SmithFarmsWest.com

OUR JOURNEY FROM CITY TO COUNTRY

I have received a discount for my honest opinion of this service. All opinions are my own. Megan Hensley with Cappuccino Just a few months ago I didn't even know what a farrier was, let alone imagine that I would ever need to find a good one. Although I have ridden horses sporadically; I never had to actually care for a horse. When we got our first donkey (Cappuccino) in September I knew she would need hoof care, but didn't know much more than that. Her hooves had been trimmed at her previous farm with no issue, so I figured the same process would continue and called up the first farrier I could find. He came out and while he was a very nice man, he wasn't prepared for the tricks Cappuccino had up her sleeve. Cappuccino started out by rearing and pushing me around while harnessed, mainly because I wasn't using the proper techniques, attitude or process to harness and lead her. Then, whenever the farrier approached her she would thrash about. It didn't take him long to quit. In hindsight I am glad he did give up quickly. I'm thankful she wasn't pushed into something that might give her a bad experience and issues to work through later on. He suggested I get sedative and call him back out when I was prepared to sedate her. I was devastated. I knew I could do better. I knew I could find someone who could teach me how to take control of my interactions with Cappuccino, while also loving and respecting the magnificent animal she is. So, how did I find the fairest farrier by far? I'm in a few farm and livestock Facebook groups, mainly to help me learn about my farm animals through reading questions and comments others post. One group member had posted that she was looking for barley straw for her donkey and was wondering if anyone knew where she could buy some. First of all, who knew there were so many types of hay and straw? Before farm life happened to me I just figured there was hay, plain and simple. I did a little research about barley straw and asked the fellow group member why she was looking for it. She tagged Megan Hensley and raved about her, suggesting I check out her FB page. This information and the connection I was able to make with Megan online was about to help me and my donkeys immensely. Soon I found out that she was a farrier and although she lived on the northern coast, she could travel to Smith Farms West someday! That day came this past Thursday. I had waited through a couple of storms in February in anticipation, eager to learn from her and have the donkeys hooves trimmed. I knew the chance to actually see someone work with and handle donkeys would help me know how to approach, harness, lead and care for them myself. In the months I waited for…

I get this "ugh" feeling when I'm doing something new or challenging and it's not coming naturally or as quickly as I had hoped. It's the same feeling I remember getting while learning algebra in middle school and the same feeling I had while trying to get a decent grade in Greek class in college. Yep, it's ALL Greek to me! I got that feeling today, it came up suddenly when Cappuccino's ("Cappy":youngest donkey) farrier arrived. I explained right away to the farrier that this was my first donkey hoof trimming experience. I wanted him to know right off the bat that I didn't have a clue about what was coming. It's probably a good thing I didn't. Cappuccino was not at all eager to cooperate and the farrier ended up leaving without trimming her hooves. She pulled and pushed all around. I am thankful she didn't kick either of us. Ultimately, I'm happy we didn't push things too far, for the safety of us all. She will most likely need to be somewhat sedated for the next farrier visit. I'm hoping after more work and practice with her we can get to the point of relaxed and calm farrier visits without a prescription (for her or me). The experience gave me that "ugh" feeling because I realized that I hadn't been doing what I was supposed to with Cappuccino and perhaps I'm not a natural at donkey ownership. Growing up, my limited horse experience was with horses that were older, cooperative and approved for kids. I'm finding out how smart Cappy really is, she knows I'm clueless and unless I do something to change that, she'll keep taking advantage of the situation. I have to build confidence with her, be bold and smarter about how I handle and interact with her. Plus, I flat-out need to spend more time interacting with her, inside the pin. My biggest struggle since moving to the farm has been prioritizing my time. I have a full-time job, I'm just a "farmer" on the weekends and time off. I'm balancing a family, animals, exercising (or how to avoid it), work, etc., etc. Since the first day here it's been a question of "what absolutely HAS to be done today?" Sometimes it's mowing, weed-eating, cleaning, resting, fixing, and shoveling. One thing I love about the farm is that it forces me to spend more time outside. I've always been a bit of a compulsive cleaner and it's difficult for me to ignore certain chores inside in order for me to do what needs to be done outside. I've gotten better at this since coming to the farm, but more practice needs to be done. I'm realizing I have to do yet another reprioritizing shift and spend more time inside the pin with the donkeys. Cappy (and Kiwi as well, but she's super easy-going) need to be harnessed regularly, feet picked up consistently and brushed. This must become a priority. I'm so thankful that the generous…

When we bought the farm four burn piles came along with the deal. Gee, lucky us! They mainly consisted of the kiwi orchard that the previous owner ripped out. We've been wanting to deal with them for quite some time, but there's definitely a learning curve here. First, we had to figure out when we could and couldn't burn them. Secondly, we had to figure out how. Once again, we are blessed with neighbors who are willing to clue us in and help us out. They are generous with their time and equipment, but they are also smart because no one wants the new neighbors starting a fire! So, with a lot of diesel required and time, the burn piles got checked off the to-do list! The good news, 911 didn't have to be dialed once and as far as we know, the creatures who were suddenly evacuated from these over five-year-old burn piles are not living in our house. We're one step closer to being able to mow our field in nice, smooth rows without routing around obstacles in our path. I'm not sure why, but that's a goal of mine. We also had more gopher success today, another one trapped with the good old fashioned style trap. We broke out a more modern and fancy type as well. Set them both at the same time to see who which one would catch a gopher first. I guess nothing beats the tried and true method! Then, while I was busy hanging out with the donkeys, my child came and said, "We're barbecuing gopher, want some?" Um... no. I'm hoping I convinced them that they shouldn't eat any either. http://Array

Mud. Currently, there's a lot of mud around the farm. As you can see on the animals page, we have two large dogs who love their new farm life. Henry hasn't ever known any different, but Riley started her post-pound life in the city. She loves the open area to run and play on the farm. They get very muddy and dirty, especially Henry the coon hound who can smell gophers underground and loves to dig them up. I guess most people who live on property keep their big dogs who dig up gophers outside all the time. Our dogs are completely spoiled and get to come in and out, we wipe off a lot of paws throughout the day. So, I'm sure you can imagine that baths are necessary. This is the dog area where Henry is currently working on his project to banish all gophers. Henry got a bath today. He needed one, but he REALLY needed one after Lauren decided to dress him in this T-shirt and then let him outside, so then Henry peed all over himself. He went straight into the tub! How do you keep a crazy, busy puppy still while trying to bathe him? Peanut butter! I spread some on the wall of the shower and he was fantastically occupied while I scrubbed him up. Tip: Don't clean the bathroom the day before, like I did.

Shortly after we moved to the farm I did a major "cleaning" of the "barn". I use cleaning and barn losely since a barn is never really clean and the barn is more of a really big shed, but it is very helpful for storing our hay and giving the lambs an indoor place to retreat from the elements. So, I swept and even vacuumed up cobwebs. This makes me laugh now because the cobwebs were somewhat gone for perhaps a week or so. For some reason I thought I could stay one step ahead of the spiders and keep the barn free of all intruders. Nope. I've now learned that I can't keep the spiders out, or the kittens. Right after cleaning the barn I was walking around inside and thought I had found a dead animal. After turning the light on and getting a little closer, I realized it was actually a pile of kittens! They were obviously cold and hungry and I was worried and a bit freaked out. I wasn't afraid of them, but I knew once my daughter saw them she would want to keep them and I knew once my dogs saw them they would want them to go away. Thus began the start of saving the kittens. I of course turned to Facebook for advice from my cat-loving friends. They had great advice, most of which I followed. I drew the line though when it came to be being a surrogate mother to these kittens. We provided food in the area and the momma cat appeared to be coming back to the kittens to feed them and also eat the food we left out. Not long after we discovered them the momma cat moved the kittens. I thought our experience housing kittens was over, but no, it had just begun. Next thing I knew these kittens were popping up everywhere! Sometimes they were in the backyard, close to the pool and we'd have to scoop one or two up with a shovel (afraid to touch them and have the mom smell us on the kitten and reject it) to move it to safety. If they spotted us out on the property doing farm chores, they'd follow us and end up too close to the house. We didn't want them around the pool or especially the dogs. But, unfortunately, we were not successful. Franklin (who has since crossed over the rainbow bridge) had a traumatic life experience with a kitten invading his house while he was just a puppy. He never got over the experience and ever since hated all kittens and cats. The kittens didn't seem to understand this and would naively enter the dog pin. When the dogs would bark and run towards them, they would just freeze. There was this one night we heard all types of barking and carrying on outside. Before we knew it we found ourselves flying out the door, scantily clad and desperately trying to save the…

Never in a million years did I imagine I'd be scooping donkey poop twice a week. Connor helps with the process as well, it's pretty much a two person job. Fun fact: donkey poop weighs a lot more when it's wet. I don't know how much more exactly (fun science experiment), but it's a lot more. At this point we use a rolling trash can lined with garbage bags to haul it away. We have some large holes on the property from when some amazing neighbors removed kiwi hooks encased in A LOT of cement (more on that story later), so right now we are using the donkey manure to help fill in those holes. We have to scoop donkey poop twice a week to keep up. I'll admit there's many weeks where I put more time into maintaining the donkey's pastures than cleaning my own kids' rooms. There are plans, you know - one of those many projects, for creating a manure pile and even selling manure at some point.

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