Workcamping at an Animal Rescue Ranch

Random stories from my time on the animal rescue ranch. There’s no order to them - just read them as individual scenes from ranch life.

At the Farm

We are at the farm! My first job is to bond with a six week old piglet named Dixie. She is a snuggler.

New Babies

This morning was my second day of feeding the animals.

At the pen that holds the sheep, goats, and donkeys, I said to Debbie, “Oh, I’ve never noticed that little one in there before.” Her reaction was, “Oh! We had babies! I have to go tell Liz!”

Yes, two little sheep babies. One is black with a white tail and white on the head, and the other is a mottled gray/white, both adorable little things.

We herded them into their own pen. While the white one got milk from the mother, the black one was very inquisitive, looking around like, “Whoa, what a big world!” and going over to check out the llamas by the fence.

I squatted down and held out my hand to the little thing and it came directly over to me, letting me pet itself and even hold it! It’s so soft and adorable, and I love them both.

Best of all, I get to name them! First I want to figure out their genders, but little baby lambs was a great reason to get up in the six o’clock hour this morning.


Today I learned to drive a tractor.

Escaped Goats

So today I was out and about, making my rounds with animals, petting a few.

I had just come back of Dixie’s pen and heard a loud rustling in the bushes. I was up nearby the house, so all the animals and the animal pens were below me. The rustling in the bushes turned out to be Jacob, one of our goats, followed by his son, Max.

They were not supposed to be up by the house. There were gates that prevented them from escaping, but somehow Jacob and Max had gotten past those gates.

I was horrified. I was all alone, and I had no idea what to do.

“Dixie’s harness!” I suddenly exclaimed out loud.

I ran back to Dixie’s pen and grabbed the harness we had not yet found a way to get on her, and ran with it back to where Jacob and Max were nosing around in the grass.

I clipped the harness around Max’s neck and began dragging him down to the gate to get him back in the animal area, hoping Jacob would follow. But Max’s head was small, and he was able to slip out of Dixie’s harness.

I was now very scared.

I didn’t fear Jacob or Max, even though I had seen both use their horns numerous times to butt other animals out of the way.

My only thought was to get them back where they belonged before they decided to venture outside the ranch property.

I tried to get the harness around Jacob’s neck. His horns were much bigger, and I knew he couldn’t slip out.

I chased him down into the yard before I got it around his head without being gored. He wouldn’t move. I grabbed one of his horns and pulled on it, and he yielded and began placidly strolling down to the gate.

I managed to get Jacob in, and then tried to shoo Max in, who was nearby. As I opened the gate again to push him in, Jacob slipped out.

“You little VERMIN!” I screamed.

Then I calmed down and said to myself, “Think, think. Food, they do anything for food.”

I stumbled over to the food barrel, and immediately Jacob and Max were interested. The donkeys behind the gate also pricked up their ears.

I scooped a little bit of feed out of the barrel. opened the gate, and threw some in. Jacob and Max ran inside the animal area, happy to be able to eat.

I secured the gate, then went back to where I had found them to figure out how they had got in. One of the gates had a gap at the bottom, big enough for a smallish goat to slip through.

I tied it to the fence with a piece of rope, and then watched as Jacob tried to escape again. When he found out that he couldn’t get through, he looked up at me and ‘baaa’ed unhappily.

“Sorry, bud,” I told him triumphantly. “You aren’t getting out again.”

Donkey Kicks

I almost got kicked by a donkey today.

Murphy was protecting his food from the llama in with him, but then he quailed and ran away and the llama (someone new to his pen named Newasis, or something like that) ate his food.

I went in to shoo Newasis away, but then Murphy came back and starting kicking at the llama again. I was standing next to the llama, holding Murphy’s food bowl, and I blocked Murphy’s kicks with the food bowl.

I’m really glad I was holding it though, otherwise the kicks that hit the food bowl would have hit me.

Come On Murphy!

Every morning, it’s the endless song of, “Come on, Murphy! Come here, boy! Let’s go, Murph! There’s a good boy.

Keep walking. No, no, come this way! Come on, Murphy! Just a little bit farther. A little bit farther than that.

Come on, keep moving! What a good boy. Come on, Murphy! There’s food here for you. I need to feed the other animals, too.”

Gotta get the donkey into the pen before I do anything else. Don’t mind. He’s nice. Just really slow.

Big Horses

I have to say I am quite proud that I put the horses in by myself this evening.

I am not normally nervous around horses, but these are big. One is a Clydesdale (Budweiser horses) Morgan mix and the other about the same size, if you have any idea what kind of horses those are.

Both are rescues, and I know that one kicks if you get too close to his hindquarters. He also has a scary habit of pushing you into the fence if you’re on the wrong side.

So I asked them to be nice to me, and they were. Snip waited patiently as I put Forrest into his pen without trying to sneak in like Forrest always did if I put Snip in first.

It was really quite easy. They listened to me. Hopefully they will do the same thing tomorrow, and I can feel easy around them, like I have come to be around the llamas and alpacas.

Rainy Day

It’s that time of year when everything gets wet.

I went out and fed animals, which took a lot longer than expected due to the rain and rain-induced activities, such as dragging a wet donkey into the feed room so he will stay somewhat dry during the night.

Then a package arrived for my mother, and so that became wet as I slogged through the mud, doing more rain-induced activities, such as fending off another wet donkey because she liked the color of my raincoat and wanted to touch it.

Or eat it, I’m not sure which.

Then I finally arrived home, came inside, and remembered I needed to get my laundry out of the dryer.

So out I went, sloshing through more mud, got my laundry, got home, and realized I could not unbutton my jeans to put on pajamas because my hands were frozen. Good thing I have a small waist.

Now I am enjoying watching the rain from inside my RV, which is a lovely 76 degrees.

Complete Day

  • Give collie belly rub - check.
  • Spray water into boot - check.
  • Run around chasing pigs while holding a vaccination needle - check.

Good. Today is complete.

I’m Stuck

My mom and I were in the lamb pen the other day, watching our new little lamb, Harrison, explore the world.

As I watched, he attempted to lie down. His two front legs folded underneath him, but he couldn’t get his hindquarters in the same position.

I could almost hear him say, “Um, Mama? I think I’m stuck.”

So Tolerant

Trying to get donkeys back into the pen to eat is not an easy task. I’m slapping their rumps and tugging on their mane, running at them to make them move, but they just don’t care.

“Why do you have to be so tolerant? Why are you so nice to me? I want you to go away from me right now!”

And they’re just like, “Oh hi. Pet me. I’m soft.”

Powdered Sugar

29 degrees outside this morning when I went to go feed animals.

Our brown alpaca looks like a chocolate cupcake with powdered sugar on top. Or maybe I’m just hungry.

Weird Llamas

Llamas are weird. Today I was feeding the llamas, and one of them, Chris, always waits at the last feed bucket for me to get to him. Today, I was putting just a little bit more feed into the buckets than usual, so I didn’t get to the last bucket.

I fed the pigs, and then went back to the gate nearby the llama buckets so I could go through and let Murphy out. Chris was at the gate waiting for me. He stuck his neck out as far as he could reach.

“Hey bud. Could you back away so I could get through please?”

He didn’t move.

“What do you want, Fish Eyes? Are you sore because I didn’t fill the last bucket? Whatever.”

Once I had put some feed in the last bucket, he was fine.

Llamas are weird.

Cute Mice

It’s a good thing I think mice are cute instead of being scared of them. Five ran out of the feed sack this morning as I was refilling the bucket.

Escape Artist

Before 10:00 - Get donkey out of sheep pen. Get goat out of horse pen. Check. What before 12:00 rescuings do I need to do?

Before 12:00 - rescue goat from neighbor’s property. I hope I have him captured now in a secure pen. But I wouldn’t put anything past this escape artist. He’ll probably climb the ladder.

Running Lambs

The lambs got let out today to roam around the property. It’s so much fun to watch them run and play together!

Not Water

The horses here have a habit of moving their feed buckets around in their stalls.

After I let the horses out, I like to move the feed buckets back to the fence so that I can feed them in the afternoon.

Snip especially likes to turn his feed bucket over. Today, I went in to move it back to a good place.
What I didn’t notice was that the overturned bucket was filled with water, which splashed all over my boots. I couldn’t figure out how it had rained inside the stall and not outside.

Then it dawned on me that the fluid was probably not water.

My boots have since been rinsed to do away with any traces of horse pee.


Donk! That’s the sound of a lamb running into the fence. He hasn’t quite figured out the whole gate thing yet.

That Girl

At the store today, a big manly truck pulled up next to ours. I noticed there was a girl wearing a cowboy hat driving, and I said, “I’m going to be that girl someday.” Then I noticed she had three dogs in the back, and I said:

I’m totally going to be that girl someday.

2 Comments Workcamping at an Animal Rescue Ranch

  1. Picture of De'Etta@Courageous Joy De'Etta@Courageous Joy February 13, 2016


    I loved your snippets from life at the animal rescue farm. We have a 10 yo girl who is determined she will one day own a farm - either in Japan or Oregon - and I can see how something like this would be really fun for her in a few years…..I especially loved your stories about Harrison and Jake and Max.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Picture of Jon@BroadRiverPastures Jon@BroadRiverPastures April 07, 2017

    I enjoyed your stories. When we first moved to our farm 7 years ago we had goats. Every rule we have on the farm now was because of goats! They taught us how to build good fences & how to build good gates,. They also taught us not to leave anything within reach or they will eat or destroy it!

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