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Comings and Goings

October was a hard month at the farm with four unrelated, but big losses. We said goodbye to Rocky the steer, Heather the gigantic rooster, Graham the goat, and Fred the chinchilla. We brought in the best medical care and did all we could for them.  It's hard and sad to lose our animals, but we also can say with certainty that they lived well, were loved and cared for, and were treated with the utmost respect upon their passing. They will stay in our memories and our hearts. 

Thanks to the incredible generosity of donors like you, we met the fundraising goal of $4,890 for our "Remembering Rocky: Warm for the Winter" Campaign. These funds are being used to purchase winter coats for our seniors, heat lamps, electrical work to install the lamps, rubber insulating mats, and to cover the heavy costs of Rocky's final care. Although we have met our goal, the campaign is still open if you would like to donate.

We had the opportunity to help two new animals this month:  Brandy the Angus cow and DeeAnna the Bantam hen (dark hen, right, above). Brandy was rescued many years ago from an abusive situation, and recently her owner lost her lease.  DeeAnna was picked up as a stray in Washington, DC by animal control.  They have both made friends (see the beginning of the love story between Brandy and Bullwinkle). 

I want to invite you to come out to the farm over the holidays; the grand opening for our new gift shop is on Saturday, November 26, and our old friend Santa will be here on December 19!.

Farmer Anne, Star Gazing Farm
Combined Federal Campaign
Federal Worker Friends, 
The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) has recently kicked-off and I've been asked to share our CFC information. 
Star Gazing Farm Animal Sanctuary -- CFC # 86412
Thank you for considering Star Gazing Farm in your 2016 giving plans and beyond! Every little bit helps us and as always, we greatly appreciate your support
Upcoming Events

Holiday Gift Shoppe & Open Farm
Saturdays November 26, December 5, 12 & 19, 10am-4pm
Directions to the farm

Takoma Park Alternative Gift Fair
Saturday,December 6, 12-4
Takoma Park Presbyterian Church, 310 Tulip Ave Takoma Park,MD

Meet Santa Claus at the farm!
Saturday, December 19, 10-4

Angel Award: Mr. Newman Goat

This time we could not resist giving the Angel Award to our beloved Mr. Newman Goat, because of how often he makes everyone laugh.  Newman is usually the first to saunter out of the barn to greet new visitors,entertain them with (largely untrue) stories, and try to eat their shirts. He is now an old man, going on 14, but he's still up to his old tricks of breaking into cars and trying to steal the pig's food. He is such an honest, forthright, sometimes irritating but completely lovable guy - he makes everyone happy who knows him.

The Chronicles of Newman
:“All Rise”[read this story online]
Summer has ended. In the ancient Celtic tradition, All Hallows’ Eve marked the end of the harvest season, when shepherds would move their animals into barns in preparation for the long winter. Hallowe’en and the following days of All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2), represent one of those strange mixtures of ancient pagan rituals with Christian celebrations that we see on other major holidays such as Christmas and Easter.

This Hallowe’en I managed to spook Sam the dog rather badly by putting on my mask from Papua New Guinea and dancing around. I’m not sure he’s recovered yet. Animals generally hate Hallowe’en and for good reason; their humans become unrecognizable, act silly, and then slump into sugar comas long before feeding time rolls around. And only a few very lucky animals get to dress up because, frankly, animals don’t look that good in face paint. It’s just not fair. As an aside, I never quite understood why the Saints get in line in front of all those Souls, unless Saint Francis decided he’d better be there first thing on the morning of November 1 to soothe the animals startled out of their wits by idiots wearing masks from the South Pacific.

That said, and with all due respect to Saint Francis et al, I honestly think that the animals are probably more in sync with All Souls’ Day, or as some call it, the Day of the Dead (although in all likelihood animals are tuned in 365 days a year and not just on one – they’re better at the transitions than we are). Still, I wish it were more common in the U.S. to “do up” the Day of the Dead in honor of our ancestors and loved ones who have gone before us. Hallowe’en and scary costumes and ghosts made out of bedsheets are about as close to all this that a lot of folks choose to get unless the matter is forced upon them. On the other and, some countries hold massive celebrations with candies made into skull shapes, picnics held on grave sites, parades with spectacular costumes, and flowers pouring out everywhere. It’s not a celebration of life… it’s a celebration of death - a glorious, colorful time of prayer amongst thousands for the souls who have moved on. Surely, we all have our own personal anniversaries, the tiny crosses or death markers we’ve left along our journey. But I’m struck and touched by the community nature of getting in touch with all those who used to be.

As someone who moved from the city to a farm, I have had a long and steep learning curve in adjusting to the earth’s rhythms, most especially that of the dance of Death; I’ve had to inexpertly grope my way through the maze of logistics and emotions that beset one when newly hatched chicks are found struggling on Christmas day or on the most beautiful spring morning I find an inert body.

And then there are the ‘phenomena’.

Recently the farm lost Rocky, the ‘largest steer I’ve ever seen’ as said all the professionals who came out to try to help him. The morning that he passed away, I found a limp young wild rabbit just inside my front door. This was not the first time that a tandem death occurred. A friend of the farm told me that the day her dog died, oddly enough, the same day that Rocky left this earth; she was looking for a good spot to bury him and when she saw the body of a tiny bird in a quiet place, she knew that was where her dog needed to go. How can these things be explained? We homo sapiens have the capacity to invent tools, use our tongues for complex speech in so many languages, eat the most varied diet of any creature on earth, send messages through the airwaves, but really, we know very little when it comes to (im)mortality. When death arrives it offers us a chance to tune into a different frequency and this time of mourning, this painful, awful, stomach-wrenching time of loss is when we can perhaps feel the passionate presence of God, of the migration of souls. Why NOT celebrate this once a year with flowers and parades, colorful masks, communal remembrance, and last but certainly not least, consumption of delectable tacos at grave sites?

So today, on All Souls’ Day, November 2, 2015, I shall strew flowers about the farm, feed and kiss the living animals, and commemorate those who have turned to dust … but only on this plane of existence. All rise to honor them.

‘Till next time,
Farmer Anne

“He spake well who said that graves are the footprints of angels.”
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Copyright © 2015, Star Gazing Farm, Inc., All rights reserved.
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Star Gazing Farm
PO Box 162, Boyds, MD 20841
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Tel: 301.349.0802

EIN#: 20-0882587
CFC#: 86412