You have not heard from us in over a year. Well, there were plenty of reasons for that. In short: We had to look for legal support for an "issue" that almost made us lose our farm and Andrea's home with no fault of our own. We had to overcome major financial issues, but also quite some personal disappointments. With the beginning of 2020, we will be able to rent out parts of our barn and our field again - which is a good thing. There will be more obstacles ahead of us in 2020, the biggest one certainly is Andrea's terminally ill father who lives with us on our farm. Are we ready to get through all this? No, but we will be doing our best to face it all.
We will start uploading regular clips to our MEET-THE-BRENTSTONES YouTube channel very soon, so you can all see what changes were made during the past year(s) and what we are planning to do from here.
But now we'd like to with all of you and your families all the best for 2020!
Andrea, Wyman & Glenny
In Northern Germany, summer is almost over. We propbably experienced the dryest summer ever since the weather was recorded. Only recently it started to rain again occasionally. That led to quite a few problems, No. 1 is that there was and is not enough food for all our animals. Our sheep and horses need their grass. We had to buy typical winter food like hay, silage and corn. Some sensitive animals reacted to the food change. Our Cameroon sheep are especially picky and sensitive. They rejected the silage, only ate a little of the offered hay, so we tried to compensate with grain - which they love. Our little Hoppe (who is actually not so little anymore) got seriously ill, also because he was stealing grain from the ducks and the rabbits. How he made it through the fences and even the rabbit cage doors? Well, he knows how to use his horns. We will have to get very creative to stop him. Hoppe's rumen, the first stomach, eventually got all clogged up, he developed a fever, stopped eating and things did not look too good for him. Our vet gave us medicine for him, and thankfully Hoppe got all better. There is now grass growing again as it started to rain about a week ago.
The dry summer also led to a huge mite outbreak in our chicken house. It took us a while to figure out what was wrong with them. Two of our chickens got very ill, one died and another one had to be put to sleep. It was our weakest chickens which we only got a few months ago. They had not been fed and treated well in their previous home, so we thought it might have been that along with their age. Eventually, we discovered the thousands of mites in the chicken house - they hide very well until they attack at night. We treated the chickens, killed the mites, and now all chickens are doing fine again. We had mites last year, but it was not that bad. They suck quite a bit of blood out of their victims.
Yes, animals died on our farm, but many more were born. We were able to observe how 18 little chickens hatched, which was quite exciting. We had lost our white Hettie who was breeding behind the fence where a fox found her (instead of us), but she had left 5 of her eggs which eventually hatched under Emma. It is hens only, so we are able to keep them all. Grace was breeding on 13 eggs, and she is still quite busy with her offspring (it is not all hers actually, you can tell by the colors). Unfortunately, 7 of them are roosters, but we will be able to keep 2 in different groups. We will hopefully find a good home for the others. The hens we will all keep.
Our running ducks - who love snails (the actual reason why we got them) had a snail-less summer, it was simply too hot and too dry for the snails. Recently, one of our dwarf chicken eggs hatched. Ruby was breeding for the first time and only one made it out of the shell. And we accidentally got a new cat! A kitten was brought to us in June, it was only a few weeks old at the time. It was found in the middle of a field, maybe a bird of prey had lost it during the flight since there was no other kitten or anything else around, but who knows! The people who found her thought that our farm was the perfect place for the little baby. We didn't want to keep it at first, but yeah, you can guess the rest. We also got a new dog, a little Chihuahua and Jack Russel mix named Cookie. Our bigger dog Leia is still on our farm every day, but she now lives with Mirco (the horse riding teacher) and his friend Julian. They all got so attached to each other, that it was the best for everbody. But we are all a big family anyway. Oh, and then we took in two rabbits that otherwise would have ended up at an animal shelter. The child that was supposed to take care of them lost interest, so the parents decided that the rabbits should find a new home.
We did so much work during the summer, it is unimaginable. And as on any farm, the work never ends. We emptied barns, moved stuff, burned stuff, painted, planted, harvested, repaired, built. And of course, we are not done yet. Andrea only returned from her theater work at the beginning of June, and there wasn't a single day without farm work. But all the work does pay off: The place looks so much better now, and from time to time, we can welcome quite a few children to spend some time with our farm animals. We do all that on the basis of donations. We also now see how much this lifestyle has had an effect on our son Glenny: He is so much more open to other people that it is amazing to watch. There are different children of all ages on our property on a daily basis, and he enjoys playing with all of them. He also developed a strong sense of responsibility and quite a bit of self-confidence in his own abilities. This reminds us every day of why we are doing all of this, because sometimes we do have doubts. Wyman's lung disease takes his toll on him, and the farm is a lot of work for a woman alone who is not that young anymore and who also has to take care of the family. ;) Big investments like the roof repair work still have to be made.
We recently obtained a little tractor which is a lot of fun to ride, respecially for Glenny. Andrea is able to give Glenny what she herself loved about farm life while growing up, and it feels like life is coming together. Everything seems to make sense, and it is a good feeling for her to be able to fill her farm experience with a new meaning. Perpetuating the good while making adjustments to avoid the bad experiences.
We are now also offering cooperating events with Mirco's horse riding school where we bring together children with our farm animals for a few hours, a little extended version of our individual children's program.
This Sunday, we will be hosting our big farm event and we are quite busy with cleaning up everything and get everything ready for the big day. Very soon, we will also host the first horse riding tournament on our property. Glenny will participate and is very excited already. So are his parents.
We will keep you posted and will catch up on posting all of our video material. Stay tuned!
You are curious to know what animals live on our farm? Here you find the answer! All of our animals are either rescue animals or at least ended up on our farm for one reason or another with the goal to have a happy and healthy life with us until nature takes its toll. They are all part of our family.
Many of you know the history behind the place where we live and raise our son Glenn Jolson Brent. For those who don't, here is the story: I (Andrea) grew up on this farm in Northern Germany. My father had worked as a pig farmer there before I was born. When he remarried and had his two children, my brother and four years later me, my father's day job had become a tram and later a bus driver. He continued to have animals: sheep, chickens, geese, rabbits and cats (what I despised was that these animals were killed and eaten, except the cats).
At age 16 and a troublesome time which included a suicide attempt, I moved out and focused on education. I studied and lived in bigger cities, became interested in theater and filmmaking and traveled through Germany, Europe and the USA. In 2010, I met Wyman Brent, the founder of the Vilnius Jewish Public Library in Lithuania, married him and had our son Glenn Jolson Brent (named after Al Jolson who had brought us together). After Glenn's birth, we moved to the farm to have Glenn grow up close to his German grandparents as Wyman's entire family lived in the USA.
In 2017, my mother died and we had planned to move out. But at that time, I had met this young guy named Mirco who was desparately looking for a place to establish his horse riding school. Mirco was 18 at the time. I saw a lot of myself in him as I had planned to open a pet hotel on the family farm at age 18, but wasn't given permission by my father. I convinced my father to rent out parts of the barn and the fields to Mirco, so that he could establish his horse riding school. It went so well that it became Mirco's full-time job. Because Glenny loves Mirco so much (and vice versa) and because of the fact that there are so many ponies to grow up with (with the chance to ride them any time) and so many kids that come over, we decided to stay - despite a flat that is way too small.
We started to share animals with Mirco: 5 chickens, 4 geese, and 4 sheep. There are also 3 rabbits, 5 dwarf chickens, 2 budgies, 2 cats and a dog. We took them over recently as Mirco had to fully focus on his growing business. Glenny loves growing up with all the animals and many ways for him to have a happy and free childhood where he can try out new things every day, learning to understand the needs animals have, learning a lot about himself by experiencing that he can take over responsibility even at a young age and develop self-confidence that way. We never force him to work. Whatever he does, he does because he wants to do it. He has the good parts of my childhood: freedom, animals, adventure, but not the bad parts: He is never lonely as children come over regularly to have their riding lessons, no animals will ever be slaughtered or sold and despite his rural upbringing, we make sure that Glenn still has other, intellectual activities and stimulations. So, we decided to settle in a time when I wanted to not only continue my work as a documentary filmmaker, but also pursue my career as a dramaturg or assistant stage director - definitely a challenge.
Was it partly because of this switch to a rural life that led to the end of our relationship? Maybe. We are very different in regards of physical work and not always the best team in this context. Yet there were many other influences. In the long run, our living situation on this property will have to change, but it is not possible at this point. Glenny should definitely grow up with both his parents, especially since we cannot tell for how long Wyman will be able to be there for his son because of his incurable lung disease.
We enjoy the kids that are coming over and love showing them the other animals, too. Therefore, we thought it might be a wonderful idea to establish a visitor farm for kids who otherwise have very little or no contact with animals. We are also trying to offer this experience to seniors who can also enjoy a cup of coffee and a piece of cake once everything is set up. This place (which we inherited in November of 2017) is in bad shape. House and barn roofs have to be replaced and we have to get rid of a lot of junk. Things are very slow, we cannot rent out any room as my father still lives in the big house, and although the relationship is not good, we want to be smooth with all the changes. But with every little step, things are starting to look better.
We do not want to turn our idea into a business, but we founded an association together with another friend ("Unsere kleine Farm"/"Our Little Farm"). We have donation boxes on our property in case visitors would like to make a donation. Our main idea is to give people the chance to adopt an animal for only 2 to 3 EUROS (3 to 4 USD) per month. This monthly donation will be spent on the animal's food. People who adopt an animal receive a certificate, and a sign is being placed inside the barn on our Bulletin board.
We would also like to offer this online to people who do not have the chance to visit us in person, yet would like to adopt an animal or make other donations to become a part of our little farm adventure. The certificate would be placed on this website, on our German website: www.dieponyfarm.de/unsere-kleine-farm, and inside our barn.
If you click on "Animal Sponsorship" in the menu above, you can take a look at all of our animals. This is the PayPal link for the sponsorhip and other donations, but you will also find it on the "Animal Sponsorship" page.
And yes, we are still planning to do our US trip as a family, but financing it will take longer than expected. :)
Three weeks ago we asked for name suggestions for our 4 dwarf chickens. Our rooster was already named Papito by Glenny. Today we chose the names we liked best, and here they are: Goldie, Rugy, Gina and Glenda. How to tell them apart? Here we go:
Goldie is the (surprise!) golden looking one, Ruby is also golden, but she is slightly more white in the front. Gina and Glenda are both greyish, but Gina has a darker head and is a Little less skinny than Glenda (wanted to word it nicely).
Have a look and try to tell them apart. :)
For almost two months we have had quite some problems with our geese Jack, Heidi and Else. We thought that the combination of one male and two females would guarantee peace, but no, it doesn't. It turned out that Jack and Heidi formed a couple and that Heidi started to attack Else - badly. Since some local goose experts found it very unusual that a female and not the male is the aggressive one, we had to figure out if we were correct with our assumption that Jack was the male and Heidi and Else were the females. Apparently, this is not too easy to tell as three different vets could not help us. With the help of YouTube and a local goose expert (via phone), we learned how to distinguish between goose male and female parts. :D The result was that everybody was whom we expected to be. Else was not a happy goose anymore as we had to separate her from the other two. Goose experts told us to get another male for her. So, here is Siegfried! It was not easy to find a male goose relatively close to our home (we still had to drive for two hours to get him).
Siegfried moved in yesterday, on March 10th, 2018. Thankfully, he and Else did not fight. Unfortunately, there is no mutual interest in one another either. Today we tright to put all the geese together to see if it works, but it doesn't. The first five minutes were peaceful, but then Heidi attacked both Siegfried and Else. Siegfried's wing gut caught in the fence and Wyman had to free him. Else almost got strangulated by the fence Heidi forced her to run into. Wyman got injured in the face and I (Andrea) got bitten in the leg - which bled, although I was wearing two layers of pants.
So, now we have two separate goose couples (although one pair is not even a couple yet). All these problems lead to different fencing plans. There is a lot of work to do at the moment as we are also extablishing our visitor farm and everything should look nice. Andrea will leave for her theater internship in the middle of April and won't be home for six weeks. And off to work we go!
We are working on an entire make-over as far as all of our fencing goes. The chicken enclosure was set up with recycling material last year (not in a good way) and the geese who had to spend some time in there this winter (because they would go for a walk in the village otherwise) did some damage. The actual goose enclosure was set up with the wrong fence as the geese - as huge as they are - managed to squeeze through the holes. Therefore, everything will be newly structured. One part of the old chicken enclosure will be redone and then used by our five dwarf chickens when they are old enough to be outside, the other part will be expanded to a huge chicken and goose enclosure which will include a sand box for the chickens and a little pool for the geese. The former goose enclosure will be used for our sheep when they are not running around on the pony fields. And the entire field will be fenced in as well, so that our dog Leia cannot run away anymore and the geese do not get too far in case they try to escape on their nightly walk into the barn. Well, this will be a lot work, but it has to be finished by the middle of April when Andrea starts her stage direction internship at the Schlosstheatre in Celle.
Mirco now has six ponies on his Pony Farm. Since Kim has to semi-retire, Mirco is in need of at least one more pony. Today, Carissa and Garfield moved in. They come from the same place as two other of Mirco's ponies: Wursti and Prince. It was a very windy and cold day, but the two ponies got integrated peacefully. They are still kept outside the barn by the other ponies for most of the time though.
Mother, filmmaker, translator, editor.