9 articles Tag animals

Roadkill

Snow White AnimalsOne of my favourite things about our new house is the immediate surroundings and the wildlife that lives within. Yesterday, we had to drive into town at about 7.30am and it was a glorious day; as we turned the corner out of the end of our road we saw rabbits, squirrels and phaesants, all just happily milling around eating at the edges of the farmers field. When you’ve lived in a very built-up town for the best part of 31 years and the closest you get to nature is next doors’ cat shitting in your sandpit and ripping open your bins, seeing this kind of scene on an almost daily basis is like that scene in Snow White, minus the housework-doing bluebirds! However, there is a downside to all this nature.

Roadkill.

When I first started driving, back in 2002 (*boke* HOW can it be that long ago?!), I used to commute to work along an A-road every day, a drive of about 13 miles but it was then that I first started to notice roadkill. I may not show it, but I can be a sensitive soul and after a few weeks, seeing death and destruction on a daily basis really started to drag me down. I’d be at once repelled by the sight of squashed animals and obsessive about spotting them as I went. It was like a form of self-torture, my brain saying “I’m going to make you feel REALLY bad for the rest of the day” and I was really glad when I stopped doing that commute as it started to mess with my mental health, I think.

If we’re friends on Facebook, you may have seen my recent post about having seen a mouse run out into the road while I was driving along, followed by a weasel which proceeded to eat said mouse. It was all very David Attenborough but it was on this day that I realised something. If that weasel-eating-a-mouse had stopped in my lane, I’d have had no choice but to run it over. I was driving along that road at about 40 miles an hour (it’s a national speed limit road with a 60mph max, but I never drive that fast, especially if the kids are in the car) and it’s a narrow country lane with barely room for two cars to pass. There’d be no leeway for me to swerve, and quite frankly, if it’s a choice between Burrito Baby, Sausage and I ending up nose-down in a ditch next to a farmers field and saving a weasel, I know what choice I’d make.

Sausage is even more of a gentle soul than I and I’ve had to try to break it to her gently that these things happen and that one day, we may have no choice but to forge on regardless of whether something goes under our wheels. If I’m honest, I’m absolutely dreading it, for both of our sakes. I know that it’s a very real possibility and when (probably not *if*) it happens it will weigh heavily on us both. Just yesterday we saw a freshly-squished squirrel and the best way I could reconcile it for us all was to say “well, it’s sad for the squirrel, but I bet a crow or a fox will be getting a good meal for its babies today”. It’s all very Elton John, innit? #circleoflife

via GIPHY

I know lots of people will think I’m barmy or a big baby for not wanting to hurt animals, but it’s just not in me to be so carefree about it. Regardless of what type of creature it is, it’s a life – and before you ask, no, I don’t kill spiders or insects either, so my regard isn’t only for those thing which are cute and fluffy!

Do you live in or commute through a rural area? Do you have any tips for avoiding wildlife on the roads, or any stories related? I’d love to hear about them, so please leave me a comment below.

Animals Rock! (Win VIP prizes across Port Lympne Reserve and Howletts Wild Animal Park)

720x325-BannerI think it’s safe to say that everyone on the Mum’s the Word household is an animal lover. Obviously, we have our faithful old pooch, Chuck, who I’ve written about umpteen times, who’s our favourite creature in the whole world, but each of us has a distinct favourite animal aside from our old boy.

Sausage’s favourite animals are cats, any type of cats, but if she were pushed to narrow it down, she’d probably say a lynx. Amazingly, The Lynx Trust is in talks with the Scottish Government to reintroduce lynxes to the wild up there, so Sausage may well be able to see them in the flesh, on home turf in the very near future!

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Burrito Baby is a huge fan of what she calls a “Wo-Wo” (that’s a dog to you and I) and will happily proclaim every four legged creature she sees to be one. She’s obviously a huge fan of our Wo-Wo, but does get a little spooked by how loud his bark can be!

Chuck

I think Husband would probably say the honey badger is his favourite creature. They’re SUPER tough, taking on lions and winning on a regular basis, despite their short stature, and there’s something about their bolshy-yet-irreverent attitude that I can totally see the appeal of.

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For me, it’s a close call. Chameleons are a huge love of mine, and I’d absolutely love to have one as a pet. However, if I were to put a point on my absolute favourite animal, I’d have to say it would be a lorikeet. These beautiful, colourful birds are so gregarious and friendly and are an absolute delight to be around. We’ve been to several attractions which have lorikeet enclosures, where you can go in and feed the birds by hand from a cup of nectar, and it might sound daft to a non-animal person, but the first time I fed them was one of my treasured life experiences.

Made some new friends today.

A photo posted by Mum’s the Word (@mumstheword84) on

Do you have a favourite animal? Well, if you make a video and share it, you could be in with a chance of winning VIP prizes across Port Lympne Reserve and Howletts Wild Animal Park, including a bespoke safari experience, the chance to play animal keeper and passports for you and the family. The Aspinall Foundation has launched the Animals Rock! competition and want you to make a clip of 60-seconds or less and post it to either the Port Lympne Reserve or Howletts Wild Animal Park Facebook page. The contest will be judged by none other than Paul O’Grady himself – WE LOVE PAUL!

So, if you want to be in with a chance of winning one of these fabulous prizes, make a video and get yourself over there to upload it.

Review: Disney Talking Sofia The First Doll and Animal Friends.

Sofia the First Talking Doll I liked the animals when they spoke to Sofia and her amulet and her hair and dress are beautiful! – Sausage, aged 5

I must admit, in the run-up to Sausage’s birthday, two weeks ago, I was struggling to think of things to buy for her. We bought her a couple of ‘big’ presents (a Chromebook and a Nook), but I wanted to get her a few little bits to open on the day, so that it didn’t seem like she only had a couple of pressies. As luck would have it, Argos got in touch and asked if we’d like to have a look at their most popular dolls and choose one for the birthday girl, and I noticed this fab Sofia the First Talking Doll, which I knew she’d love.

When the doll arrived, it looked lovely in the box, but I didn’t realise just how cool it is until Sausage actually got it out to play with it. Each animal prompts Sofia to say a different set of phrases when you hold them up to her magical amulet, which is a really nice touch and you can actually get a proper conversation going between them!

The doll, animals and accessories all feel as though they’re very high quality and the doll itself is fairly weighty, not flimsy like some merchandise can be.

Sausage was absolutely thrilled with her talking Sofia the First; she’s been watching the show religiously since it first aired and she’d been checking our nearest Disney shop for Sofia dolls for ages, so Argosreally came through for us, giving us a great 5th birthday gift for our special princess, and providing her with hours of fun in the process!

For other great ideas and all of the best Argos toys, take a look at their website.

Learning is Fun: Animal Sizes

Since Sausage was old enough to hold her own head up, Husband has sat her on his lap at his desk and showed her pictures of animals on the computer. She’s always been fascinated by nature and as she grew we moved her learning on from visual-only stimulation to actually learning facts about animals and the natural world. The internet is an amazing resource and we love nothing more than when Sausage asks us about something and we’re able to sit and learn together using websites we love, such as Wikipedia and the National Geographic site.

One thing that can be quite hard to explain is the actual sizes of different animals. Most kids don’t have a concept of how big things are, so Husband and I started actually measuring things out with Sausage. It’s a fantastic learning opportunity as not only are you quantifying the knowledge you’re passing on about animals, you’re getting them involved with using numbers, tools such as tape measures and best of all, it fires the imagination like nobodies business!

Now that the weather is nicer, we’ve taken the game outdoors and have started marking things out in chalk, so whenever Sausage wants to know how tall or long something is, we mark it out on the patio. However, our patio is only so big, so we’re planning to take our tape measures to the park to measure out some of the larger creatures, like species of dinosaurs and whales!

What you’ll need.

All you need to do this at home is a patio, a tape measure, some chalk and the internet. Encourage your kids to think of different animals to look up, get them involved in measuring them out and drawing the lines. We’ve had hours of fun doing this and it’s free, educational and really fun if you get your imagination involved.

Starting left to right, the smallest line is Sausage’s height, for context. The next line is the wingspan of a golden eagle (Sausage was blown away that a bird could have wings wider than her height, which led to a conversation about other birds that are even bigger). The third line, in blue, is the average length of a bottle-nose dolphin and the longest line is the average length of a large species of crocodile!

This is a great activity for kids and you don’t even necessarily need good weather to play it (though it’s so nice to get some fresh air finally). We often measure the heights of things and I had fun standing on the arm of the sofa with Husband stopping me from falling off, to show Sausage how tall a particular species of pre-historic ape was! You can even get a stepladder involved to show the really tall things, just mind your head on the ceiling!

Another method of quantifying things for them is to weigh all of the members of the family and write them on a piece of paper (I recommend doing it in kilos as most animals weights are in kilos and it’ll save you having to do all of the conversions!). Using the “think of an animal…” starting point, get them to think of a creature, look up their weight and get the kids to work out how many times bigger than them the animal is, or how many times bigger than Mummy or Daddy, or Mummy plus Daddy, etc. It’ll get them exercising their maths skills and get the imaginations going even wilder!

Sunday

Closer to Nature – Photo Linky

I’ve been totally slack with getting a Closer to Nature post up the past couple of weeks, so apologies to anyone who’s been patiently waiting to link up any nature photos! Here’s my photo for this week:

I took a photo of this moth, sitting on our living room wall, a couple of weeks ago and fiddled about with contrast and lighting in Picasa and I think it came out rather well! We’ve had something of a moth infestation this summer, but I read in the news that that’s happening because of their woodland habitats being levelled, so I didn’t begrudge them a place to sleep. I do have a couple of items of clothing with holes gnawed in them though, which takes the mickey a bit!

So, now it’s your turn, I want to see your nature snaps and you can use the widget below to link up. The rules and details are here if you need them.

 

Mum's the Word

Closer to Nature – A Photography Linky

After I put this up two Tuesdays ago, I had a really healthy response to the idea and had 14 or 15 people link up, which I was completely thrilled with, so as promised I thought I’d do it again. Welcome to Closer to Nature!

As with last time, there are no real hard and fast rules other than your photo must be something nature related, but that leaves a heck of a lot of scope for your imagination to go wild (pardon the pun…!). Also, don’t forget to visit the others and leave some comment love, we all like a bit of that 🙂

There’s a linky widget below and button code in the sidebar, I can’t wait to see your photos, here’s mine:

Wild flowers.

This was taken on the day that Husband and I decided to take our daughter to Hadleigh Country Park, home of Hadleigh Castle and now the site of the Olympic Mountain Biking track. While we were there, there were loads of fenced off areas and mysterious portacabins dotted around the place, so I’ll be curious to see what it’s been left like after the Olympics. It’s been a site for mountain bikers for many, many years, Husband and his friends have spent many a happy hour hurtling down those hills, but apparently once the Olympics has buggered off, people will have to pay to ride the trails, which I think is a bit of a cynical move by the council, to be honest. Hopefully the flowers will all still be there to enjoy for free…

Mum's the Word

Closer to Nature – A Photography Linky

On this week’s Silent Sunday entry, my friend commented and said “You guys are very Attenborough on a Sunday, love it!” and I realised that I really do love taking photos of nature, creatures weird and wonderful and generally anything that makes a good macro shot!

I decided that, in honour of the school holidays and the good weather we’re having, that I’d do a little linky where you can get ‘Closer to Nature’ and post your best nature photos. There are no rules other than that it must be a photo of something nature related, but it can be just a photo or have a story with it. I’ve made a little badge too, that you can add to your post, which is in the sidebar and will link back here to everyone’s posts.

Have fun, I can’t wait to see your photos! If enough people link up, I may do it again throughout the holidays.

Here’s mine – Husband took it using my Canon Ixus compact camera with the macro on:

Mum's the Word

Grab the code in the sidebar to link up

Silent Sunday

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Schleich Farm Life

When Sausage got to a certain age, she started to really get into animals and was keen to learn everything she could about them. My little sister is 8 1/2 years younger than me and I remembered that when she was about Sausage’s age, she too was mad about animals and collected miniature rubbery plastic models of them from a particular childrens toy shop. She’d go in there once a week and get a new species for her collection and it was the highlight of her week.

This shop is still around so I went to see if I could find the same toys, and the toys were still there but the range was hugely diminished and seemed poor quality.

A few weeks ago, I was asked if Sausage would be interested in receiving some toy animals from Schleich, a German company who specialise in animal toys and action figures, so of course we agreed.

We were sent a selection of farm animals including a couple of horses, a cow, some bunnies, a puppy, a sheepdog and a giraffe. I’m not sure how the last one works on a farm, but nevertheless we were happy to receive it! We also received a water trough.

One thing that struck us about every single one of these toys is that the attention to detail is superb. The animals look almost lifelike, the painting is beautifully done and the toys have a certain heavy quality to them that makes you think that these toys will last for many lifetimes. I certainly intend to save them and give them to Sausage’s children, in a couple of decades time!

One thing that I didn’t realise until I started looking for pictures to go with this post is just how  extensive the range of toys really is. There are no less than 34 breeds of horses available, with several models within each breed, and that’s not to mention the dozens of different dogs, humans, vehicles, buildings and hundreds of animals available. I’m impressed and overwhelmed by the amount of choice available and recommend these toys to just about anyone.

Go over to the Schleich site and have a butchers at wants on offer, I can guarantee you’ll be as impressed as I am. Sausage, of course, loves the toys and has set up a farm on her bedroom floor that no one is allowed to move! I think we can safely say that these toys are a hit with us.