Horses and dogs and nature have always been very special to me in my life. When I built my farm, I learned about cats, too! Now, I have a menagerie of animals that is ever-entertaining at my farm at the foot of the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains in Pennsylvania.
Animals can inspire us as much as people do. The animals in my life, both at home and at the farm, always teach me something about life or myself or others.
Read about the real animals that live at my farm that are featured in the stories in the Adventures at Green Apple Acres book series.
Book Two, Story FiveClick here to read about Baby Black
Book Two, Story FiveClick here to read about Banjo
Banjo is an all-black feral cat, very sleek and very shiny. She is a very good mother; she not only nurses her kittens, but also washes them and looks out for them. She has beautiful yellow-green eyes and when she looks at you, you might think you are looking into a “light,” her eyes are that vibrant! Banjo is a name that I liked when I heard it. A friend, Sue Zimmerman, had a cat named Banjo, and I liked that name so much that I named this feral barn cat Banjo, too. Baby Black happens to be black like Banjo, but Banjo also has kitties that are a tortoise calico, with tan and black flecks. Banjo is a feral cat at my barn that I cannot touch. She moves back and forth from barn to woods and woods to barn and comes and goes as she pleases.
Charlie – "Uncle Freckles"
Book Two, Story FiveClick here to read about Charlie - "Uncle Freckles"
“Uncle Freckles” is named for a cat that came to my farm from the woods. He was eventually named Charlie by my farm neighbors who adopted him and gave him a good home. Charlie is a very handsome and affectionate cat; he is a fixed/neutered male. I have no idea where he came from or why he came to my barn. Charlie roamed the woods and fields, but he ate at the barn and stayed at the barn for shelter at night. Charlie is a cat who likes new adventures, so I was not surprised one day when I received a phone call from my farm neighbors, Mark and Lizette Castelli. They said that for the past few days and nights there was a cat on their porch all the time who kept trying to get into their home. Charlie had been missing from the barn for a few days, so I suspected it was him. When they described the cat to me over the phone, asking if it was one of my barn cats, I knew it was Charlie! At first they just fed Charlie outside, but he was persistent and wiggled his way into their home…and then very soon afterward into their hearts. Charlie had found a good home at my barn, but he had a better home with Mark and Lizette—he got all of their attention! Mark taught Charlie how to give him his paw when Mark gets out the “treats.” Charlie knows my voice, and when I am at the barn and call “kitty, kitty, kitty” in the evening to gather my barn cats from the fields and woods and he happens to be outside (he goes outside their home for a short while most days), he will sometimes come to my barn to visit me. Charlie will rub against my leg, walk through the barn like he owns it, just checking it out, and then rub against my leg before he leaves to go “home.” I am not sure if he comes to the barn to say “hello” to me or is just being curious about where he used to live in my barn, but I am always happy to see him. Charlie is the name that Mark and Lizette gave to him.
Misty and her Kittens
Book Three, Story OneClick here to read about Misty and her Kittens
Misty has 3 kittens, Tattoo, Totem, Tinker and Tikki. She is a very pretty barn cat, long-haired with a beautiful face. When I moved into my farm, Misty and a few other kittens were a gift to me from a friend who has her own farm. That farm woman had been socializing and handling these kittens since they were born so that they would be friendly barn cats. Most people buy gifts for new farm owners like shovels and “mucking forks” (special rakes to clean stalls), but this friend gave me a few young cats from her farm! Misty was one of those young cats…and Raven and Theo, from Book Two, and Angel, who does not have a story written about her yet, were the other young cats from a different litter. When these new barn cats were old enough and I was preparing to get them “fixed” (“spayed” and “neutered” so that the female and male cats could not reproduce more kittens) Misty ran away and hid in the barn rafters. Even the vet who came to my farm to pick up my barn cats to “fix” them could not catch her. Misty got pregnant soon afterwards to a feral (wild) cat from the woods that I called Patches…you could not get near Patches, he was feral (wild) and always ran away. I knew he was the father of the kittens. When I arrived at the farm to feed the morning Misty delivered her kittens, she walked up to my feet and looked straight up at me. I noticed her belly was very wet from just giving birth. And, then she meowed, as if to say “follow me” and she showed me where she gave birth to her kittens, behind a bale of hay to keep them safe. I was able to pick the kittens up soon after they were born and that is why they are so friendly instead of being feral (wild). I named them Tattoo, Tinker, Totem and the only female, I named Tikki. After Misty’s kittens were weaned (they could eat real cat food instead of nursing on their mother’s milk), I did get Misty spayed,“fixed”, also. The kittens are now full grown cats and they still enjoy running and playing and napping on hay bales. They also enjoy chasing small stalks of hay that slide across the barn floor in the wind. They are older now, but I still always enjoy watching them play! I often think that it was meant to be that Misty delivered those four kittens…they have always brought joy to me and to those who visit my farm, and to readers of my books, too.
Book Two, Story FourClick here to read about Mr. Mottle
Well, unusual things can happen on a farm….and this is one of them! This is a TRUE story I am going to tell you about a toad at the farm that I named “Mr. Mottle”. Several years ago, as I was cleaning a horse stall in my barn, it appeared that a brown nugget of manure in that stall was “alive”! Something brown and lumpy was jumping up the wall toward the window, which was much too high for it to reach. I was startled, but then I looked closer and saw that it was a large, lumpy, bumpy, brown and green toad! I rescued him by gently scooping him up with the manure fork, and as I talked to him, he appeared to listen to me. He stayed very still and rode that fork like it was an airplane moving over the landscape of the barn. I was able to place Mr. Mottle outside the barn in the farm flower beds. He turned to look up at me…hmmm, was it my imagination or was that his way of saying “thank you”? Many times that summer Mr. Mottle, as I named him for his “mottled colored” skin, followed me down the barn aisle, which was very unusual for a toad! One time, similar to the story, he was hiding in some loose hay just as I was about to plunge my manure fork into it (Book Two, Story Four, horses’ teeth are about to dig into the hay). I saw his beady eyes peeking out just in time! Mr. Mottle always stopped and looked up at me when I stopped to talk to him. Nowadays, perhaps a relative of Mr. Mottle is back at the farm. He’s brown and bumpy and lumpy, too, just like Mr. Mottle. I call him Sonny!
Raven and Theo
Book Two, Story OneClick here to read about Raven and Theo
These two cat brothers, both solid black with piercing yellow eyes, were brought to my new farm as young kittens as a gift from a friend from her farm. Two black kittens and one gray-and-white kitten were in that litter. The entire “family” was gifted to me for my new barn and farm. New to any kind of cats, I didn’t know if they would stay or run away, but they stayed and are still at my farm. I named them Raven, Cleo and Angel, but when I had them spayed and neutered and learned that Cleo was a boy cat, I renamed him Theo, for a “cool cat” African-American man whom I knew from a job I had in the corporate world in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His name is Theo Braddy. He knows this barn cat is named for him! So, Raven and Theo and Angel still live happily at my farm, roaming the woods and napping in sunbeams on bales of hay…just like all the cats at Green Apple Acres!
Book One, Story FourClick here to read about Sabrina
Sabrina ‘s story is almost entirely TRUE! She was a cat who turned up outside my barn one day, sitting in the field, staring at me and the barn. She had a leather collar around her neck and I never knew where she came from, just like the story, “Sabrina the Mystery Cat” in Book One, Story Four. It took me six months to touch her and take that collar off her neck. Then eventually, she did sit on my lap and she also curled up inside my coat in the winter. One winter I spent one hour at my barn sitting on a bale of hay with Sabrina curled up and sleeping inside my winter coat. Because she looked so comfortable, I didn’t want to disturb her. I enjoyed that time just as much as she did! My nephew, Ryan, named her “Sabrina”, that is also true. I often wondered where Sabrina went when she was away from my barn, and that is how this story was imagined. Sabrina has even more real secrets that would surprise you, and maybe someday I will tell you more of them! For right now, that is between Sabrina and me!
Book One, Story OneClick here to read about Shiloh
My Arabian gelding, Shiloh, and I first met when he was four years old. I traveled to Maryland to see his half-sister, Valle Girl, and perhaps purchase this Arabian mare. It was love at first site as I walked by this curious colt on my way down this man’s barn aisle! Shiloh captured my heart with his sense of wonder and personality. I could almost read his mind asking questions about who I was while at the same time craving my attention. Eventually, I bought both Shiloh and Valle Girl, and they still live at my farm. Shiloh is the favorite of many visitors to the farm, winning their hearts as well…he is a real character! Children have drawn pictures of him, and adults love him just as much. There was no contest to which horse would be in Book One, Story One, the first story of my first book, “Shiloh and the Barn Mouse”…it had to be Shiloh!
Book Two, Story TwoClick here to read about Smokey
Smokey was the very first kitten born in my new barn along with his brother, Sonny. They were born to a feral cat I named “Mama”. She was a good mother to both of them. I was amazed to find Smokey and Sonny as tiny kittens on a bale of hay one morning when I arrived at the barn. This was in the month of October, the same month I moved my Arabian horses into my newly built barn. Their mother was nowhere in sight, but she sure picked a nice, soft, safe place to bring her new kittens! Mama eventually came by to feed her kittens, and that is how I met their mother. Smokey and Sonny loved to play! I remember them both as kittens jumping for joy, high up in the air, to catch newly discovered snowflakes falling from the sky…they were still so young when the first snow arrived. And, they loved to play with the lead ropes in the barn that were wrapped on the stall hooks…they rolled with the knotted ends of the lead ropes and I could only imagine what adventures they were having in their minds as they played with those long hanging ropes! I loved to watch them play as young kittens!
Tiger and Callie
Book Two, Story FiveClick here to read about Tiger and Callie
Tiger was one of the first kittens born at my farm. Tiger is a very pretty striped orange cat, as feral (wild) as Ebbie, her woods-born mother. Ebbie, Tiger’s mother, is still the scarediest cat I have ever met! Although Tiger never lets me pet her, she always brings her kittens to meet me. I am always able to hold and pet her kittens, so they are not feral, and then I can find them good homes. Her kittens are all very friendly to me and to visitors to the farm. Callie, one of her kittens who is in this story, is such a sweetheart, very loving, the only kitten in Tiger’s litter that spring. I named Tiger not only for her orange stripes, but also in honor of my nephew, Ryan, who loves tigers and has a collection of them—all kinds of stuffed animals and anything to do with tigers. I named Callie for her calico colors. Tiger and Callie were perfect for this story since what they did in this story is exactly what they would have done if the story was true!
Book Two, Story Four and Book Three, Story OneClick here to read about Tikki
Tikki is a gray-and-white cat that was born at my farm to my barn cat, Misty. This was the only litter Misty delivered before I got her spayed. Tikki was the only girl in the litter of four. Her brothers are Tattoo, Tinker and Totem, also featured in stories in several books. Tikki is special in every way. She is soft and friendly and loves to be petted. Tikki was the perfect cat to pick for the story about Mr. Mottle in Book Two, Story Four, since she is so curious and friendly. If Mr. Mottle would have had a cat friend at Green Apple Acres, it would be Tikki!
Tikki is the sweetest cat in the world! She is curious and often just sits or lays and watches all the activity at the farm. Sometimes Tikki sits in the stall I am cleaning and just keeps me company. Tikki has a very innocent expression on her pretty face. The real Tikki never actually wanders too far from the barn, but in Book Three, Story One, Tikki wanders to where she is not allowed to go…the far fields. I picked Tikki, my barn cat, for this story because she is so sweet. If ever there was a cat at my barn that would want a “shining star” gift for her mother, it would be Tikki! You can also read about Tikki’s mother, Misty, and her brothers, Tattoo, Totem and Tinker that also live at my farm.
Meet More Characters
Not all of the characters in the Adventures at Green Apple Acres stories live on my farm, but they are also real animals. Here are more characters for you to meet!
Book One, Story TwoClick here to read about Bon Bon
Bon Bon is a bay colored Quarter Horse mare (a girl horse) at the Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association (CATRA), Grantville, PA. Bon Bon is ridden by many of the children there in lessons and in shows. Bon Bon is a large and gentle horse who many of the children love. She is quiet and easy to love. Since there were already so many “girls” in this story, I chose to make Bon Bon a gelding (a boy horse) in the story “Bon Bon’s Big Ears”. Since the real Bronwen rode the real Bon Bon, it was a team made in heaven to include them both in this story.
Coco – "Cocoa"
Book Two, Story TwoClick here to read about Coco - "Cocoa"
Coco is a pit bull with such a sweet face! She was featured in a newsletter from the Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area and her face was one that I just could not forget…so I wrote a story with her face in my mind. Fortunately, Coco was adopted and is now living in a happy forever home with her adoptive owners. Whatever her “real story”, she now has not only a happy home, but also a story in this book written just for her. The pit bull breed sometimes gets an undeserved bad reputation. Pit bulls often make good family pets. Special thanks to Amy Kaunus, Executive Director, Humane Society of the Harrisburg (PA) Area, and her staff for all of the great work they do in our community for both animals and people. Please remember to consider adopting a pet (or two!) from your local Humane Society…these dogs and cats make great pets, bringing happiness to the lives of both animal and new owner.
Book Three, Story TwoClick here to read about Skipper
Skipper is a Quarter Horse that is owned by Roxie Hughes. Both Skipper and Roxie are very popular with children! Children with cancer really do paint their hands and put their handprints on his coat. Skipper is very patient and very calm, just like in the story. Skipper is often used at benefit events to raise money for children with cancer. Skipper is gold in color and, also has a heart of gold. That is how I got the idea for this special Christmas story! Skipper and Roxie are a great team…they have a good time together in whatever they do! They bring great joy to children recovering from cancer.
Book Three, Story FourClick here to read about Soltee
Soltee (Solteron, pedigree name) is a Paso Fino breed of horse that is a beautiful bright red chestnut in his body and mane and tail, just like in the story. Soltee was a National Champion Performance Paso Gelding in his prime years. He is used as a therapy horse at the Capital Therapeutic Riding Association (CATRA, catra.org). Soltee is a sweet horse and the children enjoy riding him. Brooke took horseback riding lessons on Soltee at CATRA, and that is where I met her when I volunteered there. I told Brooke that I would feature her and Soltee in a story someday. I saved Brooke and Soltee for a story in this special Christmas book because Brooke and Soltee are very special!
Book One, Story ThreeClick here to read about Wolfie
Wolfie’s shiny black coat and thick mane and forelock makes him look so cute and adorable. But, don’t be fooled! This Shetland pony has a very feisty personality and is a favorite of many of the young riders at the Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association (CATRA) in Grantville, Pennsylvania. The real John’s dedication and love of the real Wolfie inspired the story, “Wolfie, the Most Beautiful Pony in the World.” John not only rode Wolfie at CATRA and at many horse shows, but he also could “drive” Wolfie, meaning that Wolfie can pull a cart or carriage. Wolfie is a very talented pony!
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