What a difference a year makes!

It doesn’t seem possible that the wonderful young cat who now shares our life here at Fantasy Farm was once a tiny scared kitten, his transformation has been a joy to see.

When we came back off of a short break and decided to sit outside on the patio that September evening last year, we were really surprised to see a tiny black and white kitten crawl out from a crack under a window further down the building, and peer hesitatingly at us.


From the other cats distainful behaviour it was obvious that this little mite would have to stand his ground, and so he has.

Quickly taken under the wing by the eternal dog Father, Toby, Domino, as the kitten is known as, quickly decided he was a dog, after all the colouring is the same and Toby acted as his mentor, and general source of cuddles.

Eventually our ‘little street fighter’ learnt to stand his ground, and under the protection of his Dog Father he was soon languishing in front of the fire last winter, and rewarding our cuddles with deep throaty purrs.

As the winter gave way to spring and then summer, his naturally inquisitive nature and love of a good cuddle has made him a very special member of our family.

It is hard to imagine who could ever have abandoned him at our house, but one thing is for sure – it is their loss, he has found his forever home and repays our love for him in so many wonderful ways.


Bye for now






Since they arrived in the late spring the air around our house has been full of swallows swooping around desperate to catch enough bugs and flying insects to feed themselves and their young. The adult swallows have to feed their youngsters up to 400 times a day!

Their nests have been in the barn for many years, well a long time before mum and dad moved here!  It’s amazing to me that they can find their way back here each spring after migrating the autumn before to spend their winter in the warmer weather of Africa, south of the Sahara.


We love watching them as the youngsters join their parents and zoom around feeding, and we will be sorry to see them go.

This is their song.


I was worried that they might be thirsty on their long journey home but I heard mum and dad talking and they said that to get water they simply skim the surface of lakes, streams etc whist they are in flight, how clever is that!

Well I suppose at least they won’t have to fight the cats for a place in front of the wood burner this winter like I will.


Bye for now…



As readers of our blog will know, we have some lovely chickens at Fantasy Farm, and they lay delicious eggs, so I thought it would be nice to share with you some fun facts about them.

Did you know? 

Healthy Chickens lay about 265 eggs a year, AND they lay the eggs whether or not there is a cockerel (male) in the run with them.

The colour of the eggs is not the same as the colour of the hen, although some brown hens lay brown eggs, black hens like our Jessica and Rebecca, who are a breed called Marans, lay brown eggs too.

Chickens eat anything, plants, bugs, leftovers, which is very handy.

Chickens are the nearest relatives to DINOSAURS, yes they are! Researches have proven that they are living dinosaurs – how cool is that!

Mummy chickens talk to their babies when they are still in their shell, you can hear them clucking to them, if you listen.

Oh, and anyone who has chickens will know that they cluck after they have laid an egg.

It is quite normal for chickens to swallow small stones, they help with the digestion if their food.

Chickens like to run, jump, play and sunbathe like humans, this is why it is so cruel to keep them indoors in small cages.

Most chickens live 5 to 8 years.

Chickens have been kept by humans for over 7,000 years, they were first kept by people in India and China.

Keeping chickens as pets and for eggs is becoming very popular, even in towns.

Chickens have a very large vocabulary, they make lots of different noises and are very entertaining to watch and listen to.

In Japan, people eat fried chicken and strawberry shortcake on Christmas Eve!


There is so much more to chickens that people realise, they are very intelligent, and are real characters. as you will know from reading our books. However, they do need help from me as a guardian sometimes, as you can read about in the second Toby’s Tails book, Toby’s Tails: The Chicken Patrol https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Tails-Chicken-Patrol-Fantasy/dp/1517129451/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Our chickens feature in all of the Toby’s Tails books, and there is even one in the new book which will be out soon – oops – I let that slip out – well I am sure Mum won’t mind.


Bye for now…


Hi everyone,

So what is the trouble with duckweed? The trouble is that it looks like grass!!!!

Those of you who have read Toby’s Tails – Still Wagging, will remember that when I was only 6 months old I ran straight into a pond covered with Duckweed because I thought it was grass, and last Sunday, 8 years later, I did the same thing again.

There I am, happily bumbling down the tow path enjoying the sunshine at La Suze Sur Sarthe.

Then would you believe it, seconds after this photo was taken I turned around and trotted back a bit, then went down cobbled bank to have a nice cool drink, or so I thought, at the end of the grass, in the reeds…

Well you’ve guessed it, it wasn’t grass, it was duckweed, and what made matters worse was that I was going flat out and so had to swim in a circle to get out, Mum was so worried!

Luckily I had a good shake and managed to get a lot of the duckweed out of my coat, but the car was very smelly, and Mum and Dad both blamed me, they even said that the cow manure on the fields smelt better than I did!

Never mind, I dried off quite quickly, but I won’t be caught out again, a little bit later we stopped at Solesmes and they tried to convince me that the boat ramp was made of concrete, but I wasn’t going to be tricked again!

You can’t always trust what you think you see.


Bye for now…



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)



Toby’s Tails – The Chicken Patrol   English










Toby et Campagnie – Le Mystere du Poulailler  – French












La Patrulla de las Gallinas – Spanish




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


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


Toby et Compagnie – Ca bouge toujours! – French


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



Toby et compagnie ? Les chatons de Noel – French


Las adventuras de Toby ? Los Gatitos de Navidad – Spanish



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



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




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













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



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)




Toby’s Tails – The Chicken Patrol   English












Toby et Campagnie – Le Mystere du Poulailler  – French















La Patrulla de las Gallinas – Spanish





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




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



Toby et Compagnie – Ca bouge toujours! – French




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


Toby et compagnie ? Les chatons de Noel – French


Las adventuras de Toby ? Los Gatitos de Navidad – Spanish



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




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





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













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



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


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




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