Farm Life, Petunia the Pitbull

Recent Happenings

It’s been a few weeks so I should update you on the goings on in my world. First, let’s start with a little Tuna love, shall we…

Tuna Luv
Top left moving clockwise: * Tuna is enjoying the new hat Ling Ling knitted me. She actually slept with it on because she was cold and it was keeping her ears warm. * She’s diligently waiting by the stove for me to finish cooking her pancakes. * This is what I wake up to in the morning: just some tail, maybe a bit of muzzle and feet. * I made her model a new shirt. It all looks better on her.

Petunia is the best companion I could ever ask for. This winter has been rough on both of us but her especially. Walks have been few and far between due to her rather hairless nature and the freezing temps. I have a few coats for her but they don’t cover her extremities and her naked undercarriage is completely exposed. (I blame grandma Ling Ling for not knitting her that sweater I’ve been requesting.) She’s been a good sport about being cooped up though. She’s a pooper and a trooper!

I’m trying to figure out where I left off with this blog without looking back…because that would be cheating. The last time we met I was interviewing for the Programs Manager job at the animal sanctuary. Well, after two uncomfortable interviews, I was informed that I didn’t get the job. To say that I felt heartbroken, defeated, vulnerable and frustrated over the rejection was an understatement. Luckily, I had planned for such a letdown and as soon as I was informed of my fate, within minutes I had accepted the field biology position in Yellowstone. It will be double the hours, more pay and a lot more physically rigorous but the financial cushion will provide me with choices and opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I can take the money and buy a camper or start a store or who knows. Plus, it will give me two months of exciting fodder for this here blog. So you, my loyal reader, can rest assured knowing that there will be more embarrassing field stories to come.

I miss the farm terribly but my supervisor assured me that I was welcome to visit whenever I wanted. I have yet to take her up on the offer though. Strangely enough, of all the amazing animals I was lucky enough to work with, I miss one particular horse the most. They are one of the few creatures I’m completely terrified of but yes, when I close my eyes and think of that place, Beyond’s soulful eyes are what I see first. Please take a tour in April and send all my animal friends some love from me. I’ve been enjoying Erin’s Barn Briefs as they have kept me up to date on all the goings on with the animals. I would highly advise reading this blog post from her because it talks about how Hannah the sheep has been coping since Lambert’s death and also the recent restructuring of the endearingly menacing Goon Squad. Sounds like exciting times.

Latest thoughts and projects
Clockwise from top left: * A delicious bottle of wine made by my bud Justin paired with some locally handmade chocolates to celebrate the end of the interview process. It’s taken me 37 years to finally decide that I actually like chocolate. Strange, I know. * A mixed media piece that I completed using natural objects and a photograph I’ve taken. This prototype is perhaps the shape of things to come for me. * All this downsizing has got me tiny house dreaming. Maybe there is a camper in my future after all. * Just a portion of the stuff I’m getting rid of. My entire kitchen table is overflowing onto the floor with garage sale items. I can’t wait till it’s all gone because it’s driving me nuts; Messing with my feng shooie.

For the first entire week after leaving the farm all I did was sleep. I’ve never been so exhausted in my life. And I’ve been eating…lots. I think I’ve gained all the weight back that I lost which is a bummer but winter pudge is not completely unwelcome. I’ll lose it all once I can get back outside anyway. The weeks following have been all about making soap (which will be addressed in my next post), finding someone to take over my lease, packing up my things, getting rid of most of my possessions, and watching Battlestar Galactica.

Trying to find someone to rent my apartment has been another eye opener for me. These are dreadfully, dark and desperate times. I’ve had folks contact me that want to squeeze their entire family into my studio apartment because that’s all they can afford; mothers living in battered women’s shelters; a woman who has a kid very sick with lead poisoning from a previous living situation; many with bad credit; one with bad credit because her husband took away her kids and she had to use credit cards to pay for a failed custody attempt; most are on public assistance; many are disabled in one way or another; one works for IBM and is terrified of being laid off like many of his former coworkers; the reality goes on and on. These are tough times my friends. Be lucky for what you have because there are people just scraping by with much less.

Today, I’m enjoying my last dregs of downtime. Tomorrow I rent a cargo van and attempt to shoehorn all my belongings into it. Then it’s off to Cortland to unpack it all. Moving completely sucks but as it stands right now, most of my furniture and probably more than half of my belongings are going either to the Salvation Army or being sold in a few upcoming garage sales. I get high off of getting rid of stuff. Each item that leaves my possession is like a tiny burden being lifted. I’ve always felt this way. Most people enjoy accumulating but I’m the exact opposite. I entered the world loathing clutter. I remember as a young child cleaning out the drawers of the dinning room hutch for enjoyment. (These cleaning sprees led me to throw away important documents such as the title for the family car. Oops!) Shopping is right up there on my list of loathings. Most of my possessions are things that were given to me instead of intentionally purchased. Someday, I hope to just own the clothes on my back and walk the world.

These are bittersweet times for me but I remain optimistic. I love this area and my nearby friends but I know that moving away means moving forward. I’ve enjoyed many years of good times in the Hudson Valley but I’m also haunted by dark times and soured friendships. There’s nothing I’d like more than to put that all behind me. So much of me wants to hold on but I’ve just got to let it all go. It’s for the best.

Enough of this serious stuff. Here’s some selfie shame:

selfie shame
Clockwise starting at top left: This was a photo that I was going to send to my mother to prove that I didn’t dress like a “hay seed” for the interview. I looked very nice but was completely unable to convey that in a selfie. * I kept trying to photograph the new hat my mother knitted for me but couldn’t figure out where the camera lense was located on my tablet so I cracked up. I still don’t know where the lense is. I’m convinced it’s invisible. * Saying goodbye to the mustaches on my bathroom mirrors. Wilford Brimley stache, I’ll miss you the most. * A decent photo of Ling Ling’s newest creation. It actually fits my head which is a minor miracle. (Still can’t find that lense so I have no idea where to look.)

Farm Life, Making Crafty Magic

My cat-like reflexes vs. the sheep from hell.

socks and flip flops
It’s high fashion here all the way.

Greetings from the snowy depths of Connelly, New York! These back-to-back winter storms picked the perfect time to pummel us: my two days off! That suits me just fine since there’s nothing I hate more than driving in bad weather. I did however get the most awesome tires put on my car a few days ago–they cut through snow like a hot knife through butter–but still I’d rather be warm indoors instead of cold and wet working outside. Sadly, work is coming too soon. Weekends are just an awful tease sometimes.

Before I forget, I have an update on the fox that was found slumbering in the barn. A rehabber took it and instead of rabies (people seemingly jump to that conclusion about every sick/injured wild animal) it had a severe case of mange, which was treatable. I’m so relieved there was a happy ending because there was some mention of having the police come out to shoot it. Craziness!

Work was work. I wish I could tell you that my body has grown accustomed to it but that’s not the case at all. I’m still sore: from my fingers to my toes. I have a kick-ass shin splint that makes it so I have to hobble along. I naturally waddle as it is so adding a hobble to my waddle probably looks very special, to say the least. Still, it’s gotten a little easier. My feed runs are going smoother and I’m getting faster which pleases everyone. I’m becoming more comfortable working around horses but that’s probably because I’m now terrified of roosters AND sheep. Good gracious my whole world is turning upside down!

cows, goats and gators
Clockwise starting at the top left: The calves tasting the gator.; Caleb the cow enjoying his hay. I think we’re related because he has the Hazard chin.; The calves just chillin’ out.; Playing got your nose with Mr. Tumnus.

On Monday they sent me in to clean Briggs & Stratton’s stall. These are two of the most fearsome, loathsome sheep you’ll ever want to meet. They are cute on the outside but pure evil on the inside. I always want to think animals and people have good intentions but that’s soooo not the case with these two. They warned me right from my very first day to just stay the heck away from them because they don’t like people. I guess they enjoy luring visitors by looking really cute and friendly and as soon as you reach in to pet them they ram your fingers and hands into the metal gate. Knowing this, I was not thrilled to go in with them. However, they armed me with a large water cooler jug and told me to hit them on the head if they came near me. I thought that was pretty cool, in a sick way. I mean, how often do you get permission to actually hit something on the head by your employer? Never! So I looked at it as a potential stress-reliever/challenge.

Well, my optimism didn’t last long. Ten minutes went by of them leaving me alone and then Stratton cornered me in their stall, head butted the water jug right out of my hand sending it flying into the yard, and all I could do was dodge his full-force ramming. I was terrified. I grabbed him by both of his horns, spun him around and kicked his butt out the door. I was hoping this would deter him but instead this made him even angrier and more persistent. Meanwhile, Briggs was sneaking up behind me in the hopes of ramming me from behind. They were working together with the goal being to pummel me to death. I did what I could to artfully dodge them while I made my way to the gator to radio for backup. While Alex was coming I waited in the gator–which has no doors and the windshield was completely covered in snow–I had no idea where they were as they each circled around me like hungry sharks. Every few seconds one would appear and charge into the gator to ram me and I’d have to quickly jump to the other seat and jump back because the other one would immediately do the same from the other side.

When Alex finally got there all he did was yell at me to do something or I would never get out of there. I had no idea what to do. Eventually, they walked over to him standing at the fence-line with the intentions of luring him into a hand pounding. This gave me a window of opportunity to drive the gator out. Then Alex demonstrated how he deterred them which consisted of seriously pounding on them with the water jug. I guess I just wasn’t aggressive enough, even in the face of being hurt. I truly believe that beating up on anything, especially an animal, is wrong (which it is) so I felt bad for having to hit a sheep–even if my attempts didn’t even phase him. (Please note that sheep–because they ram one another–have extremely thick skulls, so no amount of smacking with a water jug will ever result in seriously harming one.) Still, it just felt like I was perpetuating some sort of vicious cycle.

I’m sure my work would not appreciate me telling you all this but there’s an important lesson here. Animals aren’t stupid. When they start their lives being abused, they learn that humans aren’t to be trusted and they act accordingly. Briggs & Stratton were rescued from a canned hunt operation so there’s a good chance they were mistreated. With that being said, the Catskill Animal Sanctuary is truly a sanctuary for all animals and I admire them for accepting those two demon-seeds for who they are and just letting them live out their days in peace.  Just because they’re not lovable doesn’t mean they’re not deserving.

Now that you know all that, I encourage you to watch this video of Briggs & Stratton and laugh along with me. I like their captions and their cut-aways. As soon as you see the footage cut away, the person behind the camera was probably mauled!

petunia the pitbull, fantasy book, natural art
Clockwise from top left: Petunia sleeping in.; Some of my shells and feathers getting ready to transform into art.; Tome of the Undergates…great read! I can’t suggest it enough!; Some of my photos transfered to canvas, sorting my shell collection and figuring out how I’m going to mix these medias.

Aside from that unpleasantness, all is very well. I’m even managing to get some artsy fartsy work done here on the home front. I have tons of shells, horseshoe crab tails, crab shells, invasive water chestnuts, acorns, nuts and feathers lying around that really need to be put to good use so I’m incorporating them into art pieces. I’ll keep you posted on what I come up with.

water chestnut art piece

Farm Life

My life on the farm

Farm chore list.
These are my duties for the day. By “sheaths” she means clean horse penis. Yup, I had to take a photo of that. This is my life and I’m actually enjoying it! What does that say about my mental health? Don’t answer that!

Welcome to the freezing arctic tundra of New York! Good gracious, it’s cold!

It’s been a little while since I checked in but I have a decent excuse…I hope. I’ve actually been itching to write every day for the last few weeks but I wanted to overhaul my blog before I went ahead and posted anything else. I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about switching up the blogs without losing readers so I needed some time to ponder the best course of action. Yesterday, I was able to combine my two blogs and hopefully those that may have been lost in the shuffle will somehow find their way back.

Regardless, I need to catch you up. On Monday, I finished my second full week of work at the animal sanctuary. So far, so good, but man do I hurt. It’s physically painful and there are some moments when I can’t help but wonder if I’m strong enough to efficiently do my job. All of my co-workers say that I’m doing great but I have my doubts. However, the pluses definitely, by far, outweigh the minuses. I work outside (which is usually great except for working in 2 degree temps which I did today), I have no desk or office, I’m never sitting, I can cancel my gym membership, I usually only work with three other people, all of my co-workers are absolutely wonderful, I hang out with animals all day, there’s no drama, the days go by fast, I know what’s expected of me, a professional chef cooks the staff vegan meals on a semi-regular basis, I get cruelty-free eggs and wool, and it’s straightforward, uncomplicated work. It’s everything I’ve always wanted so I can’t complain. Not one bit. In fact, I’ve never felt happier. And yes, in my spare time, I’ve been doing a lot of sewing, quilting, and overall tinkering. I’m so much more productive and imaginative when my livelihood doesn’t depend on what I’m creating. It’s really taken the pressure off and I have a feeling that my crafts will flourish because of it.

Here are some farm photos for you to enjoy:

Mr. Tumnus and the rest of the goats.
The goats specialize in unzipping my coat and eating my clipboard.

Cows and vehicles

cows

Chickens
The roosters orchestrate the perfect single-file assembly line for health checks & glove heists.

farm injuries

And I know you’ve seen the following photo of Lambert laying an egg, but I just wanted to report that Lambert died today. We are all very, very sad, especially his lady-love Hannah. We’re not sure why he died. It was all extremely sudden seeing as though he was a mere, seemingly healthy, 1.5 years old. He’s going to Cornell tomorrow for a necropsy, which will hopefully tell us more. He was a part of the beloved Goon Squad which roams the farm wreaking glorious havoc. He was a wonderful character and will be missed by all. We brought his body back to the farm to let the rest of the Goon Squad and Hannah say goodbye. They each lined up to sniff him and pay their respects. Each one walked away with their heads hanging and wandered off for a little alone time. Hannah didn’t know what to think and seemed reluctant to approach him. To date, she has outlived three partners so she is, sadly, no stranger to loss. RIP Lambert.

sheep

Farm Life

Some animal goofs

I need to start taking more photos of the goofballs that I work with at the farm. All of the animals have so much personality and many are allowed to roam free around the barnyard during the day. This means that they’re constantly underfoot and being naughty, but I enjoy every moment. For the record, let me just say that I’ve forgotten how crazy and awesome goats are! They’re sooooo mischievous. If they weren’t so darn cute they’d be completely loathsome!

sensa the goat
This is Sensa, who, with the rest of The Goon Squad jumps into the back of my truck as soon as I pull up to the barn. They’ll eat everything and anything that isn’t tied down. They’re so naughty…and strong. Once they have their mind and stomaches set on something it’s almost impossible to tear them away from it.
2014-01-11 10.46.49
This is my beloved Stencil, the ringleader of The Goon Squad. He’s looking….looking for trouble! He and Arthur went through my car and proceeded to eat my lunch when my back was turned.
cows
Here are a few of the cows I care for. The one on the far right is Helen. She’s an old lady and blind to boot, however, her taste buds work just fine. She get’s a little overzealous when it comes to food and will knock anyone over who stands in the way of fresh hay. Who could blame her though? Hay is apparently very delicious (not as much as mushy bananas though).
turkeys
Here are some of the turkeys. I’m not sure they’re loving the weather but they hang with us just the same. They’re sweet and friendly and will happily chat with you about any and all things.
2014-01-10 13.23.36
And the sheep laid and egg…or so it seems. I had to get a photo of Lambert and the stray egg. What perfect placement and timing.
tired farm worker
There’s nothing quite like a hay facial! Geeze, just looking at this person makes me tired. This is what I look like at the end of the day…and then I stop at the gas station…and then to the grocery store…yup, I pretty much go out looking like this. And yes, I am very ripe. I’m not sure this look is going to get me a husband (or a date for that matter) anytime soon. Oh well, c’est la vie.