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Life Lately

[blows dust off keyboard] Well, those were a few busy months!

Okay, part of it has been me, also. Not gonna lie — I just haven’t been in the mood to write lately. Thankfully, that feeling has passed, and I’m ready to start pounding the keys again!

There have been some additions to our eccentric menagerie and it looks like some changes are on the horizon, but all good ones. Working full time jobs in addition to caring for the farm has left us little time to do much of anything else, but we’re learning to love our new lifestyle and are figuring out how to make it all work.

We finally had our housewarming party a few weekends ago and now that that’s out of the way, I’m looking forward to slightly more (however slight that may be!) free time.

So, here’s a recap of life lately:

Anfisa is doing fabulous! She’s a real character and loves, loves, LOVES attention! And watermelon! She goes nuts for it! Her feathers have all grown in and she’s a beautiful, silly girl. We are so happy to have her here with us.

"No, dad, I don't want to take a selfie with you. Gimme some watermelon!!!"

“No, dad, I don’t want to take a selfie with you. If you’re offering watermelon, though, I might reconsider…”

About three weeks after Anfisa’s arrival, we welcomed another chicken, Libby, to our farm. Libby came from the same poultry market as Anfisa did, but she was raised for meat, unlike Anfisa, who was raised to lay eggs. Because her only value was her weight and how “meaty” she was, Libby is huge — probably about three times the size of Anfisa — and because of that, it’s a bit hard for her to get around. The cruel reality for meat birds is that they’re bred to grow to unnaturally large sizes in a very short time, resulting in a plethora of health problems and early death. We realize that Libby will become a victim of her breeding eventually, but for now, she seems happy and healthy and we are doing our best to keep her that way.

Beautiful Libby!

Beautiful Libby!

We now also have three Pekin ducks! We had a few possible duck surrenders in the works, but they never panned out and honestly, we were really bummed that they didn’t. We couldn’t wait to welcome some ducks to the farm, so I contacted a rescue and found an adorable trio of boys who had been found abandoned at a lake and were in need of a permanent, loving home. They’re now known as The Three Stooges and are slowly, but surely, warming up to us. They are simply adorable and so much fun to watch!

The Stooges!

The Stooges!

Penny’s kittens are all grown up! They turned 10 weeks old on Sunday and although adorable, they are the craziest little fluffballs I’ve ever encountered. I don’t think they sleep. Ever. We’ve decided to keep two kittens, along with Penny. (That brings our cat total to five! Yes… we are crazy.) The others will be adopted out and sassy miss Chloe has already gone to her forever home. Sending her on her way was a zillion times harder than I ever imagined it to be. I felt like I was giving away my own kid. She’s in a wonderful home, though, and I’ve gotten lots of updates and photos. She is settling in just fine and I know that she will be adored and spoiled, just as she should be!

big cheese 10 weeks

Big Cheese

chloe 10 weeks

Chloe

james 10 weeks

James (We’re keeping him!)

lil cheese 10 weeks

Little Cheese

mac 10 weeks

Mackenzie aka Mac

sparrow 10 weeks

Sparrow (We’re keeping her, too!)

penny new pic

Mama Penny

We survived that tornado/derecho/storm-pocalypse/whatever-it-was that tore through southern NJ back in June. We lost power for about three days and since our house runs on a well and pump, no power = no water (or flushing toilet!), so it was an interesting few days, to say the least. We were so lucky, though. Many, many people suffered major damage when giant trees came smashing through their homes or toppling onto their cars. Our area was one of the lesser-hit ones and we managed to escape anything major. A few big limbs came down and a section of our pasture fencing (which we needed to replace, anyway) blew over. It could have been so much worse. I now have a renewed respect for Mother Nature and her forces. And a new-found appreciation for electricity! I don’t know how people survived summers back in the days before air conditioning. I had a hard time making it through three days!

An eerie, orange sky after the storm passed.

An eerie, orange sky after the storm passed.

What else?

I’m currently looking to make a career change. I need a job with more predictable hours. Oh, and weekends. Weekends would be fantastic! My commute is grinding on my nerves too, and since we now live in the middle of practically nowhere, it’d be stellar if I could land a work-from-home position. I’d love to get into the non-profit sector, too, since I haven’t been happy in the corporate world in the past and am absolutely dreading having to go back to it. I’m not being too picky, am I? If I have to leave a job I love, I’m trying my damnest to find one I won’t hate. Leads, anyone?

Like I mentioned earlier, we had our farm/housewarming party a few weeks ago and my mom and dad proved (once again) that they’re pretty much the most awesome parents, ever. My mom ordered a few things from Vegan Treats and my dad made the long trek (about 2 hours, each way!) to pick them up! They were a hit at the party, like I knew they would be. That place doesn’t make anything that isn’t knock-your-socks-off delicious!

Lousy pic. Delicious cake! Vanilla sponge cake with lemon-pineapple filling.

Lousy pic. Delicious cake! Vanilla sponge cake with lemon-pineapple filling.

I’ve been getting a lot of  backlash lately about my life choices, my activism and my stance on certain subjects. I try not to let stuff like that get to me, although I’m the type of person who has a hard time letting such things go, and to be truthful, it’s sort of gotten me down. In a weird way, though, it’s also helping to fuel my passions even more and has made me stronger in my convictions. I hope to use some of these experiences as fodder for writing, so be on the lookout for some intense posts in the near future.

I signed up for Farm Sanctuary’s Animal Care Conference in September. I think it will be an awesome opportunity to gain the valuable, hands-on experience that we’ll need to care for the types of animals we hope to have at our own sanctuary, down the road. It’s an intense, 3-day workshop and I’m hoping to come home with the knowledge and confidence to take on more complicated rescues.

Oh, and I’m gearing up for my trip with World Vets! In less than five months, I’ll be headed to Honduras and it’s about time for me to start doing some fundraising to cover my airfare and vaccinations. Has anyone used a crowd-funding site successfully? What are your recommendations?

Well, that’s what’s been up with me. I’ll try not to go so long without at least popping in to say hello, okay? Hope you’ve all been having a fantastic summer!

🙂


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Here’s Your Sign

heres your sign

Have you ever needed a sign from God/the Universe/Fate/whatever you believe in?

I certainly have and this week, I got two of them.

Late Sunday night, I received a Facebook message from a friend of a friend. She’s an animal activist and had participated in a protest earlier that day at a live poultry market in Philly. She managed to save a chicken and wanted to know if we could take her and let her live here at our farm. Of course, I wanted to tell her yes, we could, but inside, I had reservations. This is what I’ve wanted to do all my life — rescue animals — but I still didn’t feel ready. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed about how this whole rescue thing was going to work out and how we’d deal with it — physically, financially and emotionally. I told her I’d have to talk it over with my husband and promised to get back to her in the morning.

Fast forward to the next morning: Anthony walked in the door after his shift and the first thing he says to me is, “Guess what I got stuck driving behind today?”

“A school bus? Garbage truck?,” I guessed.

“No,” he said. “Our worst nightmare.” And my heart sank as he told me about the truckload of chickens that he drove behind for a while until he helplessly watched it pull into a processing plant.

There it was. My sign.

It didn’t matter that we weren’t 100% ready for her — that chicken was meant to be with us! I contacted her rescuer and we arranged to get her here. She arrived that night and soon after, my second sign did, too.

Lovely miss Anfisa!

Lovely miss Anfisa!

This morning I woke up before the sun had even risen. I had a job interview scheduled for 7am and a full day of dog walking after that. Waking up with a major headache should have been my first indication that things were going a bit awry. I took care of all the animals, including our new addition, Anfisa (which means “flower” in Russian), and got myself ready to go. I looked at the clock and cursed as I realized I was running a little late and still had to stop for gas on the way. I loaded up my hands with everything I’d need for the day and out the door I went. Minus my keys. Yep. Locked out with no car keys to get me anywhere.

Damn!!

Anthony wasn’t home, no one close had a key and I didn’t have a spare hidden anywhere in case of an emergency. After losing it for a second, I composed myself and marched right out to the chicken coop, climbed in and sat and chatted with Anfisa until Anthony was able to come let me back in the house. I missed my interview, but you know what, it wasn’t the end of the world. I was able to reschedule. So my morning was crappy — big whoop. It happens. I was able to spend some precious bonding time with Anfisa and I took the events of this morning as a sign that no matter the feelings I’ve been experiencing lately, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be right now.

So, my message to you is this: try not to worry so much and stop trying to figure everything out. Things have an uncanny way of working themselves out in our favor.

Oh, and always be open to the signs that are sent your way!

Do you believe in signs?


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Adventures in Kittenhood

So, two weeks ago, I walked into Penny‘s room and discovered her in the corner, giving birth right there on the floor! (So much for that birthing box…)! It’s been a crazy two weeks full of wonder and worry and change, and I’m still amazed that six beautiful kittens came out of tiny, little Penny. I was betting that she’d have three. Four at the most! I’m in love with each and every one of them and sit and observe them every chance I get. I know they’ll be all grown up before I know it, so I’m trying to cherish the few weeks that we’ll have with them here before it’s time for them to go to their new homes. Here’s a roundup of some photos from their first two weeks:

kittens 1

kittens 2

kittens 3

kittens 4

kittens 5

kittens 6

kittens 7

kittens 8

kittens 9

kittens 10

kittens 11

kittens 12

kittens 13

kittens 14

kittens 15

One week old!

 

kittens 16

kittens 17

kittens 18

kittens 19

kittens 20

kittens 21

kittens 22

kittens 23

kittens 24

kittens 25

Look at those peepers!

 

kittens 26

kittens 27

kittens 28

kittens 29

Two weeks old!

 

kittens 30

kittens 31

kittens 32

kittens 33

kittens 34

 

Stay tuned for more kitten updates! And if you haven’t already, be sure to check out our farm accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more pics as well as news about our farm/sanctuary, Ahimsa Acres!

 

 


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We’re Having A Baby! Or Two… or Three… or Four…!

No, I’m not preggers, but this girl is!:

mama cat

Up until Sunday evening, Penelope — Penny for short and fka “Mama Cat” — was living in the yard of a friend of ours. Penny was obviously pregnant and our friend’s landlord was not too keen on having stray cats on his property, so he said she had to go. We’d initially said we would like to adopt Mama Cat after she had her babies, (I’d been jonesing for another house cat!) but we soon realized that we couldn’t wait that long. She needed to get off that property ASAP. So, with just minimal begging and pleading on my part (Anthony is really softening up, I must say!), we picked her up, set her up in our spare bedroom (now known as “the birthing suite”) and have been enjoying having her here ever since.

penny belly

penny face

penny rubs

We’re already so in love with her. She is one of the sweetest cats I’ve ever met! She’s extremely friendly and loves being pet, especially under her chin. She’s a tiny little lady and she never stops purring. Never! Even when I took her to the vet for an exam. She purred the whole time! Through temperature checks, blood draws and vaccinations!

We think she’ll be giving birth soon, so we’re keeping her safely secluded from our other pets for the time being so that when the time comes, she’ll be able to have her kittens in peace. We have no experience with cat birth, so we’re not quite sure what to expect! The vet said that, for the most part, Penny will take care of everything. We should only have to intervene if there’s a problem. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a smooth delivery and can’t wait to see the babies! We’re planning on adopting out the kittens to loving homes (I am already dreading separating her babies from her 😦 ) but maybe I can schmooze my way into keeping just one… We’ll see!!

Stay tuned for updates and lots of cute baby pics!

Has anyone dealt with cat birth before? What have we gotten ourselves into?!


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Introducing…

sarah joseph collage

Last week, we welcomed our first residents to the farm!

While they weren’t exactly what we expected our first residents to be (we were thinking more along the lines of chickens or goats…), we’re happy that we were able to offer them a home. Sarah and Joseph are semi-feral siblings who were rescued as kittens, but who never quite adjusted to life inside. Their foster family of the last two years was running out of options as to what to do with them and ultimately decided that they’d be happier as outside cats. A mutual friend put us in touch and we offered to let them come here. Honestly, it was a no-brainer for us! (Especially when I found out they were grey cats — they are my absolute fave!!!) They will be our barn cats. Every barn needs one or two of those, right?!

Sarah arrived first and her brother arrived five days later, after he put up quite the fight to be wrangled up and vaccinated. They are still very scared, understandably, and will be spending another week or two safely enclosed in our hay room until they get acclimated, then they will have roam of the farm. They seem to be incredibly timid around people (hence the not-so-great photos) and we haven’t seen them too much (they’re eating, drinking and pooping, though, so I guess all is well!), so I’m not sure what our relationship with them will be like, but we know that sometimes, animals need a lot of time and space to blossom– we’ve seen that transformation with our own cat, Raven — and we’ll give them whatever they need to stay happy, healthy and safe.

We are happy that Sarah and Joseph are here and hope they will enjoy their new lives with us on the farm!

Stay tuned for more updates on Sarah and Joseph and more happenings on the farm!


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Oogy by Larry Levin: A Review

*I wrote and submitted this review for publication, elsewhere, a little while back, but since hearing the sad news of sweet Oogy’s passing last week, I decided to post it here, today. I’m so glad that Oogy’s story has been told. It’s a hard one to wrap your head around, but one that everyone needs to hear.

When I saw Oogy on the shelf at the bookstore, I snatched it up right away. I can’t resist a good animal story. And that face on the cover… I mean… Come. On!! How could I pass it up?!

When Larry Levin, a Philadelphia-area lawyer, walked into his veterinarian’s office with his sick cat twelve years ago, the last thing he expected was to find his new best friend. But that’s exactly what happened and within the pages of Oogy, readers discover just how that friendship came to be.

At just a few months of age, a tiny white puppy with a horrible past soon became the light of the Levin family’s life. Oogy, as he became known, began his life as part of a dog fighting ring. He was used as a bait dog — the dog fighters savagely turned their dogs loose on him for “practice” — and he was left with some horrific injuries to his face. While others had given up on him, Oogy was fortunate enough to end up in a veterinarian’s office who decided to give him a chance at a better life. Odds continued to sway in Oogy’s favor when Levin and his family decided to bring him home. He may have had only half of a face, but the Levin family soon found that his heart was so very full heart and despite his horrible beginnings, he had nothing but love to give.

Oogy went on to serve as an ambassador for animal rescue and the “face” of the horrors of the dogfighting world. Interestingly, Oogy was not a pit bull — the breed of dog most often associated with dog fighting. Instead, Oogy’s ancestry was pinned down to the Dogo Argentino, another breed whose strength and lineage is often exploited. Oogy became quite a celebrity in the dog world. He was a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2008 and he made frequent appearances at events and fundraisers throughout his native Philadelphia area. Everyone who met Oogy fell in love with him. And also with the Levin family for looking past Oogy’s physical deformities and his scary past and giving him the loving life that he so deserved.

Although I didn’t love the writing style of this book (a little too much detail on mundane things for my liking), I did love the story and couldn’t stop turning the pages. It was a quick and easy read and although some parts were a little difficult to read, emotionally, I think it’s an appropriate book for teenagers on up. Oogy’s story is one of hope, love and determination. His transformation is a testament of the power of kindness, love and good, old-fashioned TLC. I think that anyone who loves stories about dogs, stories about animals, or just all-around, feel-good stories will enjoy this book. Pick up a copy for yourself or for someone you love. And give your dog a great big hug, in remembrance of Oogy and everything he represented.



Rest easy, dear Oogy. Your story will always live on…


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Black Cats are For Witches

black cats cartoon

 

Black cats are for witches.

And by witches, I mean “women.”

Or “financially independent persons.”

Or “someone who is married with no children.”

Or “someone who is married with many children.”

Or “someone who has a birthmark.”

Or, well… I think you get it. The list of reasons that would classify someone as a witch (in 1692, at least) are just about as bogus as the belief that black cats bring bad luck or that they’re somehow connected to witchcraft or devil-worship.

The truth is, black cats are the same as grey cats, orange cats, calico cats, tabby cats and even bald cats. Cats are cats. Sadly though, a lot of people let their superstitious sides take over, causing them to shy away from black cats (and black dogs, too) when choosing a new pet. It’s called Black Dog (or Cat) Syndrome and it’s a real thing.

And a serious thing.

A life or death thing. Black dogs and cats are often the longest residents in shelters and rescue groups which means — yep, you guessed it — they’re usually the first to be euthanized to make space. All because of the color of their fur. Come on, people, are we really still thinking with such narrow-mindedness in today’s day in age? I don’t get it.

Black cats make great pets. I have one of my own and while I admit I’ve been completely and utterly spellbound by her beauty, feisty personality and silky fur, she has not cast any evil upon me. Well, you know… Not anything above and beyond the usual jerkiness that felines tend to exude.

So, here’s a challenge for you all. The next time you’re looking to add a new furry member to the family, go to your local animal shelter and ask to see the black cats first. Or the black dogs. I dare you not to fall in love with one of them.

Oh, but Halloween is next week, so you’d better wait until mid-November since shelters are leery to adopt out black cats too close to Halloween since apparently, some sickos try to adopt black cats near Halloween and then torture them or use them in ritual sacrifices. Nice, huh? I can’t stand people, most of the time sometimes!

black cat auditions

 

Who has loved a black cat?! Tell me about him/her!