Category Archives: alpacas

I haven’t written in two months, so get ready for some photos!

My job is so busy and so wonderful but coming home at night to write has fallen away from me, I’m sad to report. My last post was about sweet Pandy’s passing and I still feel a pang for her each time I visit the farm.

I miss her so.

Pandy_Dog_Mindingtheminis

It’s all part of the bittersweet moments that make up being part of a rescue or having any animal in your life, really. The probability that you will experience their death is always there. So, take all the moments that you can with them.

Here are some photos of other friends at the farm that I’ve taken while my has sat waiting.

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Athena was shorn along with the rest of the sheep at the beginning of May. Her face wasn’t entirely done so as she’s gotten more comfortable with me touching her (I’ve gotten to where I can pet her without needing to give her treats! Full body pets!), I’ve pulled off what I could. I happen to really like the look though, so mostly I just go for the pieces that are really loose.

And if you don’t like it, this is what Athena thinks of you!

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The alpacas were shorn in the middle of June. This was actually a somewhat scary situation because there aren’t a lot of people willing to shear alpacas. It’s a dangerous undertaking for both the animals and the people involved, so unless the animals belong to the shearer, many won’t undertake the risk. Deb sent out pleas nationwide and finally someone came forward to do it. (Thank you!) Alpacas need to be shorn each summer so that they don’t overheat, which they can do very easily and it can be fatal. So, while they remained furry, we kept a special eye on them for signs of distress. I was thrilled to arrive a few weeks ago and see them sans fur!

First up, Pisca and Karolina. I especially love the patch of white that runs down Karolina’s back legs.

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Ms. Noelle!

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A cat nap is pretty glorious…

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…any way you look at it!

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Niko is going to have eye surgery soon and I am very happy about that. I haven’t posted about her in a long time, but she’s one of the cats who lives in Mooney’s barn (the name of the barn where Spirit, Lunar, Athena and Gully live) and she’s as sweet as ever, even when in terrible pain.

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Willow and Spirit becoming friends!

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There is a new structure near the big barn that was built for the goats. They’re kind of terrified of it though so it’s rare to actually see a goat on it. One afternoon, while feeding treats to Mervin at the end of my visit, I decided that he and I should go on an adventure.

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Here he is checking out the structure. “I don’t think so…”

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His opinion stayed on the “no, thank you” track until I pulled the treats back out.  And climb it we did! He discovered that there was tasty hay on the top, too. He even climbed around on the lower levels and followed me back up for a second trip.

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My plan, when it’s not a million degrees out, is to do this with a bunch of goats.

Last week, my friends came to the farm so I spent time all over the farm with them. I haven’t seen my turkey love in forever! He was just as affectionate as always and I plan to get into the bird house again soon.

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Noelle, mid-bite!

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I haven’t seen the donkeys in forever. Jezebel is such a beauty and has the sweetest disposition. And she’s soooo soft.

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They got to meet Gully and that’s always the greatest experience ever. (For me. He’s actually pretty standoffish with strangers.) Oh, Gully, my Gull. I love you endlessly.

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And since it’s July, there are tons and tons of dragonflies around, so I’ll end this catch-up post with another one of my favorite creatures on this earth.

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Have a happy week!

Follow me on Twitter (@mindingtheminis) or Instagram (mindingtheminis) if you want to see live tweets from the farm on Sunday afternoons!

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Filed under alpacas, athena, cats, dragonflies, goats, gulliver, horses, niko, pandy, piggies, sheep, turkey, willow, winslow farm

Farmtastic! ~Snippets of the Week~

I like that Pandy chose this spot to watch Deb.

The girls had their greatest greatest haircuts yet. A little New Wave? Perhaps a bit Tina Turner?

Nothing exciting to report about Levi, except that he’s still adorable. Look at that ear! He still hasn’t graduated out of the cat house…

I haven’t mentioned my turkey friend in FOREVER!!! I was stalking the peacocks this week (photos to come) and he tracked my movements from inside the bird house. I love that little guy so much.

Zoey, here, hitched a ride on my back while I took photos. She purred like a crazy person and head-butted me. Super distracting!

And then she took a well deserved nap on top of a pile of wool. It’s tough work being so cute!

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Filed under alpacas, cats, dogs, goats, photography, turkey, winslow farm

Farmtastic! ~Snippets of the Week~

Where to begin?

Cubby was waiting to go inside when I arrived at the farm. He only has one eye now and the remaining one sees very little, but he plugs along. Such a little trooper!

“Who opens gates? Amateurs.”

Lunar, hamming it up at the fence!

“Uh, we’re waiting!”

Gully takes a scratching break.

Messy, messy girl!

Traffic jam…

I know they look like regular roosters, but these guys are about a foot long. Their INCREDIBLY LOUD voices certainly make up for their pint size, though.

“Yes, I am a gentleman. Why do you ask?”

Look for my post later in the week that’s all about the baby!

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Filed under alpacas, athena, cats, dogs, goats, gulliver, horses, humor, lunar, photography, roosters, sheep, winslow farm

Less bugs, more love

Monday on the farm was lovely. The temperature was a bit on the colder side but sunny enough that it made up for it and there weren’t any mosquitos. A few weeks ago, during that week of incredibly warm weather, the mosquitos were buzzing around and without bugspray, I ended up staying for a shorter period of time. Similarly, if it’s too cold, I tend to jet pretty quickly, as well.

This week, I lingered. When I arrived, Lunar and Spirit were hanging out with Stormy and Cloud in the upper pen. I really like when they’re up there already because it means that I get to spend a few minutes petting them instead of diving right into the feeding. In between head scratches, Lunar hauled off and chased the pheasant away as I cheered her on. If I were fast enough, I would have caught it on my camera. It’s an awesome sight watching this huge animal stomping after a small bird, who is actively fleeing in terror. I’d feel bad for him, except he continues to stalk and try to attack me. Get him, Lunar!!!

After my snugglefest with Gully…

I passed the girls. Indifferent as always!

Watched these bunnies for a while. Pretty sure it’s a mating dance. So cute.

Then I heard this especially vocal duck. He sat there yelling at another duck across the way. I missed the part where he splashed his little feet in the puddle, but couldn’t resist posting his loud calls. (One of these days, I’m going to remember to film horizontally!)

Aaaaaand then he ran over. Watch carefully as his squat little body makes it all the way around. While the actual reunion was blocked, his journey makes the video worthwhile.

In the meantime, this goose was busy bathing.

I rounded off my visit with some doggy time. I love how focused she gets! “Throw it now, please,” said Pandy.

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Filed under alpacas, behavior, bunnies, dogs, ducks, geese, goats, gulliver, horses, humor, lunar, photography, winslow farm

Lesson Learned

On a typical day, one of the kids brings Spirit and Lunar up to the barn and I either help get them into the barn or they bring them all the way to their pens. No matter what though, Gulliver and Athena do not get their food before the horses have arrived. Today, everyone was super busy around the farm and Gulliver and Athena were waiting for me. After a while, I realized that the horses probably weren’t coming any time soon, so I fed my waiting buddies. They were just standing there staring at me, after all.

Once I gave them their grain, I realized that the doors to the barn wouldn’t shut all the way due to frost heaves. I discovered this when the alpaca ladies came around looking to steal Athena’s food. Outwitting them, I put up an impromptu gate made of a rake and a broom that formed an “x” across the remaining opening. They recognized this as a “do not enter” sign and gave up easily.

Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me until too late that I’d left Athena defenseless against Spirit and Lunar, who’d soon be coming. Even more unfortunate, because she was in a hurry, the girl who brought them up let them run through the gate and shut it behind them. This left the task of getting them into the barn a solo project. I’ve mentioned before that both Spirit and Lunar, although they react differently, are food aggressive. I panicked and tried to close the doors more, which only made a tighter hole for them to get into. It was one they could definitely enter but without the room to turn around properly could not as easily exit. I did my best to get them out of the space but when one would vacate, the other would enter. Poor Athena was trapped in a corner with no escape. Rest assured, they didn’t touch her.

My outcome wasn’t as lucky. After I finally got Spirit out of the space, I tried to shoe him on to get him to go around the barn by tapping his butt with my hand. He countered by tapping my ribs with his back leg. Yes, I am totally fine. It was only a warning kick that barely made contact. But it reminded me, immediately, just how small I am compared to him and just how much I take that for granted. I was very lucky that he didn’t kick me for real.

Somehow, without touching either of them, I managed to get first Lunar and, once she was locked up tight, Spirit, to go by Athena through the barn. Neither of them stopped again for her food which felt miraculous.

I don’t know if Gulliver could tell that I was upset, but he was extra cuddly with me tonight. I left the farm happy and ready for next week, a serious lesson under my belt.

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Filed under alpacas, athena, behavior, goats, gulliver, horses, lunar, sheep, winslow farm

Wow, how time flies!

I can’t believe that my last post was on November 21st! It feels like 14 million things have happened since then. Although, realistically, it’s kind of amazing to me how consistent it is there each week. My duties pretty much stay the same, with an added blanket or an extra scoop of grain mixed in. Gulliver continues to be one of the most amazing beings I can imagine and cuddling with him is excellent every single time. That’s really no excuse not to write though, so I’m going to sit here eating gummy bears and try to fill in lost time.

One Monday, I spent a while walking around the corral with Lunar, my arm slung over her back. I’m not sure how adequately I can describe how cool that was.

The pheasant has continued to plague me. He is such a jerk! On the same day as the walk with Lunar, he made the mistake of trying to attack me with her at my side. She stomped after him with such force, neighing loudly, that it even scared me! Score!

A few weeks ago, I went down to the barn to collect Gulliver and there is a maze of gates to get through on the way back. He was so impatient that he didn’t wait for me to open one of the gates all the way and he got stuck. It took a while to stop laughing before I could free him.

Opie, the little piggy who spends most of her time snoring under a blanket, was out and about while on my way to collect Gulliver. I squatted down to say hello to her. She had food all over her snout and she kindly shared some with my knee. It was just about one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. I scratched her head for a while and then continued on my mission.

Right about when the cold weather was kicking in for the season, I was given the task again to put on the horse coats. A little out of practice, Spirit’s snort of derision after I finally got his on said it all. Oh well, practice makes perfect, right?

Another day, I walked passed the regular gaggle of roosters (you thought I’d say “geese”, didn’t you? Nope. They just wait until I’m walking through and try to eat my coat). Standing among them was one of the peacocks. I don’t know why it was such a “wow” moment for me but it caught me off guard. There he was, going about his business, just hanging out, and yet he’s fluorescent blue. So normal and out of place at the same time. Majestic. I thought, “Yup. I get to spend time at a place where walking by a peacock is just a regular Monday. Awesome.”

Recently, Spirit and Cloud (the mule) have fallen in love. Hard core – don’t ever leave me – I’ll just scream on the top of my lungs until I see you again – love. When one of the kids brings Spirit up to the barn, blood curdling cries of anguish can be heard down by the lower barn as Cloud pierces the air with her mournful song. And no matter how much food and comfort I try to give him, Spirit yells at me for a solid five minutes in between bites of his dinner. Cloud has even been known to use her powers by breaking down fences to get to him. Now that’s Love.

Speaking of love, here are some videos of my friends being awesome:

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Filed under alpacas, athena, goats, gulliver, horses, humor, pheasant, piggies, roosters, videos, waterford, winslow farm

Beautiful Day!

Compared to the ruckus last week, this visit was pretty low key. The pheasant was scarce, although I did notice two teenagers running after him and asked if they knew the bird they were chasing. “Yes, it’s the one from the bird house.” He is the one that I’ve mentioned who looks like a brightly colored parrot with a long pheasant tail. “Um, no. This is the one who lives over on this side in the cage with “attack bird” on it. Stop chasing him.” Suprisingly, I didn’t see him again for the day. Not going to lie in saying that I didn’t mind at all.

This was the first time Athena sat down in my presence. Either she was tired or she’s trusting me more. I choose Door Number Two.

It also gave me a chance to see her pretty eyes from the side.

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A mountain goat!!! (Bah dah bum.)

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While looking for Waterford to see if he wanted some of the hay I’d brought him, I took my first peek at the inside of his little house. Obviously, a photo can’t encompass how cute he is while he snores, so I’ll let your imagination do the work. Picture, if you will, his giant ears happily flapping about, a surprisingly agile snout that’s up and down and side to side and up and down, all the while erupting with snorty goodness. I seriously contemplated lying down for a nap with him, but his chompy tendencies stopped me. Maybe next time…

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Every week, at least one of the alpacas takes a giant dirt bath and I LOVE it!

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Filed under alpacas, athena, goats, humor, pheasant, photography, piggies, sheep, waterford, winslow farm

Ahh! Bird!!

Last week, I discovered that in addition to being an attack bird, the pheasant is also a stalker. A very angry unsubtle one, at that. While minding my business in the barn, he started peeking around the door. I thought, “no problem” since he did that when we were friends, too. And then he started rushing me…Fast and furious, he came, wings flapping, projectile beak jabbing. Aided by buckets of water, I managed to keep him outside of the barn. But filling them takes time and once empty they were useless in guarding during outside chores. Time for a new strategy.

I picked up a broom and started a new dance with him. Using it as a barrier, he attempted to get around it at first and eventually gave in to attacking it. What a determined little guy! He followed me outside the entire time lunging at me every chance he got. Interestingly, he did not go after any of the animals. Cats sauntered by. Ponies lounged around. Alpacas didn’t even sniff at him when he hung out in their pen. But people? No, thank you, says the pheasant.

We went on a “walk” over to the alpacas and he snuck under the gate and went off into a corner. He didn’t even follow me back to the barn. He hunkered down so long that I had time to close up the barn and make a run for it without my broom. Obviously, the moment he noticed my departure, he tried to come after me. Luckily for me, he’d forgotten how to get back out. (Yes, seriously.) By the time he figured it out, I was safe behind the fence. Round two goes to me!

One of the buckets that doused him kinda knocked him backwards into a roll and he lost one of his tail feathers. You know, one of the ones that had been broken in half by a kid last week? I felt so bad. Even while he lunged at me!

The calm before the storm…

Ahhhhhhhh!!!

You thought I was exaggerating, right? Nope!

This is the part where he took a little nap due to exhaustion.

Aaaaaaand we’re back!

In all the melee, I forgot to close the barn doors before letting the alpacas out. Poor Athena! Last week, the sheep/goats stole her food, this week it was three big alpacas. When I got into the barn, she was pressed up against the wall, looking somewhat defeated. (If only I could give her hugs!) Fortunately, the alpacas are skittish around me still, unlike the pushy crew from last week. Another win for Athena!

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Filed under alpacas, pheasant, photography, winslow farm

It’s the little things

Just before I was about to leave on Monday, Deb asked me if I wanted to brush Lunar. Um, Yes? So I spent an extra half hour following the contours of her sinewy body. My favorite part (twice!) was when she propped her head and all its weight on top of mine while I brushed her neck. I found out after that the brush I was using was  intended for manes and tails but I can officially report that she loved it as an overall massage.

I knew not to groom Spirit since Deb didn’t mention him, but I did get in some quality petting time with him. Since I don’t do it very often, I forget that he is really soft. Much softer than Lunar. But Lunar got jealous that I was paying attention to Spirit and so she set him off in a barrage of teeth baring and frustration. Since I knew biting was next, I went into cease and desist mode. Oh well. It was nice while it lasted.

When I’d arrived at the farm, I saw that the pheasant was inside his cage. “Uh-oh”, I thought. I asked him if he’d attacked someone. He responded by pacing back and forth while making cooing sounds and louder insistent ones simultaneously (a distractingly cool combination). He was not happy to be back in the cage. It turned out though that he was just put in it for the day due to a giant easter egg hunt that had happened earlier. Not only that, but his cage door was unlatched. “He’ll figure it out,” was Deb’s quote. But when I passed him on my way to the car, he was still fretting away. I even showed him that the door was open but he was too busy stressing out. Seriously, on a scale from one to get-me-out-of-here, he was at least on “I-said-RIGHT-NOW!” Here’s to hoping that he freed himself.

A still of the little guy fervently wishing he’d be released from his prison. (Note how the latch is open…)

Speaking of grooming, Lunar appears to have done a bit on her own.

While working in the barn, I noticed that the alpaca ladies had come out of their corral to sit and stare at us, only to evacuate when I left. Sigh.

And I just can’t get over how adorable Athena is. She’s such a squish munchkin!

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Filed under alpacas, athena, horses, lunar, pheasant, sheep, spirit, winslow farm

The bittersweet fusion of rain and sun

After having such a wonderful afternoon at the farm, I was deeply saddened to come home and find out that one of my good friends, Chance, had been put to sleep. I battled with feeling the joy I’d just experienced at Winslow and the devastation of losing a loved one. Grief is never an easy process and memories of frolicking with Chance will continue to weave their way into my world. My new memories at the farm intertwined with those emotions and while I am mourning the loss of a great being, I can appreciate my other companions as well.

I started out the afternoon giving Lunar bear hugs and kissing her on her soft cheeks. Kissing her fuzzy face is a new step for me and a lovely one. It’s an adrenaline rush to wrap my arms around her, so different than with a smaller animal. She responded with lots of headbutts. When she does that, I really have to brace myself. I’m pretty sure that I will end up in the mud at some point, but I still take every opportunity I can to shower her with love.

I think I mentioned that I am responsible for feeding the lovely alpacas now. YAY!!! Nothing exciting to report on them. They still won’t let me near but just spending extra time with them is good enough for me.

Another wonderful addition to my time was my pit-stop in the bird house. I walked in and spotted the turkey and he sort of started on the other side of the room, a bit of a bump and feather movement. I slowly approached him and squatted a few feet away. Very slowly, he side-stepped his way toward me until he was close enough to pet. I reached out my hand and he kind of tilted his body into it. Then he started making tiny noises of what I am assuming was joy. Last week, when I was petting him, I used extremely tentative strokes, barely touching his feathers. This time, I leaned into them more and pet him for longer. I even pet his bumpy little head while he continued to coo. I can’t wait to see him again.

The other major highlight of the day was Gulliver. After our petting session last week, I wasn’t sure what to expect from him. When we’re in the barn, he usually watches me from his pen while he waits for his food. Other than that he’s pretty self-contained and focused on eating. Most of the time, he won’t even turn around if I enter his pen. (A bit of “Maybe if I ignore her, she’ll go away”?) I noticed, however, that he was watching me a lot this week. I nonchalantly went over, chatting quietly and slipped an arm over the door. I started scratching his head without facing him and felt him lean into my hand. I started focusing my attention directly at him and he continued to offer his head to me and even started gazing up at me. At one point, I got distracted by Athena who was right behind me being beautiful and Gulliver chewed a bit on my elbow to regain my attention. He even licked my elbow once! The way he tilted his head to the side and leaned into the petting reminded me of a cat or a dog. In all honesty, I was surprised (and, of course, delighted) by that behavior. And he never stepped away to let me know he was done.

Whereas last week, I wasn’t sure if he was just putting up with me or if he actually liked me, there’s no question in my mind now. While I appreciate all of the relationships with animals that I am lucky enough to be a part of, there is an extra bit of gratification that comes with winning an animal over. I welcome Gulliver into that club.

Well, hello there, lady!

Karlina!

This time, he wasn’t just watching me because he thought I was a weirdo!

Handsome (blurry) man!

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Filed under alpacas, athena, dogs, goats, gulliver, horses, lunar, mourning, photography, turkey, winslow farm