The other day we were out for a drive when mum pulled over and said “Look, there’s a baby hedgehog!”

Sure enough, there was a hedgehog rooting through the leaves looking for food. Hedgehogs eat frogs, insects, worms, snails, mice, and grubs.

Hedgehog is a strange name. Have you ever wondered why it is called that?

Well, the name hedgehog started being used a long time ago in about 1450. The name came about because it can quite often be found rooting about under the ‘hedges’ and it has a nose like a pig, or hog – hence hedgehog.

Hedgehog are mammals which means that they give birth to live young and the babies suckle the mothers milk. They are born with very soft spines. The spines are not poisonous, and as the hedgehog grows the spines fall out and are replaced by others, this is called quilling.

Their spikes are used as a defence mechanism, they have two long muscles in their back which enable them to roll up into a ball if they are scared. This protects their head, feet and tummy, which are not spiky.

They are mainly nocturnal sometimes they can be seen out and about feeding during the day.

Hedgehogs in Europe normally hibernate, which means they find somewhere safe to hide around October/November time, under some stones, wood or under some dried grass for example. Then they drop their body temperature really low and slow their metabolism down and go to sleep, this allows them to energy and helps them survive the winter.  They normally come out of hibernation in March/April, but if the weather is mild they come out sooner, like the little one today.

This is the picture mum took of the young hedgehog.

Did you know:

Hedgehogs can live between 4 to 7 years.

The name for a group of hedgehogs is an ‘array.’

Hedgehogs have about 5,000 to 6,500 spines!

A baby hedgehog is called a hoglet.

 

 

In Toby’s Tails (Book 1) I met my first hedgehog, whose name was Horace, in the wood. He was getting ready to hibernate, and mum tells me the importance of making sure that bonfires are checked in case hedgehogs have settled down to sleep in them. If you want to know more about my adventures in my first year of puppy-hood you can read them here  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Tails-Fantasy-Farm-Tales/dp/1514838168/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1488908290&sr=8-1 

 

 

 

 

I hope you have enjoyed learning about hedgehogs, they are very interesting – if a little prickly!

Bye for now…

 

Hi everyone,

On Saint Valentines Day I would like to write a little post (with Mum’s help of course) about love.

Sometimes there is a lot of bad press about animals disliking one another, both the same species and different. However when you look around you in the word there are also wonderful examples of animals helping others, protecting them, and bringing up animals and birds which traditionally they are supposed to hate.

It is often said that dogs and cats do not like each other, and sometimes they don’t, but my life has changed since a little black and white kitten arrived at our house last August.

Domino, as he is now called has adopted me as his dad, and follows me everywhere, sits beside me all the day. He plays with me and waits next to mum when she is cooking, like I do, and watches wistfully when I go out in the car with mum leaving him behind, which makes me very sad.

So, when people talk about hate, just remember that there is an awful lot of love in this world, between all sorts of animals both human and otherwise.

Happy St Valentines Day from me, and my brother from a different mother.

 

 

 

 

 

I am offering all my award winning children’s books FREE in celebration of National Multicultural Children’s Book day which is this Friday,  27th January. The links shown are for Amazon.com however the books are free on all Amazon sites worldwide, and the links below, should give you the option of downloading from the Amazon site of your choice.

The books will be FREE on Kindle on 26th, 27th and 28th of January – they are for children who love animals aged 4-9 years and I have grouped them below so you can download the books together if you or your children are learning a language. They have been professionally translated, in French by Emilie Baudrez, and in Spanish by Jose Luis Cortes

I would appreciate a review please, however brief, if you can spare the time, after reading my books.

Toby’s Tails (Book 1)

English

https://www.amazon.com/Tobys-Tails-Fantasy-Farm-Tales-ebook/dp/B00ZG6O874/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_7_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485437230&sr=1-7

Toby’s Tails – The Chicken Patrol   English

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Tobys-Tails-Chicken-Patrol-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B009E4KH2E/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_8_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485437230&sr=1-8

Toby et Campagnie – Le Mystere du Poulailler  – French

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Toby-Compagnie-Mystere-Poulailler-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B01DYL9R14/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

La Patrulla de las Gallinas – Spanish

 

https://www.amazon.com/Patrulla-Gallinas-Fantasy-Tales-Spanish-ebook/dp/B00EZL3WK0/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485437392&sr=1-10&refinements=p_82%3AB007DV5UX6

 

Toby’s Tails – Billy and Daisy’s Big Adventure (Book 3) -English

https://www.amazon.com/Tobys-Tails-Daisys-Adventure-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B008VUXPAI/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485437392&sr=1-9&refinements=p_82%3AB007DV5UX6

Toby’s Tails – Still Wagging (Book 4) – English

https://www.amazon.com/Tobys-Tails-Still-Wagging-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B010QVQ36M/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485437392&sr=1-2&refinements=p_82%3AB007DV5UX6

Toby et Compagnie – Ca bouge toujours! – French

https://www.amazon.com/Toby-Compagnie-toujours-Fantasy-French-ebook/dp/B01DQXNMH0/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_15_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485437590&sr=1-15

Toby’s Tails – The Christmas Kittens (Book 5) – English

https://www.amazon.com/Tobys-Tails-Christmas-Kittens-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B016153T0A/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

Toby et compagnie ? Les chatons de Noel – French

https://www.amazon.com/compagnie-chatons-Fantasy-Tails-French-ebook/dp/B016171APY/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_13?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485437729&sr=1-13&refinements=p_82%3AB007DV5UX6

Las adventuras de Toby ? Los Gatitos de Navidad – Spanish

https://www.amazon.com/aventuras-Gatitos-Navidad-Fantay-Spanish-ebook/dp/B01616K59C/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_11?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485437779&sr=1-11&refinements=p_82%3AB007DV5UX6

 

Toby’s Tails – Saying Goodbye to Lucky (Book 6) – English

https://www.amazon.com/Tobys-Tails-Saying-Goodbye-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B01AMHRWRO/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_4_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485437779&sr=1-4

 

Toby’s Tails – Easter at Fantasy Farm (Book 7) – English

https://www.amazon.com/Tobys-Tails-Easter-Fantasy-Tales-ebook/dp/B01D8MPO0W/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_5_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485437779&sr=1-5

 

 

Toby’s Tails –  Toby Visits Chats du Quercy (Book 8) – English

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Tobys-Tails-Visits-Quercy-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B01H227GMI/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_6_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485437891&sr=1-6

 

Toby et Compagnie – Toby rend visite – Chats du Quercy (Book 8) – French


https://www.amazon.com/Toby-Compagnie-rend-visite-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B01HF3KQ0I/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_14?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485437934&sr=1-14&refinements=p_82%3AB007DV5UX6

 

Susan Keefe

Author of the Toby’s Tails series of children’s books

 

I am offering all my award winning children’s books FREE in celebration of National Multicultural Children’s Book day which is this Friday,  27th January. The links shown are for Amazon.co.uk however the books are free on all Amazon sites worldwide, and the links below, should give you the option of downloading from the Amazon site of your choice.

The books will be FREE on Kindle on 26th, 27th and 28th of January – they are for children who love animals aged 4-9 years and I have grouped them below so you can download the books together if you or your children are learning a language. They have been professionally translated, in French by Emilie Baudrez, and in Spanish by Jose Luis Cortes

I would appreciate a review please, however brief, if you can spare the time, after reading my books.

 

Toby’s Tails (Book 1)

English

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Tails-Fantasy-Farm-Tales-ebook/dp/B00ZG6O874/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1485348837&sr=1-1&keywords=toby%27s+tails

 

Toby’s Tails – The Chicken Patrol   English

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Tails-Chicken-Patrol-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B009E4KH2E/ref=sr_1_7?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1485348837&sr=1-7&keywords=toby%27s+tails

 

 

Toby et Campagnie – Le Mystere du Poulailler  – French

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Toby-Compagnie-Mystere-Poulailler-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B01DYL9R14/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485349470&sr=1-10

 

 

 

La Patrulla de las Gallinas – Spanish

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Patrulla-Gallinas-Fantasy-Tales-Spanish-ebook/dp/B00EZL3WK0/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_15?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485349470&sr=1-15

 

 

Toby’s Tails – Billy and Daisy’s Big Adventure (Book 3) -English

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Tails-Daisys-Adventure-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B008VUXPAI/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

 

Toby’s Tails – Still Wagging (Book 4) – English

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Tails-Still-Wagging-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B010QVQ36M/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Toby et Compagnie – Ca bouge toujours! – French

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Toby-Compagnie-toujours-Fantasy-French-ebook/dp/B01DQXNMH0/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_11?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485350243&sr=1-11

 

 

Toby’s Tails – The Christmas Kittens (Book 5) – English

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Tails-Christmas-Kittens-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B016153T0A/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Toby et compagnie ? Les chatons de Noel – French

https://www.amazon.co.uk/compagnie-chatons-Fantasy-Tails-French-ebook/dp/B016171APY/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_13?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485350571&sr=1-13

Las adventuras de Toby ? Los Gatitos de Navidad – Spanish

https://www.amazon.co.uk/aventuras-Gatitos-Navidad-Fantay-Spanish-ebook/dp/B01616K59C/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1485351101&sr=1-1

 

Toby’s Tails – Saying Goodbye to Lucky (Book 6) – English

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Tails-Saying-Goodbye-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B01AMHRWRO/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_12_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485351389&sr=1-12

 

 

Toby’s Tails – Easter at Fantasy Farm (Book 7) – English

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Tails-Easter-Fantasy-Tales-

ebook/dp/B01D8MPO0W/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_8_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485351278&sr=1-8

 

 

Toby’s Tails –  Toby Visits Chats du Quercy (Book 8) – English

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Tails-Visits-Quercy-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B01H227GMI/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1485351496&sr=1-7

 

Toby et Compagnie – Toby rend visite – Chats du Quercy (Book 8) – French


https://www.amazon.co.uk/Toby-Compagnie-rend-visite-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B01HF3KQ0I/ref=la_B007DV5UX6_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485351818&sr=1-9

 

Susan Keefe

Author of the Toby’s Tails series of children’s books

 

Hi everyone,

The’s great excitement at Fantasy Farm. Mum, who writes about our lives here, and all my animal friends, have just been notified that Toby’s Tails, which is the first book in the series is a Golden Box Books Publishing, Judges’ Choice, Semi-Finalist, in the children’s book section. It tells the story of my adoption by mum and dad and my very first year from puppy to young dog.

About Toby’s Tails

Set in the French countryside, Toby’s Tails relates the first year in the life of Toby the Border Collie, starting with his earliest recollections on the farm where he was born. His life changes when the author adopts him and he bonds with his new human family, their goat, Molly, and Lucky, the old Golden Retriever who becomes Toby’s mentor. Toby’s lessons about the world around him include the changing of the seasons, his interaction with other animals, and what he learns from them about birth, death and other inevitable life events. “Based on her experiences as an animal lover and smallholder, and featuring her own animals, the author has created in ‘Toby’s Tails’ an enchanting book to educate children about the needs of animals and the importance of kindness to all living creatures. In this delightful story, Toby the lovable Border Collie relates in a lighthearted manner the adventures of his animal companions, both domestic and wild, and touches sensitively and gently on the occasional inevitable small tragedies that are a part of their life cycle. I believe this is a perfect book to inform and entertain younger readers about the wonders of the animal kingdom.” Susie Kelly, Author.

 

What reviewers are saying about Toby’s Tails:

J E Needham says:

Never mind that this is intended for children (and if my grandchildren were still small I’d certainly read it to them); I really enjoyed this delightful first book in Susan Keefe’s Fantasy Farm Tales series. Told from the point of view of Toby, Susan’s handsome border collie, this is a charming tale, both entertaining and educational. Contrary to what another reviewer has said, I think it’s totally permissible for animals to speak articulately in human language (after all, how else can you tell a dog’s story writing in first person?).

Importantly too, this is a life lesson for children and sure to inculcate a love of dogs (you feel Susan’s love for them shining through the narrative) – and indeed all animals – in the citizens of the future. After all, if we’re taught to be kind to animals, chances are, hopefully, we’ll be nice to other humans too. Susan gets the intellectual tone of the book just right: not too small-childish and not too adult; well within the reading capabilities of an 8 years-plus child, (particularly a girl, probably) I would have thought.

This new edition now contains full colour pictures of Toby and his animal friends. Be warned though: the picture of six week-old Toby is EXTREMELY cute! I warmly recommend this enchanting, lovingly written book.

Richard A Okun say: 

I love this book.

I too am an animal lover and found the author’s treatment and telling of this tale both sensitive and enchanting. Susan gives voice to to those beings that share our lives and exposes their mysterious, inquisitive and wonderful ways, showing us a better way to be in the world.

This is a story of love. It is set in France on a farm and revolves around Toby, a border collie puppy that comes to live there with a family that loves him dearly. He is immediately shown the ropes by Lucky an older Golden Retriever that had lost his companion. Through Toby’s curiosity and adventures of discovery we get to meet everyone in their world in their own voice.; the goats, cats, foxes, hedgehog, dormouse, and so much more.

Toby’s Tales journals his first year of life and makes me want to hear more of his evolving story. The book is filled with real-life information and exudes the personalities of each animal, the countryside and many other things that I had no idea about.

The love in this book is palpable and the kindness of the author comes through. I also found a quiet spiritual influence throughout the book which deepened the flavor and meaning of the stories.

Come and join Toby in an alluring story of his early life with is beloved family while learning about wildlife and domestic animals through the eyes and thoughts of a puppy. Highly recommended.

Rob says:

I loved the way you were seeing the world through the eyes of a puppy. It was a nice learning experience about the natural world and life on a farm but done in a way that did not seem forced and was genuinely fun and interesting.

You get to experience his excitement at seeing snow for the first time, chasing cats and generally experiencing life! He doesn’t always have an easy journey but he is guided through his friend and mentor Lucky.

The photos add a nice extra dimension to the story as you realise he is a real dog! It makes me want to have a dog again and I can highly recommend this book!

Marilyn Z Tomlins says:

Right in the beginning of ‘Toby’s Tails’ there is a photograph of Toby as a puppy. One falls in love with this cute little ball of black and white fur before one has even read one word of Susan Keefe’s book. Then, reading the book, Toby does not fail to strengthen his hold on one’s heart.

Susan has written the book in Toby’s voice, alternating briefly at times by having some of his other animal companions taking over the narrative. This is so skilfully done that at the end of the book one feels that one has indeed been communicating with our friends from the animal world.

I therefore say that this is a book not only for children, but indeed also for adults. Do buy it!

I just hope that Susan Keefe will continue to allow Toby and his animal companions to speak to us.

 

Click on either of the links below to see more reviews or buy the book.

Toby’s Tails is available in Paperback

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Tails-Fantasy-Farm-Tales/dp/1514838168/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485161829&sr=8-1&keywords=Toby%27s+Tails

and Kindle format  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Tails-Fantasy-Farm-Tales-ebook/dp/B00ZG6O874/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1485161829&sr=8-1

This, and all the Toby’s Tails series of children’s books are available from all Amazon sites worldwide.

 

Bye for now

When animals discover new things it is always such fun, and Domino has been having great fun with our Christmas tree!

Two Christmas’ ago Cleo, Ramesses and Neffi were kittens and we watched them climb in the big Christmas tree, they thought it was great fun and mum and dad didn’t mind.

Their early months and antics can be read about in Toby’s Tails – The Christmas Kittens https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Tails-Christmas-Kittens-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B016153T0A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481972221&sr=8-1&keywords=toby%27s+tails+-+the+christmas+kittens 

 

 

This is Domino the abandoned kittens first Christmas, and he is having such fun! Whilst I lie quietly at her feet, mum wraps the presents, and he is busy jumping on things, getting sellotape stuck to himself, and his favorite party trick flicking pens off of the table.

Today however he discovered the Christmas tree! Mum had put a small one up on purpose and placed it on the dresser, but that didn’t stop him. Someone left a chair in the right place, and before you knew it he was up there, playing with the decorations.

 

I can see that Christmas is going to be even more fun this year.

Bye for now

Toby

Toby

 

 

After a long hot summer and mild autumn, a wet and windy winter has arrived. It is okay for me, sitting indoors.playing with Domino and having to dry the older kittens off with my tongue when they come in, but the ponies are not happy.

The paddock is getting very wet. Both Marine and Prudence enjoy watching us indoors, and have a special place where they can look in opposite the patio doors. They whinny to mum that they are wet, and I even heard Prudence ask Marine if mum had any water wings, but it is just the time of year? They are too big to bring indoors, and anyway, with their thick winter coats on they would be too hot.

You see Prudence is a 33 year old Shetland pony. Shetlands come from the Shetland Isles which are north east of the Scottish mainland. They are sturdy little ponies who work hard, although at 33 Prudence is in retirement and is a great friend for Marine.

Marine is a Fjord Horse x Cob, the Fjord horses come from Norway and are very hardy, as are cobs.

However, before you feel too sorry for them… they have a great big ball of lovely hay in their enormous field shelter and plenty of room to snuggle inside, out of the wind and rain.

rs1

I think Prudence has decided to stay there all winter.

Whatever the weather, everyone at Fantasy Farm can stay warm, and dry.

Bye for now…

TOBY PAW

 

Our kitten is growing quickly and now he is competing with me supervising, well in the office at least.

Mum spends most days writing, or reviewing books, and my place is at her feet, which is fine as every so often I pop up onto her leg and have a little cuddle. However, Domino has now discovered how to climb up onto the table and lays on Mum’s desk, watching her work, or trying to catch the tails of the older cats as they go past, totally unaware he is up there.

krs2

When its time to feed the outside animals however he is happy to let me be with Mum, you see he doesn’t like the wet weather at the moment, and he still finds the horses a bit intimidating.

Quite often he just cuddles up against me and falls asleep, or, like all the cats, finds himself a box. Most afternoons he has a long sleep, after all he is only 4 months old.

krsi

I am writing this whilst he has his afternoon nap, but now he is just waking up, and so I guess I had better be ready to entertain him.

 

Bye for now…

TOBY PAW

 

As you know, Fantasy Farm is all about the animals who live here. We do however notice what the humans do, and the strange things they celebrate…

halloween

Domino has just discovered an enormous orange pumpkin on the vegetable patch and is sniffing it.

“What is it?” He asks me.

“It’s a pumpkin,” I explain.

“What do you do with it?” he asks.

“Well Mum cuts it open, takes out the seeds (and feeds them to the chickens) then cuts off the skin and make soups and other things with the insides. It is very popular this time of the year.

At the moment there are pumpkins everywhere, and I can remember Mum’s daughter Michelle making a pumpkin face on  one Mum grew a few years back for Halloween.

The story of Toussants (or All Saints) is in the original Toby’s Tails book https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Tails-Fantasy-Farm-Tales/dp/1514838168/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1477838936&sr=8-5&keywords=toby%27s+tails.

You see, in France, where we live, they do not celebrate the original human pagan holiday of All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, which is over 2000 years old, instead, they celebrate Toussaints or All Saints Day which was created by Christians on the 1st November to covert pagans. This is the day Catholics honor all saints, and in France the graves of loved ones are decorated with Chrysanthemum plants.

October 31st or Halloween goes back to the harvest festival feast of Samhain, which was held annually at “summers end” to honor the dead. The Celts made big bonfires as part of the celebration, and it was the end of the Celtic year. To fuel the magic of it, it was believed that the souls of the dead arose and roamed among the living…

Sometimes children come around, trick or treating, hoping for sweets. This began because it was believed that not all souls were friendly and the treats were to pacify the evil ones.”

Domino was beginning to look scared.

“Creepy stuff!” He said.

Well stay indoors with me and you’ll be safe” I told him as we walked back down the path together.

Bye for now

TOBY PAW

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well every day Domino the kitten is getting a little braver. Yesterday evening he actually came in to the living room and sat next to me whilst we were watching television.

Today it is raining, and since cats don’t like getting their paws wet, he is indoors. He is still very wary or Mum and Dad, but he seems to be taking a liking to me.

 

rsk1

 

Of course, as Domino just arrived here, we don’t know what his Mum and Dad looked like. He has tried desperately to make friends with Casper, perhaps because he is black, but poor 20 year old Casper didn’t want to know. Perhaps he likes me because I am the same colors as he is, I wonder if his Mum or Dad was black and white? We will never know.

See you soon!

 

TOBY PAW

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