Our Animals

2 Dogs:
Ripper (named by our then 10yr old son!) is a gorgeous, laid-back serra da estrela cross doberman, given to our son as a puppy for his birthday. Bug (named by a volunteer) is a funny little mongrel stray who arrived here one day and we took pity on him because he was so cute, he’s been with us over a year now.

5 Cats:
Slim, a lovely grey and white male cat given to our daughter for her birthday (his brother, Shady, sadly died of a mystery illness). Mr. Bigglesworth, a gorgeous ginger tom rescued from the riverside as a tiny kitten who’d been dumped there and left to die. Cassie, found with a broken tail, jaw and leg by some campers staying next door who managed to persuade us to take her in. Two un-named semi-wild cats whose mother (a stray) decided to give birth in one of our outbuildings.

3 horses
Ayla a ‘characterful’ Arab cross Dutch Warmblood mare, Maurice (3/4 Arab) 15yrs old but acts like a little boy, and Daan an ex-trotting racehorse, now a fantastic schoolmaster.

Poultry:
A bantam cockerel and 3 bantam hens. A pair of geese. A male duck (he accidentally killed his wife in a rather over-enthusiastic mating incident!).

Rabbits:
A black male called Wobble and a pretty tan & white female as yet un-named.

Wildlife:
Salamanders and other assorted lizards, snakes, frogs, toads, bees, birds, butterflies, centipedes, bats, beetles, ants ….

Philosophy:

We came here as vegans (one of us a vegan for over 13yrs) and now we occasionally eat meat …

We’d always wanted to keep chickens, our belief being that organic free-range eggs from happy hens are vegan. We inherited two bantams with the quinta and we bought more chicks from market. We bought a pair of geese and that re-opened the debate of whether we ‘breed-to-eat’ which had started with the discussion of whether we get a pig – one of us wants a pig purely as part of the gardening system, three of us would also want to eat it. In our first year here we killed a surplus cockerel – we had two and they were fighting, no-one else wanted him, what do we do? We decided that if we had to kill him then we had to eat him, which we did and it was a fairly traumatic experience but – we have to say – the meat was delicious, it tasted healthy and nothing like what you’d get from a shop.

Last year our ducks unexpectedly produced ducklings and we ended up with far more than could healthily live on our small pond, so Derek the wwoofer dispatched them for us and into the oven they went.

After two years of intermittent debate as to whether we would ever keep animals specifically for meat we now have two rabbits. The male we acquired when a neighbour found him loose in her garden, and the female we got from some friends, with the intention of breeding them to eat their babies. Time will tell if we can actually bring ourselves to kill the little fluffy bunnies though …