We’re Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter, owners of Esther the Wonder Pig and we have a new book! AMA
Greetings from Esther, Steve, and Derek! We are here to talk about our new book HAPPILY EVER ESTHER: Two Men, a Wonder Pig, and Their Life-Changing Mission to Give Animals a Home, which is a new memoir about our new lives on the Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary which is anything but boring.
Our previous book ESTHER THE WONDER PIG ends with us moving to the new farm to start our new wonderful lives where we will live on the Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary to care for other animals and just live happily ever after...or so we thought. We quickly realized the realities of being a farmer--especially when you've never lived on a farm let alone outside of the city--it can be frantic, crazy, and even insane, but it's been a wonderful adventure!
This is our two hour Q&A extravaganza, so ask us everything you've ever wanted to know about Esther & Co. .....except how much Esther weighs, because it's not polite to ask a lady questions like that.
For more information on HAPPILY EVER ESTHER, click here —> https://bit.ly/2KIfwN7.
My Proof: https://www.instagram.com/p/BlTnTCLjkYo/?taken-by=estherthewonderpig
Thank you so much for this, we really appreciate your kind words.
Love all of you guys! Rescued a pot belly pig shortly after following Esther, and he's an absolute ray of sunshine in my life.
What advice can you give to those interested in starting a pig rescue? Can you talk a bit about the steps you guys took in achieving your dream?
Our situation was really unique, having an audience that encouraged us every step of the way was absolutely invaluable. Aside from that, the best advice we can give is start with a succession plan, what will you do when it’s time to retire? Building a sanctuary is amazing, but not if your animals all need homes at some point because there’s no plan in place to carry on and/or pass the torch when you need to step back. You also need to know it’s not a hobby, running a sanctuary is a full time job many times over. It’s so unbelievably rewarding and satisfying, but it is a ton of work!!! We wouldn’t change it for the world, but it was shocking to actually get going and see what’s really involved to make it all happen.
How did you two meet and end up together? Not only am I blown away by you guys from everything that you guys have accomplished together, but I love the fact that it seems to have made your relationship so much stronger. I fell in love with Esther because of how much she reminded me of my husband's dog, Paddy (who we lost a little over a year ago.) She insisted on sleeping in between us with her head on the pillow each night and there were quite a few times that I thought to myself "If Derek can handle a 600 lb. Esther I can deal with a 100 lb Paddy. :)
I was a bartender, and Derek was the walk-around table magician at a rib and steakhouse just outside of Toronto. We’ve been together 18 years now, he was actually the very first person I ever “came out” to because I knew another gay at work liked him, and I was afraid they’d start dating before I had a chance to tell him how I felt.
People follow you to find some happiness and to escape from the harsh reality of their daily struggles. How do you handle it? Don't you feel that it's a big onus for you?
We have never cried more than we have the last few years, usually because of a letter or message somebody has sent to let us know how Esther helped/is helping them through a tough time. It’s equally the most rewarding and challenging aspect of what we do, it can be very heavy at times. That said, it’s really hard to explain how amazing it feels to know we’re able to provide that kind of escape for so many people, in so many unique situations.
I personally spend a lot of time talking to my inner circle of friends to make sure I don’t bottle up everybody else’s feelings. I definitely feel a bit distracted by some of the messages we get, usually because I’m worried or sad for the person who wrote it. I’ve always been “a helper”, and it’s hard sometimes when you feel like you want to do more than you’re physically able. That’s the biggest onus I feel, and it’s self inflicted.
That desire to make things better is exactly why we exist as “Esther the Wonder Pig.” We want to make the world in general a happier place, for everybody.
I hope that make sense....I ramble sometimes. 😘.
Besides esther who is the most vocal and demanding at HEEFs? How many animals in the main house will make Derek move into the barn?
Hahahaha!! I think the house is nearing capacity, although I’ve been hinting at a house Llama for some time so you never now. 😂. As for being vocal, it’s a tough call between all of the pigs, they have a real flair for drama, and all have their moments of being the barn scream queen at one time or another.
What was Derek's reaction the first time he found Corno in the house and how did you two decide to let him move in?
Hahahahaha!!! He’s come to expect that sort of thing from me, I think he saw the writing on the wall when Corno day at the sliding door staring at me when it started to snow. He would rather be outside looking at us than in the barn with his bird friends, and I couldn’t stand seeing him out in the cold. It was only a matter of time before Cornelius wore me down, I did my best and held out as long as I could. 😁 Derek was totally cool with it provided Cornelius always has his accident prevention device on, which makes perfect sense. Turkeys are indiscriminate poopers, not ideal houseguests without some sort of assistance.
Are you planning on having Esther be the first one scanned after the installation or are you going to wait to see if she has problems again? I know sedating her is pretty risky so I am wondering what the plan is.
100% yes. She is still suffering from an unknown ailment, we suspect it’s something in her back like a nerve or disk issue. Her mobility is very limited compared to how she usually goes about her day. She doesn’t seem to be in pain while she’s at rest, but within a few minutes of standing she’s looking for somewhere to lay down. We are afraid she’ll do more damage if it goes unchecked, and based on the consultation we’ve had with our medical team we still feel that it is worth sedation to find and address the problem. She’s far too young to allow it to go with simple pain management, especially if it’s something that can be easily fixed once identified.
Love you guys and Esther. With all the craziness in the world, Esther keeps me grounded. We bought Esther's book and the children's book as well. My wife reads it to her preschool class and they love it! Are you planning to make another children's book? If so, can you have Cornelius be like a pull tab that makes him pop out to photobomb the page?
BTW, RIP Shelby and Ruben, I'm sure that was tough.
Also everyone make sure you use smile.amazon.com and choose HEEFS and the charity!
Thank you so much!! We are absolutely working on another children’s book, and hope to make it a regular series. We’ve just presented our publisher with two new stories, and hope to get a green light to continue developing them. The kids books are incredibly special to us, with the hope that we can pass on our love for animals like Esther to all the kiddos that read her story, and fall in love with her the way we did. Kids have a lot of influence at home, so we’d love more kids on team Esther! 😁
Thank you for allowing another open window to your fascinating lives and the love at HEEFS! It is amazing that the CT Scanner is about to be installed. However, I am a bit frustrated that Steve Jenkins, Derek Walter and the Esther fans have done their part and the OVC has not completed their part. Patience is a good thing...but they are behind the power curve for sure. What is the next step?
I’m here early, so let’s get this started. We actually have a meeting up there today at 4pm to discuss the progress, and the plan in place to get Esther diagnosed as quickly as possible. It’s our feeling that they didn’t think we were going to pull though on our end of the deal, and might have underestimated our commitment to seeing the project through. When we did it so quickly, they were left scrambling to catch up. We’re also dealing with university politics, so things take longer than they would at a private facility. Either way, we’re keeping them on their toes, and will keep everybody posted every time we get more information,
Hi Guys, huge fan here! I've been following Esther's adventures for years and just can't wait to read your new book, as I absolutely loved the first one :) You are such an inspiration and your Facebook posts make so many people happy. Thank you so much for that, and for everything you do for these animals! I was wondering if there will ever be an Esther reality show, or a feature documentary? I'm sure there are lots of people who would love to see it! Also, have you ever fostered dogs and cats, or are you planning to? Send Esther my love <3
Well......we’re working on something very exciting right now, but I can’t provide too much info just yet. We hope to be able to make an official announcement in a few weeks though, and I think you’ll be very excited about it. We sure are. 😁. As for fostering, we’re foster failures. Once they move in they never leave, we’ve learned our lesson.
What food does Esther enjoy eating most?
Pasta is definitely very high on the list, as are most baked goods. Adding kale or onions to her dinner is a sure way to ruin it in her mind though, she’s actually pretty fussy when it comes to what she eats.
I know esther has fans around the world who send her things... what did she get this year for her birthday from her fans? Were there gifts at her party?
She certainly does, it’s incredible!! She gets a ton of artwork and letters, lots of fashion accessories too like handmade hats or sunglasses, and of course her winter hats and coats. We also get some really cool personal items, like pig ornaments or other items people saw and we’re reminded of Esther. Our favourite is the drawings and letter from kids though, we absolutely love responding to them!
Is Esther spayed? I know that spaying has significant health benefits for cats and was wondering if it was the same for pigs - or pig princesses for that matter :)
I love Esther and her entire family, keep up the wonderful work!
Esther is not spayed unfortunately, we were told initially she was when we got her, but that proved to be one of the many lies we were told. By the time we knew, our vet told us the risk/reward wasn’t worth it, unless a situation presented itself that would allow them to spay her while she was sedated and undergoing another procedure. It’s something we will still do if the opportunity presents itself, for example, if she needs surgery to fix whatever is going on in her back. We would ask the veterinarians at that time if it was suitable to spay her while they were working on her.
Exactly how did you end up with Corno?
He came from a couple that lived in a city near us. They used to be a country property but as the city grew it developed around them. They lost their farm status, and had to give up their animals. They probably could’ve fought to keep them, but they were older and likely felt like it was too much of a fight to take on. He has always been a “pet”.
How many refrigerators have Esther accidentally destroyed in her search for food?
We’re on our third fridge now, but I think we’ve grown out of that phase and could probably bring in a new fridge without much concern. It’s been so long since she found food in the freezer that she rarely messes with it anymore.
Steve, does Corno now live in the house, or does he eat and sleep in the barn and spend his days in the house and chasing the UPS driver? :)
He pretty much lives in the house. He goes outside during the day, but hangs out around the house. Occasionally he’ll spend the odd night in the barn, but very rarely.
Have you had problems with Esther's fans trying to come "visit" uninvited or not during scheduled times?
Occasionally, but it was more of a problem in our old house before we had a set schedule of tour days and work days at the sanctuary. It still happens though when they’re able to find us.
Please talk a bit about all of Esther's "talking." What are her "i'm happy sounds" and when do you know she's angry? Does she actually respond often to your praise or scolding? I'm remembering her face and voice when she last destroyed her bedroom bed.
She absolutely responds to scolding, no is a very powerful word for Esther! She will raise her voice, usually a deep low long grumble when she’s mad or frustrated. When she’s happy they’re shorter honks and squeaks instead of the grumbling sound.
Derek and Steve- You are an inspiration-thank you for all you do to change lives, hearts, and minds. I have a couple of questions:
1. I notice and appreciate more posts about Corno and the pups on ETWP page. Although it is upsetting to think about, I have thought about how important it is to keep things going even after Esther is gone (hopefully after a long life). The HEEFS page does not seem to get as much traffic; I am wondering Do you plan to bring more of the farm animals over to ETWP or bring the humor of ETWP to the HEEFS gang to keep the momentum going?
2. Where did Steve get the sweatshirt/sweater with the rainbow striped arms or can you share the brand?
3. Are there any plans for a book from Derek’s perspective? Love you guys and all you do.
Cornelius will hopefully be the bridge between the two as his relationship with Dolly gets more serious. We won’t bring heefs to ETWP (there are a few legal reasons, but oh man I could talk about them for hours so I’ll leave it at “legal issues”) but I would like to bring the personality and humour to heefs. As the sanctuary grows we are starting to see some really unique characters that would make incredible ambassadors. The thing that’s so magical about Esther is her authenticity, we try to portray her personality as we see it, not make it up to suit a photo. When you really know the animal it’s much easier to bring them life with captions and photos, something heefs has huge potential to improve. I accept 100% responsibility for it too, we’ve just been to overwhelmed to strip things down and start bringing the individual characters to life.
That sweater is from a tiny shop in Amsterdam, behind and to the right of the palace if you’re facing the front in dam square. Maybe we need a few for the Esther store? The store seems like the kind of place to buy from the people that actually make them, it’s not factory made style stuff, it’s so cool!
Hmmmm......not too sure about that one. The only reason we ran with “my” voice was the timing and what was happening when we were writing it. There are so many moving pieces that we have had to divide and conquer. My rims became social media, books, legal, etc. Derek took the management role at HEEFS. Perhaps he’ll do a HEEFS book at some point, and he will definitely be more “vocal” in kids books and the cookbook (we’re pushing hard for a cookbook, stay tuned) but the non-fiction narrative will likely stay the same if we do another.
When/why did Esther become "the wonder pig"?
Because “We kept wondering how big she was gonna get”. Every time somebody asked us when she was gonna stop growing, we kept saying “we don’t know, we’re wondering the same thing ourselves.” That just kinda morphed into Esther the Wonder Pig, and took on a life of its own when we started the social media pages. Even the name Esther turned out to mean so much more than we thought when we picked it, when somebody directed us to the story of Queen Esther. We had never heard of it before, and it blew our minds.
There is so much info out there about cat and dog behaviour but not much about pigs. Was it a learning curve trying to understand what Esther was saying? Where did you go for help?
It was brutal, and still is. Early on we were totally on our own, which is why we raised Esther the same way we would raise a dog, it’s all we knew. Thankfully as Esther popularity grew, so did our access to people that were a wealth of knowledge on pig behaviour, and we lean on them regularly even today. Susie Costan at Farm Sanctuary for example, is on speed dial at our house. She is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to farmed animals in general. If she doesn’t know the answer, she almost certainly knows the person who does.
With so many animals going in and out of the house all day, how often do you have to clean the main areas?
Daily!! We vacuum at least once a day, usually twice. Carpet shampoo happens once a week, and of course the general weekly dusting wiping windows etc. To be honest, the dogs bring in more dirt than Esther, but Esther gets dry skin so that’s what she leaves behind.
I have a question that has been bugging me from the beginning of my "Esther journey." What do Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter do about the sad times that come with raising and caring for the animal kingdom? I mean...illnesses, bad days, death? I cannot deal with the passing of an animal friend...how do you deal with it? It seems like a daunting task.
It’s very daunting unfortunately, and it’s just as hard as you think it is. There’s no easy way to handle it, but we try to remain focused on the big picture, where the animal would’ve been had they not come here, etc. The saddest days are the days we actually rely on you guys the most. We come to the comment feeds and read your hilarious remarks, that’s what brightens our darkest days, and helps us stay focused on why we do what we do.
Steve do you sleep in your hat?! I don’t believe we’ve ever seen you without one! Does Esther recognize you without one? 😉
Hahahahaha!! Pretty much, I’ve got too much to do to worry about doing my hair in the morning. 😜
I was lucky enough to meet you, Esther, Shelby, Reuben, Bear and the other residents last year when I won the Dixie Chicks concert tix and a tour of HEEFS. You are so incredibly genuine and HEEFS is truly a magical place. I still can't believe that I was able to visit! An absolute highlight of my life! I've recently started using essential oils for me and my dogs, and I am learning how helpful they can be for all animals. Do you use them at the farm? I also want to commend you for the amazing job you're doing with Phil and Alice. I've worked with a lot of rescue dogs and their scars can be so hard to heal but you have a rare gift, and I'm so glad that they found a home at HEEFS!
Hey! Derek here!
So happy you got to meet Bear! I miss him dearly.
We do use essential oils. Mint for tick prevention and extraction. Also lavender oils for massage for Mister Len.
Phil and Alice are fitting into the herd just right! Thanks for your love and support.
Hi Steve & Derek! Do you think Esther would benefit from Acupuncture (or would Miss Pig even allow it?)☺️ PS, can’t wait to get my signed book also! Thanks for all you guys do for all your HEEFS residents! I am so happy Phil & Alice found you both!! Much love! Also if u want to have a US HEEFS Michigan is lovely!😋😘
It’s funny you mention that, we just connected with an acupuncturist last week. We don’t write anything off, and will try whatever we need to try if it safe and has any possible hope of helping her.
And, re Michigan, I love Michigan!! Nice and close to our Campbellville farm too, super convenient. Either that or Hawaii, because it’s Hawaii. Hahahahaha.
Do Phil and Alice sleep in bed with you and Derek?
Phil does, but Alice doesn’t really like close cuddles, she tends to stay at the end of the bed, or sometimes even in the living room beside Esther’s bed.
I'd like to express my gratitude to you guys for all that you do...and you really do it all! From educating the world to bringing so many of us smiles each and every day, the Esther Effect is always in full effect - and it's such a beautiful thing to witness! Whenever I'm looking at my phone or computer, with a big smile on my face, anyone that knows me well knows that I'm looking at either a pigture or video that you guys have shared :-) I have always had a love for pigs, Esther just magnified that love by like 1,000%! Thank you for taking and making the time to share all that you do with the community. I believe with all my heart that you guys truly are changing the world! Steve, Derek, Esther and the entire HEEFS family - thank you for teaching us that kindness is magic, may we all become magnificent magicians! <3 With all that you guys do, do you ever get a full night's sleep??
Derek here. Thanks for your love and support.
I’m go to bed early and wake up early. Typically 10pm and I am toast. I’m up at 430/500am.
Steve is up by 730 and in bed by midnight.
I self medicate often to get sound sleep.
If you could have done something differently regarding establishing the Sanctuary, what would it be?
Are there any decisions you regret ?
That’s a tough one. Everything hasn’t gone exactly to plan, but I think for the most part we’d pretty much the course we took this time around, while acknowledging that the circumstances that allowed us to do that were fairly unique. As far as the way we get our message across though, we soundly change a thing. Kindness is magic.
Bobbie Girl and Captain Dan used to share their space and now that Bobbie Girl is with Len and Hercules, does Captain Dan get awlfully lonely alone?
Dan decided he wanted to challenge for “Top Hog” and starting fighting with Bobbie and Leonard, that’s why we had to separate them. We are going to be introducing Dan to two smaller pigs that just arrived though, with hope that he’ll take the Top Hog title without any issues from the new guys. He doesn’t seem to be lonely, and he gets a ton of human attention. That said, we want him to have more friends, and somebody to snuggle with at night.
Hi Dads & Esther! Thank you for all the amazing work you do in rescue - you are a real inspiration! I was wondering how Alice is doing? Several of our rescues here in Ottawa and Montreal have brought in dogs from Korea and I was wondering if there was anything you could share with us from your experience?
Alice is doing so good! We’ve noticed that she’s very independent compared to most dogs we’ve known. She doesn’t like close cuddles, and groups of people. Phil really worked wonders on her though, and we’ve seen more change since he arrived a few weeks ago than we did the first few months she was with Shelby and Reuben. The playful puppy in Phil was just what Alice needed!! It seems the best possible thing is time and patience, and having company she can bond with on her terms. She’s so submissive that working her way into an existing pack seemed overwhelming for her, as soon as she was on a level playing-field with Phil it all seemed to click. They were both new, and that seemed to be helpful for both of them.
Do you have local donation drop offs for people visiting the area that can't make tours or volunteer days? We are visiting in November and tour season asked look and volunteer days will be over but would still like to drop blankets and things off.
Absolutely!! You can email [email protected], we can almost always make arrangements.
I'd really like to know a lot more about Cornelius. I know he came after his previous owners could no longer care for him. How did he form such an attraction to Steve? What is a normal day for him like?
He came from an elderly couple near by that was forced to remove their animals from their property due to zoning issues. He’s always been “a pet” which we think explains why he’s so fond of humans. Not sure why he picked me over everybody else though, he used to be friends with everybody. Since he moved inside though he decided he only like Derek and I, everybody else gets run out of the house rather quickly. Hahahahaha
Have Corneluius and the girl turkey made friends yet? I saw the video of them meeting, but haven't noticed an update since then :)
They have made friends, although given the opportunity to choose either, Cornelius still prefers to be inside with Esther and the dogs.
Have you and Derek set any limits on what you guys are allowed to share and what part of your lives you want to keep personal? I was really surprised when I read about Esther's "teenage phase" because none of that that was portrayed.
We definitely keep certain aspects of our personal life private, but I wouldn’t say there’s really a limit. There’s only one thing specifically I can think of that we intentionally don’t discuss online, otherwise we’re pretty much an open book and decide what to share on a situational basis. If we manage to get away for a few days we sometimes keep it private, we don’t discuss inner family issues either, but that’s mainly because it’s nobody’s business and we doubt you’d care anyway. We feel like we’ve been given this opportunity to share our life with the world in a way that hopefully makes an impact on the people watching, and we want you to get the whole story. We also feel like it’s easier to put it all out there up front instead of having somebody else do it for you at a later date, so we don’t hold very much back.
Does the reaction received to the occasional nod to topical events on Esther's Facebook page (those that are tongue in cheek, a bit of fun and perhaps mildly political!!) ever cease to amaze you?.... Particularly when you consider that a) the negative comments are being made by people who have liked and followed a page ran by two, intelligent, compassionate guys that happen to be life partners. b) the page is written from the perspective of Esther the wonder pig and c) they should know full well that any negativity will be responded to with a sensible, polite and well reasoned response from Steve and also the combined wrath of dozens of (mainly female!) Steve, Derek and Esther fans!!!
Hahahahaha!!! Yes, it definitely does. If we’ve learned one thing, it’s to laugh as often possible, particularly when it seems like there’s not a whole lot to smile about. Humour is so important, we really wish some people would learn to take a joke a little bit better, and as you said, consider the source. They’re yelling at a pig. Hahahahaha
Will Jolene and Abigail be joining one of the existing herds at some point?
Absolutely, it looks like they’re going to be Captain Dans new roomies. 😁👌
After some of the problems discussed in your latest book, do you guys use a different process when "hiring" volunteers? Who makes the decision on who is able to volunteer regularly?
We have a fabulous system in place now, and a wonderful volunteer coordinator who handles all the initial requests and “interviews”. We also do a farm tour and a trial day to see how everybody fits before they join the regular schedule for the day they have available to offer their assistance.
You and Derek had a quick visit in Hollywood for a very special meeting, when will we know more about this? :D
Hopefully very very soon. 🤞😁🥂
Way back when you all were speaking about putting something like a B & B on the property or letting people camp in one of the pastures. Do you have any plans to do that in the future?
We have trialed some camping on the property. We would love for friends to open a B and B across the road! Having too many strangers, all of the time on the property is pretty taxing on the herds and flocks, and not to mention staffing to make sure people are behaving.
At this point we are divesting from that idea Originally, but we are investing in an internship program.
You are so patient with your fans. Are there any questions that you get asked that you find inappropriate or that you get tired of answering repeatedly?
Not at all, it’s all fair game when you put yourself out there this much. We understand most people are just curious and want to know. Sometimes people have malicious intent, but thankfully they’re few and far between. If we didn’t speak with and get to know people we’d never be able to have a real impact on their lifestyle either, so being approachable and conversational is all part of what we feel we need to do to reach our objectives. That and, I generally enjoy people, so chatting comes very easily to me most of the time.
You mentioned that you will no longer be hosting an Esther cruise. Can you tell us why?
We’re super disappointed about this one. There’s a few reason, first a foremost is Derek gets terribly seasick, and was laid out for close to two weeks when we got home from the first two attempts. The other reason is the financial return for the sanctuary. It hasn’t been a good money maker at all, between 5-7k by the time everything is said and done. It will get dramatically better as number increase, but the amount of time it takes to organize makes it a real challenge to justify. We would love to find a land based resort that would be willing to do a similar program Carnival does, but we haven’t got it nailed down just yet. We’re regrouping and will be back with something super special, we don’t want to let the concept go just yet, it was a really incredible experience, and a really great way to spread the message.
Hi! Has Esther been conditioned to undergo clinical exams by her vet? Thank you for all you do and congrats on the scanner! I work with manatees myself, and know those size and weight limitations all too well :).
I wish it were that easy!
Pigs are pretty difficult when it comes to the vet! Wish us luck!!
Do you guys plan on having children? You would be great parents!
We did at one point, but I think we’re gonna stay focused on the current path for the time being. We’re already stretched so thin it would be really hard to keep up with all of our responsibilities. We never say never to pretty much anything though, so who knows what’ll happen if somebody asks us to adopt their child one day. Saying “no” doesn’t come easy to me. Hahahahaha.
Is Esther still missing Shelby and Reuben? The post seem happier but we don't see her 24/7.
It’s hard to tell, but I think she’s feeling a lot like we are, and still has sad moments every now and then. She’s making friends with Phil and Alice, but it’s a far cry from the relationship she had with Shelby, and I’m sure she knows that too. We’re really hopeful they continue to get closer, and eventually get to that point. We’re stepping in where Shelby would’ve been for the time being too, and making sure Esther knows she still has us.
Do you usually cook your own meals?
Absolutely. We don’t always have time to cook a full on from scratch meal, but we always what whatever we’re eating ourselves. Learning to cook was one of the coolest parts about changing our lifestyle, it forced us to get in the kitchen and figure it out. We had a blast, and enjoy cooking now more than we ever did before.
How much food do you buy and how do you stop Esther from opening the fridge?
Esther eats two 8lb meals a day. As for the fridge, we don’t stop her, we just learned to keep it in such a way that there’s really no motivation for her to open it. The freezer is empty, and any “snack” food is high enough that she can’t reach it. She can still open the doors, but rarely takes any food.
Hi Steve! Everyone is asking such great questions ... since the biggies have been asked, I have two just for fun...1) how old are you and Derek and 2) what is Derek's favorite wine? Love you guys
LOL!! I’m 36, and Derek is 37. We were both born on the 17th day of the month, me in March, him May, and we’re both left handed. Few extras there just for fun..... 😁
His favourite Wine is Shiraz, the “house wine” as we call it is Pelee Island Shiraz, usually in the box. Hahahahaha.
I’m so fascinated by Corno and his relationship with you guys and Esther! Was she immediately accepting of him? You wouldn’t think a turkey and a pig would be friends but it’s the cutest thing! I know she takes a bit to adjust to the new dogs was it the same with Cornelius?
It did take some time to cultivate a trust, however it wasn’t long. They are pretty special.
Is Delores doing ok since the loss of Shelby and Reuben? How is she around Phil?
She’s doing great. She’s always been a very independent cat, and we really haven’t seen much change. She still comes for the occasional cuddle at night while we watch tv, and of course when she wants food. She gets in great with Phil and Alice too, no problem at all
Firstly, love you guys and visited the farm last summer! Second, my question: do you have an animal memorial wall or something built yet to memorialize any animals who have passed? Will you have one? When I talk to a volunteer they were thinking you might do that! I’m just thinking about Bear- who I missed seeing by one week. Sending cupcakes to Esther!!
Derek here. I’m so sorry to didn’t get to meet Mister Bear in person. He is such a special man!
Memorial trail is now open!—-it’s a beautiful trail in the woods—-there is a carved stone for each of the residents who have departed, sequentially.
Bears stone is by an enormous apple tree.
Long live Bear.
You have talked about Alice’s hip problems, but are there any medical complications with her cropped ears and tail? (I love her)
She shakes her head a lot—she has lots of hair in her hears that would probably not be an issue if she had ears that folded over.
Does Steve have hair? He's always wearing a hat...
It’s not what it used to be in my early twenties, let’s just leave it at that. Hahahahaha. 😂😜
Are you guys familiar with the Barn Sanctuary? They are doing some great rescue work as well. It would be cool to see some of these organizations come together and do an event.
Derek here. Yes! We are for sure noticing Barn Sanctuary’s efforts! They are doing great things!
What sort of an event were you thinking??
Do you ever get overwhelmed at the responsibility that you have not only to the farm and residents but to all of us who are with you day to day. I remember one guy commenting when you did not post anything until 10am one morning that he could not go to bed until he knew Esther was okay. How does this affect you?
Derek here. Overwhelmed is an understatement. We take it one day at a time. We’re no good if we’re worn out.
Where do you get Corno's accident prevention devices? Some time I wish you would demonstrate how it's put on him.
I actually made it custom for him, I’d be happy to show how we put it on, I’ll get a video Taped no problem.
Len's condition, that seem to have been the same thing Bear had. Is that a common things for pigs to develop, and is there anyway to prevent it?
It is super common unfortunately. It’s a result of how pigs have been bred over the years, they’re not meant to live long healthy lives, they’ve been bred to get really big really fast, and their muscles etc can’t hold up under the weight. We constantly battle weight issues with the big pigs, we even have a good manufacture specially for us that’s low in fat and high in fibre to help keep them as lean as possible.
Does Esther have her meals out in the barn? I've noticed sometimes she goes out for her meals but has her juice in the kitchen! :)
Exactly! We tried to take the food focus outdoors, in an effort to save our appliances. It works really well too. She’ll ask for juice inside, but when she’s hungry she heads outside.
I'm curious to know how many cats you have. I know you have a couple of camera shy ones.. How many live inside, and how many are barn cats?
Hats super hard to answer, this whole experience has been really surreal. If I had to pick one though, I’d say it was the great cow escape. That while day was just a comedy of errors, I would’ve bet the farm we were being punk’d.
I’m so sorry, that reply was for the question above, sorry about that. We have two house cats, and 4 barn cats, one of them just arrived a few weeks ago on his own accord. He just appeared one day and never left. Hahahaha.
Hi sending a message from Florida. I have not read all the comments. I read the book and it’s so awesome. I know your going to do a few more children’s books. I would love another chapter book. You have so much to tell about daily shenanigans in the farm. Will you both do another chapter book? ☮️❤️🐷
There is time for many endeavours. I’m sure there will be more story telling. Much love Derek
Did anybody ask ths yet? Do you have ticks there? And if so, how do you deal with control?
We do, yes. The dogs and cats are all on a treatment for ticks, fleas etc. But the big animals aren’t, we manically check them every day. Last year we had one or two on Esther, so this year we haven’t seen any.
Why is Esther so cute?
She gets it from her daddy. 😁
If you could adopt any other animal, what would it be?
Derek here. It would be great to meet a Giraffe. I’m not saying I want one, but it would be super to just hang with one for a pinch.
Is there ever any type of jealousy because of the special relationships you both have with the different animals?
Maybe a tiny little bit, but thankfully we’re pretty equal in the animals eyes. Phil might become a bit of an issue though, he’s such a cuddler come winter I’m sure we’ll be fighting over his affection. Hahahahaha.
First, tell Esther I love her so much!
Secondly, how has Esther changed your life and the way you view animals?
Everything. Esther has changed everything. What we eat. Who we hang out with. What our jobs are. What we celebrate. Everything!
Dads, thank you for sharing with the world daily that animals, ALL animals, are sentient beings. Humans tend to forget this, yet daily Esther, and Corno, and Phil, and Alice, and... they show us that animals DO love, DO understand, DO have feelings too. Humans need to comprehend this far more than they do. And dad's, you've shown the world that even a pipe dream, like owning a farm, is in fact reachable if you put your mind to it. That it is ok to step out of your comfort zone and take on the impossible, for the impossible is always possible if you change your perspective. And it is ok if there is dirt on the floor, or the walls aren't perfect - as long as everyone is happy, and healthy, and has a roof over their heads, what more do you possibly need?? Steve and Derek, you both are truly angels here on earth. Angels for all creatures, great and small. I wish I were in Canada so I could volunteer my time with all of the animals. There is a reason they use animals as "comfort" pets, and therapy, and ... they calm the soul. As for the question on the OVC, you did make it clear that they have a ton of work to get that machine installed, starting with widening doorways and whatnot. It is no little feat. The upside it, it is there and ready to go when the remodeling is completed. YAY Dad's! YAY Esther!! You three (ok, 4. Corno is my guy...) - are changing the world. Thank you for that.
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