News

In accordance with Governor Hogan’s stay at home order issued March 30, 2020, the farm is closed to the public until further notice.  So sorry!

It’s gorgeous. It looks, smells, and feels like dirt but it’s fully composted and aged manure all from our sanctuary animals, mixed with straw bedding and hay.  And it’s come from happy, healthy animals.

WHEN CAN I GET IT?

Normally pickup is Saturdays between 9 am and 2 pm.

We have a tractor-savvy volunteer on-hand Friday mornings from 9-12, but please make an appointment first. Email compost@stargazingfarm.org or text 301-674-5716.

DO YOU HAVE A FRONT LOADER?

Yes, but only limited volunteers are trained to load up into pickup trucks/dump trailers.  You must make an appointment in advance if you need your vehicle loaded up by the tractor, because we may not have anyone on hand to help you all the time. We do not allow visitors to run our tractor.

IS IT SELF-SERVE?

Yes.  If you wish to bring buckets or large contractor bags to load up, you may help yourself – please bring your own shovels and buckets/bags.

WHERE DO I GO ON THE FARM?

Click to see full-sized map with instructions

  1.  Outside gates are always closed.  You need to close them behind you before driving up.  Please do not block the driveway.
  2. Drive up to the left side of the house to the Farm Office and ask for which path to drive up.
  3. If the pasture is dry enough, you may drive directly through it.  If not, we will direct you around the right side of all the barns.
  4. Please drive very very slowly.  The animals are free-range on the farm and do not pay attention to vehicles.  You must watch for both small and large animals.

WHAT IS THE COST?

We do not charge for this wonderful composted manure and you can take as much as you like; however, if you are able to make a donation to the farm, we would greatly appreciate it – these donations not only help pay for food for the animals, but they help us maintain our tractor which is how we are able to give you such great compost!  We currently  need to purchase two new front tractor tires, and have the machine serviced, so your donations can really help us keep running.

WHAT IF IT’S RAINING?

We have had weeks when the farm was simply too wet for vehicles to drive up to the compost pile.  Please check with us before setting out.

Also – wet compost is heavy compost. We recommend you do not come when it has been raining or is currently raining.

WHAT DOES IT COMPRISE?

The compost is made from the manure of our animals: cows, goats, sheep, alpacas, llamas, horses, geese, chickens, plus bedding (pine shavings and straw) and uneaten hay.  Note: we are not “organic”, but we do not use pesticides or any kind of chemicals on the property. All animals are free range, happy, and healthy, and their primary diet is orchard grass, timothy hay, grain, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Reports back from gardeners say that this stuff is magic.

We have both fully composted and hot piles (and everything in between).

Catalyst Compost: SMOKIN’! If you need hot manure to get your own compost pile cooking fast, you should bring tins or heat-proof cannisters. This stuff will get your compost broken down much faster, and will add vital nutrients.

Magic Mountains of Manure: 100% composted manure, multi-flavored: gifts from cows, goats, sheep, horses, and a variety of fowl, plus straw and hay, all cooked, regularly turned, and ready to go. Can be put directly on working gardens and lawns.

 

Sheep shearing

Sheep shearing

Shearing day is quite possibly the most important day of the year for a fiber animal.  Fiber animals are those who have been bred over centuries to grow hair/fleece/wool  – it does not shed on its own and therefore it is our job to remove it for them so that they are cool for the summer.

Our shearing day is always open to the public.  It is a great educational experience for young and old, alike.  You will have the opportunity to touch the animals before and after shearing, and to feel the fiber after it comes off.  If you are a spinner and wish to purchase any of the fiber, we will negotiate that with the animals!

Saturday April 25, 2020, noon-4 Rain or Shine

We’ll be shearing our sheep, alpacas, llamas. and Angora goats.  In addition to shearing, we will be trimming toenails, and doing a bit of dental work on the llamas and alpacas.  You can see the fiber as it comes freshly off the animals, learn about skirting, sorting, dyeing, and see what harvesting fleece is all about.

Many people ask, does it hurt the animal?  The answer is no! In fact, if you don’t shear annually, the wool keeps on growing and growing and growing and can be a real health hazard, so we shear once a year in the spring.

This event is free and open to the public, but please do leave your own pets at home.  Directions to the farm.

 

Gruff and BubbaThe other day one of our volunteers was being mobbed by an unruly group of large ruminants. A few bystanders were trying to help her get into her truck without incident.  We were all having a great deal of trouble.  Well — upon further investigation, we found she had made the grave mistake of keeping cookies in her pockets.  COOKIES: no wonder.  She hurriedly and perhaps somewhat desperately tossed the cookies over the hood of the truck to me, took off down the driveway, and I, literally left holding the bag, made a beeline for the front door, buffeted from side to side by goat bodies, just barely making it to safety while still keeping my shoes on.  Cookies are an excellent but powerful tool and must be used with extreme discretion.

Dinner is a completely different story.  I, not being all that interested in eating grain and oats, cannot with any honesty say if dinner is less interesting than Mrs. Pastures’ cookies.  One can, however, conduct a scientific experiment.  Shake a bag of cookies and the entire farm’s population (e.g. several thousand pounds of hooved creatures) will instantly appear at the back door.  On the other hand, organizing everyone at dinner time to go to their appointed eating spots is often like putting the wrong end of two magnets together.

Mostly the goats go where they are supposed to, primarily because they will follow anything that looks like it has food  in it.  Dee Dee Donkey will bray right in my face (primarily to protest that her meal is late, AS ALWAYS) and then head into her little paddock. Salvo the horse will often walk right into his stall.  He knows the deal.  But there are some rogue characters – and surprisingly they are sheep.  I just want to let it be known that the next person who tells me sheep are stupid will be assigned to do evening feedings here.

In order for you to understand what goes on with these sheep, we’ll need to talk about Thomas – as in Thomas you hear about in church.  Or not.  He wasn’t, I suppose, compared to the other apostles, a truly major character.   In fact, you never really hear much about good old Thomas (whose real name was Didymus, but I think you all would agree that Thomas is easier to pronounce).  Thomas seemed to be doing a walkabout when Jesus appeared after His resurrection and so Thomas missed all the action.  I can relate.  I always seem to be meandering about, either literally or mentally and if I’m meant to be somewhere, I’m nearly always late. So I kind of like this guy, Thomas.

Thomas wasn’t quite with the program and so wasn’t there when Jesus came back after his death.  Thomas thought that was really pretty unlikely stuff, and needed proof.  He was like, “dudes, seeing is believing.”  Poor Thomas.  People might  think he’s sub-par because he would not give his faith without question. I think he is, however, the most real of the apostles because it’s so easy to understand his confusion.

Alas, my sheep, those creatures so lauded in Christianity as being sweet and innocent, are, in reality,  untrusting, unbelieving, rude skeptics.  They need proof.  Every day – not just once in a while but EVERY DAY – we have the same conversation.
Farmer: “It’s dinner time.”
Sheep: “Yep.”
Farmer: “Well, you need to go in here so that I close the gate and serve you your food.”
Sheep: “Where’s the food.”
Farmer: “It’s inside.  I’m bringing it now.”
Sheep: “I don’t see any food. I’m not getting locked in someplace when there is no food.”
Farmer: “Trust me, there is food.”
Sheep: “Last time you told me that, the vet showed up.”
Farmer: “That was two months ago.”
Sheep: “Whatever.”
Awkward silence.
Sheep: “WELL? Why don’t you bring the food before you ask me to go get ready to eat?  If the food isn’t ready, then I’m not ready to eat.” (mumbles under breath something vaguely profane)
Farmer: “I can’t bring it till you are in the pen.”
Sheep: “I really don’t see what your problem is.  Show me the food.”

There is more, much along the same lines. It’s very tiresome.  But annoyance all goes away when I see the joy in their eyes upon spotting the magical bucket full of yummy, warm grain. Holy Moly, they make a beeline and by golly, they KNOW that There Is Dinner.

Take it from the sheep: eating is believing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2020 Star Gazing Calendars will be available as of November 25!  You can place an advance order today!

Each month features a gorgeous photo of our animals (by photographer Kathe Powell).  This is a 12-month calendar, 17″x 11″, and is in full color. with the last four months of 2019 in summary.  The calendar includes holidays, and the full, new, and crescent moons.

You can purchase the calendar at the farm or at one of our events, or order online.  All proceeds of sales of the calendar go directly to help care for our animals.

The cost is $15 per calendar (or $16.50 with shipping for 1-5 copies, $3.00 shipping for 5 or more copies).

You can pay via check or via credit card/paypal, below.
Address for checks:  Star Gazing Farm, PO Box 162, Boyds, MD 20841

Note: if you have a complicated order (e.g., you want calendars sent to other folks or you want to order multiples, please email Anne at info@stargazingfarm.org and she can send you an invoice for actual shipping costs).

Pick up at Farm: (no shipping cost) $15 each




Ship to you: $15 each plus $1.50 shipping




Sneak peek inside!

 

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1 December, 2019

Dear Santa,

CrackyMy name is Crackers but you can call me Cracky.  I am new at this farm, and I am one cool cat.  I have decided that I like living in the bunny room because I’m also a decisive cat.  I used to be a barn cat, and I could go out and work again if I wanted to.  But I like patrolling the bunny room.  It makes me feel useful.  And I don’t like the dogs very much.  They might be OK as dogs go, but I was hurt by a dog before, so I prefer to just keep my own counsel on that. OK?

So in this really neat place I live, I have a really, really cozy bed and I get served breakfast and dinner every day.  Santa, if you can come and visit I will sit on your lap and purr.  I have the smoothest, softest coat and I am just as fat and friendly as can be – just like you!!! We are brothers in fatness and friendliness, hope you don’t mind my saying so.

I’d like to ask for just a few things, if you don’t mind.  First, ok, it’s a little embarrassing, but I’m an indoor cat now and so I go through an awful lot of litter.  I could use more, because I like to keep myself and my toilet very, very clean.  I’m particular that way. Here is litter that I like

I don’t honestly really miss being outside, but I do miss the smell of fresh grass.  Maybe you could send me this indoor garden grass?

I love to get visitors, and would love someone to sponsor me.  Then they can come and pet me and let me sit on their laps!

See ya later Santa, thanks for letting me write!

Cracky

 

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2 December, 2019

Dear Mr. Santa,

BrunoI am Bruno.  I am a horse. I wrote to you once before and I liked doing that. So I’m writing to you again.  It is fun to write letters. Santa, I like you because you travel the old fashioned way. I also travel the old fashioned way. I also like you because you listen to animals.  Not everyone does that.  I think the world would be better off if more people listened.

I have to have very good ears, because I’m blind in one eye. Sometimes I get jumpy if I can’t see what is coming up on my left side. But I’m starting to get a bit of training so I have more confidence.  For that reason, I’d like to ask you to bring me a natural  horsemanship’s halter. https://tinyurl.com/halter-for-bruno  (size average, color: black.  I’m a basic black kind of guy.)   These are light weight and quite fine for doing what we call “ground work”.  I probably will never be ridden because my ankle is also a bit off kilter, but working on the ground and doing some tricks will enrich my life and give me some structure.  Maybe next time you come I can do a little bow to acknowledge you!

I also need my hooves cleaned out more regularly if I’m going to be doing some exercise.  I have heard the farmer complain about that “dad burned lousy hoof pick” (she didn’t actually use those words, but I can’t reprint what she actually said).  This is the desired kind of hoof pick:  https://tinyurl.com/hoofpick-for-bruno

I would also love a sponsor.  Someone who would come out and visit with me, perhaps brush me and tell. me how handsome I am.  But they can also just admire me from afar, too.  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/  I might be old fashioned, but every old-fashioned man will never deny a compliment!

It’s been great writing to you, Mr. Santa, and I hope we will all see you soon.

Yours truly,

Bruno

P.S. Did you know that I am “Mr. February” in this year’s farm calendar?

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December 3, 2019

My dear, sweet Santa Claus,

jennyI am so so so glad to be writing to you.  I’m an old lady goat but no one, can you believe it, no one has EVER told me I could be in direct touch with you.  I’ve admired your wonderful reindeer up in the sky from my lowly place in the pasture. I’ve seen the twinkling lights on your sleigh, and heard your loud and cheerful “ho ho ho”.  It made me happy but also sad because I didn’t know you and thought you would never be interested in a little old goat like me.

But opportunity has come my way! Oh joy! Santa Claus, I am really a good goat.  I know people say there is no such thing, but I am sweet and gentle.  I don’t headbutt anyone. I don’t climb into people’s cars, and I’ve never even been inside the house. I wait my turn for my dinner and I always pose for photographs very nicely. I’m not being immodest here – I’m just stating the truth as I see it.

Oh Santa Claus, I hope you will make my wishes come true this Christmas. I was going to ask for a special jacket because when it gets really cold, so do I.  I don’t have a lot of fat anymore (just a bit of a belly, but that happens to all us girls in middle age).  But I found a shiny red jacket and I can’t wait to model it for you – we will be color coordinated!  No, what I really need are treats.  Lots of treats. I especially like the licorice flavored treats. https://tinyurl.com/treats-for-jenny  Now, if you want me to share with my other goat friends, you could also send me the mother lode of treats which also includes treats with probiotics which is good for my belly.  https://tinyurl.com/mother-lode-treats-for-jenny Santa Claus, I think you also have a belly and since it’s so big, I’ll bet you need probiotics too.  I could share some treats with  you when you come.  What do you think?

I do get a little chilled in the winter time when it goes below freezing.  In past years, you’ve been SOOOO generous and brought us these wonderful heat lamps.  We have them in lots of spots but we are missing just one, specially for me.  Would you send one along?  https://www.premier1supplies.com/p/prima-heat-lamp Oh I would love that.  I love to be warm and cozy in the winter. If I drank cocoa, I’d love to sit with you and have cookies and cocoa.  But I prefer molasses over chocolate.  It’s better for me, being that I’m a goat and all.

Santa, would you be able to make some calls for me and see if anyone would like to sponsor me?  They could come and brush me and tell me how beautiful I am.  I am beautiful and I love being told it, too. I love being petted and fussed over. You can tell people who think I am special that they can sponsor me here:  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/

I wish this letter would never end.  It makes my heart so hippy hoppy to be writing to you after admiring you from afar for all these years.  But I must return to my pasture now and so, I bid you adieu.

Your admiring and adoring Jenny

 

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4 December, 2019

Oh Santa,

WaldoHas it already been a year since we saw you? How time flies.  I’m almost 9 years old now.  I’ve lost a little weight and feel better about myself, although Hazel is still a porker (har har that’s a pig joke). I am doing much better eating my veggies and hardly ever have a donut anymore.  Sigh.  I miss those donuts.

You are going to think this is kind of weird, Santa, because I’m going to ask you for something pink.  Yes, well, Hazel wears the pants in this household and she said “it’s gotta be pink” and if Hazel says it’s gotta be pink, it better darned well be pink.  There are these things called hog panels or sorting panels.  We don’t like to be herded from behind, and we can’t wear halters or leashes since we have no necks! But we are quite comfortable being moved if we are surrounded on both sides by a panel.  Why do we need to be moved, you ask? Good question!  Well, sometimes in the evenings when it’s time for dinner, and I need to go to the pen where I get fed, I forget to go there, or I can’t see where they (the feeding ladies) want me to walk since it’s dark out and my eyesight isn’t what it used to be.  The panels would help them guide me nice and calm-like to my dinner table. So we’d need the 36″x30″ panel.  https://www.hogslat.com/pig-sorting-panel-pink One would be ok to start, but two is better so we have one on each side.  It’s like a magic trick. Maybe you can see how it works when you come!

Here is another funny request:  I have kind of squinched up eyes, and they need to be cleaned once a week.  I could really use these cotton swabs so the kids can do a nice job getting my eyelids all clean!  https://tinyurl.com/cotton-swabs-for-waldo  They can also use q-tips https://tinyurl.com/q-tips-for-waldo but I”m thinking the swabs with the longer handles might be easier to manage.  Sometimes the q-tips get bent.

Any time you have leftover produce, like squash or cucumbers, or pumpkin or sweet potatoes or beets, or even   spinach or kale, you could bring that on by.  Farmer Anne cooks me vegetable stews for my dinner and I love the variety of vegetables she uses!

I haven’t had a sponsor in a while.  I’d love a sponsor who would come and bring me a treat and scratch  my belly. http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/  I’m getting to be a bit of an old guy just like you, and we old fellas just love attention!  You have Mrs. Claus, but I have Hazel and she’s just a bossy bee.  I need someone who won’t boss me around, but will just be sweet with me.  Thank you Santa!  See you soon.

Love,

Waldo

Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

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5 December, 2019

PeteOh hello there!  What did you say your name was?  Santa?  What a funny name.  My name is Peter Martin but you can call me Petey.  I’m new here. Today is my birthday.  I’m 6 months old. Could I have a present today, since it’s my birthday?  All the goats told me you are the present man.  You aren’t?  Oh, you are, but that’s not the whole story?  Oh dear, this sounds complicated.  Wait a minute, I have to go run around a bit.

OK, I’m back.  Do you have treats? I love treats.  Do you have two names?  I have several names.  Claus?  CLAUS?  That’s also a funny name.  It sounds like something legal.  I’m kind of smart for my age.  I listen to the radio all the time.  I like the evening news and classical music and jazz are good, too. But I most love to talk about politics.  It gets people all worked up and then we can run around and chase each other.

Santa “Claus”, could I ask you for a few things I need? First, I need a halter because I want to learn how to walk around with people and maybe go out on the town sometimes.  This one looks comfortable: https://tinyurl.com/halter-for-petey  It has a leather noseband which is kind of creepy, but it will be much more comfortable than the pure nylon ones which will cut my nose.

Did you know I like salt?  I really really like salt, and I also like to lick things all the time.  My mom said she has to “calf-proof” the whole farm.  Whatever that means. Anyhow, I had one of these and I want another one!  https://tinyurl.com/salt-for-petey

I would also like a toy.  I really like to play! My other calf friends on the Internet told me they like these jolly balls – you can hang them from the ceiling and then I can bat them around and have a grand old time! https://tinyurl.com/ball-for-petey

Can you believe it, I’ve never had a sponsor?  The other cows had to explain it to me but I think it sounds like a good thing.  People can sponsor me here.  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/ They can come and visit me and hug me and maybe even take me for a walk!

When you come to visit, will you tell me about politics on the north pole?  I’d like to know if it’s as fun there as it is here!

Ok, bye!!!

Peter Martin Davidson II
c/o Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

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6 December, 2019

Dear Santa Claus,

jethroI must say, kind sir, you have already given me the biggest and bestest gift I could ever have wanted and that is a home.  A real home of my own, where I belong.

A few months ago, I truly thought I was done for.  I could hear the howl of my ancestors calling me to them.  I had lost half my body weight and had almost no hair. I was living in Kentucky but an angel who worked for a veterinarian decided that she would help me.  I can’t explain it. I started feeling better.  I was still sad. I lived at the vet’s office.  But little by little, my hair and my weight came back.

It wasn’t till I got here to Maryland that I started realizing my full po-ten-tial.  Santa, I have learned how to dance. And I have learned how to bark. The two in concert are a fine thing, indeed.

Now, just confidentially, Santa, I’ve become a bit too large for my collar.  It was a fun collar, a party collar with lots of colors on it.  But I’ve grown out of it.  I think that for the winter time, I’d like a nice plaid collar with a bow tie, since, after all, I am a southern gentleman.   https://tinyurl.com/collar-for-jethro

Santa, I’m a bit stiff in the joints.  I’m not so old, or so they think from my teeth, but I lived a hard, hard life before.  These chew things called Dasuquin will help me feel a bit jauntier – after all, I need to be practicing my dance routines! https://tinyurl.com/dasiquin-for-jethro

I would also love a sponsor.  Perhaps someone who will bring me treats let me teach them how to dance with me.  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/ I am extraordinarily polite and I’m so easy to get along with.  I also love lying on the sofa and having my tummy rubbed.  Thank you Santa, thank you for helping to save me.  I am finally happy.

Love,

Jethro
Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

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7 December, 2019

Dee DeeSanta! Listen up old fella! Every year we have this conversation.  My name is Dee Dee and not Dede or Didi or even Dee.  Dee Dee Donkey, or Miss Donkey to you. We have that clear now, I expect.  No need to cover it again.

Santa, you know as well as I do that I’m just about the most perfect donkey you could ever want to meet, though goodness knows you are certain short on the compliments sometimes. I might be missing a few teeth, but I am so spry and so ‘with the times’ that no one ever guesses my age.   I’ve been living at this farm now for nearly 18 years.  And I came here when I was a youthful 28 years old.  Well.  You should know that if you weren’t so darned forgetful.  But I do not feel old at all!  Why, just today I gave quite a good little kick to a cow who tried to get frisky with me.  I am still perfectly sweet with the little kids.  I do love little kids.  I think we have that in common.  I especially love it when they want to brush me.  But right now they have to use the horse brushes (of which there are precious few; I think the goats eat them).  So Santa:  please send me a special donkey grooming kit. https://tinyurl.com/grooming-kit-for-dee-dee I even would share it with Mehitabel … sometimes. I get dusty and sometimes we old lady just need a good currying – it feels like a massage.  But if that is too expensive (I know you’ve been trying to cut costs at the North Pole, don’t deny it.  I won’t breathe a word to the kids but honestly Santa – don’t disappoint any of those little kids, you hear?), I’d also very much enjoy this face brush – it looks really classy and would make me feel very good.  https://tinyurl.com/face-brush-for-dee-dee

Now Santa:  I think you know what it is like to lose some of your teeth.  Don’t think I haven’t seen those gaps in your smile.  Ha!  Twice a day, they make me a nice hot mash of senior horse feed mixed with a bit of alfalfa.  I love it!  But the snag in the whole plan is that we need a secure way to store my feed. We have one tin for my food but sometimes we get more delivered than we can store and then the nasty old rodents bite into it and then it isn’t any good any more.  I’m quite a practical donkey and I have tried many things, but these aluminium cans are the best.  They foil the rodents!   They are beyond great!  You can get them here  https://tinyurl.com/feed-storage-for-dee-dee  or at any Southern States.  Does Mrs. Claus have to make you mash every day, Santa?

OK. Now we have the basics covered:  food and self care through child grooming.  Wait a minute, I’m not done yet. What about sending me one or more of those special people to sponsor me.  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/ Someone who will come and visit me, give me soft treats (fig newtons are pretty wonderful) and make me feel like I matter more than anything to them!  I would really love that.  I expect I can count on you to get on the phone right now and start contacting folks for me.  I think that will do for today.

Okey dokey Santa, bye for now and toodeloo.

Miss Dee Dee Donkey
Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

 

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December 8, 2019

GalloUm.  Hello?

I’m new here.  My name is Gallo and I am a very handsome, Rhode Island Red rooster ISO a gorgeous young hen. I have a good singing voice, and will eat any kind of cooking.  I’m easy to get along with, and will take care of my hen with attention.  I’m young but I’m a real gentleman.

Oops.  Wrong letter.

Try again.

Dear Santa,

Lovely hen

Sigh, the one I love

I’m a very handsome, Rhode Island Red rooster.  I really would love to have a girlfriend for Christmas.  I’m sending you a picture of the one I love.  She only hangs out with Manuel at the upper barn.  I don’t know what she sees in him.  Please tell her I have better food and a really cozy nest here in my front yard chicken coop.

Aside from someone to cuddle with … well, I would like to try some of these bugs:  https://tinyurl.com/bugs-for-gallo  I think they look rather tasty. And I am thinking … it gets kind of cold here in winter.  I live in the front yard chicken coop which is a bit drafty.  I know they used to hang a heat lamp right under the eaves of the house for the front -yard chickens. I’ll bet if I had one of those, that lovely lady I admire so much might come to join me instead of that ugly Manuel. https://tinyurl.com/heat-lamp-for-gallo

I suppose we need some heat lamp bulbs, too! https://tinyurl.com/heat-lamp-bulbs-for-gallo

Finally, the beautiful lady who brought me here with tears in her eyes – she didn’t want to leave me but her circumstances dictated it – she has sponsored me but no one else has.  I think someone else would love to sponsor me, too, and get to know what fine, fine gentleman rooster I am!  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/

I’m very pleased and honored to have been able to contact you Santa, and I hope we will see you here at the farm soon!

Yours very sincerely,

Gallo
c/o Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

 

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12-9-2019

Dearest Santa Claus,

RicardoThis is my second Christmas on the farm and I’m sooo happy to be writing to you.  I came here when I was a baby – these amazing people decided that I needed to go to live out my life on a sanctuary because I was a bit “different”.  I’m different because I walk a bit like a moving tank, but otherwise I’m quite smart and ever so personable!

Santa, do you know that I am a travelling sheep?  I ride in the truck.  Sometimes I poop in there, but Farmer Anne said it’s ok, “it’s a farm truck.”  Where do I go, you may ask?  Well, the last trip was to a brewery.  I lied about my age and so they served me some really fine ale.  I liked it!  I want to go back!  I go out with the volunteers to tell people all about this farm and to invite them to come and visit!  I’m a really friendly sheep and I love to be petted and given massages.

What I need for my travelling gigs is a good looking collar.  I found this one and it’s great because it has the farm’s colors and I think I’d look smashing in it!  https://tinyurl.com/collar-for-ricardo

To match it, could I also please have a gold-colored cotton lead rope?  https://tinyurl.com/lead-rope-for-ricardo People will comment on how well color-coordinated I am.  That is something that is, you might know, important to me!  You color coordinate your wardrobe, too, if I’m not mistaken!

I also need some sponsors.  Please make sure that they have sheep massage skills or inclinations!  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/

Love and kisses,

Ricardo

c/o Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

 

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10 December, 2019

Hello my fine Santa sir,

SamSam here.  So nice to have you around again another year. We white-haired fellas need to stick together.  Santa, you know I am the gentlest dog you could ever meet.  Yes, I’m built like a polar bear, and weighing in at 125 pounds I’m a husky guy, but I am so kind and sensitive.  It’s both my greatest feature (aside from my jaw-dropping handsomeness) and my downfall.  I feel things deeply and I have so many emotions to express!

Santa, I’m such a happy dog.  I love to snuggle on the sofa and in the bed, and I love my dogs Mamie and Jethro.  I also love all my cats and rabbits and Cinnamon the guinea pig.  I’m a great dancer, and I smile when other people dance with me!

I am so gentle and don’t want to get into conflict with anyone, but our dog Milo has decided I am his rival.  So now I’m sometimes afraid of him.  I need a trainer to come out and work with him and me so that we can be friends again.  I don’t want to be his rival.  I don’t want to be “top dog”.  I just want to be my own peaceful self.   Could you help me find a trainer who would come to the farm?

I’m an older guy now (nearly 11!) so I hang out a lot in the house and the front yard, and I’ve developed a bad habit.  I, um, how can I say this …. I sometimes pee in the house. I don’t know why I do it, but I just do.  So I need a few things to manage this bad habit so that Farmer Anne doesn’t say “OH SAM!!!” too much.  First, I need some big pee pads.  https://tinyurl.com/pee-pads-for-sam I will pee on the pads and am quite happy with those.  I also know that Farmer Anne and my beloved friend Julie like to use this to clean  – it totally gets rid of the pee smell and it’s wonderful!  https://www.zeroodor.com/collections/all/products/pet-kit

Santa, I haven’t had a sponsor in a while.  I am quite a shy guy, so my sponsor will need to be patient with me while I get to know them,  but I’m so sweet that they will want to be with me, I’m sure of it!  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/

I hope to see you and your lovely reindeer really soon!

Love,

Sam (aka Sam I Am)

c/o Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

 

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11 December, 2019

ZoeWell Santa, it’s about darned time!  I am so bone-tired of being just a wallflower and never being allowed near the computer.

Zoe the bunny here, otherwise known as ZoeMonster. I’ve been living at this farm long enough to now be a widow.  (I miss my beloved Giovanni soooo much).  Yet I’ve never been featured, sponsored, or otherwise recognized by anyone other than the bunny room fairies whom I love very much (they groom me and tell me I’m beautiful). It’s shameful, shameful I tell you.

My story is this:  I was being boarded here some years ago, and my owners just never came back. I emailed and called and sent them ESP messages but they ignored me.  Heartless!  I never saw them again.  Farmer Anne said it was OK because she would always take care of me.  I might love her, but I’m on the fence about that.  Still and all, I’m glad to be here. It’s a good place for a bunny.

Now, first and foremost, I need a sponsor.  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/ Yes I do. I don’t promise to be especially nice to my sponsor because I’m a feisty bun, but they can admire how pretty I am and they can offer me treats.  Sometimes I can be petted but sometimes I box at people with my front paws.  That’s why I’m called ZoeMonster.  I like these treats:  https://tinyurl.com/treats-for-zoe

I also love this special hay – it’s very tasty and calming because it has chamomile in it!  https://tinyurl.com/special-hay-for-zoe

I think I’m ready to consider bringing BunnyLove back into my life.  I’d like to go to the Friends of Rabbits bunny match day to see if perhaps there is someone just for me.  I know that their adoption fee is $75 and that way I could bring my new groom home with me!

I also need to take a trip to the vet for my regular checkup.  I love my vet! He is so kind and gentle and talks softly.

Santa, I’m really glad I stayed at Star Gazing Farm.  I get to run and jump around the room, and this young lady grooms me every weekend and tells me how pretty I am.  All I’m missing is a new husband. I mean, where would you be without Mrs. Claus?

Wow, I can’t believe I got through a whole letter without any typos.  Thank you for reading my missive.

Yours very truly,

Zoe the Bunny

P.S.  Apparently it is very hard to get a good photograph of me.  I could only find two in my deep search of Farmer Anne’s computer.  I’ve heard the excuse (“it’s hard to photograph black rabbits” and “she moves around too much”).  Balderdash.  Bring the cameras, the video recorders, the TV crews!  I’m ready to pose!

c/o Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

 

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12 December,  2019

MadisonHo ho ho, Santa!

I’m a day late writing to you.  Farmer Anne left the plug to her computer in Minnesota this week.  Who does that?  Well, she did.  So the computer was “down for the count”.  I hoped she would bring back a few reindeer from the “cold country” but did she? No!  Did she tell them I wanted especially to talk with Rudolph this year?  No!  Did she even go looking for reindeer?  Again – no!!!  She said she was grumpy about the laptop, and “don’t talk to her about reindeer”. She said that.

Well, I’m telling you what, you can’t rely on a farmer to remember anything these days. But I can rely on you, right?  Santa, do you know I’m almost 18 years old?  EIGHTEEN! That’s really old for a sheep.  But I am doing fine.  It’s a cool gig being old because I get special treats and extra food.

I’m going to ask you for stuff that is good for everyone, not just me.  When you get a certan maturity about you, you begin to see that life isn’t just about you. How others feel around you affects how you feel.  I want everyone here to feel good (well, mostly.  You might want to have a little off the record chat with a few of the goats).

It’s getting cold, and Farmer Anne and all the volunteers are out in very cold weather (but not as cold as Minnesota or the North Pole, for sure!) and they need work gloves that aren’t bulky but will keep their fingers warm.  I found these work gloves:  https://tinyurl.com/work-gloves-for-madison but you might know of others that are good, since I’m sure your elves need them too.  Just please don’t send them in elf size.

Another thing we need are some heat lamp bulbs.  https://tinyurl.com/heat-lamp-bulbs-for-madison  Even though I’m quite old, I don’t get cold  like some of the other elderly ones, like Jenny and Dee Dee and Pippa.  I don’t like to see them feel cold. Some of them have coats, but the whole atmosphere is cozy when we have the heat lamps on.  We use very safe ones, from Premier.

I don’t think I’ve had a sponsor in a while.  I’m a really good sheep for hugging, and I’ll stand and listen to all your problems if you want.  I can snort in your face and I guarantee you’ll feel better afterwards.  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/

Santa, this is the season for forgiveness and so I am officially forgiving Farmer Anne for forgetting her laptop plug and delaying my letter to you by one day. Everyone at this time of year needs to do some forgiving of others, don’t you think?

Your faithful sheep,

Madison
c/o Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

 

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December 13 (though it’s really the 14th today but Madison took my day), 2019

My dear, sweet Santa,

My name is Senna.  I’m a rather elderly alpaca lady. I’m extremely polite and that genteel trait does not serve me particularly well on this farm. I was always taught that one must wait to be invited to eat. No one else waits on this farm.  I’ve honestly never in all my years seen anything like it. They just grab food like they are barbarians.  Do you know, today they knocked over a lady into the mud fighting over the last carrot?  She laughed, but I was simply mortified.

Really I don’t know how I can stand it, except that now I am given my own private dining room.  That is really most pleasant and I do not need to hurry through my meal while avoiding the grunts and displeasing noises goats make when they eat.

I’m a petite size, but happily my niece Marguerite looks out for me.  She is quite fierce and will spit at anyone who crosses her.  I only spit when people try to give me shots. I don’t care for needles. Other than shot time, I’m what most people would call a “sweet little old lady”.  I don’t mind being called that.  It’s who I am!

You may find this funny but you must know that I’m quite a precise alpaca and I plan in advance for things.  Although it may be cold and wintry out now, the summer will soon come.  I find the heat so awfully difficult to bear.  Our fan that is mounted in the alpaca barn decided to die this year, and thus we are in need of a replacement so I will not suffer when the temperature starts to rise again.   https://tinyurl.com/summer-fan-for-senna

Because I do worry about summer, I think that this fly mask would be awfully nice (size small).  The flies are bothersome, and while we put out fly predators (these are tiny wasps that eat the flies!) that do a lot of good, still it would be so nice to have a covering over my face.  I think it might look quite stylish, in fact.   https://www.useful-items.com/product-p/flymask.htm

While I do not at all care for needles, the fact of the matter is (and you know by now that I am practical if nothing else) that once a month I and Marguerite and Jean-Claude (that handsome devil, ooh la la) need to receive a shot.  It’s a medicine that protects us from a very bad parasite that can make us paralyzed.  I do not wish to be paralyzed.  Once upon a time I was locked in a dark basement of a barn with no windows.  That felt like being paralyzed.  Now I am free and I want to stay healthy! Farmer Anne is also very precise about giving us this shot right on time.  It’s not nice, but it is important and thus I will ask you for a bottle of this medicine.  https://tinyurl.com/dectomax-for-senna

I hope you will convey my very best and warm wishes to Mrs. Claus and all the little elves who help you.  I’m not sure about the reindeer – I’ve heard they are a bit of a rowdy bunch and use bad and naughty language, so you may perhaps just thank them for their service and leave it at that.

I remain, as always,

Yours very truly,

Senna
Star Gazing Farm (alpaca barn, main stall)
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

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December 14, 2019

Hello hello hello Santa,

My name is May May and I’m a White Chinese goose.  I don’t actually speak Chinese.  My English isn’t all that good either, to tell you the truth. George and Louie are helping me with this letter. They’re not all that nice, but they’re smart.  Sigh, isn’t that often the way.

Santa, as you know, I’ve been disabled since I was quite young.  I was just swimming along in the lake, quite enjoying the nice sunny day, when suddenly I felt a terrible pain in my foot.  Oh, I was frightened. I was pulled under the water and I thought it might be curtains for May May.  But that old snapping turtle just made off with part of my foot and left me to swim painfully back to shore.  It was bad, but it surely could have been worse.  I got doctored and I survived to tell the tale. I now walk with a permanent limp, but every single day I’m glad to be alive. I’m used to the limp. Sometimes I have to hurry to catch up with the group, but mostly they wait for me. My favorite goose is Mother Goose.  She’s really, really old and she is sweet and kind.  She looks after Blueberry the duck. I think that she is the nicest goose I’ve ever met.

Well anyhow, Santa, my life isn’t so interesting, you know.  We walk as a gang around the farm every day.  Sometimes cars arrive and we get to surround them and make the people feel intimidated and worried.  It’s sort of a hobby. But most of the time we just swim and take sunbaths.

Santa, I would really like some fresh greens to eat sometimes.  This time of year there isn’t much grass, and not as many bugs as usual.  I like things like frozen peas, corn, carrot tops, kale, lettuce.  I also think some mealworms would be quite a nice little daily appetizer.  https://tinyurl.com/mealworms-for-maymay 

Another thing I actually do need for the winter is vet wrap.  You see, because I don’t have all my toes, I go slipping and sliding around if the ground is icy or snowy.  Farmer Anne puts a bandage around my bad foot and then I can get traction.  Clever!  I need the 2″ wide as that fits my foot the best.  I love the nice colors.  If I weren’t a goose, I think I would have liked to become a fashion designer as I have quite a discerning eye.  https://tinyurl.com/vet-wrap-for-maymay

Well Santa, I shall close now.  George is getting restless correcting all my spelling.  He’s a very silly goose.  One last thing:  I would love a sponsor.  I am a sweet goose and people can even hold me and talk to me.  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/

Thank you for reading my letter.  And by the way, I think that red is a pretty good choice for your suit,  but you might want to try adding some gold lamé to your outfit.  It would really bring out the white beard a lot and people would certainly leave you more cookies.

Bye bye bye now,

May May
Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

 

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15 December, 2019

Hail fair Santa! I am Pippa and this is my good old friend Herman. We are retired sheep.  Oh do not misunderstand!  We are not retired from being sheep. We are still very much sheep.  But we are retired.  That means we do not have to do anything but breathe fresh air and eat as much as we possibly can. I really like it. We have grown beautiful wool all our lives, and our former owners made extremely beautiful carpets from what we grew.  These days we don’t grow wool quite so fast, but around here no one seems to care a lot.  They seem to be more interested in how much we can eat and how much we poop.  (“Are they eating enough? Are they pooping ok?”  Oh honestly, can they find nothing else to talk about?).   The word is that the VET is coming on Wednesday and I fear very much this may mean being poked and prodded and possibly even having poop stolen right out of my bum.  This is a thing they do.  That is what I’ve been told by Madison, and he’s been around the block a time or two.   Oh dear.  And I think I might get a few shots.  I think I shall be very upset on Wednesday. But I’ll get over it.  I’m a very brave sheep in that way.

My new best friend here (aside from Madison, but truth be told, Madison is just a bit of a gossip ….) is Ray Ray.  He is blind, but I just love him. He follows me around.  I baaa a lot and so he can always find me.  I’m extremely friendly and I will welcome you with open arms when you come.  I heard you are coming on Saturday!  Will you let me sit in your lap?  Can I come into the house? I should enjoy that ever so much!

I’d like to start wearing a collar with just a very small bell so that Ray Ray can always find me.  What do you think?  I really like this mint green color.  I think it would look quite nice with my white fleece.  I think I need an 18″-26″ size.  https://tinyurl.com/collar-for-pippa  I think this bell might be nice – I can’t tell without hearing its sound but it is pretty and is round so it wouldn’t lose its ringing piece.  https://tinyurl.com/bell-for-pippa

Santa, I just don’t know what else I might need for myself.  I am so happy here.  I’m so happy I didn’t get sent off to the butcher.  I don’t know anyone named “butcher” but that sounded not so nice. I eat really good food every day, and I have thick bedding, and a heat lamp to sit under in case I get cold.  I think I need to get a bit fatter but I’m working on that quite hard.  You know, we have some very talented cooks and bakers here at the farm. I’m thinking it would be such an honor if they made some cookies in the shape of a sheep for our next event?  So darling!  https://tinyurl.com/cookie-cutter-for-pippa

I have never had a sponsor but I can assure you I’ll be so charming and friendly to anyone who would like to sponsor me!  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/

Thank you my kind sir for reading my letter today,

Pippa
Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

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16 December, 2019

Greetings to you Santa Claus!

NicoleIt seems to me that you are very busy right now.  We are getting packages every day and that keeps me busy because I have to bark a lot at the UPS and the Fedex drivers.

I’ve been here a few years now, and aside from the one time on New Year’s Day when I went for a walkabout and ended up meeting a whole BUNCH of people who all got out of their cars and fed me a smorgasbord of treats while trying to capture me (in vain!!) — oh that was fun but Farmer Anne said some naughty words when she found me …. anyhow, aside from that time I stick close to home and all my friends here.  Sigh, you know, I’m a bit overweight. The vet said so.  She said I need to eat more vegetables. Thank goodness at least I’m not eating low calorie food – yeckh! I’m ok with vegetables as long as they are cooked with a bit of chicken broth.  Farmer Anne cooks me stews almost every day.  So anyone who wants to bring nice vegetables for my stews would be thanked!  For instance, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, peas and squash though honestly I don’t like squash very much.  Farmer Anne said she doesn’t like it either so mostly she gives that to the pigs.  Sometimes they don’t like it either.  Hmm.  I don’t know what it is about squash …

Anyhow, can we get down to brass tacks here?  Santa, I have an awful time with my hair.  What do you to do keep your beard so nice and soft?  My hair grows soooo long and I try to avoid letting myself be brushed but when I’m cajoled into it, it takes a REALLY long time to comb my hair out. Maybe if they had a nicer comb it would be easier: https://tinyurl.com/wide-tooth-comb-for-nicole or   https://tinyurl.com/comb-for-nicole might work.  Maybe also a nice detangler would be good.  I like lavender, but if you know of a better one, you can choose that for me instead.  https://tinyurl.com/detangler-for-nicole

Once a groomer came here in a truck, but I had to be put in a wheelbarrow to go to her truck because I refused to walk. I’m stubborn that way. “Don’t ever let anyone tell you what to do”, was what my moma always told me.  So I don’t walk on a leash.  At all.  Nope.  Sam went to the self-serve dog wash a few weeks ago and he looked SO funny.  I will say, though, he does smell a lot better now. But you won’t see me going to one of those places and letting strangers see me with wet, scraggly hair.  No, nosirree Bob.

OK, this is a really super boring gift to ask for, but in case you’re in the neighborhood, I do like this food the best (with mostly vegetable stew added on):  https://tinyurl.com/instinct-food-for-nicole All the dogs like it!

I’m getting a bit stiff in the hindquarters, don’t you know.  Farmer Anne groans a lot about her back in wintertime, and while it’s entertaining to listen to her, I kind of feel the same way.  It would be good for me to take these supplements.  They’re kind of expensive though, so only if you can afford it, Santa.  https://tinyurl.com/dasuquin-for-nicole

May I ask you to connect me with a sponsor?  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/ I can’t promise I’ll let them brush me, but if they come around midnight, that’s when I’ll be glad to dance all around the farm with them!

Oh Santa, won’t you give us a nice white Christmas?  I do so love the snow!  I hope I’ll get to see you,

Much love,

Nicole
Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

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17 December, 2019

Yo Santa!

GeorgeThis is George on the line here!  Santa, I have to put in a complaint.  Can I do that here?  Listen, I recently went to the vet. That’s not the complaint. No, seriously, I was very impressed with how much the guy knew about chinchillas.  I almost enjoyed hearing him speak.  But he poked around at my teeth and my, ahem, private areas.  It was soooo bad.  He said “everything is A-OK.”  Glad to hear it, but dude, how embarrassing. He said I’m nice and fat, and I was like, YEAH, I’ve always been a bruiser.

I just love my four story condo, but the bottom shelf has had a lot of wear and tear.  So the deal is … I don’t always use my litter box and so all the scrubbing in the world can’t make it look nice anymore.  Also, I’ve chewed quite a bit of the sides.  I mean – a guy’s got to chew.  I could really use a replacement pan:  https://tinyurl.com/pan-for-george

I like treats.  No, I mean, I REALLY like treats.  I can only have dried food because of where I come from (high desert, dry places, you know what I’m saying?) but here are a few types of treats I like:  https://tinyurl.com/treats-for-george-1 and https://tinyurl.com/treats-for-george-2 and https://tinyurl.com/treats-for-george-3

So like I said, I’m kind of a chewer.  The edge of my dust bath that hooks onto the side of my condo got, um, kind of messed up.  Anyhow now it doesn’t hook on anymore and it’s travelling all around when I try to take a bath.  If you’ve never seen a chinchilla taking a bath, I highly recommend it.  We’re not shy about bathing in public.  We turn around suuuuuper fast round and round and round. Anyhow, I sort of need a new bathtub:  https://tinyurl.com/dust-bath-for-george

Santa, I really dig having sponsors.  I might MIGHT let them hold me.  Better let them know I might bite them too, but not very hard.  Just enough so they don’t want to hold me for too long.  It’s a great defense mechanism for an introvert like me.  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/

Got to go, but see you around!

George
Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

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18 December 2019

Santa! Santa Santa Santa!

GeorgeCan you do ANYTHING to repair my reputation?  I’m trouble here, man. Everyone points at me and says, “Hey, that’s the goose that BITES people.”  First of all, it’s really rude to point.  Second of all, geese don’t bite.  We pinch.  We pinch with our beaks.  We pinch so hard with our beaks that people run away screaming.  I’ll admit that it’s kind of fun to see all these large humans scattering in all directions when they see me coming.  But … there are limits.  I’m a serious goose.  Mostly.  Being serious, occasionally I need to pinch (people, animals, other geese) if they get too close to my flock.  Or my food.  Or my swimming pool.  Just have a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  I am pretty sure you have a major PR machine going on up there at the North Pole, so how’s about sharing the love a little with your old buddy George?

I have a flock of 6 geese plus a duck fan club of 1.  I take care of all of them. Day after day, morning till night, I’m watching out for these jokers. No fox dares get close to George.  So I’ve got to ask you for some favors, Santa.

It’s winter.  It’s cold out.  Cold and icy.  You might hear those weak humans complaining about it, but I don’t care.  I have about a gazillion little feathers and down that keep me super warm. I actually love to go swimming in freezing water – refreshing!  But the problem is that our water freezes.  The chickens, especially, have a hard time with frozen water since their beaks are not so big as ours. This is one that would be very helpful to us!  https://tinyurl.com/heated-waterer-for-george

Our yard area is now totally torn up.  It’s all the goats’ fault.  Farmer Anne needs to build another space where she can lock those bad boys up during feeding time.  She should leave the goose yard to the geese.  I’m just saying ….  So if she can get it together (money , time, plans, yadda yadda yadda) to build the GDC (Goat Detention Center) then we can plant the nice annual rye grass seed in our area.  It comes up fast and is nice and soft on our feed.  We also like to nibble on grass.  https://tinyurl.com/seed-for-george

I have a few admirers, Santa, and I’d like to expand my base. I’m thinking of having Blueberry the Duck start up a George Fan Club group – so if you’d send a sponsor or two my way, it would be fab-u-lous! http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/

See yas later Santa,

George the goose
Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

 

 

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19 December, 2019

Dear kind Santa Claus,

Ray RayI am dictating this letter because I don’t know how to write.  That is not to say I am uneducated.  In fact, I am quite smart and know many things. But I can’t write because I can’t see. I was born without fully formed eyes and have lived my whole life as a blind sheep. Please don’t feel sorry for me.  I am extremely happy!  I hear and smell better than pretty much anyone on the farm.  Might I just say, quietly, that the new cow Petey has very smelly poops.  I know it’s not a nice comment.  I’m thinking if someone could clear his poops away a bit more often I would not suffer aromatically quite so much. And oh dear, I know I can’t do much about this, but sometimes people around here honk their car horns, and, even worse, shoot off guns.  That is very upsetting and makes my ears hurt so terribly.  I wish people would think a bit more about how much these noises can hurt animals’ ears.

Santa, I’m ever so grateful for the new sheep Herman and Pippa.  I wasn’t quite sure before which sheep were my special friends but now I know – Pippa, in particular, is so nice to me. I think she’s been a mama before and she treats me like a son.  It makes me really warm inside.  She asked for  a collar and bell and hopefully those will come so I can find her more easily.  I feel so calm and warm when I am near her.

Santa, I have a special request for you!  We sheep really like to hang out in the infirmary area now that it’s cold out.  Handyman Dave put up a nice wind block and a heat lamp so it’s incredibly cozy, and the sweet kids who volunteer here every weekend clean it out and put down thick bedding.  I like that! But … sometimes the horses come in.  It’s really MUCH too small an area for horses.  They poop a lot and make a big old mess.  If we could put up a stall guard, we sheep could squeeze under it but the bigger animals would not be able to come in and mess up our nice space. https://tinyurl.com/stall-guard-for-rayray I’m sorry to speak so often of smells, but I have an extra special strong nose.

Here is a very fine wheelbarrow that the kids would find easy to use:  https://tinyurl.com/wheelbarrow-for-rayray Also Farmer Anne and the kids could clean up those stinky Petey Poops down in the alpaca barn (I really like to hang out there during the day) with this really nice wheelbarrow.

Can I just say that I’m so grateful to be in a safe place where I don’t have to worry about being hurt or getting lost?  It’s a small farm and I know how to get around and how to avoid those naughty goats, most of the time. What I love most, though, is when people come to visit me and pet and hug me.  I just love people. I can read their hearts. Please send me another sponsor who will come to visit mew often.  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/

Santa, it was so nice to meet you last weekend – you are very nice and very big and round and that is a wonderful way to be. Thank you for coming, and thank you for taking care of all the animals.  Please make sure to visit the other farms, even if the animals don’t write to you directly.  Not all farm animals can get access to a computer!

Your loving sheep,

Ray Ray
Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

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Santa Santa, it is me, Blueberry!  Do you recognize me?  I’m such a lucky lucky duck.  No, that’s not quite true.  I”m a smart smart duck.  A wise duck lady once said, “within any given duck flock, there is just one brain to go around.”  Well, Santa Santa, I am the only duck here so guess what!?  I’m so so smart.

My friends were … not so much. I remember it like it was yesterday – those silly runner ducks wandered away, thinking, “we’ll get better bugs than the geese, let’s go on over here all by ourselves”  Quick as a lick, a fox sprang out of the woods and poof, they were gone.  Milo and Nicole the dogs were at the other end of the farm, and before they could run down to where the creek is, those ducks were history. History, I tell you.  Now I – Blueberry Hill, I stick with the geese.  They are rude sometimes, and you would not BELIEVE the language they use.  Frightful.  But their bawdiness keeps the foxes away.  Did you know that foxes are prudes?  Well it’s true.  You ever want a fox to get out of your hair, just use bad language.

Now Santa Santa, because I’m a smart cookie, I was doing some research on the Internet. I was thinking, how can I keep my weight up during winter?  Can I just say … humans are so silly.  All they think about is eating cake and they they whine about needing to lose weight because the cake made them fat.  I never will understand that particular type of biped.  They have no common sense at all.  No no, being fat in winter is essential, yes completely essential!  So I found that we ducks (and geese….  I suppose I’ll have to share) really like to have wheat berries put in a shallow bucket of water – then we reach down with our beaks and fish it out.  It’s so good for us and makes us fat and also it’s a sport. Here are two types of wheat:  https://tinyurl.com/red-wheat-for-blueberry and https://tinyurl.com/white-wheat-in-a-cool-bucket  The red wheat has a bit more protein, but the white is also super super good and it comes in a cool bucket that is good for storage to keep the goats and the mice out.

Santa, this may come as a complete surprise to you, but I like the chickens.  The chickens like me too, and never push me out of the way at dinner time.  Those wheat berries I’m asking for?  Well I have a bit of an ulterior motive.  You see, only those of us with long bills can get to it!  Completely inaccessible to chickens!  Ah ha!  Since I am asking for a selfish present, I will also ask for an unselfish one.  The chickens have a very nice nesting box set mounted on the wall.  It came with little removable metal bottoms.  Those bottoms are no good.  No good at all.  They are nasty and smell like metal, and they are cold if the volunteers don’t put enough straw in them and also they are hard to clean.  Hard to clean, I tell you.  We bought two of these plastic ones to try them out, and they were fabulous.  https://tinyurl.com/nest-box-bottoms We need a few more so my chicken friends can be more comfortable.

Santa, can you believe that they FORGOT to put my name on the list of available animals to sponsor?  Can you believe it?  I can’t believe, honestly I can’t.  It’s been fixed now, since I finally had a turn at the computer and discovered this gross omission.  Gross, really.  Now I can be sponsored and a fine, fine sponsored duck I shall be!  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/

Ta ta, Santa Santa,

Blueberry Hill the Smartest Duck Ever
Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

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Dearest kind Saint Nicholas,

I am a patient sort of cow, I really am. But I’ve been waiting an awfully long time now to write to you.  The lines for Santa letters go all the way down to the town’s edge.  It’s a lot to ask of an older girl cow like me to be on my feet all day.  But never mind now, here I am, and so utterly delighted to be in touch with you again.

You know I’m a sensitive sort, Santa, and I was heartbroken this year when my beloved Bullwinkle passed away.  Did you know that I cry when my friends die?  I do.  I also cried when Rachel the sheep crossed over and I stood by her body for hours. And my dear, sweet Bello the horse – how I miss him.  Ah, he was so beautiful.  But I have a new friend named Petey (a bit on the young side for me but I guess he’ll calm down eventually and learn to be a cow) and TWO horses whom I just adore, Salvo and Bruno. We all stand at the hay bale together every morning and discuss the goings on at the farm.  They have pretty good insight into things, for horses, I mean.

Santa, I’m a tidy and fastidious sort of cow.  I do appreciate all the cleaning that goes on here, but there is a tool we always seem to be running short on:  good rakes.  Not those plastic muck rakes – those are no good at all.  They are colorful, but they break all the time.  Santa, do you know how hard it is to find a good rake these days?   The best one we have is an antique!  What we need is a heavy duty garden-type rake.  We need to be able to rake up all the heavy straw mixed with poop and to tidy up the areas where my delicate feet need to walk. I think this one looks like it would fit the bill:  https://tinyurl.com/rake-for-brandy

Now, we have a lot of trees that keep drooping their old branches down.  I’m a tall girl, and sometimes they brush across my face and ruin my hairdo.  More than that, they are uncomfortable and scratch my face!  And not only are they drooping down into my face, they are all over the ground!  People have pruned the trees and now many of those silly branches are just sitting around with no one cutting them up and moving them out of my way.  I need space to move around and these branches are just so untidy looking.  Why, I’m afraid I might trip on them one of these days.  Then they’ll all be sorry!  Please let’s avert this sort of unpleasantness and send us some loppers so we can chop up all those nasty branches.   I do so like a clean and orderly farm, I truly do.  https://tinyurl.com/loppers-for-brandy

As you may know, we are planning to put up a new barn this next year.  It’s a big barn for the big animals.  It’s partly because I really need a nice, big space just to rest and lie down and be under cover.  I’m getting older and have some arthritis so it’s really important for me to have an open space that is well bedded down where I can just relax and, dare I hope, not be pestered all the time by goats?   This is the place where you can make a contribution especially to the barn!  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/new-barn-underway/

Santa, pretty please send me a sponsor!  I do love to be petted and loved on and can make really good friends with my sponsor.  Here is the place to do it:  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/

Oh gracious, I’m so relieved I got to write to you today.  Today is Christmas and I know there are still thousands of animals in line behind me.  I feel ever so blessed.  Till next year and toodeloo,

Brandy
Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

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vinnieGee Mister Santa,

I’m so late writing to you!  Are you still making trips around the globe?  I hope you haven’t just gone back to the North Pole.  Golly, I’ve been waiting to write you forever and ever. My name is Vinnie, but they call me “Vinnie the Tooth” or sometimes “Vincent MacGoo”.  I’ll answer to lots of names if there is food involved. I’m a good-natured fellow, getting on in years but not past wanting to deliver some good head butts once a while.  I can hold my own with those big thugs, but I’m also quite happy to just bask in the sun and hang out with my friend Jenny.  We are from the same generation and as you know, that’s important because we like to listen to the same kind of music. Ernie and Leo listen to that stuff that seems to have no tune.  It’s just noise!  Jenny and me, we like the old big band music.

Did you know that Angora goats have famously bad feet?  Boy oh boy, it’s true.  Our hooves have to be trimmed more often.  I suppose that is because I really should be travelling all over the rocky terrain of the Turkish mountains.  That’s where all my ancestors are.  Brrr, it’s cold there.  Then again, Maryland is no picnic either.  Anyhow I was talking about feet.  So here the ground is softer – there aren’t enough rocks to wear down my hooves and so I need pedicures more often.  We could really use one of these extremely fine hoof trimmers:  https://tinyurl.com/hoof-trimmers-for-vinnie

You may not know this, but Angora goats are also more prone to internal parasites.  It’s nothing to be afraid of – YOU can’t catch them!  But it means we have to be checked more often for getting our gosh-darned medicine. I don’t like it much, I have to say!  It’s much easier and safer (and faster, which is what I care about – just get it OVER with!) if our medicine is given in a drench gun. Oh, it’s not a gun and we don’t get covered in the medicine!  No sir, a drench gun has a metal thingie that gets put in the side of our cheek and press-o, plunge-o, that nasty old medicine is down the hatch.  https://tinyurl.com/drench-gun-for-vinnie

We get different worm medicines, depending on what worms are hanging out.  Sometimes we get this one:  https://tinyurl.com/safeguard-for-vinnie  – I can share this with all the animals, including the chickens.  They don’t like it much either.  Sometimes we get this one and everyone runs away when we see this bottle because the taste lingers in the mouth for hours!  (but it’s really expensive and while it’s super effective, golly gee whillikers, did I mention it tastes bad?). https://tinyurl.com/cydectin-for-vinnie  I can share this stuff with the sheep, the cows, and the camelids.

Hey Mister Santa, I make a really good sponsored animal.  I’m friendly and I like carrots and I’ll walk around the farm and give you a tour, I sure will!  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/  Did you know that some time in 2020 a whole bunch of yarn will arrive – and it has my beautiful locks in it!  I can’t wait to see it!  Did you know that sometimes people make Santa beards out of my fleece?  We have sort of the same kind of hair.  I like that about you, Santa.

See you around now,

Vinnie
Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

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Hey Santa we gotta talk.  Like, now.  Here’s the thing: I’m gettin ignored around here. It’s “Old Vinnie this” and “Old Vinnie that” and “oh, look at his teeth, ain’t he cute.”  I’m tellin ya, I’m fed up to here with this Old Vinnie business.  I was here first, my name was Vinnie first, and yet does anybody care what I think?  And HE gets the good mafia name – Vinnie the Tooth.  What am I, chopped liver?  Well?  No, the answer is no. I’m like — an oversight.  A “oh yeah, that one, he came with Tony, the cute white goat.”  Boy, that burns me up.

Ya know, Santa, have you ever considered that maybe you might treat some of your reindeer special-like?  You know, you call their name more often, stuff like that?  Yeah, I thought so.  But what about the OTHER reindeer?  Santa, I’m gonna tell you right now, right this minute, you better start giving attention to all those reindeer, not just the cute ones, cause they’ve got you up there in an open sled, no roof, no seatbelts – am I right?  I’m right, ain’t I, no seatbelts.  And they’re trailing you through the friggin sky.  The SKY.  One of them gets a little peeved and, well …. I’d hate to have to read about you in the Metro section of the paper. Yeah, ok, maybe it’d make the national news.  But let’s not go there.

So here’s the deal here. Santa, hey just out of curiosity, does your wife call you Santa or more like, Santie, or Clausie?  I mean, ya know, when she’s feeling a little frisky?  I shouldn’t be asking such questions?  Yeah yeah, OK, back to the topic.  So Santa Clausie, I can call you that, can’t I?  This is what I want.   I want my fair share of attention.  They think I don’t hear what they say, but I do, I hear it all – I’ve got the ears!  “oh that one, he’s always getting into trouble.” “He jumped on top of my shoulders last week.”  “He’ll sneak inside the horse’s stall in a second and be eating all his food.”  You think it’s nice to hear this? I’m tellin ya, it ain’t. So what if some of it might be maybe, a tiny bit, maybe sometimes true.  Listen, this is America and we’ll all supposed to be treated equally.  You know?

Santa, I’m cute. I am handsome. I’m not fat like SOME people around here, and I’m healthy and I’m always helpin out the horses by getting right on top of the hay bales cause, you know, they can’t always reach up there so I’m doin them a service.  First thing I want – my own name.  You know. A name.  Like, ya know, I mean, come on, you got the real deal here, and no nickname for your Vinnie man?  Let’s hear the suggestions.  I’ll think on them and letcha know.

Gee, well, now that I’m here talkin to ya, um, I can’t think of anything I really need.  I mean, to tell the truth, life is pretty good here.  I got lotsa hay, lotsa food, I got my Tony to snuggle with.  But now that you’re askin … well, we don’t get this very often because ma says (she kinda yells it), “you all eat that too fast!”  Yeah, it’s that good.  It’s a sheep and goat mineral block.  Good for us and tasty too.  Don’t I sound like a commercial?  Hey Santa, maybe you could get me a gig? OK, anyhow, here’s the link: https://tinyurl.com/mineral-block-for-vinnie

So I want this kinda expensive thing, but I’ll understand if you want to wait till next year.  See, ma, she said she wants to record our voices.  And then make RINGTONES and stuff out of our voices.  I’m tellin ya Santa, I’m ready for the big time and if people start hearing my goat sound (not like Tony – he screams and it’s real off key) – but my voice, it’s so sweet and melodious. And she wants to make some dumb thing like podcasts.  I dunno. But if I can star in one I’m cool with that.  So talk with her about it, ok?  See whatcha think.  https://tinyurl.com/recorder-for-vinnie

And do you know the last time I got a sponsor?  Yeah, I don’t either.  Like Ernie, he gets this girl visiting him EVERY WEEK.  It’s like she’s sweet on him.  I’m watchin and thinkin, “what’s he got that I ain’t got?”  I sure would appreciate a little consideration here, for a sponsor.  I know I’m not always one of those “couth” guys but I’ve got a great big heart.  http://www.stargazingfarm.org/animals/sponsor-an-animal/

Love,

Little Vinnie
Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

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MargueriteWell, I never! Mr. Santa N. Claus, I have not ever in my life had to wait this long in a line of ordinary animals like these.  It’s indecent.  I’m speechless.  Goats, pigs, for crying out loud and that beastly cow who has stolen my barn. When I was told that I was “last in line” to send my message to you, I almost turned around and went home. The indignity!  I’m really quite beside myself.

Yes, yes, thank you Santa, I know I am the most beautiful animal here, that is true.  And my blue eyes reflect the sky and shine like blue diamonds.  This is true, too.  I’m glad that someone, at least, appreciates me, even if he ONLY COMES ONCE A YEAR.  Really, you need to get your schedule more organized, Nicholas.  Once a year is just not enough to check in with us, wouldn’t you agree?

Now about the matter of the barn.  This young upstart named Petey has just completely taken over my space.  Please, I would like to direct you to the sign on the barn.  Do you see it?  What does it say?  Exactly!  It says, “Alpaca Barn.”  As in, alpacas live in this barn. Not cows.

I would like to direct your attention to our feeding situation.  While I very much enjoy the lovely mix of feeds that Senna and I and JeanClaude receive, we do not have enough of these bowls:  https://tinyurl.com/feed-bowl-for-marguerite  They are hygienic, and are bright and cannot be missed by nearsighted farmers looking for things to clean.  Sometimes I have to share out of the bucket with Jean-Claude  and I do object to this strenuously.  I was taught that a lady eats out of her own bowl, and very tidily too.

I would like to address the nasty comments I’ve heard whispered behind my back: “that Marguerite, watch out, she is a spitter.”  Santa, if you lived with a bunch of ruffians as I do, you’d be forced to spit sometimes, too.  A girl must always be ready to defend herself.  Alpaca spit is quite the relentless weapon:  its strength and odor lasts and lasts.  So – please alert the others on this hillbilly farm that I am not to be toyed with

Finally, let us please return to the matter of the ALPACA barn and the smelly cow Petey who is currently inhabiting it.  I do admit he is handsome. But he relieves himself all day, just wherever he pleases.  It’s just hateful.  We alpacas have a designated “loo” spot and that is where we go. We are quite tidy, not to mention elegant.  In order to keep this ALPACA barn clean, the volunteers must use the tractor and make many runs clearing out all that cow manure.  For Pete’s sake (hee hee, little pun there), it is disgraceful how hard they have to work.  But did you know, Santa, that the front tires on the tractor have almost had it?  They are dry-rotted and keep losing air.  I very much fear that if the tractor cannot carry ALL THAT MANURE up from the ALPACA barn, the volunteers will go on strike.  They will not want to use wheelbarrows for all that.  I have heard them, in fact, talking about going on strike.  This is dire. This is the exact specification http://www.titanstore.com/info/4743K4 and they can be purchased here:    https://tinyurl.com/tractor-tire-for-Marguerite  They’re currently out of stock but I phoned them up (you didn’t know I could use the telephone did you?  Well, that is why they call them smart phones!!) and they said check at the first of the year and they should be back in stock.

I love that tractor because it keeps my space clean.  Also, when I see it rolling down the road, I start to run and I swing my neck all around in a funny dance! This is one dancing farm, Nicholas.  You need to come more often.  All right then, I feel slightly better now that I have been able to properly communicate with you.  I wish you and Mrs. Claus a most enjoyable and happy and healthy New Year!

A tender adieu to you,

Marguerite
Star Gazing Farm
16760 Whites Store Road
Boyds, MD 20841

 

 

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Xmas is coming!

We wanna celebrate with you that xmas is almost here and so we are offering you this special gift. Go and download it!

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Read our NewsletterI want to thank all the generous people who donated to my farm’s Giving Tuesday fundraiser. The day brought in enough money not only to fill our barn with hay but to put aside some towards our new barn. I’m so grateful!

If you’d like to know more about what 2019 was like at the farm please read our annual newsletter!

 

From October 31 – November 2 we are celebrating Day of the Dead, remembering the souls who have lived and died here. This tradition dates back to Aztec times, but is still celebrated in many forms and across many cultures. Some believe that on these days the boundary between the spirit world and the earthly world dissolve. Our own Ti-gba (ti Legba) was named after the Voudoun god Legba, the master of the crossroads, the god you must invoke to open up communication with the spirit world.

The Christian church celebrates All Saints Day and All Souls Day on November 1 and 2, respectively. And then there is Halloween, a thoroughly pagan affair.

On these days please remember those who have gone before and passed on. Their bodies may be dust, but their spirits live within us.

You may feel free to remember your own animals who have crossed over in the comments, or post their photos on our facebook page. If you wish, you may also make a donation in memory of your own animal or one our residents who touched your heart. Funds donated will go to help defray funeral expenses.

Memorials pledged by friends




 

We remember you

 

A fellow farmer friend once told me that she often dreads going out in the morning.   “Why is that?” you may ask, innocently perplexed.  See, all you city folk think it’s so lovely to live on land, to smell the fresh air, to be surrounded by animals and plants and all the stuff of life.  Maybe.  Ok, yes.  There is nothing better.  There is fresh air, there are animals, there are plants, and life teems even when you wish it wouldn’t.

But then there is that problem of going out in the morning.

Too often barely fortified by half a cup of coffee and frequently still in pajamas, we warily wander through the fields and into the barns. We are not admiring the view.  We are not enjoying the morning air.  We are not communing with nature.  We are not petting cute, fuzzy animals.  No.

We are looking for bodies.

I challenge any farmer to tell me they don’t do this.  Admit it.  You look for the bodies, now don’t you?  A sleeping beast is enough to send our adrenaline into overdrive.  We glance left and right, in the hay feeders (stuck chicken, anyone?), into the water buckets (oh God, who fell in overnight?).  We count heads and, not finding everyone, get ourselves worked up into a lather.  We brace for the quite decent possibility that someone died overnight, or worse, is lying sick or injured in an inaccessible location, in deep trouble; and we know that this discovery will mean that everything has to stop while we rush for medicine, administer first aid, call the vet, call in reinforcements.   And regardless of how we may feel about whatever has happened, you can bet it is going to cost a lot of money.

Everyone is encumbered. It’s what ties us to life.

Of course, most days on our bleary-eyed morning outings we find nothing of the sort.  Does this make us feel better?  Not at all!  It’s just one more day’s reprieve.  And anyhow, regardless of who may or may not have taken the train out of here overnight, there are still chores to be done, animals to be fed, emails and phone calls to answer, never mind the day job. The good news is that, for today at least, everyone is walking and breathing.  An accomplishment.

Because whether you have a few farm pets, or raise animals for their fiber or for their meat, or offer sanctuary to the old and compromised ones, like we do at my farm, the fear and the caring are all the same.   The vegan police who look down on anyone who “does” anything with their animals will find this surprising, but in my experience of travelling to farms all along the East Coast, the vast majority of people who have animals living outside in barns and on pasture, whether 2 or 200 or 2000, are solidly tethered to their animals.  And every farmer who has had to cope with sudden death or prolonged illness (usually mysterious – illnesses love to be mysterious and un-diagnosable) – each one of us carries a heaviness of resident grief inside.  Sort of like a stone in the stomach.

When I moved to this farm, I was free of death’s friendship.  I blithely brought in sweet animals to live on this sweet farm, and wow, what a great idea this was.  Until I found my beloved Betty the duck ‘s body, sans head. That was the first clue.

And still, I had no idea what I was in for.

I hear stories from my friends that break my heart, stories that are worse than what I’ve dealt with, and I wonder how they keep standing upright.  I hear about animals who got themselves in trouble when humans were not around: a little sheep who got its head stuck in a fence and strangled, a goat who climbed a tree, hooked its foot, and hung till it died.  I hear about impalements and the ravages of dog packs.  I hear about disease and barn fires.  And then sometimes a tractor turns over on a farmer.  I don’t think life is easy for anyone, no matter where you live or what you do.  At some point you are faced with something you are pretty sure you don’t have the strength for.   But as far as the daily dose of hyper-vigilance goes, I think farmers might just rank right up there with cops and EMTs and stockbrokers.

Surprising? What about breathing in lovely fresh air and watching sheep gently grazing in the fields whilst you sip lemonade (or, better, a mint julep) on the porch?  You jest!  Not at our farm.  If we want all that, we go to a hotel… or someone else’s farm.

Sometimes, mostly when I visit people who live in condos with really clean wall-to-wall carpeting and central AC, I wonder what it would be like.  A life, unencumbered.  You know, not wondering if something was goat-proof?  Not worrying about the limping sheep or the alpaca losing weight or new cat hiding under the house.

But of course, that is nonsense.  Everyone is encumbered.  It’s what ties us to life.  My own particular flavor just happens to have dirt and earthy smells, chickens wandering into the house, and goats  banging on the back door.  And death as a regular visitor.  The stone in the stomach, the heaviness I hadn’t known before farm life, brings me back to my choice of being a shepherd like a divining rod.  Had I never had to usher so many souls into the afterlife, chances are I would be as ungrounded as when I first moved to the country.  Vapid and optimistic.

For you see, that stone is also a gift.  It gives balance.  Maybe it’s my token of membership in the farmers club. “Got granite?”  You have to lean into it, swing around with it, feel how it keeps you close to the earth and yet always still standing, like those dolls who bob around but never fall down.

To bring some levity into my life (and to have an excuse to dress in something other than jeans and mudboots) I recently took up swing dancing. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is the balancing of weight – to trust in leaning back against the hand of your partner and to let him lean back against yours.  Only when you each let gravity do its thing can you really swing.  It feels like flying.  That stone in the gut – it’s my dance partner on the farm.

I’ve lost a lot of animals this year – animals who lived here many years, with whom I had really close friendships.   Some were quite elderly.  Knowing it’s coming makes no difference at all when death arrives, though.  At each loss I’ve fretted, “OK this is the time I’m going to fall apart.”  I’ve waited for the sadness to overwhelm my ability to carry on.  But it didn’t.  What happened was that grounding stone swung me around, weight as counterbalance, set my two feet flat on the ground and asked with an impish grin, “do you want to dance again?”

“Life is the dancer and you are the dance.”
—Eckhart Tolle

Captioning Contest!

August is “caption this” month. Every day there will be at least one photo which really needs a cute/funny/smart/smart alecky caption. Clean language only, please!

How to submit your captions?

You can submit your caption on our facebook page or via email to: captions@stargazingfarm.org. If you submit by email, please indicate what date/photo you are captioning.

Winners

We will announce a winner for each day of the month, and then all of those will go into the “pot” for three grand prize winners!

We have a busy fall planned!  Here are some of our upcoming events.  Make sure to check our Calendar for updated and added events.

Saturday and Sunday, October 5-6, 10am-4pm:  Heritage Montgomery Farm Tour: Star Gazing Farm’s crew will be at the Button Farm!

Sunday, October 13, 8am-3pm: Star Gazing Farm will be a stop on the “Ride for the Reserve” bicycle event held by the Montgomery Countryside Alliance

Saturday, October 26, noon-4: Fall Festival at the Farm!

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We wish to thank the V. and S. Foundation, Inc. of Rockville, MD for their great generosity to our animals. They have pledged to match up to $10,000 of donations to Star Gazing Farm Animal Sanctuary! If you’ve been thinking about making a gift to the farm, this would be a great time to do it, because your donation will be DOUBLED!

You can donate via paypal/credit card:


Or you can send a check to Star Gazing Farm, PO Box 162, Boyds, MD 20841.

Your donation goes a long way at our farm and you help us care for animals who have been abandoned, tend to special needs animals who could not survive on large farms elsewhere, and help place stray and neglected animals in loving homes. You help young people learn the joy of bonding with all kinds of animals and also learn the value of hard work. We are a friendly and welcoming community and we hope you’ll come out and visit to see just how your funds are put directly to work!

Visit this page often to track the progress of this exciting fundraiser!

Read our newsletter

Read our newsletter

What happened at Star Gazing Farm during 2018?  Who are the new animals?  Who passed on to the rainbow bridge?  What are our projects?  You can read our letter below, or see the PDF version all nicely formatted here!

12 December, 2018

Dear Friends,

This is the one time of the year I write an actual letter to all of you! Oh sure, you can check up on the farm’s do-ings on Facebook and our web site, and occasionally I send out an email missive, but this is the one true letter, actually sent the old-fashioned way through the US mail that you’ll get delivered right to your home! So grab a cup of hot tea, put your feet up and read about our amazing year here at the farm.

Not so surprisingly, this letter is about the animals here. These beautiful beings mean the world to me. Their personalities, their ability to heal and adapt, and their ways of communicating are incredible. And every single animal has his or her own special friends (both animal and human). For instance, who can know this farm and not be familiar with the inimitable Mr. Newman Goat (now over 17 years old and the animal who has been here the long-est). Sigh. He tried again this year–but failed–to convince the local election board that he should be allowed to vote (“give goats the vote” was his slogan….). He used to engage in simpler pursuits such as stealing Waldo’s dinner and breaking into my car. Sweetly the goat has been taking over that role, however, and she’s excelling at it. We are, after all, a haven for wayward goats. Two very dear sheep arrived this year who have captured everyone’s hearts—Ricardo and Ray Ray, both about 8 months old now. Ricardo was “slow to develop” and Ray was born blind. We took them both in as special-needs sheep. Right now, in fact, Ricardo is in the hospital recovering from a fairly major surgery to his abdomen – and that, of course, is the other side to this joyful life.

Ask any farmer: animals have ways of getting into trouble we could never begin to imagine, and usually this requires very quick action on our parts. Now, I and the volunteers have become quite savvy about basic animal treatments for things such as intestinal upsets, basic exterior wounds, hoof problems, administering shots and pain medication. But when serious problems or even emergencies happen, we have to be ready to do triage, get the vet out, or transport them to the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital. This is where you can help. You can make a donation to the farm of $25, $50, $100, or dare I hope, $1000 and know that your money will be used to help these precious animals stay safe and healthy.

Working with animal shelters and rescue groups is very important for our sanctuary; most often they are on the front lines, removing animals from poor and even dangerous conditions. This year we brought animals here from three of these wonderful groups. Milo was part of a seizure of a large number of Anatolians from a serious hoarding situation in New Jersey done by Common Sense for Animals. He had lived with sheep and chickens before, and when he arrived here, he looked like he had landed in heaven! He is still very shy with people, but he loves the animals and looks after them all the time.

Mamie, an Australian cattle dog/Jack Russell Terrier mix had been churning out babies at a Pennsylvania puppy mill when she was rescued by the Mid-Atlantic Jack Russell Terrier rescue. She is recovering from this abuse, and is now taking herding classes. She likes to try to ply her trade on the farm every day.

Our two new rabbits Don Giovanni and Luc were initially taken in and sheltered by Friends of Rabbits . Sadly, many rabbits find themselves homeless after their ‘cute’ and small phase is over. These are two big, beautiful, smart rabbits and we’re so happy to have them here.

Bruno and Salvo are two very lucky horses. They were at the auction and headed for the long ride to slaughter (horse slaughter is illegal in the US and so unwanted horses have to ride to Canada or Mexico to meet their awful end). Denise at Gaited Advocate Intervention Team saw them and felt her heart start to break, knowing that they would not be bought by anyone besides the “kill buyer”. Bruno is blind in one eye and has navicular disease, and Salvo has Cushings disease. They actually met on the trailer ride home, and became instant friends. We could not adopt just one of them and leave the other behind, so both are here. Initially quite afraid, they are learning to trust people more and more each day.

When you donate to Star Gazing Farm, you can feel so good that your financial gifts to Star Gazing Farm go to make the difference between life and death; the difference between a painful and wretched existence and a life of comfort and love.

Here are some simple examples of how your funds get put to work here:
♥ $60 buys an 800 lb round bale of hay. 2-3 of these bales feed our whole herd for one week.
♥ $50 pays for the farrier to trim Mehitabel the donkey’s hooves (she needs this every 6 weeks—she came here with very serious hoof problems and a badly healed broken ankle).
♥ $25 pays for a week’s worth of fresh greens for our bunnies.
♥ $15 fills up our beloved tractor with diesel

We spend on average $17,000 a year on veterinary bills and $15,000 on feed and hay . We have three very part-time people who are integral to the animals’ care; everyone else (including me!) is a volunteer. So there is very little overhead in our budget. When you donate, your money has power here.

And our volunteers are amazing! We welcome children starting at age 11 and adults of all ages to get involved, whether that be in shoveling manure on our Saturday work-days, building (and fixing!) fences, knitting, sewing, photo-graphing, drawing, writing, or even tweeting! I’m constantly impressed by the young people who are willing to undertake any task, no matter how dirty or hard it might be, and who are wanting to help and to hug every animal. Their capacity for compassion is so deep. I’m honored to offer them a pro-gram where they can start at a young age, build their physical strength and coordination, learn what hard work is, and understand the responsibilities involved in caring for other beings. They also learn to work with people of all ages, from all different backgrounds and, perhaps most extraordinarily, from different schools!

Won’t you donate to help us build that bridge of compassion for young people, who are our future? A gift of $25, $50, $100 or $500—or (as the kids have instructed me to ask, “new barn shovels, please!”)—will make a big difference.

NEW BARN PROJECT

We need another barn, and that is a fact. Bullwinkle, the immense steer, is going on 14 which is quite old, and he suffers from arthritis. Brandy, our Angus cow, is also getting on in years and is having some joint problems especially in her knees. They simply need a larger space that is enclosed and can be heavily bedded. The intention is for this barn to house all of the cows, and to thus give over the older barn to the horses.

We have seed money of $5000 earmarked for this barn, and need only another $3,800 to complete the funding. This includes site preparation and materials, barn construction, and gates. We are so close! With your donation of $100, $250 or (for your name on a barn plaque) $500, you can help our older giant animals keep cozy, warm and safe for the winter. Our builders tell us the barn can be up within 6 weeks!

Among our other arrivals this year and a future resident of the new barn: Carmen the Here-ford cow. This little calf had been very sick but the farmer fought hard for her. While she survived, her growth was stunted and she lost most of her eyesight as a result. She has grown a lot but will be a “mini cow” for the rest of her life and we love her just the way she is!

We love to help animals but we also love to help animal-loving people. Our four new goats came here from three different loving families who, in all cases, were suffering medical issues of their own and were desperate to find a safe place for the goats they had raised from babies. Sweetly and Yuki, both 9 years old, are very naughty Pygora goats and Jenny, 13, is lovely but swiftly learning how to be naughty. Old Vinnie, 13, is a gentle Angora goat, with a very special toothy smile! These goats have integrated completely into the “goat gang” here and provide much entertainment and irritation on a daily basis.

I am so extremely grateful to you, our supporters and friends, who contribute to helping each and every one of the animals here at this farm. Your generosity means that we are able to provide high quality food, clean bedding, and excellent veterinary care to these beautiful and deserving creatures. We honestly can’t do it without you. Did you know you can donate monthly? Yes! More and more people are opting to donate a set amount every month—whether $10, or $20, or even $50. This regularity means a lot to us and is perhaps easier on your budget. We have an easy-to-use form to sign up for this on our web site (Click on the “Donate” button). You can also set this up through your bank. Our monthly donors are special because we know we can count on a certain income each month, no matter what the season. It’s a greater security I yearn to have for our animals.

I was very, very sad to say goodbye to the following animals this past year: Dogs Henry and Ti-gba, our dear sweet cat Tigger, rabbits Oreo and Mae West, Sheep Kimiko, Huckleberry, Rachel, Jane, and Rebecca, Lime the goose, and Mama B the hen. The hardest part of running this sanctuary is loving the animals and then losing them to death. Yet I feel so blessed to have known them and so happy we were able to give them safe and loving sanctuary .

I thank all of you who have so generously given to the farm in the past, and during this holiday season I wish to ask you once again to please remember us in your end of year giving plans. It’s your donations that feed the animals, support the youth programs, pay veterinarians, farriers, and hay suppliers, and ensure that our sanctuary animals have a continued, secure future. Although we work with the local animal control agencies, taking in and helping to place the unwanted and abused farm animals in their care, we receive no government funds and so rely entirely on donations to help the animals.

Won’t you help us by donating, and sharing this with your animal-loving friends? Your donations not only go to feed the rescued animals, they are also feeding young minds and establishing a supportive and loving community. Thank you for caring!

For the love of the animals,
Anne E. Shroeder (Farmer Anne)

P.S. The sanctuary needs your support! Won’t you send your tax-deductible donation of $25, $50, $100, or even $500 today? Thank you.

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2019 Calendars are in and for sale on our web site. $10 each plus shipping!

 

 

The 2019 Star Gazing Calendars are here!  Each month features a gorgeous photo of our animals (by photographer Kathe Powell).  This is a 12-month calendar, 17″x 11″, and is in full color. with the last four months of 2018 in summary.  The calendar includes holidays, and the full, new, and crescent moons.

You can purchase the calendar at the farm or at one of our events, or order online.  All proceeds of sales of the calendar go directly to help care for our animals.

The cost is $10 per calendar (or $12.50 with shipping).





 

Sneak peek inside!

It’s their very own advent calendar!

The animals are all extremely busy right now writing their letters to Santa Claus. Most of them have been good, but a few of them have been naughty – I wonder if they will let on to Santa? This is the spot where you can read their letters. Each day a different animal will get to publish his or her letter. If you’d like to send them a gift that they ask for, it will make them very happy!

Click on today’s date to read today’s letter! You can also read the letters from previous days (in blue). Days in red … well, those are still a surprise!  To see a full list of what the animals have asked for (and what has already been received), please click here.

Captioning Contest!

October is “caption this” month. Every day there will be at least one photo which really needs a cute/funny/smart/smart alecky caption. Clean language only, please!

How to submit your captions?

You can submit your caption on our facebook page or via email to: captions@stargazingfarm.org. If you submit by email, please indicate what date/photo you are captioning.

The Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our “Caption This” contest !! The grand prize winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to our gift shop (and yes, can be used online). The second prize winner will receive a $50 gift certificate to our gift shop.and the runner up, a $25 gift certificate.

In first place:

By Patrick Shuster

 In second place:

By Tom Jackson

 

In third place:

By Beth Cayer

October 2, 2018:

“Come on give me a smooch. Don’t be like that.” (Credit to Margie Callahan)

October 3, 2018:

“And coming around the first turn Louisa has the lead, but Jean-Claude isn’t giving up, he is staying right on her tail.” (Credit to Karen King)

October 4, 2018:

” Gooooooooooood
MORNING!!!!” (Credit: Paul Morris)

October 5, 2018:

“Just 5 more minutes” (Credit: Laurie Fausze Allen)

October 6, 2018:

“…and then she said, “FINE,” and stormed off. I tell ya fellas, I just don’t get it.” (Credit: Beth Cayer)

October 7, 2018:

“Goat catnip” (Credit: Linda Cox)

October 8, 2018:

“Attention please, we have an announcement from management…” (Credit: Alice Flyte)

October 9, 2018:

“Is my hair ok?” (Credit: Nelly Ortiz)

October 10, 2018:

“Oh no, I’m BAAAAAAre!” (Credit: Kathe Powell)

October 11, 2018:

“My tongue is stuck!” (Credit: Debbie Laredo Weinberger)

October 12, 2018:

“Knowing that it could mean unlimited food for all, goat scientists worked feverishly to understand the door latch principle.” (Credit: Tom Jackson)

October 13, 2018:

“Just chillin” (Credit: Veronica Holling)

October 14, 2018:

“I just love stakeouts- you ready for a kibble break?” (Nancy Hartman)

October 15, 2018:

“Photobomb!” (Credit: Sharon Johnson).

October 16, 2018:

“Reservations for two please. Oh, and by the way we’re vegetarians!” (Credit: Angela Smitty)

October 17, 2018:

“I’ll tell you when the coast is clear” (Credit: Darleen Morris Peteritis)

October 18, 2018:

#1: “You’ve heard of a peeping Tom?” (Debbie Merchant McKerrow) #2: “Excuse me, do you have a moment of time to talk about our savior?” (Patrick Shuster)

October 19, 2018:

” I’ll help unload the groceries for you!” (Credit: Judi Lynn Durham)

October 20, 2018:

“Every time I try to take a peaceful nap, somebody just has to pet me” (Credit: Patricia Showe)\

October 21, 2018:

“Here is MY ballot” (Credit: Marianne Lawson)

October 22, 2018:

“WWF Saturday Nite Take Down!” (Credit: Stephanie Woolsey)

October 23, 2018:

“Who ordered the tossed salad?” (Credit: Keri Chase)

October 24, 2018:

“You should see the other guy.” (Credit: Wendy A. Augustine)

October 25, 2018:

“NEWMAN, where have you been all my life?!” (Credit: Debbie Billhimer)

October 26, 2018:

“If it fits, I sits”. (Credit: Amanda Spino)

October 27, 2018:

” Deposit.50 cents to go forward” (Credit: Judi Lynn Durham)

October 28, 2018:

“Just a pig in a blanket.” (Credit: Callie Hill)

October 29, 2018:

“And 1 2 cha cha cha” (Credit: Kim Sosnowski)

October 30, 2018:

“Hold it right there, pardner.” (Credit: Susan Vitale)

October 31, 2018:

“Hello! would you like to join me for a spot of grass?” (Credit: Jeanettea Williams)

Our animals are anxiously waiting to be sponsored, especially some of our brand new animals who have never had a sponsor before!

During the entire month of September, one animal will have an opportunity each day to persuade y0u that he/she is the ONE you want to sponsor, and come to visit.

We’ll post a new animal in the spotlight on our front page every day, and will also post on our Facebook page.

What is a sponsor?

It can be as simple as an honorary stipend given to that animal for his/her feed and care.  You receive a lovely packet with biographical information and photos.  It can also mean establishing a relationship with your animal where you come to visit, bring treats, groom, and have deep and long conversations.

How do I do it?

Very easy!  Visit our sponsorship page and select your special animal – the form will walk you through it.  You can also give a sponsorship as a very special gift.  Questions?  Please email us!

Why Schmooze?

In addition to holding informal Saturday visits at the farm(every Saturday between 10 and 2), we will be out and about this month!   Sunday, September 23 from 11-2 we’ll be at the Bark! in Kentlands.  Come on out and schmooze with our woolly friends.

Who will be next!?

Check our Facebook page daily to read stories and anecdotes about the animals available nowhere else!

Who has made their appearance on Facebook?

My dog Sullivan is a big black lab mixed with something.  He’s a good dog but he has a few problems; mostly, he’s old.  There seems to be a lot of that going around these days.  And being old, he doesn’t always get a lot of warning when he has to poop. A few weeks ago he made it just outside the dog door and pooped on the welcome mat.  Then it rained. The mat is ridged and so while poop pickup was not particularly convenient even with the nicely formed specimen, once it rained, of course, the poop became a fecal splat, deeply ingrained in the ridges of the mat. This was now a Project.  The hose hookup at the house is not completely functional and last I checked, someone had scavenged the hose and used it elsewhere on the farm. So the pile stayed there.

Some people clear their piles the moment they appear. I think these people are almost certainly descendants of aliens. They probably also don’t need coffee in the morning.

Every day since that poop was deposited on my front step I managed to navigate around it.  Folks coming to help do morning and evening feedings entered the front door and also navigated around it.  With recent rains it increased its real estate and someone, most likely Sullivan, walked through it and spread it onto the concrete steps as well.  Nothing that a good hosing down with some soap would not fix. But that required locating a hose, dragging it through an elderberry-filled jungle of the front yard, hooking it up to the somewhat crooked spigot, getting all the kinks out of the house, and actually washing it down.  At most a 15 minute task. Instead of doing this, I and everyone else entering the house continued to walk around the pile. The accumulated energy of actively ignoring that pile was probably enough to scrub and repaint the front steps and put up window boxes.  But so many of our piles are like that, aren’t they. And I still don’t have window boxes.

Some people clear their piles the moment they appear.  I think these people are almost certainly descendants of aliens.  They probably also don’t need coffee in the morning.  Me — I seem to be a magnet for piles.  I don’t ordinarily leave dog poop in my midst, I’ll admit, but I always seem to have an inordinate share of other Life Piles: laundry, overdue library books, bills, boxes for recycling, bags of chicken feed, veterinary detritus, duct tape, and, of course, Sullivan’s occasional indiscretions on the front porch.

Eventually I did locate a hose. I waded through the tangle of the front yard, hooked the hose  up, and, with admittedly a great deal of cursing, worked out all the kinks so it would spurt water.  I cleaned the heck out of that front porch.  It felt good.  I then went on to vacuum the house, do four loads of laundry, wash windows, clear the kitchen table of bills and dog biscuits and old tools, pay bills, check email, and generally become frighteningly efficient.  For a few hours.

Now I’m back to normal, thank goodness.  Sullivan continues to poop on the front porch when his old man intestines tell him to, but that’s OK.  I’ve figured out that I don’t have to turn into superwoman to have a porch that people can walk on without fear of icky shoes.  I’ve also been giving Sullivan a lot more hugs lately.  He’s really old and he has bad breath but his ears are so silky and his head so regal and fine, and he follows me everywhere I go in the house, just to be close.  He is a bit dotty, and sometimes forgets where he was going. He stands in the hallway and blocks traffic, and looks in wonderment at all the humans streaming around him, so busy busy busy all the time.  His appetite is waning, but he has developed a taste for McDonald’s breakfast biscuits.  He has some trouble getting up and down, but he still chooses the softest dog beds in the house.  He doesn’t bark much anymore, and I rather miss that loud acknowledgement, but he still goes out to the front porch to greet me every time I get home.  And if I have to clean up a pile or two in exchange for all that, well … hand me the hose.

Our annual letter is now ready for your reading pleasure!  Meet all of the new animals at the farm and learn about all the activities from this past year.  We hope you’ll be inspired to become a farm supporter, or to renew your commitment to helping our animals!  [read newsletter PDF]

 

We wish to thank the following:

  • The Ina Kay Foundation for their generous gift to the farm.
  • The Joseph Robert Foundation for their generous grant to pay for animal veterinary expenses.
  • All the wonderful people who participated in our #GivingTuesday campaign.

Your support is invaluable to the farm!