News and blog
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.
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
Annabelle and Pattilabelle
Annabelle introduced herself to Pearl at the fair! Pearl's response - Got Milk?
My buddy Horace -he fell alseep with his head on the bars after Dee scratched his ears awhile!
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.
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 and his Sheraton dog bed
Getting ready for our morning walk
Solly hanging out on a boardwalk bench
Solomon enjoying the sand in his toes
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Here we have wrapped tin around any tree close enough to the chicken compound for a cat climb the tree and jump over
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.
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
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!
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.
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!
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!
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
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.
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."
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........
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :-)
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.
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!
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?
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!
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.