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The animal sanctuary

What do we spend our money on?

Liz and Kevin from the Smelly Alley Fish Company started rescuing animals 28 years ago. They outgrew their place near Reading and moved with ducks, geese, cats, and dog to Somerset. They have 13 acres - 4 are left to wild life, deer, badgers, foxes, rare grasses, orchids - the other 9 are used for rescue animals.

At present they have 22 cats, 3 ponies, 30 ducks, 10 geese, 3 chickens, one dog, three goats and a bad-tempered mule.

All are rescued. Where are they rescued from? Well, if you take in one stray cat the word soon gets around and people think you want another stray cat. A neighbour said that she found a kitten by the roadside and assumed that it had been thrown from a car because it was battered and bruised. She said "I found the kitten and thought of you." The farrier said "If she had found a £20 note she wouldn't have thought of you!", but that's how it goes. Then, because of the nature of cats, if you have a lot of cats, more drop by - stray farm cats, feral cats, lost cats, they all turn up. Liz and Kevin have a microchip reader and test all the newcomers, and ring all the local vets to find out if there are any missing cats waiting to be found, but so far they have only reunited one cat with its owner. The rest have mostly stayed, apart from a few that were rehomed with friends!

They always have a dog, to bring a bit of sanity into the smallholding, and so far have had four rescue dogs and an ex-police dog, all German Shepherds. Liz looks them in the eye when they arrive and tells them not to touch the cats, and so far they haven't! They had a donkey whose owner died, so kept it, and three ponies whose owner was at her wit's end because her place was so muddy. Surprise, surprise, they all gave birth nine months later! Then there was the story of the donkey who just before he died mated a friends pony (after 12 years of not being interested in the other sex), and they ended up with the mule. Poultry comes from far and wide, from the ducks whose mates have been killed by the fox, so their owners bring them here because they are lonely, to a large white duck found in a chine on a beach near Lyme Regis. They even had a wild mallard who came up to the shed when Liz and Kevin were putting their ducks away one night and brought her 14 ducklings with her - after looking at Liz as if to ask if she could join the other ducks. All are looked after till they die, when they have a headstone in the cemetery. 

Scroll down to see some of them or check out our Facebook page.

Here are some of the animals.
GoatsThe goats
Our white goat recently died and these two arrived to take his place. Our resident goat Houdini has just arrived at his pen to find two new goats there, he's obviously saying "What the .....?!?". After a night together they are best of friends.
Freddy, Ollie and Phillippe
Freddy and Ollie's owner couldn't keep them any longer. They started life living wild on a nearby farm with their mother. When their mother ran away when Liz and Kevin turned up, Freddy came to the door of a barn, crying for help - he was only tiny and can't have seen many people in his short life, yet he seemed to want to be rescued. Now he is a very stocky (no, not fat), friendly cat, like his brother Ollie! Liz and Kevin then caught his mother Polly, who still lives with them, his brother Sylvester turned up a few months later, and his brother Ollie has also come back to live with us. So family complete again. The three boys are very friendly, but their mother has never allowed anyone to come within 2 metres of her - then she runs away. Liz and Kevin always thought she had a particularly baleful look, now they realize she is blind in one eye. She really, really loves Stanley (see below). 

Phillippe just turned up, and we think he is Cherry Pie's son, as is Jimmy or Jimjams.  

This is Sky. Her family had to give her up when they moved to a smaller house. She has now been with Liz and Kevin for nearly two years. She doesn't chase cats, ducks or geese but likes to play with the goats and is always tempted when she sees a chicken. She is very popular, in fact nobody speaks to Kevin and Liz any more when they go to the local pub, it's all "Hello, Sky, how are you, Sky?". Her ambition is to catch a fox, but we think she only wants to play with it!
The mule
This is Charley the mule, or "The Mule" as he's called. He's pictured with his mother Daisy a few days after he was born. He's six years old now. His father was Snowy the donkey who only found an interest in the other sex when he got really old. He never lived to see his son, dying four days before he was born, but as he was a cantankerous old thing, he probably didn't mind! The Mule lives with the other ponies and doesn't have to do anything except cause trouble - he isn't ridden and doesn't have to work for his living.
The cockerel lost his mate recently, so here he is trying to make friends with a new hen. She isn't being bashful, she is looking down on the ducks hoping she wasn't expected to spend the night with them as well as him.
Stanley is a feral cat who used to visit us to steal cat food. One night he came in with a snare around his leg, Liz only realized when she heard the trailing snare tapping on the slate floor. Liz managed to catch him, after he bit her thumb, and a late night visit to the vet resulted in the amputation of his front leg. Now he is the friendliest of our cats, all the other cats love him. He looked after Quincey when she was a tiny kitten, licking her and giving her a smack when she overstepped the mark! 

Stanley was a victim of snares - they must be one of the cruellest ways of trapping and damaging animals. Somebody obviously found him in a snare, and instead of removing the snare they cut it so that Stanley ran away with it around his leg. His leg went gangrenous and meant that it had to be amputated. 

Time to ban all snares in the UK. See these
Peter used to live behind the takeaways in a nearby town and so had a varied diet of hamburgers, fish and chips and kebabs. We were asked to catch him so now he has tinned cat food and coley. He likes a wandering lifestyle so spends most of his time at a nearby farm, coming home every few weeks. He lost half his tail in a car accident.
was found wandering round Reading - he had a bit of a crisis when he went to live in the country, all that greenery was hard to cope with.  He is a very large cat, but very gentle.
Auntie Kitty
Auntie Kitty's owner died after being in hospital for a time, so she ended up with Kevin and Liz. She is a really neat and gentle cat, but suffers from cystitis so has to have a special diet.

Ducklings hatch most years, these hatched in April 2012, they all turned into white ducks that are now enjoying themselves on the pond. Some are hiding - you can't see them all, but 12 hatched! The mother still accompanies them, so every night a queue of 13 ducks lines up to go into their fox-proof home.
This is Quincey, she was raised by hand from the age of one week. Now she is a very pretty but very irritable sort of cat. She loves her life investigating the wildlife in the fields, but is very solitary.
Two ponies
Three ponies arrived about 7 years ago after being rescued from a muddy field and they all gave birth 9 months later! These are two of the foals, now about 6 years old. They are basically just hooligans who don't have to work, just enjoy themselves all day in the fields.  They are called Muffin and Clover, but as they are always together, and always called "Those boys", even Liz and Kevin don't know which is which.
Geese and goslings
These geese are guarding their goslings. The brown goose is called "Lofty".
arrived after being found as a kitten by the roadside, a bit battered and bruised.  He is a bit of a devil, he likes to attack other cats, but he loves people.  Sometimes he is kept in his cattery on alternate days so that the other cats can have a respite from him, but he doesn't seem to mind.
This is Robinson,
he doesn't seem too impressed by being photographed. He is another of those cats that just turned up, we don't know where he came from. He now lives with us, and is the best and friendliest of cats. Fawkes (see above) has taken against him, so they are out on alternate days, otherwise there is a big fight. Robinson likes walking on paperwork, so lots of our bookwork goes to the accountant with cat footprints on it.
was left to us in a friend's will. When she was young she used to hitch a ride on a peacock's tail until the peacock got fed up with her and pecked her eye, so she is now a one-eyed cat. She lived a semi-feral life until she came to us, now she is a very affectionate cat, despite going missing for three weeks just after we got her. Now she never leaves home!