Category Archives: cats

Best Buddies?

Today when I went in for my weekly lovefest, I found Niko in Gulliver’s pen. I pet her for a while as Gully finished eating and then he turned around to face us. Niko was on my lap and Gully reached down and took a bite of her hair. As she cried out in pain, I said, “No, Gulliver! We don’t chew on our friends!”

For a while we sat there and I doled out the pets to both of them. I took a few flash photos and Gully protested by jumping off of the landing and stood outside the pen staring at me. Was I ever happy when he came back over (with significant pleading on my part, of course) and leaned his head back in the mix.

Oh, Mondays, how I love you.

Flash!

“No, thank you.”

PS ~ Sometimes Gully makes purring noises. I know, right?

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Filed under behavior, cats, goats, gulliver, humor, photography, winslow farm

Rain, rain, rain.

The last two weeks have been all about rain. I’ve spent much of the time dashing around from barn to barn, waiting for the drops to stop and hiding out in the big barn. Since there’s not much to say about the rain, here are a few pics.

Sudden downpour…

that lasts forever…

All the animals are driven inside. Most are far enough away from the rain. Not Miss Athena, though.

Little Bailey, sopping wet.

Captain Oblivious chomps away at his hay.

And just as quickly, the storm is gone.

Back to the grind.

Buddies!

Kitty in a box!

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Filed under athena, cats, goats, gulliver, horses, sheep, spirit, 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

Oh, the plumage!

After I was done at the barn on Monday, I stopped in to see the turkey. He apparently has lice or another invasive bug and a volunteer had caught it. But I could always see the little buggies crawling all over his head during our visits, so I’m assuming that someone went in for kisses. He had been sprayed down so his colors looked duller than usual. He looked a little sadder too, which made resisting my urge to pick him up and hug him even tougher. But I still pet him and purelled right afterwards like usual. While I sat with him, I could see one of the peacocks from the donkey barn standing outside the little house staring at the birds inside. I think it was a mixture of strutting his stuff to show up the two peacocks and a little “hey, there” to the peahen. I left the birds and wandered outside to the geese.

Ah, the geese. They are, by far, the loudest animals on the farm. They stand around squawking at absolutely everything. Giant arguments full of big bodies and little heads waddling around in fury. Their conversation style is right up my alley so after being shouted at I yell, “HI!” back. They’ll run up to me, expecting me to flee and when I don’t, they veer away really quickly. I decided it was high time we became friends. So, I squatted down and probably because of the new height difference, I was approached and contemplated face to face. Geese have VERY intense stares. One hand motion and a bitey reaction back though and I made the decision to be great friends without petting.

I moved to sit on a short barrel – as squatting is not a long distance activity – and as the goose sat in front of me staring and staring and staring at me, I noticed that off in the distance the peacock had decided it was high time to show off his beauty. I don’t remember ever having seen a peacock with plumage flared in person. I was far away and it still looked big. But what I thought was even better was when he’d turn his body and show his hind-feathers. They’re tan and black and the backside of each looming feather was plain and ordinary. What an exquisite dichotomy!

In every photo of a peacock I’ve ever seen, it shows the larger than life plumage swarming with radiant colors. And all of the sudden, I get a glimpse of the other side and I’m left just as astounded. The idea that this bird swells with pride showing off all this crazy color and instead of giving a 360 view of these punch-you-in-the-face blues and shimmery greens, turn him around and all of the sudden he becomes his ugly duckling ancestor. I’m so fascinated by this! Is the rooster snickering behind his back thinking, “who does this jerk think he is?” Does the peahen go, “He is SO HOT!” only to change her tune when he turns around by mistake? And his backside is large and fluffy! Flip him around and you see a skinny little neck! Of course I know there are biological reasons behind all of this that I haven’t delved into yet, but wow! What a cool discovery!

These pics of the peacock were taken from my far away perch with the goose, but I just had to get some images of it. He’s definitely going to be an interesting subject in the upcoming months.

It’s hard to see that the back of each long feather isn’t colored because of the blues seeping through, but try to imagine it all dark brown from the tan feathers up. He showed his feathers by turning back and forth for about ten minutes and then he folded them in one fell swoop and it was back to business as usual.

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This one was taken from the barrel so he was right at my knees. While squatting, he was even closer to my face. I was tempted so many times to pet him, but the foreboding chomp fest held me back.

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This is a common site at the farm, as of late: flaming piles o’ doody.

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I’m sure that all of these photos of Athena look exactly alike, but this is my favorite yet!

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It’s hard to see his troubled side when looking at his sweet, sweet face.

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Somebody found a snack! And look at those awesome nostrils, flared with the exciting smell of a found treasure.

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Roof Kitty! Surveying the scene. Ready to Pounce. Merowr.

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Filed under athena, cats, geese, horses, humor, lunar, peacocks, photography, sheep, spirit, turkey, winslow farm

Another beautiful day on the farm

I have mostly photos to share today. The only big thing that happened off camera was that Lunar was super agitated about food. She even went after Niko! Watching this giant animal chasing a small cat certainly was an experience.

I was greeted this week by Wizard the wonderful pug. He’s not usually outside of Deb’s house when I’m there so it was really nice to spend a few minutes with him. And how adorable is his blue sweater??

While cleaning the back corral, I looked over and saw Waterford basking in the sunlight in his pen. All throughout the winter, once he finished eating, he went right back into his little house. It was nice not only to see him outside but also to see the smile on his sleeping face.

I snuck up on him trying not to wake him but it turns out that I probably could have banged pots by his head and he wouldn’t have stirred.

This is Edwin. He followed me around all afternoon and was so affectionate. He climbed in with the alpacas after me and they were very curious about him. They kept trying to sniff him, but he kept running away. Later, another cat friend named Maddy joined us but even though all Edwin wanted was to be best friends with him, Maddy started stalking him and trying to take swipes.

Edwin appreciating the sunshine.

Who can resist this face?

Have I mentioned Gulliver before? No?

True love.

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Filed under cats, dogs, goats, gulliver, horses, photography, piggies, waterford, winslow farm

First day of spring calls for snow?

Well, it didn’t dampen my spirits at the farm. I went about my duties in the barn and as I was about to leave, I saw that Gulliver was sitting in his pen. While I usually find him lounging in the big barn, I’ve never seen him lie down after a meal. And even though I’d already given him extra hugs time when I picked him up earlier, I decided it was in my best interest to sit down on the dirty floor. Sure, there were Gulliver pellets and dirty hay scattered about but I’m almost positive that I didn’t sit on any… And then I gave him the most giant hugs ever! Full body smooshes! He showed his appreciation by burping the whole time. I’m not sure I can possibly explain how happy this made me. When my legs were sufficiently asleep, I finally dragged myself off the ground. He stayed seated until Niko coughed and he hopped up looking worried. Cute AND caring. What a guy!

On my way to visit the turkey, I stopped off at the water pump to rinse my hands of Gulliver dirt. While rinsing, a pheasant popped up in front of me. This beautifully feathered guy had been restricted to a very large cage because he’d attacked a few people with his sharp talons and pointy beak. He’s been out on good behavior for about a month but I’ve never come into contact with him. It turns out that he likes me. A lot. He’s super friendly and he didn’t once try to maim me with either set of weapons.

And then I was off to the bird house. While the turkey courted me, clucked at me, and received pets, I watched a bored duck wander around the room. Around and around he went until he walked up to a black rooster and bit him on the butt. The rooster reacted by shrieking in surprise. I’m sure my raucous laughter ruffled a few feathers but I couldn’t help it. Hilarious!

This sheep was checking out the scene in the cat house while I was in it.

Followed this guy in slow circles for three minutes to get a picture of his sad wings.

This is Cotton. He says, “hi!!”

This is the friendly pheasant. Look at that plumage!

Love, love, love.

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Filed under cats, geese, goats, gulliver, humor, pheasant, photography, sheep, turkey, winslow farm

Hoping for the Best

It seems that I may have been fabricating a friendship between Lunar and Spirit when in actuality Spirit is pretty mean to Lunar. Since I hadn’t witnessed it firsthand, I was naively attributing kinship when I’d watch them walking around the corral together. But because of his food aggression issues, he lashes out at her.

I finally witnessed his attitude on Monday after Deb put him inside the back corral to separate the two horses. She wanted them apart earlier than usual to avoid conflict. Apparently, he’s getting worse. At this point, they were separated by the thick wood that divides the front area where Athena stays at night and the back of the barn. There is a door in the low wall that allows people and animals to pass through. Unfortunately though, horses have long necks that can reach far over this wall. As I went about my preparations, Spirit became more anxious about getting food. Whenever Lunar got too close, he’d lunge at her and bite her, sometime successful, sometimes not. My experience with correcting animals comes from doing it to dogs, using the guttural growl to dominate them. I’m not sure what the proper correction is for a horse, but this strategy worked on him.

I put him in his pen with no problem and fed him first. Then I made a mistake. Instead of bringing Lunar around the barn, I just opened the door in the low wall to let her through. From that entrance, I can access each of the pens through side doors. Putting Lunar in her pen is an easy task unless an angry horse thinks his food – that’s behind a thick barrier – needs protecting. Spirit started kicking at her through his walls and tried to bite her, neighing loudly. Lunar panicked and began to fling herself around. The space, though bigger than either of their pens, is still awkwardly small when an animal as large is in a frenzy. She was facing away from me, i.e. easier to kick me with if so inclined. Getting past my nerves, I calmly turned her around while Spirit continued to act out and successfully got Lunar into her pen.

I feel terrible that someone in Spirit’s past turned him like this, and that even though his new(ish) surroundings are idyllic, he can’t let this angst go. Someone used food as a way to control him or punish him (possibly withholding it in response to behavior or simply not feeding him with regularity or some other messed up reason) and his brain is forever connected to that insecurity. As long as there is food in his life, which obviously is going to be forever, he’s going to respond with difficulty. And I also feel sorry for Lunar. After being with a moody but calm blind horse, I can only imagine the feelings of confusion that Spirit stirs in her.

Here are some cheery pics from the day.

May I introduce the Welcome Wagon from the big barn that often greets me?

Claudius AND a rabbit buddy! I get really excited when I see a rabbit. This one’s even got a carrot!

In the Cat House…

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Filed under behavior, bunnies, cats, horses, lunar, photography, spirit, swan, 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.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

List of Loves

A collection of little things about my little ones that grab my heart:

I love how loudly Quinny purrs. It’s in stereo.

I love when Tabitha covers her face while she sleeps. And how she lets out those glorious teeny cat sighs that cause instantaneous melting when she stretches.

I love that Milo grooms everyone, even though it usually leads to cat punches from the others, but often ends up with hugs as well.

I love that Piper eats things like green beans and bananas and comes running down from upstairs when he hears an opening peel.

I love that when Quinny gets spooked, his entire tail puffs out to about three times its original size. His hackles are turbo charged.

I love when Milo takes cuddle naps with me. He’s persistent about getting under my arm just…like…so.

I love that if one of the cats is coughing up a hairball, the others will crowd around them with curiosity and that Tabitha will stick her nose in their face.

I love being greeted in the middle of the night by a needy Piper. He reserves this rare affection only for this time frame. I get to hold him for a few minutes while he purrs and clings to me.

I love that Quinny is an expert at playing catch and it’s even better when all I can see are his pinned back ears and saucer eyes looming over the end of the couch in anticipation.

I love that Milo will bite his own tail any time I present it to him. I know he doesn’t love this but I appreciate him putting up my laughter, because come on, it’s hilarious.

I love getting a (rare, of course) day time head butt from Piper. He uses a lot of force to let me know that he really means it.

I love how much time Tabitha spends in objects that weren’t intended for cat visitors, like boxes and bags.

I love that when I need a cat on my lap, Milo is always there.

I love that Piper is the largest out of the four, by a substantial amount, and yet he releases only the tiniest of cries, and only with a lot of coaxing.

I love that his sister Tabitha is half his size and has the loudest meow of all. She’s also the best conversationalist.

I love the way Quinny bumps his butt against me to tell me he loves me. It’s his little dance move, delightfully accented by the way he pauses right before he does it.

I love watching the cats kiss hello, especially if one is sitting on the couch and the other has to reach up on hind legs to do so.

I love when I go up to the bedroom and find all four cats piled on top of each other.

I love it even more when they make a little space for me.

A few stolen moments…

 

 

 

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Filed under cats, photography

Lunar’s Day

I had my first scare at the farm today. A few minutes into meal time, Lunar started coughing. Big chokey coughs. I’ve seen my share of cats and dogs eat too quickly and bring it back up (unfortunately, I’ve also seen many of them eat it back up as well), so I waited her out. I figured that since she’s a big animal, the process might take longer. After about five minutes, I went to tell Deb. She told me that it’s called “choke” and although scary to watch, there’s nothing to be done about it. [“Choke” is typically caused by horses eating too quickly which causes partially chewed food to clump together and stick to the esophagus. And then the horse coughs excessively to try and dislodge it.]

I went back and (this is going to get gross for some for a bit here, apologies), she’d started vomiting out her nose. I let this go on for a bit longer and went in search of Deb again, who said that it’s part of it and it’ll pass. So I went back to poor Lunar who was standing stock still with her head close to the ground gagging; liquid dripping from her nose.

Nobody likes to throw up. And usually, it happens and it’s done and the sweat starts to recede and the chills fade. But here she was doing it every minute or so. I felt awful for her. I tried to get her to drink a bit of water but she’d just stand there. And then a bit later she’d either nose-vomit or gag through a hacking cough again. Her head, usually held up high and proud, remained level with her body in a defeated stance.

I know that when I don’t feel well, a soothing hand on my back helps. Since her back was covered by a coat, I started long strokes down her neck. She responded by moving to face me and head-butting me for more. I focused on her neck and her forehead, the spot right under the tuft of hair in the front. I’d pet and scratch away. And she’d let me know that she wanted me to continue by pushing her head into me. I grabbed some tissues and cleaned her nose periodically. I stood by her as she worked through the spells, petting her as much as I could. And it was arctic out today, like way closer to zero than 32-two pairs of pants and five layers-frigid. The tips of my fingers were frozen and as I stood there, I had a moment of “I have to get inside” and then I looked at Lunar, all sad and yucky feeling, and I stopped feeling the cold. We stood together for at least a half hour, alternating between her fits and my caresses. And while I know feeling good was a far off place for her at the moment, I am confident that I got her that much closer to better by offering a loving hand and soothing words.

I learned a few things tonight.

One) Horses shed a lot. My black coat is white.

Two) Horses can’t vomit so when something needs to come back up, it exits through the nose, which, really, is just the worst way possible for something to make its way out again.

Three) Big giant animals appreciate comforting just as much as we do when they’re sick.

“Choke” is a serious condition and can end a horse’s life. One at Winslow had to be put down after she got a potato lodged in her throat. Deb believes that the reason Lunar was given to her was because of the condition, which the owners clearly did not inform her of when they brought her. It gives me comfort that she’s somewhere where it will be handled with care when it happens and not looked at as a defect or a hassle or a reason to give up on her. She’s safe from that now.

Highlights From Today:

Walking behind Gulliver, whose jacket had come undone, and watching him awkwardly try to kick the strap loose or back up his leg while it stayed firm. Thinking that it would be an easy fix and then watching Deb chase him around his pen trying to put it back on. Hilarious.

Pandy and Wizard were waiting with bubbling anticipation for Mom (Deb) to come back but both still gave me super excited greetings when I climbed over the fence instead. Looking back at Wizard’s black pug silhouette on the white snow as he sat watching her was also noteworthy.

Watching a black duck take a ferocious bath in a huge (FREEZING!) water bucket.

Spirit decided that instead of going into his pen, even though Lunar had just gone into hers, he would stand right behind me and bury his head in my hat.

Putting a bunch of hay on Delilah to cover her completely. I wasn’t sure that she was actually still under there when I took the picture, as it was a good amount of time later, until I opened a can of cat food and she rushed out, looking part scarecrow.

Watching the alpacas play the most delightful game of tag. Here are some grainy pics to show off just how lovely and interesting looking they are.

And of course, I wish that Lunar did not have to have the day she did or that she ever has to suffer through it again, but I am glad that I was there to comfort her and that she wanted me to. Here is her beautiful sad face.

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Filed under behavior, cats, dogs, ducks, goats, horses, lunar, photography, sheep, winslow farm