Category Archives: niko

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.

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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

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

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

New Friends!

A horse named Spirit now lives in the barn as Lunar’s new companion. I met Spirit on my first day in the big barn and learned that he’s food aggressive when he ripped some hay out of my hands. When I found out that he’d be our new barn companion, I admit I was a bit nervous. With Moonie, all I really did was guide his head to his food and give him pats and tell him how much I loved him. With Spirit, I now have to get him into the barn from the outer outer ring and be careful when feeding him. Did I mention he’s stubborn, too?

Deb spent the first day with me and I was proud that after she got him into the back and then he walked back out (we forgot to close the gate – actually, I probably forgot to close it but didn’t think of it when he first went in and Deb was nice enough not to call me an idiot), so when I was able to get him back in by talking to him, I was pretty psyched. Deb told me that unlike the other animals, I was to talk to him in a firm voice and let him know who’s boss. After I demonstrated my “boss” voice, she laughed for a good long time. Hmm. Since my first attempt was too soft and sing-songy (I swear I was being firm), I’ve been working hard at toughening it up. Definitely a challenge.

While Spirit comes easily to the front of the barn and stands in Athena’s area when he’s ready to eat, getting him around to the back is anything but that. And I learned that apparently, it’s also a challenge with Lunar. I’d never had to coral her before and all of the sudden there are two horses standing there saying, “No, thanks. We’re all set.” I spent a good fifteen minutes calling to them from a foot away, from halfway around the barn, and even while standing in the back of the barn staring at them. Nothing. I’d hook an arm under Lunar’s neck and say, “Hey! Yay! Let’s go!” And she’d move her head away and continue standing right where she was. And this is a horse who seeks me out for hugs! I finally cheated and grabbed a teeny bit of food and gave Lunar a whiff. She launched into high gear and practically ran to her pen. (And yes, I made sure that Spirit had NO idea what I was doing. I’m not a complete dummy.) When Spirit noticed that she was gone, he high-tailed around back, too. Sweet! I closed the gate behind him. (Who’s learning now?!) He went into his pen easily and I went about feeding all of them, only, what, a half hour late? Baby steps.

When Deb was helping me last week, she spent a long time in with Spirit while he ate, standing right next to him, speaking softly. I asked her if it was something that I should do when I was by myself and she said, “Yes. Let him get used to you and your voice while he eats. But don’t touch him.” So, while Spirit munched away, I stood a couple of feet away, blathering on in as commanding (yet affectionate!) a voice as possible. He glanced at me now and then. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was thinking, “Wow. This one’s a weirdo.” It took a whole lot of resistance not to dole out hugs.

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Spirit and Lunar are learning to be friends and I think this photo captures that pretty well.

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New water bucket!

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This is Niko. She’s a super cute and affectionate cat who lives in the barn. She has something wrong, I think, with her eyes. She rarely looks at people or animals straight on and when she does, her face is always squinty.

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This is Niko climbing up my jacket and onto my shoulder where she stayed almost the entire time I picked up after the horses with a rake. I am an acrobat.

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Delilah is another cat that lives in the barn. When I first started at the farm, she wouldn’t come near me and avoided me like her life depended on it. She would press herself against the wall and shoot past. I think there was some hissing mixed in. Sometimes I’d even catch her glaring from afar. Over the last week or so, the tides have turned and apparently she’s taken a liking to me. It began with meows. Then she started standing right next to me. Now, she even follows me around!

Right after I found her having a delightful time with the hay (that I was in the middle of distributing), she came running over to say hi. Sure, she latched onto my arm a second later, but she immediately rubbed up against my leg when she was done. Buddies!

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Filed under behavior, cats, horses, humor, lunar, niko, photography, spirit, winslow farm