the sad news is that Mr Tiny one of the first feral Cats I rescued about 7 years ago passed away this weekend. He was a true feral, and never actually came close enough to be stroked. He arrived with his partner (Mrs Tiny) and their kitten daughter (Little Miss Tiny) having been saved from a rubbish tip at Bow in London. All three were going to be put to sleep at the time. They have all been living happily down the stables & fields for the past 7 years. I have no idea how old he was, but would estimate about 15. It is always sad when this happens, but you just have to think about the time that they had while they were here.

28th Jan - New Arrival

Poor Fred the hound has had a rough time of it. He is the worst abuse case I have taken in here. He has been kept in a confined space for many years and suffered horrific abuse which I cannot publish the details of. He is a cripple now and has very limited use of his hind legs & no "feeling" in his tail at all. He is able to walk a little, but has a tenancy to drag his rear end along using his front legs, until he is able to get his back legs in the right position to stand. He has been here a few days now & is getting on just fine with all the other dogs. He has joined the "groaking" gang around the dinner table now in the evenings, which he didn't for the first few days, so this is a positive sign that he is feeling more "at home", He spends a lot of time curled up in a basket by the radiator in the hall. I will post his picture as soon as I can.

23rd Jan - Dolly update

Dolly has been doing so well these past few weeks, she is feeling a lot more comfortable on her foot and 'touch wood' is only now sitting down at night. However, by first light she is standing at the gate with Skipio waiting for their breakfast ! She needs to see the vet again either this week or next to advise on whether her foot needs to be re-shod - however this is something they prefer to do at the practice & I would really rather avoid having to travel her the thirty miles there and back as any stress at all at her time should be avoided. When the vet sees her, if he thinks further work is necessary I will do my best to get them to arrange to have it done here.

22nd January - Horse Rugs

Just a very quick thank you to Linda and Barbara from the charity FACE (Fight Animal Cruelty Everywhere) who have collected a number of secondhand horse rugs and blankets and have donated them to us !  Interestingly they had phoned several "Charities" to see if they would like them, but we were the only organisation to call them back.

21st January - Chicks

The 20 ex-battery hens we rescued a few months ago were living in a stable until they had recovered a little & the plan was to introduce them to the main Chicken gang area in the Spring. They are all doing very well, but one got out.  I was a bit worried at first as she was the only hen now living "loose" in the main stable block where there are no other hens, but about 8 Cockerels. However, there has been no "trouble" and in fact she has paired up with one particular Cockerel - Mr English Gamebird, and they go everywhere together - roosting together back inside the stables at night on a perch. This w/e however when we were mucking the Chicks stable out, all the others decided to run AWOL too! Initially there were hens everywhere. They had a lovely time in the garden & all came back to their stable as the sun went down - which was a result !

18th Jan - Lifescape Magazine Articles

I have a regular slot in the Lifescape magazine for the months leading up to the London marathon in which I am offering advice about preparation for an event like this and also talking about my own training schedule - which is now starting to increase considerably !

The magazine is available at these shops

10th January - Aquatic Adventure

Last night we thought we had lost one of the Geese. There are ten rescued Geese living at the Sanctuary and they have freedom to roam wherever they like, but at night they come into the stable block for security. They would make an easy meal for a passing Fox if they were allowed to stay out at night. Although there is a pond here for the Ducks and Moorhens, it is not big enough to sustain Geese as they will quickly destroy the banks of any pond, unless it is a) actually a lake or b) has wooden sides to prevent erosion.

Fortunately the Geese here are quite old & don't actually need access to water - most of them are no longer actually very waterproof due to their age (They do have troughs of water to play in & go for a quick swim etc).

So, when I rounded them up, one was missing - one of the brown ones of which there are only two. Of the ten, there are three distinct groups - 5 white ones, 3 white ones & the 2 Brown ones. They are really separate "gangs" & do not mix !

Consequently the remaining brown Goose was very upset at being on her own. To cut a long story short and after having searched all the fields believing she had got lost somehow, we found her friend at about 10 pm - she had sneaked through a hole in the fence of the pond & was swimming about with the Ducks ! -Being dark brown, she had escaped initial notice.

What do do! We didn't want to leave her as her "friend" was fretting & for sure the next day would see all 10 on the pond - goodbye pond & all the wildlife in it !

Fortunately Martin has a pair of emergency galoshes - I mean everyone does don't they? :0) - & went into the pond armed with a Swan hook. This is a device for catching - well you can guess, but it works for Geese to. It is basically like a shepherds crock, only smaller & the hook part is made of rounded metal & is not 'sharp'. The hook is usually connected to a telescopic rod which can quickly be extended to about 15 feet to catch the Goose unawares, then once hooked, you must quickly get to the bird & gather it up, removing the hook from around it's neck.

Unfortunately, we don't have the telescopic bit & our swan hook is attached to a 12 foot non-retractable roofing baton with some baler twine ! Armed with this hi tech piece of equipment and his thigh length galoshes he strode forward into the depths - much to the amusement of Gladys the Goose who simply swam to the other end of the pond each time the creature from the depths approached! - Eventually after about 45 minutes which included several "quicksand adventures" & some colorful expletives he emerged victorious, but soaked to the skin, with Gladys intact - hurray !

Her friend was delighted to see her when we got her back into the stables - which was a happy ending. The "hole" has been blocked !

7th January - Fiona is chased by Hunters

Fiona was today chased whilst out on a 20 mile training run by two 'Hunt people' on horseback for about half a mile.

Fiona's London marathon training run involves a number of loops round the country lanes of the Dengie flats & on her first circuit of this particular loop, a number of hunt followers in vehicles had been well behaved as they followed Fiona, waiting for the road ahead to be clear before overtaking and not forcing their way past Fiona and drenching her with water from the puddles.  On her 2nd loop, she noticed up ahead two very big horses with a young man a woman riding them 2 abreast on the very narrow roads.  The female rider had actually seen Fiona running towards them in the distance as Fiona had seen her looking across at her.  However, as Fiona approached the riders were not doing the sensible thing and preparing to be passed by getting into single file so Fiona whistled as she approached them to let them know she was approaching as she would not want the Horses to be startled, still they didn't look round. When she got to them, as they were only walking, she said "excuse me, please" as there was no room to get past. They slowly moved over & Fiona said "thank you" as she ran past. So did they carry on walking their horses? No, they decided to chase Fiona down. Initially she started to pull away as they trotted their animals after her laughing to each other. Then, as Fiona realised they were quite close she began to accelerate away from them, nervous of having two large horses so close on her heals.  In retaliation (and proof that they were chasing her) they actually began to canter to keep up and were right on Fiona's heels for about half a mile. Fiona was 'traveling' at this point, probably doing in excess of 11 mph, but had she tripped or faltered they would have run her down. Rounding the next corner the previously met hunt followers' cars were parked, & fortunately a vehicle traveling the other way had also stopped & on seeing this the Riders gave up their pursuit. 

Fiona arrived home in a state of panic & anger - as you would expect.

They killed Bobby the Shire Horse a few years ago, (see March 6th entry 2001) they have reported us to the RSPCA before (to which the RSPCA told them to stop wasting their time), they have trespassed on our property on numerous occasions & now they they are trying to run Fiona down.

I would also like to point out at this point that, setting out the circumstances surrounding this incident aside, no self respecting 'animal lover' would ever even think about cantering a horse on a hard surface such as a road.


This page was last updated on: June 30, 2012
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