Virginia Cheeseman - Latest News Blog
I regularly post to my news blog on a Friday. Check back every week to see what's happening at VirginiaCheeseman.co.uk
Autumn is definitely here and it seems absolutely no time since I was looking forward to spring. I love the spring/summer and the warm weather. So many people tell me that they love autumn, I admit that the trees look very pretty with their orange and yellow leaves but then they fall off and everything dies! Having said that, so far October has been very mild. I was expecting to use heat packs in all my parcels from October 1st but as yet I haven’t used any. I am writing this blog a day early as I know there won’t be time tomorrow, so as I write I am about to post orders off this morning and may possibly get the heat packs out for a few selected orders. The trouble is that the weather has been pretty warm during the day and I certainly don’t want to over-heat any of the bugs. Stick insects and cockroaches would be fine if they got chilled but I tend to be more careful with other creatures such as millipedes, tarantulas and scorpions. Scorpions really don’t like to get too cold and I don’t post Land Hermit Crabs at all in cold weather as their shells absorb the cold and they cannot cope with prolonged chilling (I’m doing a good job of convincing myself I need to get the heat packs out).
Never a dull moment. Last weekend I did a Ginny's Jungle party for an eight, year old's birthday. The children were very excited and thoroughly enjoyed seeing all my bugs and snakes. I have long since given up on taking any mammals to my parties, I really don't think they could handle the noise! My bug parties and visits are very popular and well received but I do feel I'm lacking when it comes to 'crowd control'. I certainly want the children to enjoy themselves and I don't think screaming out "for god’s sake shut up" would go down that well. It’s an area I clearly need to work on. I have a few Ginny’s Jungle visits in the pipeline which is great.
Not getting away with it! Clearly, I can't duck out of writing my blog, I have had so many people asking what's happened and worse still thinking I have given up on my work! The blog always did and still does seem very self-indulgent, it takes me a considerable time to write and when I was going through the worst year of my life it was hard to find anything upbeat to write. However, I received this email last week and decided that it is time to get back into it but as I've said before it may be more of a ‘monthly moan’ rather than the ‘weekly whinge’ it once was. I really do have to sort my life out and get a better work/life balance. My business is pretty unique in being just me. I feed, clean and care for all my little animals. I breed them, advertise them, pack them and on top of this I do all the paperwork and computer work associated with it, not to mention social media – a topic for the next blog. So, when I say I'm always busy, I mean it. I have a number of people who also need my help (I cannot talk about their problems in my blog) but caring is what I do best in life, only some days there just isn't enough of me to go around.
Where to start? It's been quite a few weeks since my last blog and lots has happened in that time. I had a lovely week in Cyprus at the beginning of the month with my husband and saw lots of interesting bugs and reptiles. I put some notes and photos on my Facebook page and got plenty of likes. Last week I had a disaster in my bug room and got lots of interest and much needed sympathy when I posted it on Facebook. There was a huge storm, massive downpour and all of a sudden rain poured in through the ceiling, flooding everything in its way, electrics and all. I lost lots of equipment but thankfully I managed to save all the bugs. It took days to clear everything up and I had a Ginny's Jungle party booked in my bug room, for the following weekend. The party went well and everyone was happy with the event. I really want to do more parties and school visits and perhaps “Bug Keepers Experiences”. I need to cut back on the number of animals that I keep, the amount of time that I spend on their care is crazy and it's really become too much for both me and my family. If I made the money to match the time then I could afford an assistant but sadly I don’t, so everything is down to just me!
Back by popular demand. I have had some really nice emails pointing out that people understand but really miss my weekly blog or weekly whinge as I call it! Anyhow I have decided to keep going but at a slower pace. I aim to write a monthly blog (monthly moan perhaps?J) I'm also thinking of putting it on my Facebook page and then it could be more interactive. I had an email this week from one of my customers suggesting that I might like to have 'guest bloggers'. I'm not sure I totally understand so feel free to tell me if I have got completely the wrong end of the stick. If anyone wants to write their own blog about their life and bug keeping I would be quite happy to put it on the website.
I have so much going on in my life and very little that is suitable for sharing in a blog that is open to all! I'm still plodding along and when things settle down I will get back into the swing of it. I know there are lots of people who enjoy reading my blog at the end of each week but I just need a bit of a break. If you miss my weekly whinge feel free to give me a call, I'm always happy to chat.
It's been a while but I'm back. Operation over and slowly on the mend. Lots of new animals are coming in throughout the next few weeks. I had scorpions, spiders and giant millipedes come in yesterday, I will be sorting them out and getting them listed on the website today and lots of captive bred tarantulas are due next week. I may have been down but certainly not out. My two weeks off were spent catching up on paperwork and generally getting things in order in the bug room as well as convalescing. Everything is looking pretty good now and the bugs and beasties are thriving. I certainly have plenty of captive bred (by me!) millipedes and they are selling well. As always, I have a large number of cockroaches but I have noticed a drop in their sales recently. I have no idea why? At one time, I thought about getting lots more species in (I really like cockroaches, most people go ‘Yuk’ however they are related to the praying mantis and most are really cute if you look at them closely) but I'm glad I didn't now. It is so difficult to predict what will sell next, it seems to go around in circles. Times are hard for many small businesses at the moment and with two operations in six months, I have struggled at times to continue but I love the bugs and ‘most’ of my customers have been great and really supportive. I greatly appreciate every order that comes in and the help that people have given me recently with improving my website. Things like pointing out mistakes, submitting product reviews and making suggestions about care notes etc.
Everything is 'Springing' to life. My male snakes have gone into mating mode as I call it. They are constantly bashing around in their tank both day and night. I have two female and two male Corn snakes but since letting them breed and not being able to even give the babies away, they are kept well apart in separate vivariums. I went into the woods across from where we live yesterday to collect bramble and found that the shoots are growing into pretty, bright green leaves. I have seen it mentioned many times that the new leaves are poisonous to stick insects but I don't recall ever having problems myself. I always try to give my stick insects a mix of old and new leaves but the old leaves are often so dry that the stick insects make a beeline for the new fresh ones. I have plenty of frogspawn appearing in my pond so I'm happy.
Competitions abound, I have drawn the ‘monthly review’ winner and Teddi helped draw the ‘monthly mistakes’ winner. There were only 6 reviews this month (4 from the same person) but I do appreciate each and every one of them! The winner was Curtis and again this month the winner was fairly picked out of the hat and it just happened that he wrote a single review. The other winner was Hani (only 2 entries received L). Both will be sent their postage code in an email, this will entitle them to free postage on their next order. I too have won a competition today, a £100 Tesco gift card! It is actually the second I have won in this super Tesco competition (buy a pack of Plenty kitchen roll and enter the code online). With all my animals, I get through a great deal of kitchen roll, I use it for cleaning, drying cages, lining cages and packing bugs. I have though bought enough packs to keep me going for several months now.