Giving Back, Christmas Eve 2011
On the morning of the 24th, we visited “Our Daily Bread” which is the soup kitchen for Manatee County. After that we left to arrive at the Ronald McDonald House across the street from All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.
It was an emotionally exhausting day, yet the rewards were tough to put into words. All of the interns firmly believed they made a difference in both places. The photos tell a lot. Enjoy.
Hi, my name is Isabel Gonzalez and I’m a city girl, gone country. Even though I’m originally from New York City, I have always been drawn to the country life. My passion for animals has always been a part of my life. I’m 12 years old and in the 8th grade currently attending Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences. My favorite subject is “History”. I love learning about the past and about the possibilities of what still can be discovered.
When my family and I moved to Florida, I began interning at a farm. I cared for horses, cows, ducks, pigs, chickens, rabbits, dogs, and goats. I was hooked! I love the farm life. The hard work which came along with it didn’t seem like a chore but rather a fun filled day which felt gratifying. Not only was I doing what I loved, but I was learning as well.
The following year, I had the opportunity to work for a Labrador breeder. I cared for a litter of puppies all summer as if I was their mom. It was a learning experience and a hard one to leave since I grew so attached to the puppies.
This year, on June 23, 2011, I was fortunate enough to start an internship at GoldenGael Farm & Stay and Play Pet Resort. I was excited and eager to dive right in. Everyday that I intern is a valuable learning experience. Having worked at a farm before gave me the experience to jump right in. There isn’t one thing I like to do more than the other on the farm, BUT I can tell you that mucking stalls is NOT on the top of my list!
My daily responsibilities vary, but they include; mucking stalls, grooming and feeding the horses. Groom, train, and exercise the dogs, then grooming and feeding the burros. On occasion, I will visit the vet with the dogs and puppies. Although these chores may sound exhausting to the average person, but not to me. I wouldn’t change or give it up for anything.
GoldenGael Farm and Stay & Play Pet Resort have been a part of
my life for over a year now. I first came to know the owners,
Jovonnie and Rusty, when my family started looking for reputable
golden retriever breeders. Our searches lead us to GoldenGael
Farm. With many visits and a new puppy from one of their
champion golden retriever litters, we came to know the
GoldenGael folks like family. During these visits to the farm,
we also came to know the friendly pet donkeys, the cattle they
raise for all natural beef and the Trakehner sport horses they
A busy farm requires many hands. Knowing that our family home
schools, Jovonnie thought I would enjoy learning from the
agricultural lessons of farm life. I was offered an opportunity
for work experience there over a year ago and have gained a
wealth of knowledge.
As a sixteen-year-old, hard work was no stranger
to me since I started my own weed pulling business at the age of
twelve. A strong work ethic and integrity lead to new accounts
sprouting up all over our neighborhood. This early morning
business has prospered for over four years now. It helped to
prepare me for work on the farm.
Sunrise on Saturday morning finds me at Stay and
Play Pet Resort that is a part of the farm. With an
ever-changing variety of dogs boarding there, I have learned
many lessons about the canine kind. Jovonnie trained me in how
to care for the daily needs of the dog guests as well as
grooming techniques and the occasional medical necessities. The
dogs have taught me lessons in pack dynamics of the animal
world. Standing amid a pack of many dogs, I watch them sort out
the pecking order and figure out who’s boss; it gives me the
realization that these really are just domesticated wolves.
Animals have two ways of living: leading or following. It is up
to us, as humans, to lead them. In the book of Genesis in the
Bible, after creating the animals “each after their own kind”
God said that it was good. Then God said, “Let us (God the
Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit) make people in our image, to be
like ourselves. They will be masters over all life – the fish in
the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the livestock, wild
animals, and small animals.” Cesar Milan, the National
Geographic Channel’s “Dog Whisperer”, teaches this same concept
in his admonition for pet owners to be the pack leader of their
home by expressing “calm-assertive energy”. Cesar says, “Animals
– whether horses, dogs, cats, or sheep – will follow only a
stable leader. That leader’s balance is reflected in his
calm-assertive energy.” Cesar notes, “…assertive doesn’t mean
angry or aggressive. Calm-assertive means always compassionate,
but quietly in control.” Having taken the advice of God,
Jovonnie and Cesar, I have learned by experience that this is
the only effective way to work with and respect animals.
My personal experience with dog training has come from handling
our Golden Retriever, Zekie, in basic obedience classes.
Following obedience training, I led her to achieve the “Canine
Good Citizen” title. We are currently training her to become a
Working at GoldenGael has taught me much
about the dog breeding process. Helping with many puppy litters,
I have seen first hand how dogs communicate. Newborn puppies’
senses awaken in the same order that dogs relate to the world
around them. Energy, nose, eyes, and then ears. This has taught
me to communicate with them more through what I do than by what
I say. Being present at the time of birth, I have held moment
old puppies in the palm of my hand massaging their little
chests, encouraging them to breathe.
I have learned much about equine care while working at
GoldenGael. I have come to appreciate the unique nature of
horses. Listening to the various brays and whinnies from the
barn as I scoop their breakfast grain lets me know they
appreciate me, too! Feeding, grooming and barn management are
valuable skills I have gained, but they certainly don’t outweigh
the experience of watching as a newborn filly takes wobbly steps
to find her first meal.
In the fall and winter, I had the opportunity to help with
finishing steers for natural beef. The cows would greet me in
their own language as I pulled up in the truck to give them
their grain. Besides feeding the cattle and taking them to
process, I also learned much about the business management side
of farming. Another side of farming is that of the interaction
within community. Helping out the farm next door and making
frequent trips to the Parrish General Supply are a part of the
give and take, supply and demand aspect of farming.
Alongside the wonders of working with animals are the practical
farm chores of scooping poop, mucking stalls, painting, trimming
trees, mowing and harrowing fields. I’ve enjoyed helping Rusty
with farm maintenance, making repairs and rebuilding fences.
However, as Thomas Edison once said, “I never did a day’s work
in my life. It was all fun.”
I have always had a passion for horses.
My dreams came true when I was 9 and started riding. First we
leased a horse and I had to prove my commitment by being totally
responsible for the care and keeping of that horse. I did it
gladly and, to this day, I am happy just to be around horses in
whatever capacity. Over time I have trained in different riding
disciplines from Western Pleasure, English Pleasure, to Hunter.
I have worked with local trainers in those disciplines and
enjoyed participating in shows throughout the Tampa Bay area.
I have combined what I have learned from my
trainers with the philosophies and techniques learned from Jody
and Susan Cunningham, natural horsemanship clinicians and have
attended their clinics on 3 separate occasions. Each time I
walked away with a new perspective on our interaction with
when Jovonnie Androy of GoldenGael Farm, invited me to become a
part of her foaling team and to work with her Trakehner mares
and foals. Having always been a Quarter Horse girl, this was
unchartered territory. What a pleasant surprise it was to get to
know her horses and their engaging temperaments. Working with
these broodmares, foals, and a syndicated yearling has inspired
me to pursue a new riding direction, dressage.
My first foal I
helped deliver was Taliesin who was born May 28, 2008. Taliesin
is simply poetry in motion. I love to watch his dam, Tahary,
move in the pasture. She has to be a dream under saddle with her
flowing extended trot. Talisen was in the pasture kicking up his
heels the other day at only 5 weeks of age and it dawned on me
that I was watching him doing flying lead changes at each turn
and they were barely visible. His athleticism and balance at
such a young age are a joy to watch. I know that when he is
competing, perhaps in the Olympics one day, I will still have a
deep connection with him whether near or far. He is a horse that
will be with me for a lifetime.
AbbaMia delivered a beautiful filly on the evening of July 29,
2008. Her name is Abatraum, coming from the German word Traum
meaning “dream”. We had a lot of work to do after the actual
birth, but I was ready for all of it. It will be wonderful to
watch her life story unfold. She will be going places with those
gorgeous Tina Turner legs, long and lovely. Watch out!
I’m having the summer any girl who is a horse lover would dream
of. Thanks Jo…
Hi, I’m Stephen Bracciano. I’m 13, attend St. Martha’s Catholic School, and I’m in the 7th grade. My favorite subject is science. It’s my favorite because it’s easy for me to learn, so I get good grades in it. Interning for the last 2 years at GoldenGael Farm & Stay and Play Pet Resort is probably one of the best things I’ve done in my life. I get all of my service hours for school by working there and everybody that works there has become my friend. I love how everyone is so nice that works on the farm. I would suggest that everybody come, it is really the best thing in the world!
At GoldenGael Farm there are show Golden Retrievers who travel all over the world, horses, cattle, and burros. I love all of them, but my favorite thing is to work with are the dogs. There is Elsa, Abaigh, Kerry, Gio, Stanley, Court, Cicada, Dublin. Horse trainer, Shelley MacGeorge, has his dogs Ripley and Snickers at the farm everyday too! Kerry and Elsa have litters due in August. We get to go and see them at the time of their surgical breeding, at the ultrasound, and we even get to go to the c-section where the veterinarian cuts them open and quickly takes the puppies out. The first time at a c-section, I almost threw up, but it was worth it because two hours after birth I had fallen in love with my puppy, Peter. I got to take him home when he was 8 weeks old. But I got to spend time with him every day and take care of him and his littermates. Being a puppy nanny is really hard work especially when they are crying during the night. You get very little sleep, but it is still fun always.
Working with the horses is also fun. I have even had riding lessons on “Chasemore’s Elite” who is also known in the barn as “Woody”. I can bathe a horse too. You start spraying the water at their feet and work your way up so they acclimate to the temperature of the water. The burros are very easy to work with and we body clip them once a year in May. I have drawn lines and written words in the fur before I clip it all off. We also deworm all animals once a month. This includes the dogs, horses and burros. For the horses and burros all you have to do is take a tube filled with the correct amount of medicine, according to their weight, stick it back on their tongue and push the syringe so the medicine comes out on the back of their tongue.
We also have to be sure to keep the hay stacked and grain in special areas of the barn so it stays fresh and away from any insects. We scrub the water troughs with a little bit of bleach in the summer and always make sure everyone has fresh water all the time.
I have spent 2 summers, spring breaks, and even time over the Holidays at the farm.
Last summer was an amazing experience at the farm. I am a fourteen year old boy who loves animals, and enjoys physical labor. I feel like I learned a lot about caring for animals. The farm has about 10 golden retrievers and a Clumber Spaniel named Stanley. All the retrievers have names, and Stanley, who is a short, stocky, fluffy dog thinks he’s the king when he’s not. They also have six horses and three burros.
Some of the things we did were feeding and caring for animals, which included hauling and loading bales of hay and grain feed for the horses. Believe me when I say this; if you have soft hands or low pain tolerance wear gloves when lifting hay. We also cleaned horses feet, groomed them, mucked their stalls, gave de-worming medicines to the burros and horses, cleaned the grounds, cared for the puppies 24/7, fed, bathed and played with the dogs at Stay and Play Pet Resort, and helped with anything needed. But we didn’t work all the time. We took time for some fun with the dogs which included swimming in the pool and throwing tennis balls with them, watching movies, eating pizza and drinking Pepsi.
One of my most memorable experiences was my “horse moment” with Abalies; a big, dark bay colored colt, who is the biggest horse out there, at 17.2 hands and still growing. Abalies was going through horse puberty and was known for biting during this time period. He was easily irritated as well. One day, when I was with him, I was nose to nose with him and he let me stay there, which made me really happy. I was afraid of horses when I first started, but I learned to love them, especially after I had to muck their stalls, rinse them, and learned to lead them into their stalls. The only moment I totally lost it with the horses was when the Vet checked a mare during her pregnancy. He was shoulder deep inside the horse to check for the foal, and I had a really hard time with that, but most everything else was a great learning experience. Tahary’s foal is due in May of 2012.
Some time had passed since I’d last been to the farm and we drove up the driveway and Talisen, another big, Trakehner colt, heard me call his name and he ran up to the fence to greet me. I went over and put my hands on both sides of his head and pushed my face into his. My mom was freaking out in a good way, because she remembered how much I had been afraid of horses. When you work on the farm you build great relationships with the animals and they remember you.
Another experience was when I helped deliver the golden retriever puppies by c-section. My mom took me to the Vet’s clinic at midnight. The mess was really disgusting, but the puppies were cute. I felt like I wanted to throw up at first but I got through it, and now anything to do with bodily organs doesn’t bother me. The worst part about it was the umbilical cords. They were green and purple, and stringy, but after I cleaned up the puppies I was glad I had the experience. The only downside was I only got 5 hours sleep in 48 hours, but overall it was awesome.
Working on a farm is not only helpful, but good for the soul, because it builds teams, leadership, and personal responsibility. Plus it is a lot of fun. I would recommend this for anyone who loves animals and enjoys an environment with a lot of physical labor and a requirement to think “out of the box.”
| Information | Links | Our dogs |
| Stay and Play Pet Resort | Upcoming Litters| Previous Litters | Photo Album
| Email | Home |
Copyright ©2003 -2012
GoldenGael Farms, All Rights Reserved