Here are a couple of my favorite moments at the sanctuary this last week.
Today there is a hole in my heart. Though it feels as big as a mountain, it must just be a tiny pinprick.
Many years ago, I was lucky enough to meet Scamp, Bella, and Zorro. I immediately took a liking to them all but especially Scamp. I didn’t realize that donkeys could smile or hug until I met her. I’ve spent almost every Sunday over these years spending a little time with her (there are lots of animals to see and tend to here), giving her treats, pets, and hugs.
She was always separated at eating time because of her deteriorating teeth.In June of 2016, she wasn’t eating well, so I sat with her in her pen coaxing her to eat. I think that’s when we really started bonding.
She started hugging me back at one point. She really leaned into them, like I do when I hug my loved ones. I’m not sure I can give it justice by trying to describe the feeling of elation hugging her gave me.
Over the summer, we played a concert at the farm and my favorite part, by far, was watching Scamp go through the crowd of friends and family and nuzzle them. “Treats? Anyone have treats? Ok, I’ll settle for a hug.” I definitely forgot the lyrics at least once while watching her. A few months back, I discovered that she liked having the inside of her furry ears scratched. She’d stop mid-bite and lean into it. She was magical to me.
Over the last few weeks, she stopped eating. For good. No matter how anyone tried to help her eat, she was done. She passed on Friday night.
Volunteering at an animal sanctuary is a delight as much as it is a challenge. These lucky animals get to live out their best lives under Debra’s, the staff’s, and volunteer’s care. But the price for those who dedicate their time and hearts is that the animals live here until they pass. Losing any animal hurts. Losing one who you feel utterly connected to is devastating. This lyric helps fit that place for me.
“but i guess that this is the price
that we pay for the privilege
of living for even a day
in a world with so many things
worth believing in”
– ani difranco
I was lucky that I was able to say goodbye to her, albeit through the sheet she was wrapped in. I got to touch her nose one last time and give her one last hug. My tears haven’t stopped flowing yet but they will and I’ll move on. But I’ll carry that tiny hole in my heart with me always.
Safe travels, Scamp. You are loved.
* If you are interested in learning more about Winslow Farm Animal Sanctuary, please visit http://www.winslowfarm.com. Visitors are welcome to comes and meet the animals and donations are always appreciated. Hope to see you there sometime. *
Right before I was leaving Winslow today, one of the volunteers walked up with a box in her hand. On it was a note:
The boxes had a few rectangles cut out and this beak peaked out, so I peeked in.
Inside was a beautiful duck whose wings had been clipped. Obviously, she’d had human interaction and might have been someone’s pet.
Deb agreed to welcome her home and we carried the box to the pond where the three ducks live. I lifted her out and set her down (as she flapped like crazy). She immediately ran over to the ducks. Like, instantly. We were open-mouthed and excited.
She’s absolutely adorable. The boys in the pond were acting like they’d seen their crush and to play it cool, they pretended they didn’t see her.
On a more serious note, the way she arrived at the sanctuary is unacceptable. The box was taped shut and left close to the road. There’s the possibility that it wouldn’t have been seen and she could have frozen to death over night. Or a predator could have found her, trapped helplessly inside. Or what if the sanctuary had no room, leaving it up to Deb to do the leg work of re-homing it? It’s one thing to be desperate, but at least call and ask if it’s OK to bring a homeless animal.
Dropping off a box/carrier/anything and fleeing is never OK. If they’d called instead, the fact that the bird has clipped wings might have led to finding an owner. Or a bird sanctuary. Or someone who looking for a duck pal. Many things could have transpired. Instead, Deb was left without a choice but gained another mouth to feed. Each mouth adds up. Running a sanctuary is a labor of love not a cash cow. (Side note: every donation matters because every animal who lives there matters. Please support your local rescues!) Even leaving a $20 in the box with the duck would have been a good gesture.
Anyway, this story of a lucky duck ends with a wonderful home and new friends.
I can’t believe that my last post was in 2014. A lot has happened since then. I’m coming up on eight years at Winslow in a few weeks and I now have 6 cats and a dog. (I know, right?!) I plan on posting regularly again, for real this time. I also plan on diving into the experience of living with so many animals.
In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite recent photos. Enjoy!
Have a great week!
Sorry, Jackson!! I hope everyone has a wonderful week! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@mindingtheminis) for live tweets from the farm on Sunday afternoons.
I realize that it’s been practically forever since I’ve posted and that the recent ones are all about the sadness in losing friends. I’m sad to report that this one isn’t much different as I found out yesterday that my little friend, Apricot, passed away. She’d been in poor health for quite some time and had fought through it by continuing to be as sweet as pie. I’ll miss her little under-bite. She was always moving around a lot so I have only one photo of her to share that I can find right now. But if I locate an under-bite pic, I’ll post it.
You’ll be missed, sweet sweet girl.
And I’m going to try to start writing regularly again. I love love love my job but it keeps me busy. I always get to the farm to visit my friends though and will try to bring those adventures back to the page. I’m still live-tweeting/gramming while there, so please follow me on twitter (@mindingtheminis) or Instagram (@mindingtheminis).
I hope that everyone has a wonderful week. Hug your two-legged and four-legged friends close.
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.
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.
When 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.
Athena 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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
A cat nap is pretty glorious…
…any way you look at it!
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.
Willow and Spirit becoming friends!
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.
Here he is checking out the structure. “I don’t think so…”
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.
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.
I haven’t seen the donkeys in forever. Jezebel is such a beauty and has the sweetest disposition. And she’s soooo soft.
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.
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.
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!
My sweet, sweet friend Pandy passed away this morning. She had lymphatic cancer which spread through her body. For a number of weeks, she was running around playing, almost a new dog. This last week, she started to go into decline. I was able to say goodbye to her yesterday and she was doing ok when I left Deb’s house. This morning, her decline was rapid. I was unable to be with her during her last moments, but there will be a burial tomorrow and I visited with her when she returned from the vet.
Deb, the wonderful life force that is Winslow Farm, had surgery on Wednesday and has been in the hospital since and was unable to spend Pandy’s last days with her. Considering the grief I am experiencing right now, I can only imagine hers and I am waiting to hug her tomorrow. If anyone is interested in making a donation to Winslow Farm in Pandy’s memory, please contact me. Winslow Farm Animal Sanctuary is an unbelievable place. The animals who are lucky enough to live out their lives there are so well cared for and loved. I can’t imagine my life without Winslow in it.
I’ll miss you and your pine cones, Pandy. I love you so much.