Fresh out of titles

This photograph popped up on my Facebook feed, a memory to share from February 6, 2011. The term “polar vortex” was a year in the future for most of our vocabularies, but there was knee-deep snow that winter. We had just celebrated what was the last Christmas with my dad. He and Mom left for the Cleveland Clinic and would not leave until after his death.

Dad wasn’t at all well in the Summer of 2010. I found out later that he told my mother that he was pleased with what My Steven and I were doing down the road from their place. We had five years of wildlife rehabilitation training behind us and had just made the decision to open our acres to domestic species in need of a quiet place to live their lives. Chickens and geese had lived with us for a couple of years. Then in 2010, two two-year-old Nigerian Dwarf Goats road home with my child and me, from Cincinnati to Riley Township. We surprised a picnicking family at a rest area near Tipp City when we took Marsh and S’more for a walk there. Cellphones came out when we stopped to fill up in Sidney. The day after the goats began their sanctuary life, Dad drove his ATV here to meet them.

The brothers were a delight from the get-go. Marsh was a sweet, huggy sort who charmed visitors while his more aloof sibling S’more graced everyone with a snippet of presence before moving on. S’more had a strange habit of arching his neck and twisting his nose in a circular motion. Marsh had a number of health issues that took his life a few years ago. The twist was S’more’s only hint of physical weirdness. He lived until this morning, a year longer than the average lifespan for his kind.

It seems like I have been recalling a lot of these memories recently. I told Steven this morning that I feel strange because I don’t cry. “That will come later,” he said. “Right now, we’re busy.” S’more died this morning, just as S’more would, on one of the coldest days of the year when the ground is frozen solid and the forecast is calling for single digits as the week moves ahead. This morning was busy with feeding everyone with high caloric feed, laying in more bedding, readjusting coat straps, hauling water, figuring out what to do with S’more’s body, and calming the living due to the strangeness of his absence.

Dad never got to meet the pot-bellies or their giant cousin Nemo. When we visited him in the Cleveland Clinic, he liked hearing stories about Bernie the rooster who hated the red lawnmower and my red running jacket (even when I was wearing it.) And I am grateful. My father could a put face to a name when we told him the latest antics of a chocolate-and-graham goat who did things his very own way, in his very own time, with a twist.

Little so big

Elora died today. She is buried on the north slope between the pine groves, under the sky that is as wide open as her expression was.

Elora came here in February 2013, from less than ideal circumstances in the Kent area. She rode here in the back of my Scion xA, a tiny roller skate of a car that had plenty of space to transport Elora and two other Pygmy goats. We wrapped Mardigan’s long horns in a towel to protect the upholstered ceiling. Willow, the eldest, was fairly stoic, despite the fact that she was sharing a hatchback with Mardigan—a smelly, intact male—and Elora, who observed her curious world with much vocalization.

Willow and Mardigan died within a months of each other, just last year. Neither death was a great surprise. The veterinarian believed that Willow had suffered bone breaks and a severe lung worm infection in her past life. When I asked if euthanization was the kindest future for her, the doc said, “She’ll keep going until she doesn’t.” And that is what she did. Same with Mardigan. The legacy of his youth were those 12-inch horns that, while magnificent, should have been removed when he was a kid. They grew heavier with age. He whapped them on something one too many times and had a stroke.

But Elora was forever young to me. There wasn’t a brilliant mind below her wonky horns—one short and straight; the other curved down like a slicked side part—but there was such sweetness. She bleated “Hey guys, where are you” when left behind, just out of sight. She was lost without her Willow, even though Willow kept her own counsel most times. There was great joy when Molly and Missy arrived in 2019 and allowed their goaty twosome to be joined by a tiny, round Elora. She raced after after them, bleating pleadingly until Missy stopped to wait for Little Elora to climb the hill.

Yesterday the vet told us that Elora’s third stomach wasn’t processing food as it should. Treatments of steroids and vitamins provided a brief boost. This morning she was down. The goats and donkeys kept their distance. Carlton the potbelly curled up near her. We drove to town. When we came home, Carlton was whining in the doorway.

Tonight the wind is high and no stars shine. It’s the sort of night when a little red fox would rather be curled up on the bed beside me than tossing her toys in the yard. It’s a night when the small bleat of a little black goat with mismatched horns rides the air higher and higher until that voice is never alone again.

Fall 2020 Newsletter

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Summer 2020 didn’t go according to plan, but then none of this year has been business-as-usual. This very warm season was active, nonetheless, with virtual visits with the Bluffton Public Library, small group outings on the trails, and new volunteers who helped clear invasive bush honeysuckle.
August 7 was the final Facebook Live segment in the “Quarry Farm Fridays with the Bluffton Public Library”. Donkeys Buddy, Lucy and Silkie were the featured stars, although S’more the Nigerian Dwarf Goat and Chablis the Llama made cameo appearances.

The Quarry Farm is currently Putnam County’s #1 birding hotspot on eBird.org, thanks to Deb Weston and David Smith. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology created eBird in 2002 as an online database of bird observations providing scientists, researchers and amateur naturalists with real-time data about bird distribution and abundance. When Deb wasn’t logging spring and summer miles on the trails to document and photograph most of the 201 species of birds currently on our hotspot list, she was leading other avian enthusiasts here. View some of Deb’s bird photos in this newsletter and on our website. You can also join Deb for birding on the trails if you register for the “October Big Day” scheduled for October 17.

Until the latter part of the 19th century, most of Putnam County was part of the Great Black Swamp in what is now the physiographic region known as the Huron-Erie Lake Plains. But the southeast portion of the county was a slightly higher area with drier prairies as well as wetlands. This area, now called the Central Lowland, is where The Quarry Farm is located. While the 50-acres probably included upland and lowland forest, floodplain and wetland, grassland may have been here, too. For this reason, the 10-acre grassland is undergoing substantial maintenance this year, thanks to Brad Brooks. Brad began by brush-hogging the area that had been overrun by invasive grass species. He is currently clearing small trees and shrubs, leaving native oaks, sycamores and ash in certain areas to provide shade and shelter to wildlife.

The August 8 Family Day included a number of stations where groups learned about trees, insects, herbs, and the farm animal sanctuary. Rick Carles, acting president of the Blanchard River Archeology Club, was on hand outside the c.1853 Red Fox Cabin to demonstrate pioneer and Native American skills. The event attracted local media who aired and printed interviews with board members and Family Day visitors.

Although we are not able to offer hands-ons projects this year, we are able to lead small groups on hikes in the nature preserve and tours of the farm animal sanctuary. If you wish to schedule an outdoor visit onsite during Fall 2020, send an email to thequarryfarm@gmail.com with a details about your group, including number of people, ages, and possible dates and times.

Quarry Farm Friday starring Buddy, Lucy, Silky and everyone who heard the crinkle of the peanut bag

Here we are on the final day of Quarry Farm Fridays with the Bluffton Public Library. It’s been fun, educational, and a welcome challenge during a year of uncertainty. Thank you to Tanya, Lauren and all who tuned in and joined in the conversation and introduced themselves to The Quarry Farm. Keep reading!

After a virtual summer with us, pack your mask and join us tomorrow in person for Family Day from 1 to 4 p.m.

Quarry Farm Friday with Tyree the Corn Snake

This morning, a very wiggly Tyree the Corn Snake (also known as a Rat Snake) represented his beautiful reptilian kind during the “Quarry Farm Fridays with the Bluffton Public Library”. As Steve notes in the video, Tyree was bred in captivity and was placed here by someone who wished to find him a new home. Tyree does not look like a corn snake that you might find in the wild as he is what is called a “morph“, but he does eat small rodents just as his wild relatives do, making his kind popular with farmers who want to keep mice and rats out of corn cribs.

Read more about snakes and the wonderful role they play in a healthy environment by contacting the Bluffton Public Library and requesting a Quarry Farm Fridays/Summer Reading book bundle.

Duck Duck Group!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Donkey from Pandora sanctuary now taking virtual meetings (also pigs, peacocks and more)

PANDORA—Does your virtual office need a captivating key-note squeaker? The Quarry Farm Nature Preserve & Conservation Farm, Pandora, is inviting business, organizations, schools and senior living facilities to pull out a virtual chair at their video conference meetings and events for one or more of our farm animal sanctuary residents. We call this fun experience “Duck Duck Group” even though our peaceable kingdom is also home to donkeys, pigs, goats, turkeys, ducks and chickens. None of them wear pants, so the will fit right in at your next webinar.

Are your whiskers twitching? Call 419-384-7195 or email thequarryfarm@gmail.com to schedule the time and date of your “Duck Duck Group” experience. We can use any virtual meeting software you prefer. You will be asked to send us a link during the scheduling process. We will join your call and do a quick introduction of The Quarry Farm. You can ask us questions about particular animals or experience a virtual gallop through the whole herd.

The cost is $50 for a 10-minute “Duck Duck Group”. All “Duck Duck Group” proceeds support the work of The Quarry Farm by:

· Making it possible for the sanctuary animals, many of whom began their lives in fear and neglect, to reside here in peace with proper shelter.

· Providing species-specific food and bedding for sanctuary farm animals and fostered wildlife.

· Maintaining the nature preserve trails and control invasive plant species on the preserve and in the Red Fox Cabin gardens.

· Helping to provide quality educational programming in science, the arts, Ohio history and critical thinking.

· Contributing to the development and installation of interpretive signage.

The Quarry Farm Nature Preserve & Conservation Farm is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. For more information, visit www.thequarryfarm.org and The Quarry Farm on Facebook and Instagram.