The gite garden has never been so well maintained as it has been this year – thanks to our guinea-pig gardeners! It wasn’t intentional. Back in the spring, the male guinea-pigs bust out of their run on their lawn and evaded capture for a few days. Once we were certain that the cats weren’t interested in them, we decided to leave them running loose, since the weather was warm and it meant less cage cleaning out, a very important consideration. And they’ve been there ever since. After a few weeks every single weed had gone from the garden. The only thing they won’t touch are dock leaves, and sometimes nettles, but all the grass, dandelions and various unidentified weeds that used to flourish there have been demolished and kept down. The pigs have moved out onto the lawn and are keeping it beautifully manicured!

We put the girls out into the run during the summer. Owing to our lawn being a bit on the bumpy side, thanks to the zillions of campagnole (vole) burrows beneath it, there are a few escapes as someone manages to squeeze under the wooden side of the pen. The gardening boys soon cotton on to the fact that female company is to be had, with the result of very sweet but worryingly inbred cutenesses like these latest arrivals!

That's not mum in the background but auntie/sister/cousin/granny ...

There’s one permanent slacker, though. Chocolate lives contentedly, if frustratedly, under the girls’ cages most of the time. He’s occasionally flushed out by Nessie but he ‘s soon back at his post. He’s not one for gardening, obviously!

We’ll round them up once it starts to get cold and move them into cosy hutches for the winter. They’ll have deserved a few months off for all their hard work.