We’re happy to report that the elderly blind Poodle sisters, Molly and Priscilla, have settled into their new lives with us. Both are doing great. As you can see in the photo above, they are as inseparable as ever.
We were quite concerned about Molly when she first came because of how frail and rickety she was — we thought she might be a hospice case, in fact. But she now has more energy, and weight on her, than she did then.
There’s nothing frail about her when she’s outside and wants to come back in … she lets out this big, deep bark that you’d think came from a German shepherd and not this old girl! Both sisters definitely move at a lower speed than everyone else, but as long as they’re moving, we’re happy.
Speaking of moving and settling in … we quietly moved ourselves a few months ago! Just across town, only 7 miles from where we were located. We had come to the conclusion that we no longer needed all the space we had at that farm — the house was 3,600 square feet, the three-story multi-use building had another 7,200 square feet, plus there was another barn. With only 15 disabled dogs now and one blind horse, we simply didn’t require all that infrastructure. It wasn’t cost-effective for our reduced needs. And we had the perfect place to go to.
Back in 2011, we had bought a 100-acre property and built a small, single-story house to rent out for income and for our eventual use some day. It’s at the end of the road, overlooking a pond, with a year-round stream coursing through the entire length of the property and running just below the house. Very remote and private, yet still close to town. We used our retirement savings from our corporate days to make the purchase and build the home, using something called a self-directed IRA that allows you to invest retirement funds in assets other than stocks and bonds, including real estate. (There are a number of financial firms that specialize in self-directed IRAs; we used Pensco Trust.)
We rented it out for a number of years, then took the distribution (i.e., took it out of the IRA) once we reached the magic age so we could begin getting it ready for us to move into. This spring, we realized the time had come, so over the space of several weeks we moved everything over. Then, on a Friday afternoon in mid-March, we loaded the dogs in the van and brought them over … and we were here to stay.
We will be putting the other property on the market this summer, though we will hold on to the hayfields for haying and a good part of the other acreage for future value for the nonprofit. The proceeds will go back into the nonprofit bank account to pay for the animals’ food, veterinary care, and associated needs for the long term. The rest of the cost of running the place here, since it’s our personal property, will be paid by us.
Okay, time for a few photos!
Here’s the living room with Tanner, Millie and the Poodle sisters:
The house is 1,870 square feet, with one large master bedroom, a utility room, kitchen, living room, one and half bathrooms, and a large sunporch on the south side. There’s a full basement.
We designed the floor plan so we could heat the entire house with a single wood stove, and there it is:
Our bedroom is behind that door to the right of the stove. The blue tub on the cart is what we use to bring firewood into the house.
Here’s the outside of the house … the sun porch is where all the windows are, and overlooks the gardens, the pond and mountains beyond:
We used metal roofing and siding because we wanted a maintenance-free home — we didn’t want to be an elderly couple in our 80s some day, having to come up with the money for a new roof, more money to paint the exterior or replace siding, etc. In terms of looks, it didn’t turn out the way we had hoped; each gable end of the house is “heavy” looking. We had expected the contractor to use scissor trusses for the ends but because of a communication/oversight problem, that didn’t happen. So it kind of has this commercial look to it; oh well, it will last forever with no additional cost for upkeep.
You can see in that photo the ramps leading up to the deck and then to the door. Beyond is our greenhouse. The small green roofed structure below the sun porch is a dog house we built to look like a miniature version of the house itself. It’s in a smaller dog yard reached off the deck.
The satellite dish is not for TV but for Internet; this spot is so remote there’s no other way to get it. We use Exede satellite internet, which is actually (thank heavens!) broadband speed, though nothing like the Time Warner cable internet we did have. But it works surprisingly well, and is reliable.
This is the view from the deck looking out to the larger dog yard:
Look at those apple blossoms! The tall black cherry and apple tree on the left, and the large apple tree on the right, provide perfect shade on sunny days.
Although the blossoms are now gone, here’s a photo from a couple of weeks ago with blind Louie the Beagle rolling around on his back in the grass:
As for Lena, here she is grazing with her two goat buddies, Kiwi and Melody:
That’s all the goats we have left these days, and they are great company for blind Lena.
Another shot of Lena, heading for the water bucket on the fence. After all these years seeing her navigate around, it still amazes us to watch her lift her head up from grazing, figure out where she is in relation to the water source, and then walk straight towards it:
That’s the new Lena’s Barn behind her. One of our tenants early on built a rough shed for her two horses, so we kept it for use as interior stalls and built a barn around and over it.
Another view … Lena’s corral is on the left, and the goat pen is on the right:
There’s our “farm bike” in the foreground … we use it to haul water and grain out to the barn. Haven’t used the utility vehicles since we’ve been here.
Finally, here’s the main barn, which is directly across from the house … I took this photo in early fall:
We use that building for parking tractors and vehicles, as a place to work on firewood and store the wood (two 14′ x 14′ wood cribs — one for the current winter’s firewood, one for the next winter’s supply), for winter housing for the laying flock, as a work shop, and where our livestock guardian dog Aaron has his pen. (He is guarding chickens on pasture these days, no longer goats.)
So that’s a quick photo tour.
In case you’re wondering, our mailing address is the same — P.O. Box 150, Lancaster, NH 03584.
While our physical location has changed, our mission hasn’t. We’re still going to be caring for and taking in disabled dogs, though not on the scale we did in the past. We just have a new place to do it.