PUBLISHED: 01:16 29 September 2011 | UPDATED: 20:04 20 February 2013
Actress and custodian of the ABC Animal Sanctuary Alexandra Bastedo says that each season brings its own challenge
Different times of year bring their own problems and autumn is no exception. Our pigs get drunk on fermented apples and have to be kept in their pens to get over their hangovers. Acorns cause the sanctuary great anxiety as they come crashing down in their hundreds. Horses and donkeys should not eat them, goats should not eat them in any quantity and pigs love them but even they should have a restricted number.
At least the volunteers are now back from their holidays - their numbers are always seriously diminished in the summer and now, amongst the usual tasks of cleaning, feeding, watering and grooming, we will have to sweep up the acorns regularly. Keeping an eye on what the animals eat is a constant preoccupation. We once had to call out the vet because Lisa, one of our pygmy goats, was staggering about and falling over. He looked around and discovered some hallucinatory mushrooms in her pen. A major cull of all mushrooms in that area and she was fine.
Ragwort is the bane of our lives and it astounds me that people allow so much of it to proliferate. It may have pretty yellow flowers but when you consider the plant is poisonous to most animals and that people should not even touch it without wearing gloves everyone should buy a ragwort fork and get digging. At the sanctuary we have allotted ragwort removal days to keep on top of it. But seeds travel on the wind from neighbouring fields so it is a yearly problem.
At this time of year we start thinking about the winter and how to keep the animals warm and healthy. The young ones always do well but a lot of our animals are older or arthritic and need some extra help. Gretel and Phoebe the old donkeys and Shabba the older horse all need coats on rainy days and extra food supplements.
Gretel also needs remedial shoes at 90 every six weeks. Its a major expense, but many kind people have sponsored her on our website www.abcanimalsanctuary.co.uk and her life is made tolerable by them. She had such a terrible life before she came to us, and it is lovely to sense her appreciation of all we do for her. She never grumbles at all! However one of her stable companions, Charlie the little Shetland (who was kept in someones kitchen and tiny garden until he came to us), is proving a major concern. He has been limping badly and the vet has said that he has a problem with his stifle and pedal bone in his right hind leg. He is only ten and could have many years ahead of him. We are therefore starting a Help Charlie Appeal
to fund the cost of an operation at the Royal Veterinary College in London at an estimated cost of 3,500. An alarming amount for a new animal charity like ours (we started three years ago).
If you can help please do so through our website or write to us at PO Box 2195, West Chiltington, Pulborough, Sussex RH20 2XB.
Other news? All the rescue centres are straining under the deluge of unwanted cats and dogs. Thousands are being put down and it is hard to turn an animal away when you know the alternative will be death. So please ask people to get their cats and dogs neutered to treat the root cause of the overpopulation problem.
If you can give one of our animals a home please call 07967046068 or 01798812508 or help to sponsor one of our old residents through the website.