News

Star Gazing Farm will be opening its doors to the public during the holiday season!  Please plan on coming out to the farm to meet the farm animals, enjoy hot cider and cookies, and browse through our amazing gift shop chock-a-block full of new handcrafted items, perfect for gift giving.  And for those of you who prefer to go with intangible gifts, we offer animal sponsorship gift packages that warm the cockles of any animal lover’s heart!

Special!! SANTA CLAUS WILL BE AT THE FARM on December 20 ready to hear your last minute gift requests and give you a good belly laugh.

We have beautiful rugs, hand-spun and hand-knitted scarves, hats, and gloves, sachets, jams, hand-woven baskets, and more!
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Our beloved Bello, a 20 year old Dutch Warmblood horse (gelding) is ill! Below is a slideshow documenting the current treatment he is undergoing. In brief, he has a severely enlarged bladder which has led to very bad incontinence. Our local veterinarian has been out on many occasions, and despite treatments, the problems have persisted. So on Friday, October 31, we transported Bello to the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg for tests and, as it turns out, a quite thorough lavage of his bladder. He will need followup treatment and a return visit to the hospital in 11 days. His prognosis is guarded, but the happy news is that no actual stones were found – only a great deal of sludge buildup.

Our local equine veterinarian has has been wonderful and he determined this problem was, in fact, a rare condition and needed hospital treatment – he then put us in touch with a specialist at the Leesburg hospital, and this man was truly impressive as was his whole team. The level of competence, caring, and really good communication amongst the team members was a joy to see, even if the visit itself was not joyful. We’re so grateful for the scientific professionals who help our beloved animals.

After 2 weeks of daily treatment by our local vet Dr. Lewis (an infusion of acetic acid via catheter), we returned on November 13 to Leesburg and had another lavage – a great deal of sabulous debris was extracted, but there is still a mass that has not broken up, so we will repeat this procedure and return in 3 weeks for another lavage.  Once again, the staff at the hospital were all just amazing.

 

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    Joey the goat thinks he might want to go along with Bello to the hospital
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    The initial consultation took place in a huge hall with lots of formidable equipment.
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    The vet sedated Bello and then gave him a place to rest his heavy head.
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    They shaved his sides and performed an ultrasound on Bello's kidneys to make sure there were no stones in the kidneys. There were not!
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    There was a large team of extremely friendly veterinarians and techs to help.
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    Walking down the great halls to the lavage room.
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    Before Dr. Lewis started treating Bello, he had a really bad urine scald on his sheath and prepuce. Through careful cleaning and oiling we have been able to heal this up significantly. This photo was taken prior to the cleaning treatment.
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    This photo was taken at the farm before hospital treatment - sludge!
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    This was a long process. They used a certain type of fluid to flush Bello's bladder, and then drained out the bladder little by little. Here you see the fluid bag while Del holds Bello's head.
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    They get the endoscope ready; however, Dr. Sullins (the primary bladder specialist) determined that he could better feel the bladder by hand - the endoscope would only provide a top view. So this particular piece of scary-looking equipment was not used.
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    This was the essence of the process. Dr. Sullins was literally feeling the bladder and the catheter with his hands while the other vet manipulated the catheter, alternating sending fluid up to break up the sludge, and then vacuuming it out through a suction tube. It took over 2 hours.
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    At one point a piece of rubbery sludge about 3 inches long popped out. Everyone thought it was fascinating (but gross). Good to get it out of there!
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    Free at last, Bello enjoys a much cleaner bladder and some fresh air. He will need 10 days of infusion via catheter, and then another visit to the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center immediately thereafter.
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    Our vet came out today to do the infusion, and Jean-Claude, as always, was a concerned onlooker.
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    The volunteers helped the vet fill the syringes that were then put into Bello's bladder.
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    Dr. Lewis was very pleased with Bello's improvement!
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    Maia then took Bello for a walk to make sure the liquid sloshed around well in his bladder (per the hospital's instructions).
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    Second visit to the Leesburg hospital on November 13. The surgeon custom built a suction mechanism to better get the junk sucked out of the bladder (using a shop vac!!)
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    Vets and techs hook up the mechanism to the catheter.
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    Dr. Sullins gets the endoscope ready.
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    Endoscope passed up directly into the bladder shows living color views of what is going on - fascinating and instructive.
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    A nice bath after all that!
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    And a walk with some green grass to nibble on.
Barn layout plans with flexible fencing/gate models.

Barn layout plans with flexible fencing/gate models.

kimiko-before-afterWe realized this year when we took in Kimiko, the terribly abused sheep who needed to be given intensive rehabilitation care for over 3 weeks, that we truly needed another space for the large animals to include an additional hospitalization area.  Such a barn had been under consideration for some time, but Kimiko’s needs brought the situation to the forefront!

A great deal of work has now gone into the building of the new barn at Star Gazing Farm.  Currently we have one two-barn stall and a small infirmary area, and so our ability to take in and treat large animals is limited by this space.

The model for our new barn; we will be making some changes to it to fit our animals' needs.

The model for our new barn; we will be making some changes to it to fit our animals’ needs.

We have selected a modest barn with a flexible design so that spaces can be left open or gated, according to need. Additionally, this barn will include a headgate for our oxen Rocky and Bullwinkle so that they can be safely examined, given vaccinations, and have their hooves trimmed. They weigh approximatley 2,500 pounds and so the structure needs to be sturdy!

Much of the work in building a beautiful new building is not glamorous!  We had a professional grader come to trench to place new water lines (to both side pastures), and electric lines to the barn.  He built up the pad and graded everything according to specification.

At the same time, an Eagle scout troop has offered to donate and refurbish a small building that we can use as our welcome center and so our grader David also prepared this pad at the same time.  Please check out our slideshow to see the progress we have made.

We are very grateful for all the financial support given by so many people towards this project!  We are, sadly, still a few dollars short.  Won’t you consider helping us get this barn up before winter hits hard?  Thank you!!

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    The trenching was initially pretty scary - a lot of ground opened up, so that we could run water lines to new hydrants.
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    Drainage pipes were also put in to alleviate the runoff problems we have had in the past in our pastures.
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    Running the water and electric lines from the house to the new barn site.
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    Lots of pretty cool heavy equipment!
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    Initial prepartion of the pad for the buildings.
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    The finished, graded pads
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    Detail of barn pad site.
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    New frost-free water hydrant
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    Some driveway grading done at the same time!

We offer community service learning hours to young people in the Montgomery County school system! Volunteers must be at least 11 years of age.  Volunteer Application Form.
Frequently asked questions about volunteering, visiting, and more