WHEN Rod and I started the Easy Care Horse Rescue Centre in Rojales 11 years ago, we assumed we would simply be rescuing horses.

It soon became clear there were many other animals that needed our help. This is the story of our peacocks.

About seven years ago, Rod went into a horse feed shop and, among a load of chickens, spotted two peacocks crammed into a cage.

Rod was horrified – so he bought them!

PROUD PARENTS: Susan and Rod Weeding at the Easy Care Horse Rescue Centre

We had no idea what to do, but the peacocks seemed to love their new home and would fly up onto the walls and into the trees.

Sadly, we lost the female. We just found her dead one day.

The male peacock, Jasper, carried on hanging out with Ernie the turkey and Isadora our pot bellied pig – but we knew Jasper needed a female companion.

And lo and behold, over the past two years we’ve collected two more girls and two boys, all from tiny cages at the horse feed shop!

AT HOME: Peacocks in the laundry room

All was well in their little group until nature called and the males started strutting their stuff and seducing the females.

All of a sudden – eggs in the wheelbarrow!

The younger girl hatched them, but became broody and wouldn’t let us near. Every chick died.

The sadness was doubled by the fact that the older girl had completely vanished.

We thought she must’ve been semi-wild, and left our centre to raise her young in the wilds of Rojales.

But to our surprise, she came back with babies!

MATERNAL INSTINCTS: Female peacock with her peachicks

For weeks, she would come and go, sometimes staying three days for food, before vanishing.

She’s now got two beautiful peacocks, and she’s come back to the rescue centre full-time.

But even more amazingly, our younger, false-start female peacock somehow managed to copy the older one: she vanished for weeks, and came back with four, tiny little babies!

She now comes in twice a day for food with her chicks and then she disappears back out to wherever this peacock nursery is.

Isn’t it fascinating? To think these creatures communicate and learn from one another?

The babies have all their feathers now, and the mums strut around so proud, all fluffed up.

FIRM FAVOURITES: The males like to hang out by the fish pond

And to think they were so close to spending their lives crammed in a cage…

All of our creatures have been free to fly away – but they’ve chosen to be part of our family.

We’re going to have 10 peacocks now, so it will be even noisier than ever alongside the 120 horses and donkeys at the centre.

But I love it. It doesn’t matter how bad my day is, when I go out they’ll be sitting on the railings or the wall looking at me, or strutting around the fish pond.

And to live with such beauty, I just think me and Rod are so lucky, I really do.

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