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When I was a kid, I loved to tease my dad about his ‘bald spot’.  Honestly, he had just this round thing at the crown of his head – it started when he was in his mid-thirties and never went anywhere interesting.  Eventually I got over making fun of my poor old dad who always took it in stride, having more important things on his mind like paying the electric bill and educating the youth of America.  In fact, when he passed away at the age of 86, he had a full head of hair and a wonderful professorial beard. So much for youthful impertinence.

I recently got a bald spot, myself, giving credence to the “you’ll get yours” theory of life.  I was out working on an alpaca farm.  The alpaca was restrained and I was doing some dental work using a dremel, when I felt the maddening sensation of a biting black fly landing on my head.  I of the quick reactions raised my right hand (wielding said dremel) and swatted that fly … and in the process, dremeled about 2 inches of hair right out of my scalp.  It took ages to remove the hair from the tool.  And I am now learning the joys of creating a comb-over.

sully

Sullivan loves everyone and is never in a bad mood.

Sullivan the dog also has a comb-over of sorts.  One doesn’t often see bald dogs, especially in the lab family.  The other day a young volunteer at the farm made a remark about his naked bum.  I, now learned in the ways of hair loss, jumped to his defense. “Oh, it used to be much worse,” I said.  “He had a terrible flea allergy when he arrived at the shelter.  His hair has grown out beautifully since then.”  The skeptical youth, sporting a luxuriant full head of hair, said dubiously she thought perhaps he was still a bit bald.  Thank God I had my own comb-over in place that day.

People can be so quick to jump to conclusions based on external irregularities.  But we are a farm FULL of irregular beings, me and my bald spot included.  Madison the sheep has an extraordinarily big booty (due only to his own gluttony and nothing he can blame on his genes).  Mehitabel the donkey has a sideways foot but she still serves up a mean kick to anyone who messes with her dinner.  Joey and Newman Goat have chronic nose boogers, Dee Dee Donkey drools, Little Di the goat smiles sideways with her ‘wry mouth’, May May the goose has half a foot due to an unfortunate encounter with a snapping turtle.  And Sullivan has a bald bottom.

Unless an irregularity presents a medical issue or causes actual distress to someone, it does not matter.  A ‘special feature’ is just like color or height or shape or length of nose – or the beautiful sound of their voice.

A staff member at the Fairfax animal shelter told me that despite Sullivan’s friendly personality, a family who might have been interested in adopting him said, ruefully, “he’s just too ugly.”  I have to shake my semi-bald head several times because I personally think Sullivan is so far from ugly that he’s never met the word.  That is to say that love is blind to baldness.  Which is a darned good thing given my recent hair loss.  Now go out and hug a bald person.

“I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam.”
~ Popeye

Need to contact us about a visit?

In order to make your visit as memorable as possible we ask that you review our recommendations before making your trip.

When Can I Visit?

We have informal visiting hours every Saturday from 10am-2pm, and formal events three times a year. If you are planning on dropping by on an unscheduled (informal) day, please just let us know you’re coming; we are working on Saturdays and need to plan for a tour guide for you. Please note: there are no unsupervised visits.

Parking

Where do I park?

Where do I park?

There is a gate into the farm; please close it behind you so the animals stay inside the farm. Once inside, please feel free to park in front of the house in the areas indicated by the red arrows. Mr. Newman Goat-only parking is in the rear of the home, and he prefers to leave that space open for hay deliveries.

Families

We welcome family visits, as we believe learning about the farm animals is a great educational experience for both young and old. Parents must stay with their children at all times.

Pets

Please leave all pets at home. If you need to bring a service animal please contact us first, as we have Guardian animals on the farm.

Snacks

The animals love apples, bananas, lettuce, and other healthy treats like fig newtons. If you’d like to bring treats for the animals, please take them into the farm office first to be sorted. We monitor what the animals eat every day. If you wish to bring your own snack, please consume it in the designated visitor areas and do not bring any food into the barnyard.

Pictures

Please feel free to take lots of photos! We love seeing the farm through your eyes, and your happy faces are our happy memories.

Directions

Please go to www.stargazingfarm.org/directions for detailed directions. We are approximately 6 miles away from Route 270, Germantown exit.

Disclaimer & Waiver

You visit the farm at your own risk. By visiting the farm you agree to the following:

  • I understand that farm animals are independent living beings with their own minds and as such, can never be entirely predictable.
  • I understand that there are always elements of risk in farm activities, including permanent disability or death, that common sense and personal awareness are essential to minimizing the risks.
  • I am aware that at all times when on Star Gazing Farm, Inc. (SGF) property it is MY RESPONSIBILITY to:
    • Be alert and respectful of animals at all times.
    • Not run, scream, chase any animal, or provoke any animal in any way.
    • Wear appropriate clothing including durable shoes.
    • Refrain from acting in any manner which may cause or contribute to my injury or the injury of other people or animals.
  • I understand that this is only a partial list, and I must be safety conscious and exercise sound judgment AT ALL TIMES. ANYONE found to be endangering themselves, other people, or animals faces removal from the premises.

I hereby acknowledge and assume the risk of participation in any and all animal related activities at SGF or in any and all locations where SGF activities take place. I hereby acknowledge that I will release, Star Gazing Farm, Inc., its officers, staff members, volunteers, instructors, advisors, and/or agents in any location where animal related activities are conducted or animals and/or property are used, of and from all claims which may hereafter develop or accrue to them on account of injury, loss or damage, which may be suffered by said minor or to any property, because of any matter, thing, or condition, negligence or default whatsoever, and they hereby assume and accept the full risk and danger of any hurt, injury or damage which may occur through or by reason of any matter, thing or condition, negligence or default, or any person or persons whatsoever.

Some of our visitors!

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Summer is a time of heat and a lot of extra volunteers.  We want to keep both animals and people cool.  Please help us fulfill our wishes for this summer.

We’ll be updating this list regularly, adding items and noting what has been donated.  Thank you for helping the animals and the folks who care for them!

Please note:  you can have items shipped to our address at:  16760 Whites Store Road, Boyds, MD 20841

FOR OUR ANIMALS

FOR OUR VOLUNTEERS & VISITORS

TO HELP OUR HARD-WORKING VOLUNTEER

 

We are now opening up sponsorships of Bob the Tractor. Bob has had to go in for his regular checkup at the Frederick Kubota place, and he has several very costly repairs required.  Bob is a Very Important Person on this farm. He helps clean up manure and bedding; he gives great joy to our volunteer Dave who regularly turns and moves the compost piles, making wonderful fertilizer for local gardeners; he hauls hay around for the animals; and he allows young volunteers to gain experience driving a tractor.  Would you like to sponsor Bob?

  • Price: $50.00
Shayne with the construction crew

Shayne with the construction crew

My name is Shayne Carver. I am currently a senior in high school. For the past four years, I have been a member of the Quince Orchard High School football team. I originally started playing football at the age of eight in the Poolesville youth program. Fortunately, in all those years of playing I have never suffered a concussion; at least none that I can recall. But what I do recall is how much I loved the town of Poolesville. I especially remember how much I loved the 20 minute drive from my home in Gaithersburg, through the rolling hills and farms of Upper Montgomery County; far from the hustle and bustle of city life. Sadly, that horizon is slowly becoming cluttered with development and new construction where crops once grew.

Although I live in the city, I’ve always pictured myself living on a farm. Just four years ago, I decided to see what it might be like, so I started volunteering at Mr. Newman’s farm in Boyds, Maryland. Now, Mr. Newman isn’t the nicest guy in town. In fact, he can be a bit crusty. He never has anything pleasant to say, and he never wants to hear your opinion. The term “personal space” is foreign to Mr. Newman. He’s even somewhat of a kleptomaniac, and has been known to help himself to your lunch. Visitors are advised to lock their car doors in fear of losing valuables or having Mr. Newman nap in your front seat. In the four years that I have volunteered for him, he has never once thanked me.

I guess you might be wondering why I have continued to serve him. Am I just a glutton for punishment? Well, the answer is simple… Mr. Newman is actually a 160 pound goat who is a permanent resident and self-proclaimed boss at the Stargazing Farm. This small, four acre farm is an animal sanctuary that takes in abused, stray, and unwanted farm animals in need and provides them a permanent home.

Despite the name “Star Gazing Farm”, it is a true working farm and an extreme amount of labor goes into keeping it running. The farm hosts more than forty animals, including horses, donkeys, llamas, goats, ducks, geese, chickens, rabbits, sheep, cats, pigs, dogs, and a 2000 pound Holstein steer named Bullwinkle. Volunteers are an integral part of keeping the farm alive. Anyone eleven or older is welcomed to pitch in. Even though the farm’s roster lists over eighty volunteers, the bulk of the work is done by a core group of about 20 people. I am proud to be included in that “core group”.

Over the past few years, I have recruited friends, scout troop members, high school teammates, and parents to work on a number of construction and beautification projects. Coleman Martinis, Christopher Nyborg and Caleb Chipman have done their Eagle projects there and Jackson Shawen is starting his soon. We have built a chicken coop, a goat hutch, storage shelving, several hundred feet of fencing, and converted an old shed into a visitor’s center. I’ve trimmed trees, painted and repaired fences, organized storage areas, replaced roofs, and made several trips to the dump. On the farm’s behalf, I have negotiated with a local mill to donate lumber needed for fencing and other projects. I have also bartered with a local tree cutting company to provide firewood to fuel the farm’s lone source of heat, the wood stove.

I have learned that physical service to your community is valuable in itself, but helping others also offers you many benefits. Service can provide a healthy boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also help you gain a sense of pride and identity. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals. Whatever your age or life situation, service can help take your mind off your own worries. And the physical activity involved in certain forms of service can be good for your health at any age.

It is easy to see how things have changed for the better since that first day that I volunteered at the farm over four years ago. While I have grown over 5 inches in height, I believe I have grown even more as a person. With the patient guidance from my mentor at the farm, Mr. Mike Van Norden, my confidence as a leader has increased as we successfully completed each project. I have shared many of the responsibilities of planning these projects including estimating and securing supplies, assembling volunteers, accommodating for the animals, accounting for the weather, ensuring everyone’s safety, all while staying on budget. I have learned to value hard work and take pride in seeing plans followed through to completion. And I have come to truly admire the men that wear their “blue collar” with pride. Men like my Grandfathers. Men like Mr. Mike Van Norden. Those that get the job done.

Because of the confidence that I have gained through my experiences at the farm, I now have a plan for my future. I have recently been in contact with Mr. Brigg Bunker: President of Foulger-Pratt Construction and will be working for them this summer. Next September, I will be attending Brigham Young University, and plan on majoring in Construction Management. One day I would like to own my own construction business.

I’ll close with a quote from the late great actress and humanitarian Audrey Hepburn:

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”

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.

2015 pickup dates:  Saturdays between 9 am and 2 pm. Bring a pickup truck, trailer, or heavy duty compost bags or buckets.

Reports back from gardeners say that this stuff is magic.

This season we have two varieties:

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.

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, seeds, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

We invite you to come and take as much as you want, as many loads as you want. If you are able, we’d greatly appreciate a tax-deductible donation to the farm to help us keep our tractor running and filled with diesel, as little or as much as you want to give.

For large loads, or if you can’t make it on Saturdays, please contact us regarding other arrangements for pickup.

We offer community service learning hours to young people in the Montgomery County school system! Volunteers must be at least 11 years of age.  Volunteer Application Form.

Frequently asked questions about volunteering, visiting, and more