This is one of my favorite shots of the cupola on our barn.
It is a barn that has housed over two centuries of animals, hay and machinery.
It no longer serves that purpose, but it is a beautiful reminder of the agriculture and the people that settled this area of our country.
Willowbrook Farm’s change from a working dairy farm came in the latter part of the 1900’s when the land became more valuable then what farming it would bring in. Today, we have a large vegetable garden, many flower beds and a stable where we board horses. Thus, let me introduce you to the animals that you might see if you come to one of our Barn Sales at Willowbrook Farm this September, October, November or December.
Our longest standing pets came with us upon our move, Skittles and Snickers. Our two cats with grand personalities that are going on 16 years old now. One is an aloof female who scratches on each and every door between the hours of 3:30 and 5:30 every am to be let out. Her brother, the hunter, comes and goes when he pleases bringing us back his catch to show us with pride. Both are integral members of our family and are loved dearly!
photo taken by Brenda Carpenter of Cinnamon
Once here, we slowly acquired a menagerie of furry creatures…some pets and some pests…all of who add to life here at Willowbrook. Our first additions came when we acted on advice from the former owner of the farm. “To keep the grass cut on the island in the middle of the pond, which is accessed by a bridge, we have always kept goats on it.” Thus, we got ourselves two baby goats…Cinnamon and Spice who proceeded to jump into the pond once on the island. Upon surfacing from their submersion, they looked like two Rastafarian braided baby goats. They have not jumped in since. Wether from embarrassment or the fact that they do not like water has not been established.
Cinnamon and Spice have created much adventure on the farm over the six years that they have been here. The farmer we got them from did not alert us to the fact that two unfixed male goats with horns, are a force to be reckoned with. The origins of the terms “ram”, “rammy” and any other variations became quite apparent to us, thus leading us to shield ourselves with metal garbage can lids when bringing them from the barn to the island in the winter and back again. Combined with the lack of warning from the farmer about their “rammy” personalities was the lack of warning from the past owners to be careful when a really bad storm or hurricane comes up the coast. This might lead to a bridge wash out on the island with a stranding of the goats on said island. This event led us to borrow a row boat from a neighbor in which to “row” the food over to the island. This little feat became quite difficult once winter hit, said bridge was not fixed, and the pond began to freeze over. “Okay”, I said to my oldest son, “It is getting too cold and snowy for the goats to be over here anymore. We can walk them over on the hardened ice.” HA! HA! Have you ever seen the movie Bambi? The scene when he hits the ice, spins around in circles, legs splayed apart and hits the snowbank??
Onto Plan B, “Let’s lay out sheets of plywood for them to walk on.” Again, easier said than done. Due to both the immersion in the pond when they were babies and the slip factor they just experienced, it took my son pulling with a leash and pulling their horns while I was pushing from behind with all my might to get them across. Go ahead…just picture it in your mind…the whole process took a good hour and a half.
Along with the goats came two bunnies, Sugar and Cocoa. Yes, there is a reoccurring theme here with the naming of the animals, food, especially sweets! We lost Cocoa after friends who were visiting inadvertently left the bunny cage open. We found Sugar due to the fact that she is…what color do you think? I will never forget running to one of the windows of the house to look out as our youngest was yelling, “It’s the Easter bunny!” Unfortunately, Cocoa was what color do you think?
Never found her. She has since been replaced by a Lion Maned bunny who resides in the aforementioned youngest son’s room who to this day has not been named.
The above mentioned pets did nothing to help our ever increasing flock of geese. In the Spring, when coming back from their winter vacation, they proceeded to wake us every am around 5, whilst partaking in their mating dances, calls, quakes etc. That combined with the sense that we were missing something.. the “Go TO” family pet…the dog, Willow, our fiercely energetic female Border Collie joined the forces and began to herd the heck out of those geese, as well as anything else that moved. I vividly remember saying to my husband, “With the energy that flies around this house on a daily basis, why did we not get a calm little dog who would just lay on the couch and look at me?” Willow, we realized needed a buddy and when Willow was 3 we got Murphy, a puppy, from a Border Collie Rescue Farm. They have become fast friends and fierce protectors of Willowbrook.
When I was 13 years old or so, the dream that almost every little girl has, of owning a pony came true for my sister and I. We learned that having a horse was hard work and the lessons of waking up at 6 am to muck stalls and carry buckets of water out to the barn where the pipes had frozen was not quite what we thought it would be. We loved it though and I have great memories that all stem from those experiences.
When we moved here I thought that it would be incredible to create memories like those for my kids. The only difference is that now…a few years removed from “days of youth and little responsibility,” getting up at 6 am to muck did not quite hold the same appeal when trying to get 5 kids on their assorted buses. Bribing the not so young… youngsters to grab a pitchfork and throw the offending muck in a wheelbarrow also did not quite hold the same appeal. They obviously did not share in my enthusiasm. That coupled with the fact that I rode exactly one time in a year led me to turn our little stable into a boarding experience. So, we rent out stalls and others get to ride and we get to admire the beauty of the horses!
Who could resist these two little faces?
photo by Brenda Carpenter of Mrs. Blick
As I said, we have a furry menagarie of animals that reside here, some pets and some pests. On that note, I will introduce you to our 3 absolutely adorable kittens who arrived here quite by accident. Their mom was a stray who we really think was someone’s beautiful Blue Egyptian, who must have stayed out past curfew and met the tomcat that hangs out in the front field. Lo and behold, she needed to find a comfortable safe place to have her family. So she chose our upper barn, as we were getting ready for our Spring Barn Sale. I addressed this topic in a prior blog where I chronicled working around baby kittens, baby birds falling out of their nests and hungry mamma kittens. Let’s just say it caused quite a bit of chaos! After taking care of the kittens once mamma up and left one day, we grew quite close to them and that is how we came to have 5 cats. Two of which have boys names even though they are girls. Seems like the first vet we took them was a little inaccurate in her assessment of them. Mr. Blick won’t be too scarred for life if he really is a Mrs. will she?
All of our animals have distinct personalities, quite like our children.
Hmmm…which one does this cat resemble?
and this one??
We rounded out the flock of pets this past Spring with some chickens. Notice the lurker in the background? Our grand ideas of “free” ranging quickly turned into trying to prevent the chicks from becoming “free” birds flying to their resting place in the great chicken heaven in the sky. Thus we built Alcatraz #2 to keep all possible intruders out. (Alcatraz #1 surounds the veggie garden, which I am sad to say has had some break ins.)
photo by Brenda Carpenter of the chicks
It seems like almost every day my youngest, who is an animal lover, asks for another pet. I did not even go into his pet turtle and fish that have lived for six years now in his room. I mean, come on! How many of you have had a fish live for six years that your child wins from the school fair? Of course you say, “Yes honey, you can play that game,” knowing full well that they will come home with a baggie ensconced fish and it will live all of 6 days…maybe! Six years??? Have any of you ever cleaned out a turtle tank? I am still trying to convince him that turtle would love to live in the pond with all of his other turtle friends. Every time I bring it up, I am met with the same wail, “But moooommmm, he will freeze when the pond freezes!” I will get another pet when you know what freezes over… or until I meet another pair of needy eyes that are not one of my own.
Thank you for bearing (I am definitely not getting one of those) with me and I truly hope that you can meet in person one of our furry friends in the future!
Until next time~