Category Archives: roosters

Buckets of snow were dumped on the farm and I spent time with friends I haven’t seen in a while.

There was a huge snow storm here in Mass a couple of weekends back. I arrived at the farm early to talk to Deb and found it filled with volunteers shoveling paths through the thick white blanket that enshrouded the property. By that time, the snow had stopped falling but multiple feet had gathered and they’d just gotten power back. Since the shovels were all taken, I explored for a while. With it being the middle of winter, I kind of have tunnel vision when I’m there these days. I haven’t been to the main barn in over a month! It was nice to catch up with Liam, Jackson and the rest of the goats.

Here’s shy Liam smiling for the camera.

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Gully was still in the barn and had taken up residence in a feeding trough! (Seriously, who could not be in love with this guy??)

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Levi was still in the barn too and decided that he’d had enough of this “on the ground” sort of stuff so he ventured into the rafters. (Look at his cute little coat!)

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These guys were busy chowing down on the snow.

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Rude!

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And Cloud decided that it was high time he rolled around in the snow! I was the only surprised one, apparently. Everyone else was business as usual.

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And then it was time to head to my barn.

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No words, just beauty. (above and below)

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Not to be outdone, Athena wanted to show off her pretty eyes (and to be the final image of the post!).

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Filed under athena, goats, gulliver, horses, lunar, photography, roosters, spirit, winslow farm

Not every week starts out as wonderfully as the last one

I know we all have days where everything wrong seems to pile on top of everything else that’s wrong. My visit this week started out like that. I was an hour late since we drove back from Connecticut, I didn’t have enough time to take photos, I was really hoping that the poop would be scooped but nope and it was frozen, Gully would not go into his pen, I almost stepped on Neko, all the water buckets were frozen so I had to stab through the ice with a carving knife and Lunar’s bucket was filled with dirt along with the frozen water. *sigh* All of these would have been fine on their own, but add them up together and I was one frustrated character.

But it all went smoothly after that. Gully gave me lots of hugs, Athena approached me for many treats, Spirit was a gentleman when I put on his coat and Howie was happy to see me at the end of the night in the cat house. Plus the roosters didn’t block my exit this time.

Here’s some perspective on where they usually sit and the stairs that they were blocking last time.

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I’m not sure if any of you are on Twitter, but I’ve started live tweeting from the farm each week. Just a few photos each time, so it nothing overwhelming and it’s a lot of fun to do. I hope you’ll join me on Twitter on Sunday afternoons. Here are the photos I tweeted from this last visit.

Here’s Zoey munching away on Gully’s hay. What a weirdo cutie!

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I caught this rooster trying to break into the barn. I’d never seen him before and was kind of worried that he was the one who used to sit on Athena’s back and peck at her while she ate. So, I didn’t let him in, just to be safe.

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Apparently, he’s smarter than I realized though since he figured out how to get in around the back. Because he left Athena alone, I let him stay. He just stayed roosted next to the grain room assessing the scene.

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And then there’s Gully. Always Gully. Even cute with hay on his face.

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I hope that everyone has a wonderful week!

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A little help goes a long way, especially when discussing the merits of being a wheelbarrow

This weekend, I had a helper who was visiting the farm. His dad was building a new structure for the pig, Willow, who’s going to be coming next week. YAY!!! (Brief side note: a few weeks ago I was told about this incoming girl and the young volunteer said that her name was Mia but we would have to become used to the name Willow. I’d be lying if I said that Willow isn’t my favorite movie of all time. So, for me, that won’t be a problem. When I asked him if he’d heard of the movie, he said no. Sigh.) Back to this last visit, the boy was bored  and ended up in my coral so I let him help out a bit, doing things like sweeping Athena’s area of the barn. I said that I had to scoop the poop and he asked if he could help. “Why, yes! Yes, you can!” He’s 10 and this is what he had to say about the life of a wheelbarrow. “I feel bad for wheelbarrows.” “How come?” “Well, it’s just that – I know they aren’t alive – they get stuck with carrying around all this heavy poop.” I absolutely loved his interjection and that comment made my day.

You know what else made my day? My friends.

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Here’s Athena ignoring me…

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But then she showed me her beautiful face. I told my little buddy all of their stories and he was fascinated that Athena was able to survive on the median of a highway for two years. “What did she eat?” “Whatever she could find, I guess.” He was very impressed when she walked up to me in search of treats.

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I told him all about how Lunar and Spirit (who didn’t want his photo taken this week) are food aggressive and that the noises that Spirit made while eating were to let Lunar know that it’s his food and she’d better stay away. Fortunately for everyone, they were both in their pens.

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A rare shot of the three of them like this. Usually, Lunar’s already eating when Gully and Athena are let into the coral, but everyone was already together when I arrived. I’ve become much more confident about getting the horses into their pens but usually it’s just the two horses to contend with. Tensions are a bit higher when the littler folk is around and could be trampled, but Spirit behaved very nicely for me and Lunar was fine with entering the pen without her food.

These roosters have taken to huddling up together on the fence at the end of the night once it calms down. During this visit, they decided that they were going to sit right in front of the stairs I use to get out. So, I decided that a good deal of petting was in order. They decided that it wasn’t worth moving further down the fence so they just squawked a bunch in protest. I ended up exiting a different way. They are super soft!

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Whenever I leave now, I visit the cat house on the way out. I’ve been doing this for the past several months to visit Howie, who was Levi’s original friend when he came to the farm. He’s an old man, so I always stop in to give him a few treats and some pats on the head. I found Apricot in the house, as well, basking in the glow of the wood stove.

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Filed under athena, goats, gulliver, lunar, roosters, spirit, 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~

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

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

The Coop

Yesterday, the barn was flooded, so Deb took over caring for them. I spent a bit of time with Lunar before I headed over to the big barn. I’d be heading from there to “the safe side” (I still have no idea what exactly that means, but I’ll get to who lives there in a second).

I spent a few minutes with Gulliver since he was in the big barn. Because of the flooding, he would have a sleepover there as well! I can only imagine how excited his goat buddies would be about that! Usually when I look for him to bring him up to the barn, I find him sitting on a ledge in the back. He was there on Monday as usual so I took another few minutes to hang out face to face. His reaction of “oh no” was emphasized by shoving his head against the wall. Never one to give up easily, I petted him and spoke softly to him for a while. Eventually, his head came back forward. I went for his ears though (I love, love, LOVE ears!) and he, like most of the animals, rejected that notion. This time he shoved his head into the corner, but I petted him some more and he came around again soon. One of the great kids who works there (one of my original trainers, in fact) came in and said, “I’ve never seen him being so affectionate.” Sweet!!

I went over to “the safe side” and met another young trainer. This section is where Athena hangs out with the sheep and roosters during the day. What I didn’t realize is that a small “building” that I walk by each time actually houses a bunch of different birds. I walked in and was immediately overwhelmed with excitement which I had to stamp down quickly because birds are really sensitive creatures. And if you’ve read my posts on Clementine and Noella, you already know how much birds fascinate me. If you haven’t, please let me elaborate: I LOVE BIRDS!!!!

In this dwelling live a whole mess of roosters/hens, ducks, the peacocks (who apparently live there and not with the donkeys), a peahen (so cute!), a golden pheasant (who looks like a parrot and a regular pheasant), a few doves (who peck if you try to pet them, I was told), a silky white bantam (really fluffy white rooster), and then there is the turkey.

He stayed far away as I walked around examining the room and birds alike. And then I realized that somewhere along the way, I seemed to have picked up a shadow. Sure, it was about four feet away and round and white but a distinct one nonetheless. I tested my theory by continuing to do rounds and wherever I stopped, he stopped, several feet away, looking at me out of the corner of his eyes. Instantly and completely in love with him I fell. And the best part? He let me pet him. The first time, he lurched a few steps away. I waited. He moved back. And the petting resumed.

Lots of photos from this week’s visit!

A little blurry, but she’s a beauty no matter what.

Spirit in the ice.

I used the “twilight portrait” setting on Gulliver to see what it would look like. Not what I expected but still pretty cool. Also, please imagine him putting his completely flat face against the wall…

Commence “birds”!

This is a blurry photo of the silky shite bantam. He couldn’t stop pecking for a clear shot.

 

The albino peacock with one of the other peacocks and a couple of roosters behind him. With all the mud on the floor, I am amazed that he’s so clean!

 

Outside, a gathering. A gaggle, if you will.

 

And last, but not least at all, my new turkey friend.

 

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Filed under goats, gulliver, horses, lunar, peacocks, photography, roosters, spirit, turkey, 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

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