Animal Partners

 April Joy Farm Animal Partners

Every animal has a fascinating story, a unique personality and a very powerful skill set.  Some animals thrive when given a job, other animals self –designate, i.e. take on important roles to contribute to their community.  The creatures that surround us enrich our lives both as farmers and as humans.

As farmers, we are dedicated to providing our animals a beautiful life.  We are inspired by their devotion, reliability, and hardiness.  We hope by sharing their stories we can shine a light on the many ways we as humans can contribute to a future where livestock animals are treated with respect, compassion and gentleness.

You have the power to effect change.  Please vote with your dollar.  To find out where to purchase humanely raised meat, dairy and eggs, please visit Animal Welfare Approved  and Eat Wild

To find out how you can support the ethical treatment of livestock animals and support communities in their fight against confinement livestock operations please visit the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project

Rosie— Also called “Rosebud” at times, Rosie is the matriarch of the farm. She has been the consummate mother to many piglets over the last nine years. Now in retirement, Rosie spends her days napping in her straw-filled stall, napping in the tall grass of her paddock or basking in the sun while she snoozes in her wallow. She enjoys her morning and evening grain, but is extra happy when she receives the bounty of the seasons in the form of apples, winter squash, grapes and cucumbers.  Unlike the stereotypical pig, she has a very discerning palate – any offering of summer squash will be summarily rejected.

Polly— Occasionally known as “P-Pig”, Polly is our three year old sow. She has mothered thirty-one piglets and earned herself a change in job description. She is now in charge of pasture fertilization and mowing as well as keeping Rosie young. Polly enjoys pestering Rosie on a regular basis. When that game is over the two of them burrow into the straw pile together to sleep away the day. Polly enjoys exploring the field with her excavator (snout) to root out any tasty morsels from the soil. She also likes a chilly shower from the hose on a hot day. Feeding time is very important to Polly and she communicates this to us daily in a very vocal manner. She is also quite fond of back scratches.

Dumpling— Dumpling is our eighteen year old miniature donkey. Her list of jobs includes babysitting her son, guarding the chickens, waking up the farmyard and surrounding countryside with her braying, turning hay into manure and looking cute for all our farm visitors. Dumpling enjoys rolling in the dust and playing tag with Eeyore. She looks forward to the seasons of green grass when she can wander the apple orchard. She really looks forward to the times when the farmers forget she is out to pasture so she can really plump out on grass.

Eeyore— The surrogate son of Dumpling, Eeyore is thirteen years old. He was raised by Dumpling, who kicked her own daughter off the teat so Eeyore had a chance to nurse.  He has the same job description as his mother, but takes the lead in protecting the chickens from predators. He has a keen eye for intruders. We will see him standing still and focused and without fail, if we follow his line of sight, there will be some form of wildlife he is watching. Eeyore’s leisure time activities include playing with his five-gallon bucket, blasting through the apple orchard while kicking and tearing pieces of cedar siding off the chicken coop. He is also good at looking cute for visitors and is always willing to accept any unwanted carrot tops.

The chickens— While some of the chickens have names, they mostly go by “the chickens”. There are four roosters in with the hens. They spend their time showing off for the ladies and crowing, but also patrolling the yard looking for tasty morsels and alerting their flock to overhead predators. The hens spend their time finding ways out of their large barnyard and orchard. It is not uncommon to have more chickens wandering the farm and only a few left in their yard where they are supposed to be. But since we love eggs, they apparently will continue to make the rules. The chickens look forward to the end of harvest days when they receive all the vegetable scraps from the packing process. Somewhere in the middle of all these activities, they are diligent about laying eggs.  Not one of our roosters is mean.  We have noticed with the right numbers of hens to roosters, there is a stabilizing effect in which each member of the flock knows his or her place and thus is confident and relaxed.

Kitten— Kitten’s given name was Bug, but that didn’t stick and she has been “Kitten” for fifteen years. She has no assigned jobs at the farm and spends her day doing whatever she wants. Kitten looks forward to the warm months when she can spend all day prowling and napping in odd places. She doesn’t care so much for the cold months, but we see a lot more of her at that time of year. She is always up for sleeping on someone’s lap in a chair next to the wood stove. She doesn’t impose many rules upon us except for the milk rule. She must have it… whenever she wants it…always. She has similar rules pertaining to beef, chicken, salmon and ice cream.

Thumper— Thumper is our “farmin’ cat”. She arrived at the farm five years ago as a stray and she decided to stay. She needs to be included in all field activities. She is a constant companion whenever we are out there seeding, transplanting or harvesting. She takes her rodent control job very seriously and has earned the title “The Huntress” due to her exceptional skill. Except for the time when I watched a four-inch long vole bite her nose and proceed to chase her. She didn’t want me to see that, but I did. Thumper has recently graduated to winter house cat status and enjoys sleeping in our bedroom on cold nights.

Mabel— Mabel has been at the farm for many years and has had many jobs. Early in her farm career she became something of a pig midwife.  For reasons we can’t know, she would post herself on the fence when any of our sows were going into labor.  We always watch for her to help alert us to the near arrival of the piglets.  She took her job so seriously that when we built our new piggery, she moved away from the farm house to live with her pig friends.  To this day, she still keeps an eye on the pigs and watches the farm happenings from her nest in the hay. She has countless mice to keep her occupied, and at an advanced age, remains a strong mouser, but she still enjoys the ritual of receiving cat food every morning and evening.  She requires the farmers to take an extra couple of minutes at feeding time to give her some good pets.

Samson— Samson is living the good life. He is only eight years old, but looks older due to all the sugar on his face. He spends a lot of time sleeping in the house on a chair or the couch. His one job is to supervise field activities. He loads up on the utility cart and spends the day lounging on the seat watching his people. Samson is a vegetable lover. A close eye must be kept because Samson is always calculating how he can snitch one of the high-dollar heirloom tomatoes. He also enjoys snacking on cucumbers, winter squash, carrots and sweet peppers. Needless to say, he does not get to go to the vegetable field unsupervised. Some days he joins us in the packing shed to help welcome our CSA families.

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