News and blog

Posted 12/24/2011 4:03am by Sharon Kinsey .

It is that time of year when we reflect on the past year and our life in general.  All of us have things to be thankful for and it is important to focus on those things, no matter how small.  And no matter what hardship you feel you have suffered during the year, rest assured that someone else suffered more.  It's all relative. With that said - here is my thankful list and my prayers for the new year.
 
I am truly blessed to be living the life I dreamed of as a child.  But with the good always comes the bad.  I am thankful that this past year we did not lose a single animal.  That is an accomplishment since the odds of disaster increases with every animal you add to the mix.  But we do have sobering news - God never lets us rest on our laurels for long.  
 
Both Bailey and Bongo were diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) this month.  One would have been bad enough - but two is a head spinner.  Bailey had his leg amputated a week ago and is doing beautifully.  He is such a trooper.  He gets around as if three legs were normal!  We have an appointment with oncology at the end of the month to discuss a followup protocol.  That means chemotherapy.   This is Bailey after his surgery.  
 
 Bailey after surgery
 
Bongo is not a surgery candidate at the moment.  His tumor is on a front leg which is more difficult for a dog - especially a big dog - to deal with.  In addition, he has serious orthopedic issues with both hind legs.  So removing one of his front legs is not a great idea.  So right now we are only able to do radiation therapy which only serves to lessen the pain.  There may be other potential options as we go along - there are new techniques for limb sparing coming along.   He had his first 2 series of treatments and is back in his pasture doing what he loves best - guarding.  If possible, he will live out his days doing his job.  
 
Not one to sit on the sidelines and watch - I am pulling together all the information I can on both western and eastern treatment possibilities.  Diets are being changed  - supplements given and treatments such as acupunture considered.  I will provide period updates.  For now, I am thankful that I have both of my sweet boys still with me and they are enoying a quality life.   Doctors think in terms of prognois but dogs have no sense of time and the fact that a doctor gives them only 4 months to live means little.  They live for as long as they live and are happy for the duration.   Sometimes it is hard to understand God's plan and why things happen.  I am grateful that he is helping me through this - I feel a calmness that seems impossible given the circumstances.  
 
I am also thankful that Jim (dear hubby) is now semi-retired and home with me.  I cannot lie - I was not looking forward to this.   I imagined all sorts of problems.  But I quickly learned that I liked having a full time husband!  To be sure, we have had a few issues to work through - like sharing the bathroom!  But the few issues we face are nothing compared to the joy of being a team again.   To make it even better, Jim is back to swimming (he broke a couple of records in his day) - he is a real inspiration.  
 
This past year my dad remarried and my mom began getting out of the house again.  Our kids and grandkids are all doing well.  Our daughter Kara also remarried this year to a man that only God could have sent.  In fact, except for Jim getting tossed off of Kate this Fall, I can happily say that everyone in our family came through 2011 in fine form.  
 
As far as our animals - we were blessed with the birth of Pearl this year - she is doing beautifully.  We added our 3 fainting goats - Cain, Abel and Barnabas (aka the 3 stooges).  And I added a flock of chickens to the mix.  They are actually laying eggs!   This is our first egg - it is smaller than regular eggs.  But look at the color of the yoke compared to store-bought - and the taste!  We are getting at least one dozen per week now.
 
 
 
 
 
 
This year we were also blessed with a pumpkin bonanza thanks to the folks at Habitat for Humanity who allowed me to take many of the leftover pumpkins after their pumpkin patch fundraiser.  The pigs were in hog heaven for several weeks!
 
 
 
This year I planted a cold weather garden which includes brocolli and cabbage.  I did not know there was such a thing as a cold weather garden!  So much to learn - so little time....... Next year I plan to expand our garden so I can grow more of a variety.  I am thankful that I am learning how to create not just consume.  
 
 
 
 
We are also grateful that this year we were able to add the final outbuilding to our farm - a tool shed.  It keeps the equipment out of the direct elements.  This was on Jim's wish list since we moved here.  Finally - nothing left to build!  I can hardly believe it.  
 
 
 
 
  Last, but absolutely not least, I am eternally grateful for the support and love of our church family.  What a difference being part of such a family makes.  We have many blessings to count this year.  My prayers for next year include continued good health for our family and friends, protection from major weather events, and God's grace to those who need it.   Only God knows what the next year will bring - I only pray that I will continue to have the strength to accept whatever comes.  
 
A very blessed Christmas and New Years to everyone.  Please take time to reach out to someone in need this season.  Remember what the season is about - and it isn't Wal Mart :-)
 
Sharon 
Posted 10/11/2011 9:42am by Sharon Kinsey .

        I never thought I'd make it through this summer.  It started in April and just ended last week!  I pray we will have a nice, long, Fall.

County Fair   

          The most recent big event is the Halifax County Fair which just ended.  This year Ruby and Pearl as wells as Annabelle and Pattilabelle attended.  Pearl was the hands down favorite - but my favorite was a pig I named Horace.  A 600 pound juvenile that purred when you scratched behind his ears.  If you have never heard a pig purr - it is a treat.

Ruby and Pearl at fair 

Ruby and Pearl

Annabelle & Patilabelle at fair 

Annabelle and Pattilabelle

Annabelle meets Pearl 

Annabelle introduced herself to Pearl at the fair! Pearl's response - Got Milk? 

  

 Dee and friend

 My buddy Horace -he fell alseep with his head on the bars after Dee scratched his ears awhile!

 ELI

I realized that I never posted pictures of our third pig recently inherited.  He is a rehome from an elderly woman who could no longer care for him.  No telling how big he will get - looks like he lmay stay pretty small.  Being the late comer - he is going through the hazing period.  Even the chickens are giving him a hard time!  He is a real sweetheart though and we are pleased to have him in our family.

 EliEli

Beach Vacation

          I have been dreaming about going to the beach for the past several years.  So this year, Jim and I decided to spend a weekend at the beach for our 28th wedding anniversary.  We booked an oceanfront room in a nice Inn at Wrightsville Beach in NC.  Then came hurricane Irene.  We thought everything was okay there but 1 week before the scheduled date they called and said they were still repairing damage and cancelled our reservation.  Needless to say - I scrambled to find something.  Ended up booking a hotel in Virginia Beach that allowed dogs - so Solomon came along to chaperone.  He even had his very own Sheraton dog bed! Do you think he slept in it?  Ha!  He was the first in the king size bed when we walked into the room. 

         With the summer we had - the thought of sitting on the beach with a cool breeze blowing and 85 degree water sounded great.  Well, that weekend it was cold, windy and mostly rainy.  Well, I sat on the beach anyway!  We had a great time and Solomon had a blast.  Most people travel with small dogs - I do not think the hotel was prepared for Solomon - the look on the girl at the check in desk was priceless!  Not to mention people in the elevators when we got on.

Solomon in hotel room 

Solomon and his Sheraton dog bed

Solomon at the Beach 

Getting ready for our morning walk

Solomon hanging out 

Solly hanging out on a boardwalk bench

Solomon on beach 

Solomon enjoying the sand in his toes

Sharon & Solly 

Sharon and Solomon braving the cold - and I mean cold!  

The Pumpkin Patch

Our local Habitat for Humanity organization sponsored a pumpkin patch this year.  Last week I took several of the animals and Bailey to join a group of school kids.  Here is Bailey at story time with the kids.  He just fits right in!

Pumpkin PatchBailey at story time 

 

 Chickens

I am loving my chickens!  No eggs yet but I know that will come soon.  I am suspicious that I may have a rooster amongst the group - too early to tell yet.  

chicken1319128398_a089acc64bec.jpg 

My Reunion

Time has a way of catching up with us.  You can only ignore the passing years for so long.  I attended my 40th high school reunion a couple of weeks ago.  Talk about a wake up call!  I've been wearing overalls and muck boots for so long now that I had never really considered what it would take to be presentable for such an event.  Nordstrom's to the rescue! Bought everything I needed the day of the event - it was a close call.  I enjoyed seeing everyoe but I could not wait to get back to the farm.  I can safely say that I am the only one of my graduating class (of 700+) that mucks stalls for a living - and loves it!  Catching up with everyone made me appreciate what God has given me even more.  I do treasure my school friends though. 

Sharon - 40th HS Reunion 

Just so you know that I can clean up! 

 

Take care everyone.  If you want to really make someone's day special -  visit a nursing home!

Sharon 

Posted 7/11/2011 2:00pm by Sharon Kinsey .

I am getting ready to head to Florida for my father's wedding (he's only 81) so I thought I'd send out a quick update before I go.

FORT FLOX 

You've heard of Fort Knox - a facility built to ensure no unauthorized person gets in and that none of the precious gold gets out.  Well, here at Follow Your Dream Farm we have our very own version - Fort Flox.  It is designed to keep my very precious chickens in and any unwanted vermin out.  These measures became necessary after my barn cats held several chicken barbecues and invited their frriends.  I lost 4 birds before I finally decided that I wasn't going to take it any more!  So here are the results (and new pictures of my chicks all grown up!

 The girlsThe girlsJonah and friend

 Here we have wrapped tin around any tree close enough to the chicken compound for a cat climb the tree and jump over

 Ft. Flox

 We have electric fence that runs all around the bottom but we found that the kitties were jumping up on the post and into the compound - so we wired the post as well as the gate with a way to open the gate without getting zapped.  

Ft. Flox  

Here you have a better shot of the gate wiring.  You can also see the hotwire along the bottom of the fence - there are two strands and one strand runs along the top of the fence all the way around

 HFt. Flox

 

 I also wanted you to see the new "in ground swimming hole" we dug for Jonah and Claiare.  Nothing but the best for these girls!  

 

Ft. Flox 

PEARL

 Our baby is growing up sooooo fast!  She is still pure white - I keeping waiting for the spots to appear.  She allows me approach her and scratch her all over.  Once in a while she will take off tearing around the pasture - like she was on loco weed!  She will run around and around - poor Ruby can only stand there and wait until she blows herself out.  People think of donkeys as sort of clunky but when they run - they are every bit as beautiful as a thoroughbred.  

 

 PearlPearl and Ruby

CATS AND MORE CATS

 So you are probably thinking that the last thing I need is another cat - well, maybe but I have another cat.  A beautiful tortious shell kitty was dumped at my friend's house and of course she thought of me!  What are friends for  Well, of course I could not turn her away - she is the sweetest thing.  Well, I tried putting her down at the barn to meet and greet the other residents - one of them immediately tried to kill her so she is now living in my office and slowly getting acquainted with the other felines in the house.  She loves to be hugged and kissed - I plan on using her as a "therapy kitty."

Here's a picture of what I see every morning when I pull open the shade - 9 or 10 cats waiting for me to escort me to the barn.  How thoughtful!

 Miss Kitty

 

 GOLDA

I don't have a picture of it - but Golda managed to snake another dead squirrel away from the cats yesterday.  She waits until they kill it and then she goes and grabs it - she sort of likes to mouth it a little but mostly she likes to just keep it as one of her treasures.  Needless to say, that can't happen and I sent the thing flying over the fence for the kitties to fight over.  Runt almost snatched it in midair!

 REBEKAH

Here is a current picture of our girl from Lousiana - I am waiting for her ID badge and will be taking her to the nusring homes with me - alternating with Bailey and of course Miss Kitty 

 Rebekah0

ANNABELLE AND PATTILABELLE

Well - Patti has decided that she is not ready to grow up.  Caught her trying to nurse Annabelle and Annabelle letting her do it!!!   

I think that is it for now.  Hope your summer is going well and that this finds you and your loved ones healthy and safe.

Keep all those in nursing homes in your prayers please - there are a whole lot of forgotten folks out there.   

Sharon 

Posted 6/19/2011 7:26am by Sharon Kinsey .

       Today was to be D-Day for the chickens - liberation and freedom from the dreary coop.  I felt they were big enough to intimidate most cats and they can now fly short distances.  For some reason I had it in my mind that when I swung open the coop door and yelled "freedom girls!" there would be a mad stampede to get out leaving chicken feet prints all over my face.  How could I be so wrong......

         I opened the door and stepped away.  Nothing.  I called to them.  Nothing.  I tried to shoo them towards the door.  Nothing.  I finally managed to get two out the door but they quickly found their way back in.  The noise inside was deafening.  I could almost imagine what they were squawking to each other..."you go out first - no you go out first - you're bigger than I am - your feathers are longer than mine - you fly better - let's send Flo....she's so dumb she'd do anything."  

         Then the next challenge presented itself - a cat - lurking in back of the coop - checking it out.  We had put chicken wire all around the field fencing to discourage the cats from just crawling through.  Well, I had forgotten about the gate- so I hauled two plywood panels around and secured the gate - no holes.  But the chickens still would not come.

         Even though the chickens had no interest in leaving the coop - Jonah and Claire (the pigs with whom the hens share a playyard) had plenty of incentive to get into the coop - food.....how irrisistable sweet feed is to a pig.  Well, actually, I can't think of too many things that are not irrisistable to a pig when it comes to food.   Jonah calmly walked up the steps and into the coop.  The squeal she let out when I forced her from the chicken feeder and out the door could be heard in the next county I'm sure.   There is a chicken door cut into the big door - but Jonah is a miniature pig and he fits quite nicely through the smaller door albeit with a little grunting.   A redesign is clearly in order. 

         Tomorrow the new chicken watering system goes in - little drinking cups activated by the chickens.  I am tired to changing out their waterer twice a day because they don't mind pooping where they drink.  I now have to find a way to "pig proof" the chicken feed.  If pigs were as stupid as chickens it would be easy - but we are dealing with animals with the mental acuity of a 3-5 year old.  This age group  is ingenious at getting into things they shouldn't.  

        That's it from the farm.

 

Sharon

"Count your blessings every day."

       

Posted 6/9/2011 6:29am by Sharon Kinsey .

   Sometime this am - maybe around 5 or so - Ruby delivered this beautiful bundle - her name is PEARL.  She is so friendly!  Training to begin shortly........

 

Pearl1Pearl2Pearl3Pearl3 

Posted 5/23/2011 11:48am by Sharon Kinsey .

 RUBY
 
The really, really, big news is that Ruby (our white standard donkey) is expecting - maybe in the next couple of months.  We were beginning to think that Dude did not have it in him but he came through.  I am so excited and nervous.  Have started to read up on caring for baby etc.   Will post pictures of Ruby in all her pregnant glory very soon.  If it's a girl (it had better be!) the name will be Pearl - if it is a boy - the name will be Jasper (a very beautiful gemstone).  
 
UPDATE ON JONAH
 
My city slicker friend Rebecca came to visit me in April and after introducing her to Jonah and showing off his neat trick of flopping over on his back for belly rubs - Rebecca had the nerve to tell me that Jonah was a SHE not a HE.  Well, I may not be an expert in pig anatomy but it did not take her long to convince me that she was right.  It does not matter of course - but I suppose she got tired of hearing me refer to her as "him."  I will not change her name.  There is a lady at church whose name is "Jonna" - so Jonah is just fine thank you.   
 
Jonah 
 
CHICKENS, CHICKENS EVERYWHERE!
 
Let's face it, a farm is not really a farm unless you have chickens.  And we now have chickens.  They are Salmon Faverolles - a french breed known for good egg laying and extreme friendliness.  Unbelievable how fast they are growing!  Eggs are in my future.... 
 
Salmon FaverollesSalmon Faverolles 
 
 
EASTER FUN
 
What is Easter without an Easter Bunny.  Guess who?  I got to make a fool of myself twice this year - once at church and again at Woodview Nursing Home - I actually had a good time....
 
 Church Easter Bunny
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Woodview Easter Bunny
 
 
 
SENIOR CITIZENS AND GOATS
 
I love visiting Woodview Nursing Home and I especially enjoy creating smiles when possible.  Periodically, Woodview schedules a patio day where they take a number of the residents to a side patio and engage in some activity.  This time I brought Cain, Abel and Barnabas.  I'm not sure who had more fun - the residents or the goats.   
 
 
 Goats at WoodviewGoats at WoodviewGoats at Woodview
 
 SHEEP SHEARING 2011
 
I was a bit worried we were not going to get it done this year.  It has gotten near impossible to find a shearer - at least where I live.  But someone came through and everyone got their summer coats.  Of course not all were happy about it.  The shearer this year would not trim the hooves so I had to do that. It was not fun - my back and butt still hurt! 
 
 Sheep Shearing 2011
 
 Sheep Shearing 2011
 
 
 
SOME DAYS ARE MORE OF A CHALLENGE THAN OTHERS
 
There is nothing that ruins my day more than when I head to the barn and see that all of the animals from the ewe pasture are out.  This has happened more than once and it is usually my fault for leaving a gate or door open.  This time, however, I am innocent and I'm suspicious of a certain 800 pound cow named Annabelle who can reach over the door.  
 
Anyway - as I approached the barn at 6:30 am today I first noticed Golda out and then the goats.  The sheep and the cows were down the back road a piece.  The sheep were easy - I just held a flake of hay over my head and yelled "sheep, sheep, sheep" (that's the universal sheep call :-))  They all came running and I led them back into the pasture.  Golda went back in with some reservations - after all, she does not often get to walk about the place.  Next I tossed the three goats back in - they are easy - they stick together and they stay where the hay is.  Now for the cows - they don't have halters on so I jumped into my RTV (the one without a windshield - see below) and took off after them.  I got behind them and rode their butts until I got them back close to the pasture gate.  Annabelle is easy - all I needed to do what stick a bowl of sweet feed under her nose and she followed me into the pasture like a puppy.  Pattilabelle is not so easy - she does not like sweet feed - so I jumped back into the RTV and herded her as close as I could to the pasture gate and then shoved her in.   Bongo was not to be found but about 10 minutes later he came sauntering up from the direction of the pond.  He likes his occassional walkabouts.  I thought I had everyone until I spotted two sheep (Leah's twins) in Babe's pasture.  I can't even imagine how they got there - and it took me a good 30 minutes to lure them back to the other side of the barn and into their pasture.    
 
I used to panic when this happened - now I just take a deep breath and start collecting.   
 
GRAPEVINE 1 - SHARON 0
 
I give Jim a hard time because he's just an accident waiting to happen on the farm.  I won't go into all the particulars but there are a number of holes in the sides of our barns that did not get there by themselves.  Then there are the crushed downspouts - oh well- things happen.  It turns out I am not immune to farm mishaps.  As you can see from the photos - my beautiful Kabota RTV no longer has a windshield.  I guess I didn't need one anyway.  Somehow I managed to snag a grape vine (a 100 year old grape vine I should add) as I passed by and it just shattered the windshield.  The view is so much clearer now!  And I don't have to worry about fog or smashed bugs or anything! 
 
 
 Accident
 
 Accident
 
AN UNBELIEVABLE BIRTHDAY PRESENT
 
As some of you know - I am blessed to have two wonderful best friends in my life - Rebecca on the West Coast and Dee here in Virginia.  I love them both more than I can say.  Both have incredible talents.  One of Rebecca's somewhat hidden talents is her artistic ability.  She doesn't talk about it or show it off much but she's incredible.  About two years ago she asked me to send her a plain blue workshirt because she wanted to make me something with my farm animals on it.  I knew she could embroider but I was not prepared for what she gave me when she came to visit in April.  The picture here hardly does it justice and it is only the back.  The front is embroidered as well, as are the cuffs and the collar.  I'm bummed that it is now summer and I cannot wear it 24/7.  This was truly a special gift. 
 
Rebecca's shirt 
 
 A SAD NOTE
 
You may recall the picture I posted of our farm sign which my best friend Dee's husband made me for my birthday last year.  Well - sadly, Paul passed away in April after a year long battle with cancer.  I'm so happy I have the sign to remember him by.  I'm also glad he'll  have an easier time finding the place any time he wants to drop in for a visit :-) We'll miss him.   
 
New Sign 
 
Well - that's all the big stuff.  Obediah (my yearling ram) is suffering from what we think is Polio (the sheep variety) - if he responds to treatment he'll be perfect in a couple of days.  All the other critters are doing well.   
 
I hope everyone had a wonderful Spring and I pray you will have a safe and happy summer.  Keep the notes coming - I love to hear from you.
 
Sharon 
 
Posted 3/15/2011 3:39pm by Sharon Kinsey .

        It has been too long since my last update - sorry - I'm back in school and flailing about trying to get my schedule rearranged.  Lots of excitement around here.
 
 Jonah and Claire
 
         I've always had a soft spot for pigs - especially little ones.  It was time.  Enter Jonah - an adorable pot bellied pig that will top out at around 50 pounds.  You can't help but love him.  I now understand where the expression "eats like a pig" comes from.  When he eats he smacks his lips with such enjoyment!  I think our son Sean used to make those same sounds :-)   
Jonah 
 
Golda and Jonah 
    Golda was a real trooper when I put Jonah in "her" pasture.  Nothing phases her (except anything with wings on it).  I guess she does not have a taste for pork chops.  I originally thought I'd keep Jonah in with the sheep but he was a one pig excavation crew and my pasture started looking like - well - like a pig had been rooting up the grass and dirt!   Plan B - fence off a large area around the chicken coop and get her a friend.  I couldn't very well banish her to the back 40 alone - could I?  Enter Claire.  Claire is a rescue from North Carolina Pig Rescue (they have a rescue for everything these days - I think there is probably a rescue for abused toys...).  Claire is about 3 and full grown.  She is also a pot belly - and she has the belly to prove it.  At first - she had little tolerance for Jonah - Lord knows he needed the snout of a strong female to whip him into shape - and Claire was just the woman to do it.  They both now live comfortably in their new neighborhood.  Oh yes - housing.  Well - I started thinking I needed a lean to or something that they could get out of the weather under.  But - things got a little out of hand - and this is what we ended up with - the Taj Mahal for pigs - they each have their own "apartment" with indoor plumbing and heat lamps soon to be replaced with fans.  There may be some room if anyone thinks their house is nicer than yours :-)  
 
ClaireJonah and ClairePig HousePig House 
 
Rebekah
 
     After Samson left us I never really considered getting another dog.  We were now down to 2 dogs in the house and that seemed about right.  But sometimes God has other plans.  I saw a plea for help on my Livestock Guardian Dog group email - an great pyr in Louisiana who desperately needed to be rehomed.  Why I answered that email only God knows - but I did.  Yes - that's right - she's here.  The first picture is of Rebekah witih Jim when we picked her up in Roanoke (there is a transport service just for rescue dogs!).  The last picture needs an explanation.  Great pyrs are known for being collectors.  They gather stuff and stash it in one place.  This is some of Rebekah's stash.  It changes daily depending on what shoes of mine she can pilfer or perhaps a dirty sock.  What's really funny is that she will put one of her treasures on each of the 3 dog beds we have in the living room and if either Solomon or Bailey even look like they are approaching one of the beds she pounces on them.  For her it is like putting a napkin on a chair to show it is occupied.  She is a riot.  She is very mellow - too mellow with no fear of people. Rebekah will soon become a certified therapy pet for Paws for Friendship Inc. and alternate with Bailey going to the nursing homes with me. 
 
Rebekah and DadRebekahRebekahRebekah's stash 
 
Cain and Abel
 
        So for some reason I got this bug about fainting goats.  They are very cute and yes they do faint when startled.  So I started checking around and we now have two wethers (snipped boys) to join the herd.  Right now they are in their own stall with a small play yard attached.  They are both eating out of my hand and allowing me to scratch and rub them.  In the next couple of days I will attempt to let them join the sheep.  I say attempt because some of my ewes could whoop them pretty good!  And for that matter the cows have a bit of an attitude as well.  If it looks like it will be too dangerous for them in the sheep pasture I will move them in with the pigs.  What - you think that's not fair?  Let me tell you there is not a cleaner animal than the pot belly pig - they could teach everyone else a lesson or two!  They don't poop where they eat or sleep!  I don't want to put them with the other goats because of the donkeys who hate small furry things.    The spotted one is Cain and the other Abel.   The last picture is Shana trying to figure out what the two creatures in the next stall are....
AbelCainAbelCainShana checking out goats Shana checking out goats
 
Pepper and His Guardian
 
      Pepper is the first ram I ever had.  He has sired many beautiful babies.  A year ago Pepper was injured in a "butting battle" with one of the other rams.  They apparently nailed his hip and he has had a limp ever since.  But lately it is getting worse and I fear that the time is drawing near when I will need to allow Pepper to go on to a pain free world.  But he is well taken care of.  Elka stays by his side constantly.  I've seen her chase the other rams away if they seem to be annoying him.  Sometimes she rests her head on him and sometimes he rests his head on her.  I've seen her grooming him.  It is very special.  I know that it will be hard for Elka when he goes.  Elka and Pepper 
 
     Well I think that's it (isn't that enough?)  I'll try to be better about keeping up with this.  I also have a Facebook page for Follow Your Dream Farm if you want to chat.    I leave you with a picture of sunrise and sunset on the farm this past fall.  Sunrise on the FarmSunset on the Farm
Posted 12/28/2010 4:36am by Sharon Kinsey .

         I always thought that stories which started with “It seemed like only yesterday…” were trite but that is how this story starts.  It seems like only yesterday that Samson and Delilah came in our lives.  January 2005 to be exact.  Eight-week-old Newfoundland bundles of fluffy love.  Delilah looked like a black bear cub while Samson with his Landseer black and white markings looked like a fuzzy Oreo cookie. 

            During those first few months our lives were filled with squeaky toys, balls, pull ropes, chew toys and anything else one might find in an overindulgent home.  It was like having twins – two of everything.  At four months, the pups got their final vaccinations, including rabies.  It did not take long to notice not so subtle changes in Sammy’s behavior.  He started to run into anything in his path – furniture, doorframes, and tables.  I guess clumsy is as good a word as any.

Then came the hearing loss.  We suspected a problem because he never woke up when someone entered the room, even if you called his name.  We confirmed our suspicions scientifically by banging two pots together behind his head.  He never flinched.  Soon the seizures started.  Any change in scenery caused him to seizure – which meant anytime he left the house.  We cleared up the major ear infection causing the bilateral deafness and brought his seizures under control with homeopathy.  Sammy never lost his sunny disposition through it all.  But the black cloud over Sammy’s life persisted. 

When Sammy developed a bad limp, no one had to tell us what we were facing this time.  X-rays confirmed not one, but two busted rear knees.  He had a total of three knee surgeries – a primary surgery on each hind leg and then a third “fix it” surgery on one.  These surgeries left Sammy’s knees weak and wobbly but it did not dampen Sammy’s enthusiasm for chasing balls and wrestling with his sister Di.  He moved slower and walked a little off kilter, but you could tell he enjoyed life to the max.

While Sammy was in the hospital for his first surgery, we asked for an MRI due to his seizures.  What they found I never would have predicted.  Sammy had swollen ventricles in his brain, which necessarily put pressure on the various lobes they touched.  In effect, Sammy’s brain was malformed.  At this point, nothing surprised us.  There was nothing they could do about this but it explained many of his later behaviors.  We called him “one of Jerry’s kids”.  Not too bright but oh so lovable and happy.

At this point most people would be thinking – enough already!  What more could possible happen to this dog?  How about a stroke to the spinal cord.  That happened about a year ago.  We did not think his hind legs could be any weaker, but we were wrong.  He spent 2 weeks in a special rehab facility and seemed to improve.  He would later do two more stints in rehab in our efforts to improve his mobility and strength.  All positive results were short lived.

It is now the week before Thanksgiving 2010 and I notice some blood in Sammy’s mouth as well as an external festering sore.  My blood ran cold.  Two years earlier, during the same exact week – Delilah died due to an immune mediate disorder, which caused her own body to attack her blood platelets.  She bled out internally.  She also started with bleeding in her mouth and an external wound.  We could not get Sammy to the hospital fast enough.  Our worst fears were confirmed – IMTP (Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia).  He spent 5 days in ICU and received intense drug therapy and an experimental plasma transfusion in an effort to raise his platelet count from 2,000 to a safe level.  He left the hospital with a platelet count of 65,000 and we had hope. 

From the moment Sammy returned home, his condition deteriorated noticeably.  He lost much of the use of his hind legs and became incontinent.  In the last week, he refused to walk – even to the water bowl.  Our routine was to get him up at various times to change his diaper (a bellyband with incontinence pad), wrap a clean towel around him, and lay him back down.  His appetite never wavered and from the way he ate, you would never know he was sick.  Of course, his appetite always was his strong suit. 

We ordered a special wheelchair for him in hopes that it would give him back some mobility but we never got him to accept it and, in fact, he stopped even using his front legs, which you must use to make the wheelchair go.  It was clear that this would not work.

Jim and I came to the same conclusion almost simultaneously.  It was time.  Sammy was telling us it was time and we had to listen.  There is something about our brain that often refuses to comprehend common sense solutions.  It is the part of the brain that controls our emotions that inhibits our rational brain from functioning well.  Therefore, while my rational side told me it was time to let Sammy go – my emotional side kept screaming “no, no no!”  That side of me screamed all the way to the vet’s office this morning.

Some people say – “it’s only a dog, what’s the big deal…”  For anyone who has ever had a loving canine companion – you know what the big deal is.  Moreover, Sammy, well he was special – not the brightest bulb in the pack but you could not find a better disposition in a dog of any size. 

The drive to the vet’s office this morning was torture.  I wanted to yell at Jim “turn around – we made a mistake!”  But I knew in my heart, there was no mistake.  When we got to the vet, they came and took him in on a stretcher.  We took off his harnesses and special traction boots I had made for him.  Our vet, Kathy Edmunds explained the procedure.  I said my goodbyes and once again thought about ordering them to take Sammy back to the car.  But I did not.  Sammy licked my face as he always did and gave me that dopey look that says, “Hey mom, what’s up?”  I could not stay any longer – I am a confirmed wimp -I admit it but I thought I had done pretty well so far and did not want to push my luck.  Jim stayed with him until he passed over the rainbow bridge. 

I would like to believe that dogs go to heaven or something similar.  Surely, God would not create such wonderful animals and not make provisions for them in the next life.  Wherever he is I know that he and Delilah are reunited and once again running and romping and wrestling with each other.  Goodbye my gentle giant – our lives are forever changed because of you and you will be missed.  

 Samson - 11/10/2004 - 12/27/2010

sSammy-Handsome man

Posted 12/26/2010 1:04pm by Sharon Kinsey .

Well, I've resisted for a long time but could not longer avoid Facebook.  I have a personal page and I also set up a community page for Follow Your Dream Farm.  I will begin to put my photo albums out there.  I will continue to write a blog so not to worry.    Check out the page and I hope to hear from all of my readers more often through FB.

 

Sharon 

Posted 11/16/2010 2:54pm by Sharon Kinsey .

Sheepsicles anyone?  We had our first couple days of frost last week - found a number of the sheep with a coating of ice.  Here are Gracie's twins lightly covered.

 

Sheepsicles 

Lovedove's Prize

Barncats hunt - that's what they do.  Last week I noticed that Golda had something in front of her that she was hiding.  I knew she was trying to hide it because she had her back to the fence which is not normal for her - unless she's hiding something!  That something turned out to be a squirrelsicle - yes a very frozen (dead) squirrel.  Golda has a habit of stealing hunting trophies from the cats.  She doesn't do anything with them really - just collects.  Great Pyrs are collectors.  I've heard stories of owners finding stashes of all types of stuff hidden in or near the barn.  Golda collects dead animals.  Anyway, as I always do, I grabbed the unfortunate critter by the tail and tossed it to angry mob of kitties on the other side of the fence.  It was like a pack of hungry wolves.  Glad the squirrel was dead!  Lovedove ended up with the prize (as he always does) - and I caught him squirreling away his treasure in the carport.

Lovedove's prize 

 Jonah growing up

It is sad that all children must grow up eventually.  My little Jonah is becoming quite the little- well - porker.  Unfortunately, as he grows, so does his temper.  He is still nipping at the heels of the goats and ramrodding the cows - well - their ankles anyway.  Claire is due to show up on Friday - then he'll get what's coming to him.  Nothing like a big mamma to put the little guy in his place.  I can't wait!  The new pig house is under construction - will have pictures next week.  

Jonah 

 I saw something amazing the other day.  Simone was actually nursing her twins!! Now we are talking sheep that were born in April - 8 months old.  Honestly!  If they were boys I might understand - but these are ewes - it would be like a 4 year old still nursing.  I guess some moms just can't let go! Here are the little darlings - I think I see a milk mustache :-)

Simon's ewes 

 

 Bongo and Golda at Play

When I see Bongo and Golda at play it makes me want to laugh and cry.  They are so bonded and happy together.  Bongo is the ultimate big brother and tolerates so much.  I dread the day one of them crosses the rainbow bridge.  It's hard to imagine one without the other.  This is a recent playtime I caught.  Notice that at times Golda appears to be growing out of Bongo's - uh - butt.  He doesn't seem to mind Golda's idea of fun.  

bongo and golda playing

 

bongo and golda playingBongo and Golda playingbongo and golda playing 

 

 Fuzzy Wuzzies

For the first time since I began raising sheep I have watched my barbado dolls and cheviot dolls grow up.  Usually they are are sold as lambs and I rarely get pictures when they are grown.  But thanks to the lousy economy I still have a number of 2010 lambs around and they are wonderful.  Two of my favorite are actually not crosses technically but babydolls.  Gracie is 3/4 babydoll so her offspring are almost full babydolls.  Anyway - these boys are like fuzzy bears.  I love them!  

Gracie's wetherGracie's wetherGracie's wether 

 

The perfect face

Everyone has an idea in their mind of what a "sheep" looks like.  My image always came from Nursery rhyme books.  Well - here is the perfect sheep I think.  It's Elizabeth's wether and he's a babydoll.  Who could resist that face?

Elizabeth's wether 

Bailey the Healer!

Bailey is Halifax County's newest therapy dog.  He is now certified by Paws for Friendship, Inc. and we have been making regular visits to a local nursing home where the residents fawn all over him.  Tough work if you can get it.  Here he is with his official cape on.  He knows he's hot!

Bailey in capeBailey in cape 

 

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.  After the holiday I'll have pictures of grandkids climbing all over the animals!  Be safe and count your blessing.