our Sweet Haven Family
Leonard is our two-year-old guardian dog. She takes her job as caretaker very seriously and does a great job of watching out for the cats and chickens and goats. She performs regular patrols of the acreage and alerts us to any suspicious animals, including coyote, possum, skunk, mink, vultures, hawks, and often, sparrows.
Rory is our oldest animal family member and has been with us fourteen years. She spends her days moving from one cozy napping spot to another, making sure to evenly distribute litter and hair throughout the house.
Miss Lilly has been with us for about a year and was being given away because she “didn’t get along with the other goats” on the farm where she lived. And her feet were bad. For many years, she lived with a donkey and was neglected, and the story was she has the temperament of a donkey. I connected with Lilly immediately and find her to be very sweet-tempered and gentle. Lilly’s exact age is unknown, but we believe she is an older girl, perhaps around 10 years old. (Goats can live to be 15-18 years.) With regular trimming, her hooves have improved and her limp is much better than when she came.
Plum Pudding, Gingersnap, Pumpkin Pie, Peach Pit, and Apricot Crumble
Named by Nettie (who has a sweet tooth, can you tell?), these brothers were discovered in the fall of 2018, on and around our acreage. We believe they were led away from a nearby farmstead by a mother cat. At the time, they were small, just at weaning age. We are unsure if they are actual siblings or from different litters, but they get along well and spend their days romping around and getting into mischief. At night, they are collected and shut in their “kitty coop,” where we know they’ll be safe. All the boys are neutered, because although there is nothing sweeter than a baby kitty, we believe the best thing for cats (and mice and birds) is population control.
Emily, Charlotte, Anne, and Branwell ; -)
Yes, named after the Bronte siblings… I couldn’t resist. These four older girls came to us last summer. It took a while to figure chickens out - our first time caring for a “prey” animal. They have different behaviors than cats or dogs, or goats, for sure. Chickens are full of personality and lots of fun. I love to look out and see them pecking around in the orchard. Emily (the largest Sussex - black and white), is the head of the flock, Jane (slightly smaller Sussex) follows her around, Charlotte (the little black hen) does her own thing, and Branwell (the Rhode Island Red) is usually not exactly sure what’s going on.
Little Miss Elsa came to us as a companion to Lilly. The story was that they were friends, and Elsa just happened to be a sterile nanny, so like Lilly, of no use to the farm. You know the adage that “goats will eat anything?” Well, Elsa has taught us that is completely untrue. Elsa has very particular tastes and prefers apples and carrots but will turn her nose up at zucchini, peas, pears, and a host of other produce items. After her afternoon treat, she races around the pen and leaps and rebounds off the fence and generally makes her presence known, while Lilly tries to stay out of the way.
Bibi is our little wonder cat. She wandered onto my parent’s place seven or eight years ago, and at the time, seemed completely feral. It took many months of feeding her and talking to her from a distance, to get close enough to pet her. Slowly, she has become quite tame and enjoys being petted and held, but she remains very fearful of the indoors and hates to be shut in. We give her freedom to come and go, and last summer, she disappeared for a full two weeks. We thought we had lost her, but she returned seemingly unhurt and went on with her routine as though nothing had happened. She has adjusted (fairly graciously) to life with the kittens and she and Leonard sleep together at night.
Tru (miniature donkey)
Our newest family member, Tru, came to us from a nearby farm in spring of 2019. Her owners felt they didn’t have enough grazing pasture for her and had not been able to take care of her hooves, which had been left untrimmed for many years. She has been foundered, which is something that happens to donkeys when they are allowed too much food. Donkeys evolved on a very meager diet, and that typically means that pasture grazing is not good for them. We were able to find a farrier who reshaped her hooves and we will try to keep her at a healthy weight so that she can stay healthy and mobile. Tru has brought our little animal family together, and is very sweet-tempered and affectionate.