Do believe animals have souls?

We all hear stories, right? Have you ever had experience with an animal exhibiting such compassion that it leaves you with little doubt they have a soul?

I have on two specific occasions, recently. Reading an e-mail from a friend which delves into a guide dog’s heroic efforts to save people from the burning buildings at Ground Zero, regardless of the pain being inflicted from his burning paws and lungs; brought this question to mind.
This past Easter I purchased ducklings and chicks for our family; it’s still very cold here in the Northeast at that time of the year so they needed to be kept warm in our kitchen, near the wood-stove in our kitchen. As you may already know, we have a Berna-doodle named Finnegan; he quickly became attached to the peeping bundles of downy fuzz; checking on the them from time to time, and always, as soon as he came back into the house from his outdoor adventures. time passed and the fuzzy bundles grew, down being replaced by feathers, signaling their readiness for the warming weather conditions. We prepared an area right out of the back kitchen door, safe from predators, rain and wind, a new home complete with a wading pool for the growing ducklings. Finnegan would go to the (french) doors and look out at them, seemingly assuring himself they were ok. One morning several weeks later; Finn was at the back doors barking, loudly and sharply…unlikely behavior for him, he is very laid back most of the time (except when visitors arrive)…”Finn, shush”, I told him, nope..he kept right on barking, (I should add, he is a 140lb animal, his voice fills the house) I went to the kitchen to find out what in the world was going on…he was looking from me to the doors and back again; barking still. As I looked out, I noticed one of the chicks had fallen into the wading pool and was struggling to stay afloat. Finn and I went out and I took the little fuzz ball out, dried by the fire inside, all the while Finn sat by our side. I placed her back into her snug enclosure with the other chicks. Finn took a nap.

Maeve was one of my favorite llamas, she was beautiful, sweet, and very trusting. I couldn’t wait for to be old enough to breed (3 yrs, here on on farm),hoping for a cria as sweet and beautiful as she was. Finally it happened, we were so excited; she would be due in early May of 2011. With an 11 month gestation period, this seemed like forever. May 20, 2011, Maeve was in labor, it was a long and difficult labor; she needed help. The Vet was called; and Teddy walked us through everything. After hours and hours of labor, with my assistance, Our Phantom’s Thunder (Andy) was born. A tall, beautiful, boy. Maeve was exhausted, but still she nuzzled at him, as he tried to stand…and stand he did within minutes of hitting the ground. As with most mammals, getting the mother’s first milk (colostrum) is extremely important and can mean life or death in llamas; Andy wasn’t nursing. Maeve tried to coax him, hours passed, knowing that there is a small window of opportunity for Andy to benefit from the milk rich in antibodies and vital nutrients.The newborn should ideally get at least 10 % of body weight of colostrum in the first 12 hours after birth. 10% of a 30 pound cria is three pounds or three pints (a pint a pound the world around). Colostrum is strongest THE FIRST MILKING and gradually becomes diluted. The antibodies are absorbed the best the first 6-12 hours. By 24 hours of age virtually no antibody absorption occurs. We decided to try to express milk from Maeve, and bottle feed Andy; She stood perfectly for us, which was amazing; we were able to get enough colostrum from her to feed him in small increments(or try, he was incredibly independent, which has served him well since). Hoping above all we had gotten enough into him, we continued this routine every 2-3 hours over the course of 2 days. Problem number 3 arose; it was going on 36 hrs and Maeve had not expelled her after birth, we had been in contact with the Vet ( of course this is the weekend) after following her suggestions it appeared that it had all passed; though in 3 pieces, not ideal. weeks passed, Andy was growing strong, Maeve became my concern, she was growing weary, and developed a limp. After a trip for both of them to the Vet, we started on a prescriptive regime. She appeared better for awhile, then rapidly worsen, Andy was now six weeks old; and was drinking water from the bucket and eating grain(highly unusual) He wasn’t getting enough nutrition from his Mom, so he became independent enough to seek it on his own. It was a week of 100 degree temps. and high humidity; it appeared we were losing our battle to save Maeve, we tried everything, I spent 6-8 hours with her everyday, hoisting her up to do physical therapy, and thus allowing Andy to nurse. We could not get her fever down, nor get her up ( a down llama is not good). Andy and another llama (KatDoll) had been beside her day and night for the past couple of days; only getting up to drink ( I had an ample supply of hay in the barn for them). they kushed (laid) right beside her…she was never alone. On a hot July afternoon, Maeve passed. KatDoll and Andy got up quietly and together walked away. It seemed KatDoll had made a promise; she would watch over Andy, KatDoll was not of breeding age, so she could not nurse him, but she has caring for him since, they are rarely apart. (Oh my gosh, I am crying again)

I believe animals have souls. Do you?


fuzz ball , all cute and cuddly


Maeve with Andy


A promise was made


never alone...


Be well,

Where was I headed?…along the way

Well, Irene has come and gone…and somewhere along the way I learned a few things. I think many folks did.

The storm spared our farm from any damage; thank the Lord. But down the road ~ in any direction, you find loss, and destruction. A farm with 500 cattle washed away, mud slides taking out homes, historic covered bridges ~ gone! Like many of you, I have spent my life doing the things that I loved,things that I needed to do, things that were expected of me…accumulated memories and stuff, I have come to realize; stuff doesn’t matter…

What does matter:relationships you have with friends, family…and the love you share,the support and help you give,how you enjoy life,how you care for those lives entrusted to you…livestock, pets… I will; spend more time with those I love, share what I have with those less fortunate, take the time to do the little things that bring joy to myself, friends, and family..tell those who mean so much to me how much I care and love them, do little things to make loved ones recognize how much I appreciate them, throw the ball for my dogs,take time to do something, or go somewhere special with my family and friends,recognize that life is about sharing and not about what’s in it for me…and my wish for you:

I hope you dance…by Lee Ann Womack:

“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
GOD forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance…I hope you dance.”

If you think about it; the people who made a difference in your life, the ones you really remember, are the ones that cared.

I had taken many pictures of angry waters and threatening skies; I chose instead to post the blue skies that I think of when I think of summer.

Love and kindness…


neighbors, or precious friends…


definitely wondering…

do chickens wonder?…


Why is he in our food???

quite a guy, his name is Phantom…in case you’re wondering.

Here is Mali, he might be wondering why the girls get the bigger pasture…

…watcha doin’ over there…

…the girls…

an end to beautiful day…

Be Well, and as (Charles Schultz) once said “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”


Oops, I spilled the beans…a re-post..

What a beautiful morning,cool,a mist on the pasture, grass wet from dew; I am starting my morning chores a bit later than usual…Howie let me sleep in; he fed the chicks, ducks,dogs,Riley the cat and llamas. All I needed to do was clean the barn and put fresh bedding down (extra snuggle and photo time) or so I thought.

I took my time, taking to the “girls” as I worked; everyone does that right? Well anyway, I got every thing clean and fresh as a daisy (no, really). Still talking and puttering about, I start to drag the now nearly full barrel to the “poop pile”; walking backwards and pulling the barrel by the handle…then, like a slow motion film, I am falling ~ the handle on the barrel just gave way ~ no, I’m not falling onto a nice grassy pasture floor ~ I am falling into the “poop pile” … not only am I now on my hiney, hands, and what ever other part of me could possibly be… is in a pile of poop, the barrel that I just spent all this time and energy filling is now spilling out of the barrel around me. My first reaction, being cool and all, is to look around to see if anyone saw what just took place; no one around, but, I swear the llamas chuckled…(see photos below, there is a definite twinkle in Syria’s eye).

As I was gathering what was left of my dignity, and re-scooping poop,(can you think of anything more glamorous), the llamas sent out a “danger call”; if you have never heard that sound…it’s an alarm sound they make in times of distress, to warn the herd of intruders or potentially dangerous situations; sounds sorta like a rooster-ish/horse-ish whinny. Anyway, they all ran down to the fence line to investigate; I grabbed my camera, don’t want to miss all this excitement. Chester, KatDoll, Breezy, and little Andy(tucked in beside KatDoll), are looking toward the woods, that border a swampy pond… the high grass is rustling, as whatever it is makes it’s way toward the small tool shed. All eyes are fixed, and the calls continue…out pops Finnegan (so much for excitement) he must have gone for a stinky,yucky,smelly swim…the llamas aren’t used to anyone entering the pasture from that direction, as soon as Finnegan’s head erupted from the hedgerow, he ducked back in, he saw all of the llamas, standing making THAT noise at him. Of course, I could have put the camera down,and gone to get him, but what fun would that have been.There may be a dog gone good lesson to learn here (forgive the pun), after all, Finnegan should not be in the stinky, smelly pond. After, what seemed like an eternity, but was really only a few seconds, Finnegan, came out slowly, keeping, close to the ground, slinking across the yard past the llama’s admonishing chatter; as soon as he felt safe he all out sprinted to the safety of the front porch…Oh, Finni the amusement you provide.

Well, now that Howie is off the roof of the old barn we are dismantling, to re-purpose; I should go down there to help him…heights and I don’t get along very well.

A field full of sunshine…

The girls, waiting for me to clean their home…maid service is here!

Uggh, I spilled the beans.

These are my beautiful tools of the trade; beauty is in the eye of the beholder, ok?!

Syria, post chuckle..

Syria is Maeve’s Mom…hugs to her.

What is that over there??

Watching for the “intruder”…or Finni, as it turned out.

Here’s Finnigan, just so you have an idea of who caused all of the commotion.

Keep your eye on him!

Since Maeve’s passing, these two have been inseparable; I think she made a promise Maeve.

Never more than a step behind…

Turn your face to the sun…

Storms headed our way today…
Be well, enjoy your day.

A good name will shine forever…what will yours say?

It has been longer than I like since I’ve posted anything…there has been so much going on here,some good, some not so pleasant.

There’s a heart shaped stone Howie found for Maeve’s resting place at the top of the hill, where the pasture opens wide and the setting sun highlights the trees there. Maeve’s stay with us here at the farm was relatively short, she just turned 4 in May. But who of us can say whether a life is better short or long? Neither the length of the loved ones life nor it’s briefness determines the value of that stay. The purposes that Maeve came to accomplish may become more clear as time passes, but today she reminds us again that life on this earth is not only fragile but limited in time. She is a reminder that we, too, shall follow her and the others that we love to the arms of the dear Lord who so intricately fashioned us all. She has left you a precious gift in Andy.(Thank Mitchell Cohen for those comforting words) She used to love to run…she took my heart and ran with it, and she’s running still, fast and strong, a piece of my heart bound up with her, forever. My heart is delicate and will take a long time to heal; It may seem patched up, but it will mend…. in its own time. My thoughts had to return to her precious Andy; he must remain healthy. We, all of us, at Misty Maples Farm have made it our heartfelt pursuit and responsibility.

But, not all is sad..we took time to drive to New Hampshire to share a meal with one of my younger brothers. A lot of laughter and good times were had by all!

Life is full of ups and downs, in farm life sometimes it is exciting ~ sometimes disappointing ~ perhaps at these times a little sad…sometimes it feels like it’s never ending; things never stop having to be done. There is always something wherever you look. But it’s my life; and I LOVE IT! The sadness as well as the joy!

Our Maeve.

View from Hogback Mt. on our way to NH.

Now, where were we going?

Daughter with her Uncle..


Look, I found a busy little bee.

Never good bye…always see ya soon!

Andrew and Maeve going for a walk…a couple years ago; she was always so gentle.

A moment of of innocence…Jessica, where did Maeve go?

Why did she leave, did she go down the road?

Heaven? Can Andy go see her?

“I love you, Jecasa” and the coversation turned to chickens…childhood is amazing!

Enjoy this and every day..

And so life on the farm continues, Be Well.

putting the farm to bed…summertime

Between the dusk of a summer night,and the dawn of a summer day, a place where “plenty to do” and “nothing to do” intersect…sitting out on the front porch with the tired dogs, lemon-aide, and candles burning…I notice the breeze rippling across through the hay-field next to me, catch the just-distant-enough sound of children laughing. And I realize that, without trying, I’ve shifted into a lower gear. Maybe,as I begin to remember summers of my childhood of us kids all sitting close in the dark, talking,laughing, catching fireflies, hoping, silently the night doesn’t end…wanting this closeness and sheer happiness never to end…to bottle the enchanting, delicious summer nights…simple and luxurious all at once.
This felt like a chance to share something I found so wonderful..summer and childhood. My siblings are spread all over now…hope they are enjoying this summer night.
I should be getting the animals set for the night, I gather grain, the water hose, a wheel barrow of hay, and the tired dogs…it was a hot one…and everyone is drinking in the cool dew and night breezes, relaxing, chewing their cud, or scratching in the grass…
After the minor excitement of the nightly chores; a calm hush seemed to come over our little farm…maybe one last dunk in the pool and call it a day.


Good night Finn…

just waiting for a crackling fire…


today’s final burst of joyful energy…

full tummy before bed..

spectacular summer night.

I hope you had a wonderful summer night.
Be well,

A Beautiful Life…and a barn

Our lives can sometimes fall into a routine of sorts; a dance we do with the people we surround ourselves with everyday, a way to get done the tasks we have on any particular day. I sometimes wanted to revolt against these routines. I saw them as the enemy of adventure and of living a spontaneous life. However, as I’ve grown older, and perhaps a little wiser, I’ve found that routines can be quite blissful. I’ve realized that every day events and what we would commonly classify as “normal”, is often extraordinary if you just take a closer look.
I’ve discovered that even if you’re not exactly where you’d like to be, that doesn’t mean that life right now can’t be beautiful or enjoyable. And the best part is, you don’t have to do anything to make it beautiful. It already is beautiful.
All you have to do is open your eyes.

All you have to do is open your eyes.

Realizing that beauty exists in every moment is possible; it simply takes a way of seeing things a bit differently.

Sometimes, the simplest things have the most profound beauty…

I believe llamas are some of the most serene, calming animals I have ever encountered; here is one of the “girls” on our farm…

Sometimes all it takes is a smile..

Harry,Donald,Howard,and Arnold our farm ducks enjoying their day..

My pretty little bantam rooster…actually a very, very sweet guy.

boy,oh, boy…the chicks and ducks would find these as interesting as I find them pretty.

So take a deep breath, go for a walk, experience, relax and take a closer look.

Oh, one last photo; our saga: to dismantle an old fallen barn, and reconstruct it on our farm…the small barn has been dismantled, we loaded the last load of salvageable lumber and barn siding into our stock trailer and now – after unloading this – we can start on the dismantling of the SECOND small barn…to bring home…then building begins. Perhaps an old-fashioned Barn Raising Party in the fall…hmm

Be Well,

>Farmer’s markets…a unique shopping experience


The atmosphere; casual, open air shopping …enticing; the goods: fresh…all in all, remarkable!
I love heading out to our local Farmer’s and Green Markets, to support and chat with local farmers and  artisans. Enjoy the sense of community. Soak up the entrepreneurial spirit, and  gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to bring their beautiful offerings to market. They’ll also offer information and inspiration on how to prepare, or use your fresh ingredients!  While you’re at it you’ll be reducing pollution, packaging, and pesticide use while encouraging diversification in farming and stimulating your local economy…yay!
Healthy , Entertaining, local, FUN!

Bring some sunshine to your table….

Most vendors are truly passionate about bringing their best, and each has  a unique story to tell…How much fun is this apron, if I were wearing this, I’d be dancing while I bake…just because!!!

Direct access to your local artisans…how cool is that!    Love, Love, Loved the blue pottery!
Simple! Beautiful! 
I hope you have time to spend at your local Farmer’s Market , the connections you’ll make are unlike any other, local , healthy, FUN!

I especially like the earth and pet friendly ,  pest remedies  ” By Erin”, Tick Flick’r…a great , effective, alternative solution for fleas and ticks than other noxious products we put on our pets…it smells nice too!!!!

Be Well, and maybe I’ll see you there!