When I was a child, my mother would never let us have pets. I always thought this was most unfair. Until now...
We have acquired a pet. Two to be precise, a bunny called Dandelion and a guinea pig called Marmite. This despite dire warnings from my Super Organised Friend who suffered for years as sole carer to pets while her offspring wandered by regardless.
Well all I can say it wasn't MY idea...
We have had a pet before - a hamster called Georgie who we inherited from the nanny and who went to Hamster Heaven quite some time ago now. I was quite fond of Georgie, who wasn't too much trouble, (until the end of his days, when he got grumpy and bit me) but I was quite content not having another pet. Spouse, however, made the fatal mistake of promising replacement.
No 1 would like a cat. So would I. Far less work. Spouse isn't keen on cats.
Nos2&4 would love a dog. I am terrified of them. I've learned to control my phobia over time, but it remains nonetheless, and the thought of being alone in the house with a canine is more then I can bear to contemplate, even if I've known it from a puppy.
No 3 is semi keen on a pet, but not sure quite what.
So we've ended up with Dandelion and Marmite.
I hate them already.
Don't get me wrong. They're cute. Dandelion has a sweet way of rubbing his nose with his paws, Marmite on first discovering the ramp that went down into the run was charmingly skittish.
It's just... the MESS they make.
I was nearly demented on Sunday when the sprogs (who are over the moon and spent the whole day in and out of the run) were tramping straw and god knows what else over the house. But that was nothing to my maniacal behaviour last night when it came to cleaning the hoppers out.
We'd had one go on Monday, but since then it's rained really heavily, so despite my clever wheeze of lining the roof of the run with black plastic, they seem to have spent two days pooing in their bedroom. Which was nice.
So yesterday it was clean up time.
The children have all assured me solemnly they'll help. But it isn't quite as easy as I thought.
For starters, we're currently having to keep the animals on the patio as they're too young yet to eat grass. Apparently the rabbit could get a very bad tummy bug, and SOF tells me this is to be avoided at all costs...
The patio also contains: a large swing seat, a huge wooden table, and an even bigger paddling pool (of course the minute we got it out the sun disappeared), and now a hutch which Spouse has cunningly attached to the pen he made, together with a little ramp the hoppity things can skip and jump down.
The hoppity things seem to think there is nothing more fun then bringing all the straw/hay from the hutch down into the run, where it can get stuck in the chicken wire which protects them from foxes (they also have to have to be covered up at night otherwise we might find dead bunny in the morning - apparently seeing a fox can induce a heart attack, and the chances of that happening in our garden are 100% likely. Bring back hunting say I.)
In order to clean out the bottom area we encourage the hoppers back into the hutch, lift the whole thing up, shake as much hay off the bottom as possible and then move it all to one side, so we can sweep the rubbish off the side of the patio into newspaper. So far so good...
Last night Spouse got as far as the first bit before taking nos1&2 off to guides, while nos 3, 4 and I were left to do everything else.
Underneath the hutch is a tray which catches all the straw, bedding and crap. In theory, this makes for easy cleaning. You simply remove the tray, tip it out, clean it and put it back. Which would be a piece of piss if we had the run separate from the hutch, as we could put the animals in that while we clean out the rest of it.
Unfortunately, thanks to a piece of fiendishly brilliant, but rather impractical, engineering/carpentry on Spouse's part, it's all one thing. So while I was pulling out the tray, no 4 was holding up the ramp to stop the animals getting back in the hutch, as there is a neat guinea pig sized gap at the bottom once the tray's removed.
On top of that the tray itself is long and wide, and I was now working in an area of about one square inch, trying to stop no 3, who helpfully kept offering me hay from wandering into all the crap and straw in her flip flops. (Why is it only me who seems to get that this is all rather unhygienic?)
In the meantime, no 4 managed to drop the ramp on the animals who nearly jumped out of the pen. Then she couldn't hold it up anymore, so they both escaped into the hutch. No 3 being more antsy round animals then her sister, stood dancing about saying, I can't get them, while I was stuck to my armpits in poo and couldn't reach them either without letting go off the huge parcel of crap I was rolling, so no 4 came marching round, straight through my huge parcel, and all was merry mayhem.
I was screaming like a banshee throughout most of this, I believe my six year old was probably heard by the neighbours to say This is shit (she was not wrong) on more then one occasion, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the language I let fly.
By the time we were done it was half past eight, way past their bedtime, and I then had the fun of dumping everything in the incredibly full compost bins (Spouse had just mowed the lawn), which were now buzzing with flies, to make my cup of happiness complete.
When the others arrived home I was frazzled beyond belief and cursing the day we'd bought the wretched animals. We've only had them a week, god knows how I'm going to feel in a year's time.
On the upside, I do have now a rich seam to mine for book 3, although I'm not quite sure its worth it...
Rabbit pie, anyone?