Tag Archives: sheep

Sweet sorrow

I realize that I’ve been pretty silent for a long time now. My job has really taken off and my focus has definitely shifted. That’s not to say that I haven’t been at the farm! Just that the mental energy I’ve put into documenting my adventures has been redirected. In addition, there has been a lot of sadness for me at the farm recently. In a week’s time, two of my very best friends passed away suddenly.

Lunar had a blockage in her stomach that needed emergency surgery. Dan and Connor, two of the incredible teens that devote so much of their time to the sanctuary, spent hours trying to get Lunar onto a trailer to get her to the vet. They struggled with her, attempting to get her up the ramp in any way that they could. And at the moment that they almost had her all the way up, her halter broke and they had no way to hold onto her. They couldn’t go on and she was unable to go to the vet. She was healthy in every other way, but because this was so serious, she ended up having to be put down. I found out about the blockage when I went to volunteer and spent a bit of time with her while others helped out, thinking that she would get better. I found out that she had been put to sleep when I visited on a Friday because I would be missing my Sunday shift. I never really got to say goodbye to her. When Deb and I talked about it, she said that by not being able to get Lunar on the trailer that she knew she wouldn’t survive. They did everything that they could to get her to surgery and Lunar would not go.

While I was there, she mentioned that Athena was not doing very well. Her eyesight had deteriorated a great deal and she was having problems walking. I stayed with Athena for a while in the sheep area just chatting with her. And then she did something very interesting. When I squatted down in front of her, I put my face close to hers and she actually put her nose right up against mine. Her soft, fuzzy nose was pressed up against me. She stared into my eyes and then she walked away.

I went off on my weekend trip. And on the drive home late Monday, I received a text from Connor. He said that he was really sad to tell me that they’d had to put Athena to sleep unexpectedly that day. She hadn’t been able to get up and was suffering. I went to the farm early the next morning and spent time with her resting body in Gully’s pen. I haven’t cried like that in a long time. I held her for a long time and kissed her sweet face and told her I loved her many last times.

In addition to my two friends passing, there were two other sweet creatures that also passed in the same time frame. Crazy Xena, the goat and beautiful Shiloh, the horse, both left us. To say the least, it has been a sad couple of months, peppered with the joy and beauty that surrounds me when I’m there. Gully and I continue to be the best of friends and the alpaca girls actually approach me for food now. I will tell stories about that transformation soon. But all of the animals will be missed.

The first week back without Lunar and Athena, which landed on the same Sunday, was really tough. Everything felt so empty without them.


I still look longingly into Lunar’s stall and Athena’s empty space at the front of the barn. I am sad that I never got to say goodbye to Lunar and sad that I had to say goodbye to Athena.

Lunar and I always had an easy friendship. My favorite thing that she did was to scratch her head (and often almost knock me over) on my leg. She was a sweet, wonderful friend.

Lunar_Horse_Winslow_Farm_MindingtheMinisBeautiful, beautiful girl. I miss and love you.

My relationship with Athena blossomed from a shy friendship to what I am convinced was love. By the end of her days, she trusted me enough to let me scratch behind her ears and along her soft nose. She even fell asleep a few times while I was petting her. She was a true friend and I will never forget her.

Petting_Athena_Sheep_Winslow_Farm_MindingtheMinisWhen I posted this to Instagram, my caption was “The fact that I can just walk up to Athena and do this is still nothing less that astounding to me.” And it felt that way every single time. She really grew to trust me. And in trusting me, she’d let strangers pet her when I was with her.

Gully_Athena_Winslow_Farm_MindingtheminisAthena and Gully shared a quiet friendship. Now that she’s gone, Gully no longer wants to stay up at the barn (a story for another day). It makes me sad that I’ll never see this sight again, but I’m happy that I did get to see it so many times.

Sweet_Athena_Winslow_Farm_Minding_the_MinisI’ll miss this beautiful smile.

The photos included in this post were all pulled from my Instagram account and can be found in my twitter feed. I take photos every week and post live to Twitter. So, if you’d like to “be there with me,” please follow me at @MindingTheMinis or go straight to the source for photos on Instagram, also MindingTheMinis. Hug your two and four-legged friends tightly. See you next week!


Filed under athena, lunar, mourning, winslow farm

Athena, the shy sheep, continues to melt my heart, piece by piece.

My relationship with Athena has continued developing each week. Where there were baby steps for months on end, it seems to be progressing in leaps and bounds now. When passing through the gate into the corral, she used to bolt by me and now she walks right up to me instead. She even followed me out of the barn and over to the alpacas’ pen when I went to feed them! Like Gully did the other week, she’s started opening the grain room door with her nose to gain access to me (and my treats, of course!). All of these changes feel wonderful but I had an even more spectacular time with her this last visit.


For the most part, I interact with her now by squatting down. The more time I spend face-to-face with her, the more responsive she is and the more confident she acts towards me. From this position, I gave her treats and kept moving my hand closer to my face with each one. She sniffed around looking for more and ended up touching her nose to my nose and didn’t back off. I had tears a few weeks ago when she nuzzled my hand and they were doubled when she pressed her fuzzy face to mine. Out of this world!

Confidence brimming over, I decided to push the limits again. This time I held the treat in one hand and while she ate it, I petted her with the other hand. The first few times, she backed off hastily. But almost as quickly, she started accepting my advances. Every time she let me pet her, I said, “good girl!” After a few minutes, I was able to pet her without giving her a treat. The pets grew from very brief to much longer ones as the time passed. She even leaned into the ear scratches like she does when she’s lying down! As our bond grows stronger, I am looking forward to even more from her.

To think, a few months ago, I couldn’t get this close without her running off and now look!


Excuse the blurriness and as I show off how bold she’s gotten!


Precious, precious girl. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “A face only everyone could love!”


I hope everyone has a wonderful week and that the weather is beautiful for all of you! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@mindingtheminis) for live tweets from the farm on Sunday afternoons!


Filed under athena

Muddy boots, horsey pals and treats galore! Winslow’s got it all!

This week was muddy and grey at the farm, so I left my camera at home. I always have my iPhone on me, so I’m sharing my visit through that lens.


Beautiful Lunar! Not a huge fan of sitting still for the camera, though.


As I mentioned recently, Athena has become super treat motivated. She’s so focused on them that every time I left the food area with grain or hay, she stopped eating and walked up to me sniffing whatever was in my hands. Once she figured out that they weren’t tastier snacks, she backed off. She was super excited when I finally gave her some.

Also I’ve been petting her more and more while she’s sitting down. This isn’t news but something interesting happened this last time. While massaging her back, I played around with pressure and every once in a while, she sucked in a short breath and looked really alert. I talked to her soothingly, backed off and she relaxed again. I did it a couple of times to see if it would happen again and it did. She seemed to tense up in an way that I can only think of as biologically associated with her prey/predator instinct. Fascinating. She’s becoming more comfortable with me petting her head and back, but scratching her ears is still what she likes the most.

Here she is sniffing me out for treats. Loving this girl so much!


Gully has a much more subtle way of asking for treats.


I couldn’t decide which photo was cuter, so I’m posting both of them. Ahh, I love this goat so much!!

Gully More

Can’t wait to see all of them next week!

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Filed under athena, behavior, gulliver, lunar, winslow farm

Whimsical Winslow – Summer’s Here!

What 90 degree weather?

Athena Beans! And she’s letting me pet her back and her fuzzy head. She’s SO soft!!!


Filed under athena, photography, sheep, winslow farm

Athena Says, “Hi!”

Or something…

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Filed under athena, photography, sheep, winslow farm

Athena Beans!

Today I had a Wheaton College student training with me in the barn. We got to talking about Athena  and I mentioned that I gave up on trying to pet her a long time ago. I went into Gully’s pen a bit later for our weekly smoosh fest and she stayed outside with Athena. I watched as she reached down and petted her on the head. ???

I waited until she left and went out to Athena. There was a lot of ego riding on this for me. If she moved away, I’d be crushed. Tentatively, I reached my hand out and patted her on the head. No movement. Astonished, I buried my hand in her vast depths of fluff. She is SO soft!! I started petting her nose and went as far as scratching behinds her ears. Not a single motion to get up and leave passed through her. I have attained petting status!!!

Now that my original Winslow goal has been accomplished, I can’t wait to focus on her more. I’m also excited to discover what my new goal will be. Petting the alpacas, maybe?

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Filed under athena, behavior, sheep, winslow farm