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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
And then there’s Gully. Always Gully. Even cute with hay on his face.
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.
Here’s Athena ignoring me…
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!!