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Living Our Dream

Back from my hiatus and ready to go! You would think that during Covid I would have had lots of time to blog but not so much; had lots going on and the best part of it was finally buying our dream house or I should say dream farm.

Closing day with our new mini donkey Poncho and his sheep.

As the accidental farmgirl one would think that I lived on a farm but nope, we had a small lot with our goats and the minis lived at rented barn a few minutes from our house. I had to go to the barn twice a day, everyday to take care of them. It was rough board which means you rent the barn, that’s it. It is much cheaper that way and I enjoy doing the work and being with the babies. (Yup, I refer to all our animals that way.) I have always wanted a farm and had pretty much given up on it, but having to go take care of the minis everyday was beginning to get draining and I really wanted us all to be together. Sometimes at night I would get a weird feeling or if there was a nasty storm I would get worried and sometimes even drove over to the barn late at night just to ease my mind. So, we started to look for the perfect farm.

The minis all together, getting along!

It’s not as easy as you think. Here in New Jersey different towns have different zoning rules as to how much property you need for each animal, so we had very specific needs for 4 goats and 3 minis. It took us five years. And the third time was the charm! We had offers on two houses that fell through and when the second one fell through, we had accepted an offer on our house. I thought I would have a nervous breakdown. But low and behold our wonderful realtor assured us that we would find the perfect house and we did! And it is the town we really wanted to live in with lots of farms and lots of charm. For those of you who are reading this and think of New Jersey the way most do that are from other states; New Jersey is beautiful and historic, with lots to see and do.

The goats have their own space in a new house and the minis hang with the sheep.

We now live on 8.5 acres with a pond, a huge vegetable garden, fruit trees and plenty of fenced in pasture for all of our babies. We even added to our crew and took on the mini donkey and ten sheep that belonged to the previous owners. We pinch ourselves everyday. I am now officially a true blue accidental farmgirl and I love every minute of it!

Mini Donkey Care: Learn as I Go

When I decided to adopt our farm animals I had only owned dogs, cats, rabbits, a bird…how hard could goats and minis be to take care of? I had volunteered for close to two years at the sanctuary taking care of them, I can do this! And I can and do, but boy  have I learned a lot.


I am very fortunate to have a very understanding and extremely sweet veterinarian. The goats have been relatively easy, only a few issues, but Dominic has proven to be my high maintenance guy. He is very cautious as donkeys are; but he tends to be even more so as he was attacked by a bear. The first time I was that crazy first time donkey owner I discovered a huge swelling on his stomach, when I called the vet on a Friday evening at 5  o’clock they told me she was out of the country…double panic mode! They gave me the number for the on call vet at another practice, I called first thing Saturday morning and to my pleasant surprise it was his vet that his previous owners used, Dr. Hays. When the receptionist asked his name she said “THE Dominic the donkey from Chester?!” I said yes indeed. Dr. Hays was so thrilled to see him and even had pictures of him on her phone. Luckily it turned out to be an infected bug bite. He was treated but they decided to do blood work just to be safe, turned out he has Cushings disease. Wha?!


Tell me this wouldn’t freak you out?!

Cushings disease is a condition in which the pituitary gland releases too much adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH stimulates production and release of cortisol, a stress hormone. I was upset and concerned but the Dr. assured me that he will live a long, happy life with the help of little pink pill to control it. She said that at his age it is quite common. (He is 19). Basically Cushings makes the body believe it is stressed out which can lead to lowered immune response, problems metabolizing food and regulating blood pressure. Humans and other animals also can be afflicted by Cushings.


His 19th birthday!

Back to the vet…like I said she was so thrilled to see him again and treat him that I asked if she would like to be his regular vet again along with the mini horses. She very happily said yes. She was worried about what their regular vet would say, but I assured her that Dr. Marybeth would be totally fine and understand. Of course Dr. Marybeth understood and is still our vet for the goats as well as the back up for the minis.

Little pink pill, no problem. Little pink pill, big problem! This is when you realize just how smart your mini donkey really is. At first I put it in apples and carrots until he figured it out, he refused to eat them. My vet suggested a soft horse treat that I could smush the pill into, that worked for about 2 weeks. I tried apple sauce, homemade treats; no go. He would spit them out or clench his mouth shut. I tried sweet grain, he would eat the grain and leave the pill! What to do?!

Now, every morning when he greets me at the door of his stall and I take the pill and put into the back of his mouth under his tongue. To keep him from spitting it out, I rub his face for a minute keeping his mouth closed while he rests his head on me. And even then he still spits it out once in a while.  He stopped eating carrots, apples and treats thinking there’s a pill hidden in them but now after more than a year there is one kind of treat he will eat again but…he takes it his in mouth and breaks into pieces before eating it, just in case there’s a little pink pill hidden in there.

Resting his head on me waiting for the pill to dissolve.

Due to the Cushings he gets little sores on his legs, his skin is very sensitive. This past summer he never completely shed. This past fall his winter coat didn’t grow in, so one cold morning when I went to let them out he was shivering; now he wears a blanket. He does look very handsome in it. Turns out though when it got really cold, below freezing, he was still shivering; the vet suggested giving him a small amount of grain in the morning and evening to get his metabolism revved up. Thankfully it worked, along with a heavier blanket. I worry about him a lot but wouldn’t have it any other way, he is my heart! 

The moral of the story; no matter how much research you do or what you think you know, there is always more to know and having a great vet that loves your animals as much as you do is super important!


Skincare, Cruelty Free

Now I’m no expert by any means on skincare or anything else for that matter, but after volunteering at the sanctuary and learning about all things animal; most good but some not so good I’ve changed not only my eating habits, but my beauty routine as well. I only use cruelty free products, products that are not tested on animals nor are their ingredients.  I do the same with make-up, but I do have some products that I just love, so I will use them up and then find the cruelty free version.img_3905

Keep in mind that these are my opinions and I am not compensated by any of these companies. I truly use them and like the results. You may ask why I use things from different companies, truth is, it’s trial and error. I use French Girl Organics cleansing wash and floral toner. French Girl Organics is 100% vegan and cruelty free, they say that products are “only tested on French girls.” Their products are gentle and smell beautiful.

Another favorite is One Love Organics. I discovered them because one of their products was featured in a magazine (I don’t remember which one) and also a blogger I follow recommended them. When I read that they were cruelty free, vegan and organic I knew I had to try them. I love the Skin Savior, Brand New Day Microderma Scrub and the Vitamin E eye balm. Again, the products smell divine and keep my skin moist and smooth. One other reason to love them…the company is out of St. Simons Island, Georgia where I lived for a few years and still visit quite often. A beautiful place for a company to make beautiful products!

Herbivore Botanicals is another great cruelty free, vegan, organic beauty company and the packaging is even recyclable and reusable. I just love their Pink Cloud face cream; it’s light and creamy not oily or sticky.

As for other products like toothpaste and soap, I use Tom’s of Maine toothpaste and I get our soap and body lotion from Whole Foods/Whole Body where all of the products sold are cruelty free. Our toothbrushes are from recycled materials, I haven’t yet tried the bamboo.img_3906

Why am I writing this? Because the average person doesn’t think about the fact the almost every product that you use on a daily basis, whether it be on your body or to clean your house, is tested on a poor defenseless animal. I know I didn’t until I became involved with rescue. If you are animal lover like I am, try switching…it will be good for you and good for the animals.

My Conflicting Passions: Animals and Cooking

In my twenties I was a vegetarian until I moved back in with my Mom and started dating my now husband. My Mom was a meat and potatoes kind of cook, John (my now husband) was and is a meat and potatoes kind of guy. I slowly made the transformation and forgot all about why I stopped eating meat.

Fast forward about 14 years and when my husband and I decided to volunteer at a farm sanctuary, we both left there saying we would no longer eat meat and we didn’t. He went from loving a black and blue filet mignon to eating vegetables and lots of carbs (if you don’t know what black and blue means…basically raw). I stopped eating meat and most dairy products as well.



So here goes…I love to cook. I consider myself a foodie. My husband and I love to entertain and often have dinner parties. I love animals. After volunteering for over 2 years I ended adopting a total of 10 animals from the sanctuary: 3 rabbits, 4 goats, 2 mini-horses and a mini-donkey!  We also have 2 rescue dogs and 2 rescue cats.


Now here’s the hard part….even as someone who loves animals I do believe that God intended them to be used as food and for their hides. I mean let’s face it, butter-real butter tastes so good. Cheese, ham, steak; all taste so good. But I have a problem with the way these animals are treated and most people don’t even think about where their food comes from or how the animals they are eating are treated.


I do my best. I will not eat factory farmed meat. I do eat chicken and some turkey. We are lucky enough to have a humane* poultry farm not too far from us. I will eat beef once a month or so. I love a good burger. I used to eat seafood, but that industry is just as bad, farm raised fish is so bad for you. I seldom eat seafood anymore. I don’t eat diary on a daily basis, I use almond or soy based products but when I have a dinner party or am preparing a holiday meal I just have to go with the real deal.


There are some foods I refuse to eat-veal and lamb. How can anyone eat a baby animal? But these babies are the by-product of the dairy industry. Yup, that’s right….most people don’t know that. I didn’t. My goats are all are males that were headed for slaughter after being born on a goat dairy farm. I have not eaten and will not eat goat cheese. (Male goats/cows are no use to a dairy farm, they don’t produce milk.)


Am I a bad person for eating some meat and dairy? Does it mean I’m a hypocrtical animal “lover”? I struggle with this question everyday. I do believe that God put these beautiful creatures on earth for us to love and to cherish but to also use for food and warmth. Sheep give us meat and wool, cows give us meat, dairy and leather…why does it have to be so cruel?

I could go on and on. I could get into the whole fact of how factory farming is bad for the environment, etc but I will not. That is a different post.

*Humane poultry farm-I’m not sure that killing any animal, in any way is humane, but at this farm they are raised that way. And if I told you how much I paid for my Thanksgiving “wild” turkey you would fall off your chair. My husband did!


Hoof Care 101

A very important part of horse and donkey care is their hooves. I knew this when I got them, but didn’t realize how difficult it can be with a mini-horse that’s not tame and a mini-donkey that doesn’t like vets since he was treated for his bear attack. Our vet recommended that she be there when the farrier came so she could sedate them. Easier said than done.


Using some quite barbaric looking tools to get them to hold still while they were given the sedation shots was awful. Dominic, as strong as he is and as stubborn as he is, was quite the challenge but we got it done. I dreaded it after the first time and rightly so, the second time was no better.


Thankfully our vet told us about a product that is gel that you put under their tongue to sedate them that she has used with great success. So I thought I’d give it try to for the third trimming. I was a bit nervous without her being there, but she had faith that I could do it and I did! It worked like a charm. I also used a different farrier because the woman I used initially seemed nervous and just wanted to get it done. This farrier was a father/son team; they were so nice and did a great job. The gel was easy to use, sedated them just enough and they came out of it nicely. Now I don’t have to dread the hoof trims and neither do the babies!


Pretty Cookie with pretty hooves!

Bonnie and Clyde, Ducks not Gangsters.

My husband named our ducks Bonnie and Clyde. Their namesake movie happens to be one of our favorites; Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were the perfect choice to play the notorious gangsters. And what is about these two that capture our imaginations and romanticize terrible criminals? For me, it is the fact that it was Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway who played them, two of the most beautiful people to ever set foot on the silver screen.


Our ducks are far from being criminals but they are beautiful. Now if you haven’t seen the movie, I’m about to give a little bit away but nothing crucial to the plot and besides, we all know how it ends. The one thing other than their names that my ducks and Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow have in common…Clyde is not interested in having sex with Bonnie. Yup, it’s true.


The happy couple, ducks not gangsters.

Now when I got the ducks I’ll admit I didn’t know much about taking care of them. After doing lots of reading I realized that having one female and one male is not advisable. Why? Because the males are usually quite horny and will “overmate” the female, therefore tiring her out and essentially beating her up just to get some. It appears that Clyde pretty much leaves Bonnie alone…Thank God! If not, we would have to get another female so Clyde could spread the love, making life bearable for the females.


Our handsome Clyde. As with most birds, the male is the prettier and more colorful.

In the movie Bonnie wants Clyde in the worst way but he’s just not interested. Kind of ironic considering his character was played by one of the sexiest men on the planet (according to some).  He was also known to be quite the ladies man. My Bonnie has no interest, so it works for them and for us…we don’t need another animal.

And one more thing about this movie; the costumes, the fashion. I love it. Faye Dunaway’s dress in the first scene is just beautiful. Simple, perfect for the time period. Warren Beatty’s hats and vests suited him so well. My favorite outfit of Faye’s was when she wears the scarf around her neck and the beret. I loved it so much, my husband and I went as Bonnie and Clyde to a Halloween party several years ago.


Bonnie and Clyde.

If you haven’t seen the movie, you must. When you do, think of our ducks.


Not your Typical Farm…Girl

Yes, we have 16 animals and no, we do not live on a farm. This is confusing to most people. We live in a town that has lots of farms and large pieces of property, but we have a small lot that happens to be in the part of town that is zoned for farms. The goats, ducks, rabbits, cats and dogs all live on our property; we rent a barn in town for the minis.


This amazing barn is 200 years old!

What does this mean for me? Lots of work. People call me crazy. I call it a labor of love. Most farmers have a field and tractor to spread manure or they have dumpster that gets picked up and carted away. I have neither of these things.


Some cuddles after cleaning their house. You can see our neighbors houses in the background. We are very lucky that they are animal lovers too!

The goat manure, rabbit poo and duck poo all gets put into large muck buckets and empty bedding bags, then loaded into my pick-up truck, driven up the street to a friends field, where I empty the manure and spread it out. I do this once or twice a week, depending on how messy the babies are.


My truck in the field where we spread the goat manure.

As for the minis I go to the barn every morning to let them out into their pasture, I then go back in the evening to “put them to bed”. Everyday I clean their stalls and give them fresh hay and water. I also put hay in their run-in in the pasture and water for them during the day. In the winter when it’s below freezing I have to bring hot water in gallon jugs to add to the cold well water so they have warm water to drink.


Dominic, Coco and Cookie enjoying fresh hay in their pasture.

And the mini manure you ask? I load it into muck buckets and a wheel barrow, the buckets get loaded into a wagon, which I then pull down into the field behind the pasture. They are emptied and so is the wheel barrow which I then lug up the hill. It’s not a big hill but it’s enough to make it tough.


Due to all this heaving lifting and lugging I hurt my back, so my husband has been helping me a lot more, he is the BEST! I clean the stalls and he does the lifting and lugging.

It may be a lot of work but I love it. I love being outside and watching the babies have fun. Cola is always right by my side when I am cleaning the goat house or rabbit hutches, which can be a bit challenging, especially when he’s trying to head butt me! When I clean the barn, the minis and Dominic will watch me and walk in and out of the barn just checking things out.


My Cola, always a helper. Here he is “helping” me clean out the rabbit hutches.

There is nothing I wouldn’t do for these animals, having them in our lives is a dream come true.

The story of My Dominic the Mini-Donkey

Dominic is my love. I love all of my animals, but there is just something about him that melts my heart whenever I see that sweet face. The first time I saw him was on one of my usual Saturday volunteer days, he was in a pen by himself and looked sad and confused. He had come to the sanctuary a few days before.


This was taken a few days after he arrived at the sanctuary. His halter had been too tight so we took it off, you can see the mark across his nose. Poor baby.

Now many of the animals that come to the sanctuary have come from bad situations, this was not the case with Dominic. Dominic had been bought for a little girl when he was a baby to be her pet and to be a companion animal for a horse. The horse had recently passed and so Dominic was now alone. His owners had planned to keep him but then something horrible happened. Dominic was attacked by a bear in December 2015.

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His owners realized he was missing and he was found in the neighbors empty in-ground pool with wounds to his neck and hind quarters. He was sedated to get him out of the pool and he received 16 stitches in his back left thigh. He had lots of scratches on his face and neck but he survived.


Shortly after arriving at the sanctuary he turned 16, I made him this vegan carrot cake to celebrate!

The owners were afraid that the bear would come back and that he really needed to be other animals of his kind, so they decided the best thing would be for him to go to the sanctuary. That’s where I come in. Just one look and I was hooked. I knew nothing about him at the time, I went into the pen and slowly approached him and he was such a mush. I fell instantly.


I’m pretty sure our feelings are mutual.

The sanctuary’s owner saw me in the pen with him and came over to tell me his story, that made me love him even more. From that day we sponsored him (made a monthly donation towards his care) and told him that one day he would come and live us. And now he does….to be continued.


Dominic in his new forever home, safe from bears.

Fashionable Farmgirl

I’ve posted about farming and food but you are probably wondering where the fashion comes in. I have always loved fashion. Most people’s memories are tied to songs or places, mine are all about what I was wearing. The first thing I think about when I get an invitation is, what am I going to wear? It doesn’t matter if it’s a casual dinner with friends or a black tie affair, what am I going to wear?


I worked as a buyer in NYC for 12 years and then had my own boutique for 5 years. I am no longer in the industry but fashion is still important in my life. But now with 16 animals fashion is no longer at the top. And yes, it’s 16 now, we adopted an 8 month old black lab mix named Chloe. She is absolutely precious.

The biggest change going from fashion girl to farm girl is I don’t have to time to shop or read magazines. Another big change is not that I don’t have time to shop, it’s where I shop.  J.Crew and Anthropologie were and still are my favorite fashion stores, but my new favorites for farm gear are Tractor Supply and Duluth Trading.  I spend mornings in barn pants and muck boots but at night I get to doll it up.

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I have to say I love shopping at the farm stores just as much as my fashion stores. Finding a great pair of warm, comfortable barn pants makes me very happy because January mornings can be very cold. I love my new life and have great memories of my old life…


You say Frittata, I say Duck Eggs!

When we finally got up the nerve to eat the eggs, of course we discovered how delicious they are. One of my favorite things to make with the duck eggs is a frittata; super easy and so good.


One of the great things about a frittata is that you can add just about anything you like. I made the first one out of potatoes, mushrooms, shallots and fresh chives from our garden. Feel free to experiment-use tomatoes, cheese, spinach, broccoli, peppers and list goes on…



8 Duck eggs

2 Yukon Gold potatoes-chopped into small cubes (I like mine very small)

1 Shallot, diced

1/2 Cup mushrooms, chopped

2 Tbs Chives, diced

2 Tbs Water

1 to 2 Tbs Butter (Plus more for preparing the pie pan)

Salt and pepper to taste



To do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and add potatoes, turn down to a low boil and cook until tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Drain.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare a pie pan by lightly greasing with butter.

Add 1 Tbs butter to a large skillet over medium heat, add shallots and potatoes. Cook until potatoes start to brown, it can take some time and you will probably need to add the other Tbs of butter at some point. Add the mushrooms and most of the chives. Cook until mushrooms are tender. Turn off heat and let cool while preparing the eggs.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and add the water, whisk until well blended. Add the potato mixture and combine well. Pour into prepared pie pan. Sprinkle the remainder of the chives on top of the eggs.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes until firm. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes or so before slicing.


Serve with oj, coffee, tea, toast or fruit salad, whatever makes you happy! This is a great dish to serve for brunch. Enjoy!