Category Archives: emus

New Friends!

I just started a job at a nursery where they have a handful of ponies that were rescued. I know, perfect job, right? Don’t worry, I’ll still be going to Winslow every week. As I adjust from waking up whenever I feel like it to being at work AT 7:30am, I’ve been passed out drooling by 9pm for a little over a week. As I adjust, I’ll be able to write these on time. Until then, double posts it is!

Taking it a step farther, I’m going to rely on my pictures to catch you up:

I love that birds can sleep standing up. I love even more that these geese all hunkered down for a nap together.

I also enjoyed that this emu went back to sleep while I fussed around him getting camera angles. And it never ceases to fascinate me how these giant birds fold into themselves like this. It’s just so bizarre!

Look at this beautiful girl! I took this while Little Miss Peahen was on a date with the albino peacock. They walked around their yard in circles while cooing at each other. Adorable.

My, what great hooves you have, Gully!

Athena keeps topping herself in the great photo department. “Don’t you just LOVE my manicure??”

Aside from the fact that having tons of cats around is awesome to begin with, I love that I meet new ones all the time. This is Me Lord (I know, right? Great name!). He seeks me out every week now and accompanies me on all sorts of visits. Ultimate affectionate spewing from this cat here!

And THIS is Bailey. She lives in the barn and was pretty shy at the beginning. Once she gave me her seal of approval, she revealed how cuddly she is. And what awesome markings! It’s a bit hard to tell from the picture, but her face is split right down the middle of her nose. One side is calico and the other half is solid black, minus the stark white whiskers that spring out of her face.

Oh, how I love this girl.

Speaking of the felines, I discovered this hut for the cats this week. It is located right in the middle of everything! (Insert snarky comment about my awesome powers of observation.)

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And now a couple of introductions:

Here is a gaggle of the geese at the nursery. They are usually in a giant penned in area that I can’t see from inside - disappointing! – but that morning, they were out and about among the flowers. “HONK!”

I’d like for you to meet Bear.

He is one of the ponies at the nursery and we took to each other immediately. On my first visit, all of the ponies came forward to say hello (and “I’d like some food, please.”) which was a wonderful start. For animals who clearly had a rough time before they ended up at the nursery, as evidenced immediately by their lack of body fat and brittle mane hair, it felt great that they all sniffed my hand. Three let me pet their heads, one allowed me to scratch his rear, and one wouldn’t let me make contact at all.

Over the next few posts, I will introduce them fully, but now, a bit more about Bear. This incredibly soft guy (most of the ponies have amazingly soft almost angora-ish hair – I’d go as far as to say fur) stood apart from all of them. Not only did he like being pet, but he allowed me to put my forehead on his. He allowed neck hugs. He even stared into my eyes. Our connection was immediate and every time I’ve visited him since, he’s just as affectionate. Lunar does not stare into my eyes even though I know how much she loves me, so having Bear just gaze and gaze at me is a whole new level of connecting. Instant love.

What had the most impact on me, though, was when I mistakenly moved my arm abruptly, a few visits in, and he literally jumped backwards. I had no idea that he had a history of abuse. While devastated about his past, I was overjoyed that he’d trusted me from the start. With a bit of coaxing, he came back to the fence for more hugs and I have been careful since that moment about keeping my animation in check.

Every day, I spend half of my lunch break with the ponies (and Jeffrey the goat!). I discovered on my second or third visit that they LOVE dandelions, so on most days, I pick a bunch on my way to see them. I think they are all fantastic munchkins and am enjoying learning about each of them, but Bear certainly made a beeline into my heart.

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Filed under athena, cats, emus, geese, goats, gulliver, horses, niko, peacocks, sheep, winslow farm

Extra day, extra work?

I went to the farm an extra day this week and worked in a different part. The twelve year old that trained me and a different fourteen year old were running the big barn where Deb had asked me to help out. Whereas the barn I do on Mondays only has four animals directly associated with it and a couple indirectly associated, this is the barn where all the ponies, the other horses, the mules, the llamas, the emus and a zillion goats live. These two girls had their routine down pat and every time I asked if I could help, I got a sing-song “Nah, I’ve got it” back.

Well, that’s not completely true; I did get to sweep off some mats. For those uninitiated in this task, there are rubber mats in the stalls that are usually underneath the food trough or close by. Horses are messy eaters and and they’ll eat the leftovers off the ground, so it’s necessary to sweep the mats to prevent them from eating sawdust and straw. At least, I think that’s the purpose of the mats. I’ve never actually asked. Another thing about sweeping the mats? It’s a total ocd nightmare! Little pieces of riffraff creep back on them no matter matter how much time you spend sweeping them off. Lacking the ability to just walk away, I can be found going over them with growing intensity until I finally stalk off, forcing myself not to look back and see a determined piece of straw triumphantly take back its spot. Because Lunar knows how much I love this task, she likes to follow me into her pen when she see the broom. While I sweep her mat, she kicks the sawdust right back where I’ve just swept it off. Big giant piles of it! I sweep it off. She kicks it on. I sweep it off. She kicks i-Arrrggghh!

I also offered to take the pee blankets out to hang on the fence. When I asked if I could help, I think that the girl bringing them out of the barn was worried that I might complain about getting dirty. Perhaps my coat is deceiving. I’ve certainly been spotted as an intruder on more than one occasion (many times by the same volunteer) and I’m pretty sure it’s because of how I’m dressed. My coat is a black, hooded, squall jacket that goes down past my knees and keeps me super warm and still looks new though I’ve had it for a while. All the other volunteers wear sweatshirts or ratty clothes. What they don’t realize about my coat is that it’s my “pet sitting jacket”. This means that it’s been a home to all sorts of animal fluids. Too much? Needless to say, handling a bunch of filthy blankets was no problem for me.

While I stood around the rest of the time, being useless, I took the opportunity to take some photos and videos. And away we go!

Out back, I watched for a while as the ponies horsed around (ha!). The whole lot of them kept running back and forth. Some were whinnying and kicking and the rest were running just to stay out of the way. Whenever I’ve passed through the area, they’re just stand there chomping on things, so this was an interesting deviation.

The lineage of ponies is as follows: there is a male, the little tan one, who has a daughter and a grandson in the barn. And then there’s another mare who little tan guy mated with that produced a daughter and they’re also in the barn. I’m not sure which of his relatives made him so angry though because they all look alike. At one point, I watched him back the biggest one into a corner and kick like crazy. Though it may have looked like his young successor had the upper-hand in the video, don’t be fooled. Grandpa can hold his own!

Here are the llamas. Watching them. In the exact same spot. With the exact same dazed look. The entire time. I love it!!

Look at the mug on this guy! Ooh, his ears are pinned back at me! I’m pretty sure we’ll be friends someday. Hopefully.

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Emus are strange, strange creatures.

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Just a smidge of info on this photo: to the left of the emu is a door made up of plastic sheets that are big and awkward and sort of need to be shoved through. These flaps hit him every time a goat or person goes in or out.

Grooming time! Goats lick their feet like cats do. This fact makes me happy.

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As dinnertime draws near, many of the animals start wandering in. Due to the fact that there are about a million goats, they’re the most prevalent random shots of fur in this photo, but look closely and you can also see an emu and a pony. Maybe next time, I’ll get a photo that better represents the chaos, but I’ll have to stop spending all my time petting everyone first.

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Filed under behavior, emus, goats, horses, humor, llamas, photography, videos, winslow farm

Farm Adventures

My volunteering slot at the farm is on Monday afternoons and I’ve been asked to take on the responsibilities in one of the barns. I spent last Monday and Tuesday afternoon being trained by a twelve year old one day and a fourteen year old the next. The farm is mostly populated by these dedicated kids who spend an average of three afternoons a week at the sanctuary. I envy the life experience these kids are building surrounded by so many different animals and the responsibilities in caring for them helmed by a truly dedicated and passionate person, Debra White, who owns and operates Winslow Farm Animal Sanctuary. I wish I had something like this when I was a kid, who knows where it would have led my passion for animals by this point.

In this particular barn, there are four main animals and a handful of barn cats. The two horses are named Moonie and Lunar; there’s a sheep named Athena and a large goat named Gulliver. Moonie is an elderly male horse who’s blind and Lunar is his sweet companion. I was told by Deb, that he’s a kicker when he’s being moody. Armed with this bit of info, I was a bit nervous when I first met him. Talking in gentle tones with him, I offered him my hand and moved slowly around him. Any time I passed by him, I made sure to vocalize and make gentle contact. He never flinched at my touch, so I was excited. Lunar is an energetic senior horse. At dinnertime, she’s food driven and very sweet even while she nibbles on your hands looking for food. She’s also one of the loudest eaters I’ve ever seen and bangs around her food bucket with gusto. Gulliver is pretty low key and likes his pen which makes him very easy.

And then there’s beautiful Athena with her dark grey body and head that almost looks likes she’s had her hair and makeup done. Athena was found living alone on an interstate median where she’d been for a long time. Attempts were made to catch her which she thwarted. She was finally caught and taken to the MSPCA where she met Gulliver and they were brought to the sanctuary. Athena does not trust humans. This is always hard for me as I’d like to be best friends with every animal. So, while Athena dodged any attempts at getting close, I continued to pursue her with soft speech.

Yesterday was my first solo run. Nervous and excited, I walked into the Barn all set to go and lo and behold, there was 400 pound Waterford the awesome giant pig relaxing in the stall.

(A brief explanation on how the pens are set up since it’s a bit confusing. The horse pen is a large circle. The barn is in the middle of the circle and if you’re looking at it from inside, it has six sections: Gulliver’s stall, a section where the doors to the barn open (this is Athena’s makeshift stall), a section where all the food is kept, behind Gulliver’s stall is the hay pen, then Moonie’s stall which exits out to the back (no doors, just strips of plastic to keep the heat in so that he’s able to go in and out safely), and then Lunar’s stall. Go through Moonie’s area out the back and there’s a special pen for Moonie and Lunar. It’s set up with a rope around it so that Moonie can feel his way. Pretty cool! Waterford’s pen and teeny house is adjacent to the whole area and has a gate so that he can be let into the bigger pen during the day and has access to this part of the barn.)

So, was I surprised to find Waterford in “Athena’s” section of the barn as he’s usually back in his pen when I’ve arrived. I have to say that there certainly is a difference between petting a giant pig over a fence and having him right next to me. Especially when he started bumping into me and chomping on my backside! I went off to find Deb for assistance on getting him in. I walked slowly with him across the pen keeping an eye on him when he got behind me. Deb had also mentioned at some point something to the effect of “he can break all my bones in one fell swoop but he’s a wonderful animal” so I was being careful of the bone-breakage while shooting the breeze. He’s very chatty! After I located her, she needed to free herself up, so I went back to sit with him. I hung out on the top of the fence and he chewed on my foot. He’s super cute and wow is he a big animal with giant teeth!

After he was back in his pen, I worked my way through my chores in the barn. I was still getting the hang of things and since Moonie came in to eat with zero prodding (!!!), I fed him first. I probably should have fed Lunar first since she started galloping around inside the stall right next to Moonie (uh, NOT big enough!) but I managed to get her food to her and Moonie didn’t seem to notice so I’ve learned something for next time. I was still riding on the high that Moonie was completely comfortable with my voice! But even more exciting was Athena. When I went to put her food down, she was comfortable enough to bring her face to the bowl while my hand was still attached. No bob and weave out of the barn. No waiting for me to move. So exciting! Now, maybe if someday I can just pet her…

Since I can’t bring my big camera on my cleaning shift, I used my phone to capture a few images. One of these days, I’ll go in the middle of the day to photograph my lovely friends.

In my last blog post, I mentioned that an emu looks like it’s swallowing a cat while it’s sleeping. Ta da:

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These roosters hang out all over the place. I tried to get closer and he kept scooting further away. Mission!

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I went into the other barn for a bit yesterday where most of the goats live. Wow, do I love the goats. This one was a bit apprehensive of me. I went to pet her and she moved. I finally got a hand on her and started to give her a massage and then stopped. She sidled closer. I continued the massage and stopped again. Sidled closer. And now we’re friends!

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THIS is Waterford!!! Isn’t he spectacular???

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And THIS is Napoleon. In love! I was so excited to meet him and I happened upon him in a pathway. I figured I’d maybe get a pet or two but what happened instead was that right as I went to pet him, he immediately flopped over and demanded belly rubs and made super awesome grunting noises of joy while I did it. I love him!!!

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Filed under cats, emus, goats, horses, photography, piggies, roosters, sheep, winslow farm

And I’m Back!

Over the last few months, we made the transition to Massachusetts which meant saying goodbye to my wonderful clients in Connecticut. Moving to a fresh town means not knowing anyone and the rebuild of clientele will take time.

In the meantime, my cats and I have had super four-on-one time. I never realized just how much my cats actually sleep. It’s unbelievable! One of my major activities is running up the stairs, singing at the top of my lungs forcing them out of their blissful sleep. I also enjoy clattering the dishes downstairs in the kitchen and watching as sleepy faces saunter into the room. Neither of these strategies do much good as they immediately leave the kitchen and go back upstairs or simply flop back down on the bed. Sometimes yelling, “Kitties! KITTIES!!!” brings Quinny to my side though, so that’s nice.

Today I ventured out to meet some new animals in the area. It was my first day as a volunteer at an animal sanctuary in a neighboring town. We visited last week and I knew the moment the farm came into my sites that I was destined to end up there. The cats that jumped the high fence to greet us confirmed this. In my fifteen or so minutes there, I met numerous cats who stayed close to me, a swan who was a bit wary, a border collie who’s discovered that pine cones make great throw toys, a pony and a mule who I admired through the fence plus all the others I could see from afar. I introduced myself to the wonderful woman who owns the farm and we made a date for today to start.

My big assignment was to shovel manure which isn’t the most exciting thing in the world but yes it is when you have a stream of visitors during it. There was a mini goat who was the fattest cutest thing ever and he scratched his head on my boots. He swung by a bunch. I was working near a corral and had visitors in horse, mule and pony form. And then there was the emu.

Last week in the car, I wasn’t really paying attention as we drove along and all of the sudden I spotted him. “Is that an emu? Where are we?” (I’d thought we were visiting the zoo first). Mr Emu, whose name will be included once I memorize all of them including his brother, is a rather interesting character who likes to peck at the rake when it has pine needles on it. He also made many plays at pecking me. Since I wasn’t sure how hard these might be, I danced a lot around him. I asked later if it can hurt and the answer was, “Yes.” But now that I know that, I’ll be prepared when I actually let him.

After I dumped the wheelbarrow on the big manure pile, I headed into the barn to help feed the gathered and now penned animals that I’d been interacting with plus a bunch of their friends. I helped out here and there and pet any goat who walked by, as the horses/ponies/mule were penned separately. And lots of little moments occurred, but there were really two things that stood out to me. First off, after some hay was put down, one of the emus plopped right down on it and fell asleep while goats munched on the hay near his head. This alone was fascinating, but the way that they sleep looks like they’re swallowing a cat. The neck puffs out in front and then the head is set back close to the body. It’s really bizarre and cool looking. I’ll take a photo if it happens again.

The other thing was when I was handed food for one of the horses, one of the goats head butted me so hard, I went right into the wall. Greatest moment ever.

Monday can’t come soon enough!

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Filed under cats, dogs, emus, goats, winslow farm