Category Archives: dogs

Pandy, my love

I absolutely adore Pandy who takes her senior citizenship and turns it upside-down with a ton of spunk. She’s always been one to chase a pine cone around no matter who is throwing it, but she’s not the most affectionate dog. So, I’ve been working on that aspect of her personality a bunch. I always make sure to pet her before our game of pine cones and she’s gotten pretty used to it. About a month ago, Deb was feeding the roosters grapes which was HILARIOUS because they’d rush over and snatch them up, yelling all the way and then stagger off in a random direction (roosters look ridiculous when they run). I noticed that Pandy was looking pretty bummed that she wasn’t getting any. She tried darting forward to get one but the roosters squawked her out of the way and snagged them. Then she’d stand there with a dejected look on her face. Deb gave me a handful, saying, “I don’t think she likes them but let’s see” and it turns out that she loves them! That story has nothing to do with affection, I just like it. Back on track, my newest thing is to pull her in for long hugs and she’s gotten into them. She even leans into me and patiently waits for me to finish and then runs off in hot pursuit of a pine cone. Once she’s focused on the game, however, there’s no getting close to her, but those hugs are GREAT beforehand!

This week, with all the snow, finding pine cones was challenging. She found the tiniest one that I’ve ever seen and we played for a while. I went off to give treats to Levi and Rango (who I’ve yet to introduce you to. What is WRONG with me? Rango introduction coming soon…) and she followed. She managed to unearth (or un-snow, if you will, wahn-wahn-wahn) a HUGE stick and she went even more nuts over it than she does over the pine cones (I think I’m setting a world record for the use of the words “pine cones” in this post)! She even waited patiently for me to continue our game when I went to visit some bunnies. (I’m standing inside their enclosure.)

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Here’s a video of her with the stick. Right in the middle, Levi makes a funny nose and distracts all of us, but Pandy’s attention is only diverted for a second and then it’s game back on!

Pandy rarely looks at the camera or stays still for a second, so I was thrilled when I got this photo.

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Prettiest girl! Oh, Pandy, I love you so much!

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Filed under dogs, pandy, photography, videos, winslow farm

Summer to Winter

Somehow I moved right past fall and into winter without writing a real post. For the most part, it’s the sounds that change the most for me. While summer is filled with the buzzing of bugs and heavy air, fall creeps in silently leaving behind the noisy insects (I do miss the dragonflies, of course) and I’m able to focus on the quiet munching sounds that my friends in the barn make. I could sit in that barn listening forever.

Very little changes with the animals themselves. They go about their business and days must feel pretty similar to them. I tend to my chores and relish the time that I spend with them. I spend a great deal of time cuddling with Gully, who’s back to his affectionate self, his super huggy, head butting, best goat friend of mine self.

One thing that’s new and really exciting for me is that my relationship with Athena has really developed. I’ve looked back in posts and realized that the recent stories about her are stuck in my brain and not on the blog yet. Where to begin? Well, first off, after Athena finishes eating, she sits on the ground. I started to use this time as an opportunity to give her head rubs which she immediately HATED but was unable to jump up and run away from me and then a second later LOVED because they feel awesome. Who doesn’t love head scratches? Not Athena! So, every time I’d do this, it would terrify her at first until she remembered that she likes the feeling and she’d close her eyes and lean into them. So that’s pretty huge news on the Athena front and I could stop right there and be perfectly happy, but it gets even better! Treats have become a new line of communication for us, allowing her to interact with me on her own terms. I’ve always given them to her but used to just break them up and add them to her bowl. One time, I put one in front of her nose and she sniffed cautiously and took a bite. Interesting. We continued that dance for a while until recently when she became bold about asking for them. She’d lift her head with sniffs to see if I had one in my hand and if I did, she’d make it clear that she’d like one. Today, however, she walked right up to me, almost cornering me against the barn door and ate the treat with such oomph that my finger actually touched her teeth. Twice! Unbelievable! Perhaps soon she’ll let me pet her while she’s standing up…

Yesterday was the first real snowfall of winter here and the snow had finished its journey to the ground by the time I woke up this morning but everything was still covered in fluffy powder. Best of both worlds when tromping out to the farm. I brought my camera along since it’s been dark by the time I’ve gotten there for the last month and here are some of the images that I captured.

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One of the many entrances to the enchanting world.

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Part of the snowy landscape.

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One of the rabbit houses, glowing with lights.

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Beautiful Athena basking in the sun.

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Spirit begged for the treats in my pocket and started to eat snow off of the gate to distract me from his real motive.

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After I wouldn’t give into his request though, he stole some from the back of the tractor!

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The mallards have been much calmer, as of late, but still pretty awesome.

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Little Miss Zoey, who has gotten super fat lately, squishing herself under the fence to see me.

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Levi acts like a dog so he gets to wear a doggie coat!

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And last, but certainly not least, these two guys are perched on the fence like this every time I leave now. They wait until all of the animals have gone into their barns and cozy places and they get hunker down.

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Filed under athena, behavior, bunnies, cats, dogs, ducks, geese, gulliver, horses, lunar, photography, roosters, sheep, spirit, 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

Little Cubby

I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of Mr. Cubby this week, but he’s the small black dog that’s made it into a few posts in the past. I’ll seek him out for a photo op next time if he’s out and about.

I arrived at the farm and spotted a lost Cubby moving in slow circles around Claudius the swan’s area. His coat had unvelcroed itself from around his belly and was flapping helplessly around his neck. I called to him but he didn’t respond. It was only then that I realized that I hadn’t seen him for a while. As I got closer, I continued calling to him but he didn’t respond until I was almost upon him. He looked up at my face and I noticed that one of his eye sockets was closed shut. His face is entirely black and I almost missed this detail. It seems that the poor old man had lost an eye recently, in addition to the fact that his other eye looked pretty blind and he’d become very hard of hearing.

I gently put his coat back on and he leaned in for pets from me. I chatted with Deb about it when I found her and she confirmed the eye removal, the hearing loss, and that the remaining sight was limited. I love that she keeps him going and that she spared some of the farm’s money to keep him alive and comfortable.

When any animal reaches old age, there are tough decisions that go into determining the end of their life. It is rare that an animal is given the opportunity to parish by natural causes. With over 300 animals at the farm, Deb has many more of these decisions to make than anyone else I personally know. Since he obviously spends most of his time in Deb’s cozy house, I’m not worried about his infrequent challenging adventures outside.  And while Cubby’s life might not continue much longer, I’m happy that he has such a caring and wonderful person looking out for him until then.

Here’s to you, little Cubby! I’ll put your coat back on whenever you need me to and cheer you on as you slowly continue exploring your world.

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Another beautiful day on the farm

I have mostly photos to share today. The only big thing that happened off camera was that Lunar was super agitated about food. She even went after Niko! Watching this giant animal chasing a small cat certainly was an experience.

I was greeted this week by Wizard the wonderful pug. He’s not usually outside of Deb’s house when I’m there so it was really nice to spend a few minutes with him. And how adorable is his blue sweater??

While cleaning the back corral, I looked over and saw Waterford basking in the sunlight in his pen. All throughout the winter, once he finished eating, he went right back into his little house. It was nice not only to see him outside but also to see the smile on his sleeping face.

I snuck up on him trying not to wake him but it turns out that I probably could have banged pots by his head and he wouldn’t have stirred.

This is Edwin. He followed me around all afternoon and was so affectionate. He climbed in with the alpacas after me and they were very curious about him. They kept trying to sniff him, but he kept running away. Later, another cat friend named Maddy joined us but even though all Edwin wanted was to be best friends with him, Maddy started stalking him and trying to take swipes.

Edwin appreciating the sunshine.

Who can resist this face?

Have I mentioned Gulliver before? No?

True love.

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Filed under cats, dogs, goats, gulliver, horses, photography, piggies, waterford, 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

R.I.P. Chance

I miss you already, my dear, dear friend.

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Filed under dogs, mourning

It keeps getting better!

Being away from the farm for a week was treacherous, so my excitement had doubled – impossible, I know! – by the time I got there on Monday. I visited some bunnies and the swan and made my way to the corral. Waterford was hanging out so I waited around for Deb and watched as he chowed down on a tree stump. He was excited to see me and between bites we had a great chat with lots of snorts and head scratches.

Niko spotted me from the barn and made her way across the snow. Eager for hugs, she hopped onto my shoulder perch and purred like a crazy person. Pandy appeared out of nowhere, running and wagging her tail. We played a great game of pine cone. One of the roosters even walked right up to me and hung out!

But after my time spent caring for a sick Lunar two weeks ago, I’d have to say that the most exciting part was when she spotted me from the barn and came over and planted her head over the fence. She nuzzled against me and stayed close by. I took the opportunity to hug her as often as possible. We’ve definitely bonded and it feels pretty amazing.

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Here are the best shots from the afternoon. One of these days, I’m going to get there early with the Nikon, which will spare us all from the slightly fuzzy shots that my Cybershot produces when I don’t use a flash.  Animals + Flash = Not so much. Also if you’d like to see a picture enlarged, just click on it (and then click back, it doesn’t open a new window).

And we’re back…

Niko’s face! See how she squints? She’s undergone multiple eye surgeries and continues to be a super, super friendly cat. She’s the cutest!!

By the time I pulled out my camera, Lunar had scared off Waterford. Which struck me as odd since he is super crazy – in the way I like best, of course, but still, I figured he’d nod at her and keep going. Nope. So instead, I took a shot of the poor tree stump that he went to town on. The trail of red pulp goes far and wide outside the borders of this picture and he certainly was the happiest piggy ever while annihilating the wood.

This is the now-friendly rooster with whom every encounter thus far has consisted of me waving and saying hello and him completely ignoring me. Unless I walked by him on a path. In those cases, he’d jet the other way.

The friendship grows. They’re still learning about each other and that always has its ups and downs, but they seem fond of each other; a great start.

Look at her beautiful smile!!! Still no progress with petting Lovely Athena, but I’ll never give up.

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I’ve mentioned my fascination with the alpacas before and it continues to grow. While getting the barn prepared for dinner, I looked out the door and all three beauties were silently standing there, peering around. Just as quietly, they walked off. They are such gentle hushed animals. Aside from hearing their hooves while leaping about, I’ve heard very little from them. And when they do softly utter a call, it is a surreal alien cry. My mouth actually gaped open when I overheard one of them talking to a sibling. They’re like cartoon characters! Fluffy bodies with HUGE eyes, great, great ears, and spectacular sound effects.  I cannot get enough of them!!!

I left everyone in the barn contentedly munching away and headed over to visit the sweet herd in their corral. This was the first time I’d entered the gate. A brand new barn was built in honor of their arrival and it’s really nice inside: sawdust on the floor, mangers to the side and it smells awesome! Fresh wood scent is always a treat. They have room to play inside the fence and their house looks out on the pond behind the farm. It’s beyond idyllic.

They were huddled outside, eying me, but not in a panicked way and I did not attempt to pet them. Like many of the residents at Winslow, these three had a traumatic past and I want them to be comfortable with me before I try to make contact. It’s something I do with every animal I meet and time lines on this vary.  After spending some time with them, I don’t doubt that they like me as their body language was friendly. Not fleeing was also a good sign, and they had the room to do so. I attempted a few steps closer and they moved a few steps away. So they’re not ready. It’s this same instinct – not to rush up, not to speak loudly, not to reach out, not to repeat attempts in the same visit – that guides me with Athena. If she didn’t trust me at all, she’d never enter the barn or sniff my hand with her nose touching me. But she also senses when I’m reaching out to pet her and moves away from my hand. I will gently continue trying each week and wait for her to respond. The same goes for any timid animal. In their own time, perhaps the alpacas will come around like Delilah did. Or perhaps I will just love them from afar. Either way works for me.

I hope you enjoy their precious faces as much as I do.

Look at those eyes! And those EARS! Even the sawdust look is complementary.

I absolutely think alpacas are one of the coolest breeds of anything I’ve ever seen, including all the amazing species found on nature shows and up close during my personal adventures.

Group shot! Smiling for the camera!

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Filed under alpacas, athena, behavior, cats, dogs, horses, lunar, niko, photography, piggies, roosters, sheep, spirit, swan, waterford, winslow farm