Moose River Farm Blog

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Growing Up Donkey

     Good Morning,
     Its been a long time since I have written anything about our donkeys Bing and Frankie.  It's probably because they have been sequestered as constant companions for our geriatric gelding, Sandi, (Winnies of Change and Seeing-eye Donkeys).  Since Sandi's euthanasia three weeks ago, the donks have been released from baby-sitting duties so they can pursue other interests.  
     At first they appeared a bit lost.  They seemed to wonder where their leader was.  Why wasn't he joining them at the hay pile or eating his grain while they savored their cookies?  The donks weren't necessarily depressed, just quiet.  They fell out of the normal routine for a few days.  Eventually, they rallied and ventured back to the carefree existence they had enjoyed before being recruited as herdmates for Sandi.
     While deep snow concealed the grass and confined the donkeys to the barnyard, they were granted freedom to roam and play.  It is a pleasure, (that I've sorely missed), to walk with them in the woods and to watch their sprightly antics.  
     Presently, many animals at MRF are entering the aging zone after living long, full lives.  Each one requires special consideration in terms of maintenance and health care.  I must acknowledge their limitations after the many years they went out of their way to please me.  It's difficult to accept that our days together are dwindling.  
     Donkey youth reminds me that watching animals grow up is a joy. There is no escaping the inevitable at the end of life.  However, if it is lived long and purposeful with strands of love and respect binding us is so worth it.  

When they arrived in December, 2012...
...Bing and Frankie were only 5 and 7 months old, (respectively).
They found their way around Moose River Farm...
...and into our hearts.
  Neutering was necessary to gentle them... 
 ...but did not diminish their playful spirit.
Now they are in the process of losing baby teeth.  Frankie has many teeth pushing their way into his adulthood.
Frankie wears an expression that suggests wisdom...or is that because of his ears?
Bing's velvety muzzle....
...conceals significant coming of age transition.

Although I celebrate their new found freedom, I am indebted to Bing and Frankie for providing authentic and necessary companionship to Sandi in the last years of his life.  

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter Bunny Auditions

        Happy Easter,
     Trying to maintain a sense of humor is a bit difficult today considering an inch of snow has accumulated on the deck!  Word has it that the Easter Bunny might skip his annual spring visit to the Adirondacks on account of the weather.  Unlike Santa Claus, Bunny's visit is a celebration of all things new, reborn....and green.  Like PunxsutawneyPhil of Groundhog Day fame, extended unseasonable conditions only frighten the lily-livered lagamorph, (google it!) back into his lair.  
     Have no fear!  Some of the residents at Moose River Farm have stepped up to take the rabbit's place in the event of a no-show tomorrow.  Of course there has to be an audition to assure that only the perfect vernal hare replacement is selected.   When word spread through out the farm, the animals hopped into action, eager to show off their best impressions of the beloved bunny.  Turns out once a set of auditory antennae are fastened in place, just about anybody with fur can carry the disguise!  
     You, dear readers, can lend the North Country a hand.  Carefully, look through the photographs below and choose the best holiday cottontail contestant.  Leave a comment here on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter and share with your friends and family.  You will help MRF save Easter in the Adirondacks! 
Although there have been sightings, the Easter Bunny might not be able to perform his annual vernal duties...on account of all the snow lingering in the Adirondacks.
The chickens are out of the contest; putting on bunny ears when already an iconic Easter image is quite frankly....beneath them.
Don't recognize this Easter Bunny? Its Fiona the potbelly pig!  Warning; a vote for Fiona might be a vote for Easter baskets void of candy. 

Liam wears the ears so well, two pictures of him have been posted.
A handsome Easter Bunny, indeed.
Spirit might be a good choice; galloping hooves will get the job done quickly and efficiently.
Tango might be a good choice too; he would have kept the ears on all day if there weren't others waiting to audition.
Ben will make a very serious Easter Bunny!  If that is important to you, by all means vote for him.
Careful, cute doesn't always get the job done!

Here is another entry worthy of two photos....
Perhaps Easau is a serious contender.
Perhaps there are two Easter Bunnies this year.  Bing and Frankie only work as a pair.  Their contract requires this.
 Frankie was trying to have his portrait taken, but River photo-bombed him.  Remember keep cute in perspective, no matter how cute! matter how cute!
Maybe three is a good number of bunnies.  If this is the winning team, another set of bunny ears will have to be shipped....overnight!

Monday, March 23, 2015

I Love Lacey

     Good Morning,
     This week is the third anniversary of my blog.  In three years I have written and published 152 posts about life at Moose River Farm.  I hope you will help me celebrate by sharing your favorite posts, stories, animals, videos or photos from the blog.  Just copy and paste the url or web address from your favorite MRF blog page and paste it as your status on social media, (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc...).  It will help broaden the audience to other readers who love animals.  Thanks everybody!   
     Today marks the official first day of spring break, 2015.  The bitter weather of the last three months has once again limited quality time with my animals.  I am looking forward to spending two weeks in good company while tending to their springtime maintenance.  We have all survived another brutal winter; the third in a row!
     Just about every night this February, the temperature dropped into double digits below 0.  The horses spent the month bundled up in blankets; more for protection against biting wind.  Our chickens live in climate controlled comfort of their heated coop that rarely drops below 10 degrees.  Liam, our enormous, handsome Boer goat, sprouts a layer of cashmere under his shiny chestnut coat that rivals the highest quality down parkas for climbing Mt. Everest.  I do not worry about him at all; he can take the cold, perhaps even luxuriates in it.  But Lacey, our thirteen year old Nubian doe is not as robust.  She does not appear to produce a significant quality or quantity of cashmere compared to the winters of her youth.  Although she is in relatively good health, her top coat is long and sparse.  Needless to say she is a considerable worry for me in extremely cold weather.  The only additional defense I can provide for her is a layering system of blankets.  One blanket; when the temperature remains above 10 degrees, two blankets when the temperature dips below 0, and three blankets when the temperature dips below -15 degrees.  Many a night, Lacey wore the latter combination but even that was not enough to insulate my concern for her well being.
     I still tossed and turned in bed worrying as the trees cracked and groaned in the plummeting temperature.  I wondered how low it had to drop before Lacey's body suffered consequences from the cold.  How much could she endure?  Yet, every morning when I stuck my head over her stall door, anticipating the worst, she was there gazing up at me; her head extending out from a puffy array of thermal protection.  Despite the frost that clung to her muzzle, she always bleated a strong greeting.  Then, she sucked down her grain and filled up on hay.  
     I left her stall door open all day so she could choose where she wanted to be.  Later in the morning Lacey was usually standing in front of the barn, soaking up sunshine that flooded the driveway, particularly after the coldest of nights.  Her half-closed eyes and permanent smiley expression seemed to suggest that she held no grudge against mother nature's harsh conditions this year.  Not certain that I share her this sentiment.  However, I am grateful that Lacey has survived.  I join her as we look forward into the guaranteed return of warmer weather and am hopeful that we will celebrate many more years in our future together.  

     Bundle up my sweet girl!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

I Love the Nightlife!

      Good Evening,
      I believe it is safe to say that most Adirondack residents are anxious for winter to peel away its arctic landscape and reveal life giving signs of spring.  In the meantime, I continue to search for tokens of real progress and hope with all my might that spring break, (only one week from now), will wear the title justly. 
     We may think of winter as the frosty six month penalty paid for the shady green summers we revere.  Images void of much in terms of vitality lead us to believe a lifeless earth is frozen in deep slumber.  This is simply not true!  Due to dysfunctional sleeping habits, I am privy to an abundance of nocturnal activity.  Coyotes howl and yip in the woods that border our barnyard.  A barred owl surveys a menu of prey from the high barren branch of a hardy maple tree.  His signature hoot, (hoo, hoo, hoo cooks for you), pierces the nippy night air.  These sights and sounds of life at the end of winter help us hang on just a little bit longer.  About now we begin to wonder; what if the vernal trend is a no show this year?  Spring would surely not disappoint us would it?  To never has.   

A snowshoe hare keeps a low profile in winter white.

Note the temperature at 6:00 a.m.
Flying squirrel yearlings raid the bird feeder at midnight.
The siblings stick close together.
Love the details of their "wings" and large nocturnal eyes.
The 24 hour buffet!
Our game camera keeps us entertained during winter doldrums...
....while providing a glimpse into the lives of some of our neighbors.  (year: 2009)
 A grouse strolls the path.
Wow, a bobcat makes a mysterious appearance.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Special Needs; Part II

Good Morning,
My friend Vicky’s three special needs cats were the popular subject of last week’s post, (Special Needs, Part I).  Many readers tuned in to learn about these three felines who have grown into loving family members despite physical, emotional and mental disabilities.  Vicky’s menagerie is not limited to cats.  In addition to feline residents, there are three other four legged family members in Vicky's life.  
A saucy Schnoodle, (Schnauzer/Poodle cross), named Cricket arrived eight years ago. Vicky bought the tiny terrier puppy from a backyard breeder.  In hindsight she feels that such a purchase feeds the puppy mill cycle; keeping it fueled for generations of puppies to come.  Regardless, Cricket is a cherished creature who uses her terrier tenacity to protect Fern when Timber’s and Woody’s actions are interpreted as threatening.  It is a perfect example of standing up for what is right and assuring a loved one that she is safe.
    Several years ago, Vicky found herself in need of something to fill the hole that empty nest syndrome bores into a mother’s spirit.  Her two boys, Matt and Michael had excelled through high school, college and graduate school.  They were busy establishing careers, traveling the globe and keeping their eyes peeled for every potential opportunity in between.  Although Vicky was happy for her boys’ success, she mourned the end of the phase of their lives that had included her parental guidance.  Therefore, she had a special need to fill the space within her that had been gouged out after the boys transitioned into adulthood.  The void was eventually filled by a fifteen hand black and white pinto gelding named Tango.  After responding to a horse for sale ad about him, Vicky drove to St. Johnsville to inspect the potential prospect.  Impressed by his calm nature, Vicky immediately felt comfortable around the solid compact horse while working with him on the ground.  Eventually, she tacked him up for a test ride.
“He almost killed me!” she exclaimed in summary of the initial jaunt.  “While out on the road he stopped and refused to get out of the way of moving cars.  It was terrifying.”
    Once they returned safely to the barn, Tango dropped his head into Vicky’s arms obliterating the entire traumatic experience.  Now, five years after Vicky bought him, Tango is a dependable trail horse who accommodates all levels of riders.  The stocky paint is also a calming influence for the special needs of anxious horses who may lack confidence out in the woods alone; away from the protective safety of the herd.  Vicky’s black and white steed loves to jump and gallop cross-country.  Lately, he has been challenging young students as a lesson horse.  Tango’s quiet attributes have allowed Vicky to attempt some fearless feats that include standing on his back, riding him backwards and thwarting his desire to grab the bit and charge back to his stall!   Needless to say the part of Vicky’s heart that was depleted after her sons grew up has now been filled by the relationship that she has established with dear Tango.
    “I think I am going to take a road trip tomorrow to in Queens, New York!”  Vicky admonished the day after Christmas.  
    Although Queens is a five hour drive south of the Adirondacks, the trip was one that Vicky had been considering for several weeks.  Waiting there at the end of the long journey, was a tiny miniature foal, only nine months old.  For some time, Vicky had been entertaining the thought of acquiring a miniature horse.  Numerous correspondences with the caregiver of this little one made quite an impression on Vicky.  Although she inquired about other available minis, Vicky’s thoughts always returned to the baby in Queens. Like an itch that one can’t seem to scratch, Vicky felt compelled to bring the foal back to the Adirondacks. And so...she did. 
River is in the initial training stage of, hopefully, becoming a therapy horse. In the future, she and River will possibly visit nursing homes, hospitals and any other locations where the mini-horse's charming repertoire of tricks and social engagement will bring a smile to those with special needs.

Baby Cricket in need of a loving home....
....grew into a sweet companion with terrier tenacity.
 Tango filled a special need for Vicky.
 Trusted trail horse indeed.
Tango provides challenging lessons in horsemanship.
 River is in training.... that someday he will inspire those with special needs.