Here are a couple of my favorite moments at the sanctuary this last week.
Tag Archives: animal photography
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 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!
Dear Pandy has lymphatic cancer. Due to the cold weather, the dogs were often in Deb’s house during my visits and I chalked up not seeing her pretty face to this. A few Sundays ago, she bounded up to me, pine cone in mouth and we played a rousing game of fetch. She leaned into my hugs a bit harder and I figured that she just missed me as much as I missed her.
Right before I left, I was chatting with Deb about my excitement over seeing Pandy and she broke the news to me. The gentle dog had been on her deathbed for two weeks with a grim assessment. But then, all of a sudden, with a little help from Prednisone, her energy returned. Defying all odds, not only was she up and about, she was running around. Watching her closely (she was at my feet while I talked to Deb) I noticed that a change had definitely occurred in her. The extra hugs I thought I was imaging were in fact an actual response from her. Obviously, I don’t think she’s having conscious thoughts about a near death experience, but something has changed in her.
This last visit, I checked in with Deb and she said that during Pandy’s most recent appointment, the vet said the cancer had spread throughout her body. Her energy levels haven’t changed and Deb reported that she’d been active all day and was just resting at that point in the house, but that we all know that Pandy’s time is limited.
I went into the house to sit with her for a while. At first, Freedom tried to hog my time but even she sensed that she should hang back. Different cats kept trying to pile onto my lap and when I became distracted, Pandy reached out with her paw and touched my arm redirecting my attention. She’d never done anything like this before. I gave her lots of hugs and thought a lot about how much I love her. She smelled like the campfire, like the farm, like life.
I don’t know how much time I have left with this beautiful creature but I’ll cherish every moment that remains. If she wants to run after pinecones, that’s what we’ll do. If she wants hugs, they’re hers.
Hold your four-legged and two-legged friends a little closer this week.
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!
Gully is all about breaking out of his pen when I bring hay through to put over into Spirit’s area. This week, however, I was a bit behind on getting his food prepared (made even longer by the fact that I took photos of this) and he decided to go right to the food source.
“Oh, hey there!”
“Soon the grain will be mine!”
Don’t forget to join Gully and me on the farm on Sunday afternoons (@mindingtheminis). Have a great week!
What a joy it was this week to be there as late as 6:15 and it was still light out! I love spring so much. No more snow storms, please! I’ve already broken the top off of two plastic shovels at home since I haven’t gotten it into my head that you can’t step on the top of them.
I spent most of the time enjoying the great weather and hanging out with the animals. Dan, an amazing kid who’s essentially Deb’s number two, witnessed Athena rush me for treats. “Wow, she really comes right up to you,” he commented. I was proud of both Athena and myself at that moment.
Here are my favorite photographs of the day:
The always elegant Spirit
Delilah looking super innocent perched on a fence post.
And this snorty snout belongs to Miss Willow!
I hope everyone has a wonderful week! Don’t forget to follow on me on Twitter (twitter.com/mindingtheminis) if you’d like to experience Winslow with me on Sunday afternoons.
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.
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??)
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!)
These guys were busy chowing down on the snow.
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.
And then it was time to head to my barn.
No words, just beauty. (above and below)
Not to be outdone, Athena wanted to show off her pretty eyes (and to be the final image of the post!).
Willow, the adorable new pig at Winslow Farm was found on the side of 495 as a piglet. She probably fell off a truck and was destined to be a pig meant for consumption. This would have meant she would have lived in horrible conditions as she waited for slaughter. Willow’s been living at the Animal League Shelter in Dedham while they looked for her owner (who never came forward) and then a potential adopter. She’s about six or seven months now and is about a quarter size that’s she’s going to be when she’s grown. She’s going to be bigger than Waterford who weighs about 800 pounds!
She is super friendly. I went into her pen and she immediately came up to me. She made the cutest snortiest noises that you can hear here. And she spent the entire time looking for food, most of which was spent with her nose firmly attached to the ground chomping away at whatever she could dig up. She also jumps up like a dog (which I discouraged but also found out after it means that she’s trying to mount me, so that was interesting).
Here she is. What a beauty! (I can’t believe how big she’s going to be!)
It was hard to get a clear shot of her since she spent the entire time I was with her rooting around for food. Look at that pretty smile!
I think she was checking out Waterford here. The plan is for them to be best buddies. In the spring, Deb hopes to knock the wall down that separates them. They’re already getting friendly with each other (and yes, she’s spayed and he’s neutered.)
And because she spent the entire time looking for food, it’s only fitting to have a photo of her with her snout buried deep in a feed bucket.
What a precious face!