Brenda happy to give a dog a home - as well as cats, chickens, geese, ducklings....

HOMELESS animals always tend to find their way to the doorstep of Brenda Sherriff s cottage. Waifs and strays of all descriptions are deposited at the smallholding of Mrs Sherriff in Hitchin Road, Arlesey, and are given tender loving care until they eithe

HOMELESS animals always tend to find their way to the doorstep of Brenda Sherriff's cottage.

Waifs and strays of all descriptions are deposited at the smallholding of Mrs Sherriff in Hitchin Road, Arlesey, and are given tender loving care until they either find a home or die from old age.

At the last count almost 100 animals - cats, dogs, chickens, geese and ducklings - resided either in her cottage or somewhere on her three acres of land.

Looking after animals has become a labour of love, seven days a week and up to 17 hours a day for Brenda, 55, who has lived on the smallholding with her husband Mark, a plumber, since moving from Welwyn Garden City in 1993.


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The labour really started when they moved to the site and had to live for six years in a mobile home, but still looked after animals, because the cottage, built in 1860, was four feet deep in manure after the previous owner had used it as stables for her Shetland ponies.

"My husband and I had to gut the whole place and at the same time look after animals as well," said Mrs Sherriff, who meets the cost of caring for all creatures great and small out of her own pocket.

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"The RSPCA regularly knock on my front door and deliver the latest batch of unwanted domestic pets or farm animals. The other day the RSPCA inspector delivered 53 chickens. Some were in a poor state but they are settled in now and will have a good life here.

"At least I am now getting quite a few eggs, most of which I give away to local pensioners anyway so the elderly do benefit from animals here and children from local schools and organisations always love coming here to see what is running around."

Brenda and her husband have never had any children and she admits she mostly prefers the company of animals. When she was growing up in Chingford she worked with dogs and then looked after greyhounds at a large kennels in Northaw near Potters Bar.

Her normal day starts at around 6am when she goes out to check her pens, barn and outbuildings and feed the animals. Then it is time to stock up on animal feed and go down to the local bakers to buy bags of stale bread at a £1 a time and corn from local farmers.

"The animals never go hungry and the ducks, especially, always know when it is feeding time. During the evening they fly off and spend the night at the Blue Lagoon but they always fly back in time for breakfast," said Brenda.

"When I start my day often it is not light and the weather can sometimes be bad. But the animals have to be fed morning and night and by the time my husband and I shut them safely away it can often be 11pm.

"It is very tiring and often when I get back indoors and want to sit in front of the fire I have another problem. I have 12 cats and three dogs of my own and you can bet a few of them have taken my armchair by the fire!

"I just put them on my lap and can then start to rest and feel very contented. Some people think I am crazy or a bit loopy doing what I do. But there are worst jobs I can think of and when I sit in my chair in the evening in front of the fire after another long day I feel very satisfied with life... and how many people can say that?

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