© 1992 Dunn Farm ~ Life in the Sierra Nevada

The Dunn farm animals

Sherzy is about nine years old, a quiet beauty. Her filly, Jasmine, four years old this July, is so fast; it is breathtaking to see her racing across the pasture, tail and mane flying in the wind -  the beautiful golden, copper color of her coat flashing in the sunlight.  With flared nostrils, her perfect head held high, she comes to a screeching halt, and in a second, is off again!  She holds her tail very high, and she looks so regal!  

 

Like most Arabian horses, she is very spirited and intelligent.  She is fond of cob, a mixture of oats and molasses, as is mom Sherzy.  They have been known to raid the hay storage area more than once!

 

My son, Keith, came over one weekend to lunge her, and calm her down a bit as she wouldn't take a halter...she had never had any instruction at all. Now she is halter broken and more gentle, however, she has never been ridden.  What a sight to see! Keith is just wonderful with horses! So patient and kind. Reminded me of a horse whisperer, with all the care and time he took with Jasmine, like my Grandpa Fred when he used to work the horses at the Van Vleck ranch in Sloughhouse! 

Arabian Horses

Calicos, Adopted kitties, Siamese, Mixed breeds, and fluffy 'Tux' kitties (black and whites). They all have adopted us and each has its own story. Needless to say, the mice, lizard and frog populations are down! 

We currently have seven cats and a brand new batch of  kittens! Living in the country allows them room to run and play among the flowers and nap under the shrubs.  Of course, they destroy some of my best plant collections, especially when they are at the 'toddler' stage!  Every day some can be found scampering up the trees while at play.  Climbing trees is a very important life lesson, after all!

Sugar was my sweetheart, we raised her from a kitten.  Regal, with a nasty attitude, she would only allow us to love her when she felt like it!  But she was Daddy's girl.  She died suddenly two years ago, not long after Charlie died.  We love you Sugar, forever.

With the addition of our new dove cage, they have found a new pastime, climbing up the trellis to peek at the doves. Usually they just enjoy the cooing and nap nearby.
 

Cats & Kittens

Lizzie is a Giant White turkey. She escaped being Thanksgiving dinner and become a favorite pet instead.  Ian immediately loved her, so she is waddling around the chicken house with the hens, and roosters, quite content. She loves having Ian stroke her feathers. She actually swoons, sprawled at his feet, her head resting on the ground, her eyes shut in ecstasy!  She will only do this for Ian!!  He asks about her often, ensuring that she is not targeted for any holiday dinner!

Lizzie loves sunbathing, eating crawly bugs and nap time.  Chickens cluck, roosters crow, and Lizzie chirps. This is a strange little sound, but she does not 'gobble' like the males. Strange, just a little chirp chirp and not very often either. She has begun to lay eggs again, large brown turkey eggs with a spattered texture. And yes, they taste like chicken eggs!

Lizzie died a natural death in her sleep in August 1999.  She loved it on the farm; loved to socialize with the noisy chickens, the strutting roosters, and endured the peacock's courting dances. She was gentle, sweet, and very fond of Ian, my grandson. He will always remember and love Lizzie, his turkey. She was buried with great pomp on Heartbreak Ridge next to Charlie, a Sheltie.

Our Resident Turkey

Baby was a Cockatiel... a very special little bird. She would sit on Tim's shoulder and pluck at his hair, his beard. They really enjoyed each other. She sang beautifully! Sometimes she would repeat words, like Baby or Hello.

 

At times, Tim let her fly around the house, being careful all windows and doors were closed. She seemed to really enjoy that. 

 

After Baby passed away, we missed her so much we needed to have birds around so we began an aviary.  We will always love you Baby! Visit our Dove Aviary​!

Baby

BeBe was our sweetest cat, loving and purred so softly.  Her two little kittens found good homes after her death and they have her sweet, gentle nature. BeBe was mauled and killed by a vicious, rogue cat two years ago. We miss her terribly. Over the years, we must have had 20 cats or more... they roamed the grounds, were good mousers, and loved to watch the goldfish in the pond. We have always loved cats. 

BeBe

Tim surprised me in late spring with ten goldfish, one black goldfish.  They have made the pond their home, and there are many more now, little babies swimming around, and five, fat black fish!  In the morning and in the evening, he and Ozzie go down and feed the fish.  Then we began to get Koi, shopping at the Capitol Nursery in downtown Sacramento, where they swam in large schools under the bridge... colorful, large and lovely! It was always so exciting to see them, and feed them. 

So we began collecting Koi.. white ones, orange and black speckled ones, frilly beautiful ones, black ones. We named each as we bought them and they were family. We loved to sit by the pond and feed them. Our dog at that time, Charlie, loved to sit and just watch them swim lazily by. The cats loved to watch also, but hungrily!

One day, years later, raccoons got them all, every single one... in just one night! We were heartbroken and couldn't bring ourselves to replace them and begin again. 

Koi and Goldfish

We have about thirty hens, six roosters (Aracuanas, Buff Orpingtons, Banties, Polish Top Hat, and Black Australorpes ) and seasonal chicks. During the summer, the hens lay about one egg every other day! With thirty of them, this can add up! 

 

Extra eggs are sold, so the chickens really pay for their upkeep. Tim recently purchased eleven white leghorns. They lay white eggs, which some people prefer. They are in their own chicken house. Tim brought them home when they were just little chicks, now they have started laying and are about seven months old. We do give many dozens of eggs away to family.

Learn more about our chickens and roosters on the Chicken Page.  What they eat, where they sleep, and their favorite things to do!

Chickens

I had always wished for a peacock with the brilliant colors and regal walk. A miracle that one day a stray peacock adopted us...he just showed up and began roosting in the tall pine tree behind the chicken coop out back. He had brown, plain feathers at first, and had a good time running around the property, nibbling at white flowers, his favorite snack.  He had just begun to acquire his beautiful, long tail feathers with its bronze and green train.

 

The iridescent blue color of his long neck and head was just spectacular!  He liked to hang out with the chickens and his best buddy was a beautiful Aracuana rooster. He often displayed and did his courting dance for the chickens, which completely bewildered them, but he especially loved showing off for Lizzie, our turkey.  

 

He was right there when the cats were fed, as he loved kitty biscuits!  And right there when the chickens were fed; he also loved cracked corn! His favorite daytime roosting spot was the top of the dove cage. They must lull him to sleep.

 

Lancelot disappeared in early spring of 1999.  He had discovered his 'voice' along with his yearnings, and had not stopped calling for his true love. As there is a bird ranch not far from here, I suspect he went in search of his lady love.

 

He was absolutely gorgeous!! We have some great shots of him 'dancing' for the lady chickens and strutting his stuff.  I love you Lancelot, wherever you are! My heart ached so for him that Tim got me another peacock, but he is not tame and stays in a cage. It is just not the same.

Peacock

One rabbit is all we have left.  At one time, we had at least 7. His name is Houdini; yes, for the obvious reason! He is the original daddy and the granddaddy.  I can't tell you how many times he escaped from a cage that was locked with no escape! A mystery.

 

Rabbits can take quite a lot of cold weather, but extreme heat really does them in. They love hay and adore apple twigs and fresh grass. They are quite happy in their large cages.

 

I have thought about letting him loose to enjoy life more fully, but then I would fear for all my growing vegetables, and of course, the flowers! Houdini spends the cold winters snuggled inside of a wood box home.

Rabbits

One year we decided to purchase a cow and have her bred with our neighbor's bull so we could raise a calf for meat. This was during the time we had wanted to live off the grid much as we could, raising our own vegetables, herbs, and meat like beef and turkey (which worked one time only). So after neighbor Bob provided the bull, our Bianca became pregnant and had her foal who we named Spencer.

 

He was such a handsome calf, spunky and playful. I tried to not get too attached as he would provide a freezer full of meat at a later time. That was so difficult for me... and when it came time to send Spencer to the slaughterhouse, I really cried. The beef was excellent and we enjoyed our investment, but it was the last time we raised cattle for food. To separate lovable Spencer from what we ate at dinnertime was really difficult and I am amazed we didn't become vegetarians.

Bianca & Spencer

We began with two ducks, a Fawn White Runner we named Guinevere, and her mate, Lancelot. They would swim together often in the pond in the afternoon. At one time we had over 40 ducks... they just kept breeding and laying eggs. We had them all corralled in an unused portable swimming pool, complete with a mud pond which they loved to eat bugs from... finally we sold them to the downtown market. I suppose duck was the special of the week after that. I tried not to think about it.

 

We also had 2 large geese that honked quite loudly and provided great entertainment. LaTrec used to attack people but Tim would just snatch him up by his long neck and tuck him under his arm.

Ducks 'n Geese

This is Ozzie, our Australian shepherd.   He is such an amazing dog!  He has a human soul, I swear! An old man's soul.  You should hear him groan in the evenings as he lays on the carpet, he sounds like an old man snoozing, he groans, sighs, and sounds human.  Hahahaha!!! We love him so much.  

 

He loves Tim immensely!  He will put his head on his knee, then if Tim does not move or discourage him, he will then put up one paw, then quickly, another paw! Then a back leg, then the other, before you know it, Ozzie is in his lap, the whole dog!

 

And they love to wrestle.  Ozzie is shown enjoying his favorite snack, fresh strawberries right off the plant! There is a bit of the first snowfall still on the berries here.  Ozzie has stolen Dad Tim's heart that was so sad when Charlie, our little Sheltie, died. Ozzie just loves the snow! Before Ozzie, we had King, a beautiful blue-eyed Malamut, too high maintenance a dog for us, so we found him a good home.  

Ozzie