All posts by Laura

About Laura

The fun, younger sister.

Farming after the Fire

Thanks, Jared and Caitlyn for doing such an awesome job telling our story!

He Sowed She Sewed

The Pajari Sisters Press On after Last Summer’s Tragedy

(Originally Published in the Cook News Herald; Sep. 17, 2014)

By Jared and Caitlyn

The question was never if the Pajari Sisters would continue to grace the Cook area with their friendly laughter and quirky entrepreneurship after the loss of the Cook Dollar Barn, but when. And now we know the answer. With roughly fifteen months behind us since the tragic loss of a historic Cook building containing two businesses and eight apartments, Lois and Laura Pajari are back at it – this time with a real barn and plenty of other animals alongside their two beloved Corgis.

The farm that hosts one of Cook’s newest businesses – Cook’s Country Connection – is actually one of the oldest places in the area. And even though they officially opened on August 28, 2014, the Pajari sisters’ family has been working that…

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Wherein The Pajari Girls (and Danny) See a Man About a Camel.

Can you tell I just read A Girl of the Limberlost again?? All the chapters have titles like this. 🙂

So, yeah. My sister was introduced to this guy named Wally, who is in the petting zoo business and was downsizing. (Thanks a lot, Sheri Nukala. lol) Lois, Jill, Jill’s Spawn, and even Lois’ husband Big Guy have met this Wally character and visited his farm near Bovey, MN. But I was always too busy, too sore, too whatever to go. A couple of weeks ago, Lois needed to go there yet again to pick up some coin-operated feeders for Cook’s Country Connection. Danny was home, and we had no plans, so we decided to ride along. We are both so glad we did!

My hips were crying before we even started the one hour drive in Lois’ truck, but the pain was soon forgotten as we drove into his yard and saw this:

camel, petting farm

I mean, I knew intellectually that this Wally guy had a camel boarding at his farm, but seeing said camel; touching it, smelling it, standing next to it…that just boggled my mind. All I could do while visiting the other animals was mutter, “A %^(@*$ camel. In northern MN…” Even today, I am having trouble describing this experience. Which is why it’s taken so long to get this post done, and why we keep having to explain that, no, we don’t have our own camel… Yet.

bull, petting farm, calf, cow, petting zoo, pajari girls, cook's country connection
This is my sister explaining to Wally why this bull calf is NOT going home with us today.

This is Wally’s gorgeous barn. His grandpa built it in 1940,

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and it was Wally’s mother’s job to add all these little lines to the mortar. (She was a little girl then.)

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THEN….we met Thomas.

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You can kind of get a sense of scale by the chicken that almost comes up to his knee.

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It looks like Thomas is kissing Wally, but that is how animals in the CAMELID family say hi. (Llamas and alpacas are in the same family, btw.) It’s sort of like dogs smelling each others’ butts, but nicer and much more sanitary. Camelids say hello by smelling your exhales through your nose.  It can be intimidating to have these creatures stick their face in yours immediately upon meeting- especially when they are infamous for spitting- but do it anyway. In my experience, llamas and alpacas only “spit” -it’s really closer to projectile vomit-when they are frightened. And they give plenty of warning signs before they spew, but that’s another post.

camel kisses,

This is my youngest Spawn, Danny. He and Thomas seemed to really “get” each other.

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I had no idea there was an empty spot in my heart that only a camel could fill. Wally has raised several up here, and when we asked the USDA inspector what would be required to add a camel to the petting zoo, we were surprised that it wouldn’t take much. He would need a six foot tall fence and tall shelter that would be warm in the winter (and food and water and vet care and and and…)

Now if I could talk Mr. Wonderful into letting us put a camel in our basement…just for the winter.

buttercup and basement 003

A Pajari Girl can dream, right?? It’s tall enough, it’s warm enough, and it has a sand floor. AND THERE WOULD BE A CAMEL IN MY BASEMENT!!!!! Omigod it would be GREAT. He doesn’t even smell bad. I checked. Kind of dusty, but that’s about it. And my sister knows a lot more than she thinks she does about Camelids. And Dr. Rathji (sp?) already comes to see the llamas and alpacas.

While I was busy figuring out how to talk Paul into it, Danny followed Wally and Lois into another barn.

“Um, mom? There’s a zebra in here.”

“That’s nice..what the hell??” Sure enough, a zebra and a donkey were sharing a pen in the hopes of producing a zonkey.

zebra, donkey, zonkey

And around the corner from THAT? Fallow deer.

fallow deer, red deer

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And these are Suri alpacas. Lois really needs some of these, because she already has Huacayas. (Madelyn and Maddox.)

But I keep going back to a camel. Thomas in particular. He is so friendly!! The perfect camel for a petting zoo! Hmmmmm.  If you could just mention it to Mr. Wonderful, aka Mr. Clean, aka Larry, aka Paul, that would be great. 😉

Loveyabye!

PS: I read an awesome blog post recently by  Kate, who always wanted to touch a cow’s nose, and then one day got the chance. You should read it. Chop chop. It’s a very happy post! And her boyfriend Gabe is quite the snazzy dresser. 😉

POO!

This was my first official blog post, almost two years ago. Please check it out. It tells all about why you can Google Queen of Poo and Lois shows up. 🙂 Oh, and fun facts about fertilizer are also included. Welcome! Loveyabye

Pajari Girls

Don’t be scared…it’s only fertilizer.

So my sister and I were sitting by the bonfire tonight, talking about all the by-products we use from The Funny Farm (now Cook’s Country Connection), and naturally the talk turned to poo.  Her critters produce a LOT of it. And since we are both avid gardeners, this is a good thing. The trouble is, all poo is not created equal. Thus, I decided to share an overview of the poo we fertilize with, and why. (Please note: NPK is the amount of Nitrogen, Phosporus, and Potassium in fertilizer. Most synthetic fertilizer is 20, 10,5. However, we prefer the organic, homegrown type that comes from all the critters. It takes a bigger volume of fertilizer, but it’s worth it. And free. And we have to something with all that poo!)

  • Horse/Donkey Poo: Little Bit, Itchy, Squirt, Toby and Jack eat a LOT. Horses are less-efficient at digesting than other farm…

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Shearing Day 2014

Today was Shearing Day at Cook’s Country Connection! Marty Hofmann of Integrity Shearing and his “Head Man” Eric were incredibly efficient and gentle with all the creatures getting haircuts.

 

First, let me start with this; a picture of a shaved alpaca.

alpaca, shearing, cook's country connection, cook, mn, petting farm, pajari,

Welcome.

And below is Molly, my faithful camera assistant. She made sure to drool on my camera strap and nuzzle my pockets for goodies. 400 pounds of helpful, this one.

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Softer than cashmere and warmer than wool, alpaca fiber can be knit or woven, depending on it’s quality and intended purpose. Here is a wiki link to everything ELSE you ever wanted to know about Alpaca Fiber.  

Next year, we hope to have a seminar or field trip coincide with Shearing Day.

First, the animal is caught and trussed up like a Christmas goose. This keeps everyone -including the animal-safe. Here’s a video of what that looks like:

One, Two…THREE!

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The front legs are pulled forward, the back legs backward, and just like that, it’s time to shave a llama.

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This is Maddox, one of only two spitters today.  By the way, “spitting” is kind of inaccurate. It smells bad, and is more like projectile vomiting. Luckily, they only do this when all their other body language is ignored, and people are scaring them. I am guessing it tastes as bad as it smells, because he made the craziest “ew” face for hours afterward. (See that first picture??)

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Steve’s dad Leo did a great job his first time as official Gate Man.

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Jill was the only llama not to get the royal treatment today; she has a heart defect and is a Gramma Llama, so Lois didn’t want to stress her out.  She didn’t recognize her herd-mates until they breathed at each other a bit.

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Itchy (The Very Naughty Pony) was equally confused.

Here’s a video of that…the look on Itchy’s face just cracks me up when he sees that shaved llama. (You should probably just subscribe to our YouTube channel now. Chop chop.)

And THIS is as close as anyone will be getting to a llama for a few days, which is why we take this opportunity to vaccinate, de- worm and do pedicures at the same time.

alpaca, llama, shearing, cook's country connection, cook, mn, petting farm, pajari,

 

 

GusGus

Our dogs and cats are our personal pets and not “exhibit animals”.  That doesn’t mean you won’t see them bopping around the farm but interactions with them will be unlikely.

GusGus is quite the character.

halloween costumes2011 008He never really liked his role at the Cook Dollar Barn.

GusGus and BigGuyHe is much happier as a farm dog.  

He and Walli are half siblings and are Pembroke Welsh Corgis.

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Corgi’s are herding dogs and this is one area where GusGus is superior to his sister.  He absolutely – positively – LIVES for chasing Feta back into the pasture. And squirrels into the trees.  And naughty ponies away from the fence.  He is the talker of the bunch….sassy even.  He has a bark that makes my ears bleed.

All his flaws aside, he was one darn cute puppy!

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Squirt – An Equally Naughty Pony

Squirt is another naughty miniature horse on the farm.  He isn’t even mine – technically he belongs to Laura next door.  (Not that that changes the situation,  but  I just wanted to clear that up from the start — because really ??– who in their right mind has three miniature horses?)

Squirt

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking….”but he’s so cute”.  Well guess what?  He’s lucky he is.

squirt in the yard

He is the only horse trained to do anything around here but you’ll rarely catch him.

mini paint pony

If you have a zoom lens, you can get some good pictures.

mini paint pony

If not, this is what he will look like. Short. And far away.

Pat Laura Itchy

Could be because he gets sick of hauling our butts up and down the driveway using his little cart.  He has been a “project animal”, so who knows, maybe this summer I will have the time to persuade him to cooperate.  Bahahahahahahahaha!!!!!

So how did we end up with this little guy?  Laura waited 20 years to go to the world’s largest draft horse auction in Waverly Iowa. (Where Disney World and such go to buy the beautiful, majestic teams you see at their parks.)  And THIS is what she came home with!!

PS:  We now believe the auction term “Amish-Broke” means “Hard to Catch”.

PPS: UPDATE! Just tried harnessing him yesterday. Read about it here!

PPPS: UPDATE! A video of him eating watermelon…

Itchy – The Very Naughty Pony

Itchy  is another of the miniature horses on the farm.   He came to us spring of 2007 as a new foal.  Talk about a little cutie!

Itchy has a way of always getting himself into trouble.  I would have to say he is the naughtiest animal on the farm.

pony, cook's country connection        Itchy

Over the years he has managed to nearly cut his leg off, had a big round hay bale dropped on himself, ended up under the neighbors deck, singed his behind on a bonfire and spends equal time in and out of the fence.

singed ItchyA singed pony behind….

Over the years Laura (and her kids) and Jill (and her kids) have spent more time retrieving this horse than any animal past or present.

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Laura spent most of an afternoon one summer tromping around the pine hill looking for him after a call from the neighbors asking if we were “missing something”.  She ended up with so much pine pitch in her hair she had to have it cut out.

Meanwhile, Itchy  was back in the barn acting as if he had never left the farm – little imp.

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PS:  Phone calls that start with “are you missing something” are never good when you have animals – especially if it’s from the sheriff’s department….just sayin’.

Sophie

Sophie is the newest (and LAST) dog to come to the farm (at least for a long long time).  She is another Great Pyrenees. Because logic says, if you have one that doesn’t work for it’s intended purpose, you should get another one.      🙂

Sophie is a working dog and as such won’t be an “exhibit animal” but since she lives here on the farm, she gets her 15 minutes of fame!

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So here was the thought process:

  1. JaiJai needs a partner.  The corgis are too small and just not that much fun for him.
  2. Hopefully this one will have some natural instinct.  (Cuz it’s pretty darn obvious that he doesn’t.)
  3. If nothing else, we have provided her with the farm environment she needed.

See – perfectly logical.

Great Pyrenees, ginormous white slobbering dog, cook's country connection, petting farm, Look how happy that JaiJai is!!!

Thus far we haven’t been able to really test Sophie’s aptitude for the whole Livestock Guardian Thing yet – another visit to Dr Fisher at Vermilion Vet Clinic to take care of this no-risk-of-having-puppies business and we will be on a roll.

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We will keep you posted!

Rascal

Rascal is another cat here on the farm.  She isn’t considered an “exhibit animal” but she is a cat, and cats wander wherever they please.  It is highly unlikely you will see her while visiting though – she is super-shy of strangers.

She had to be the runt of the litter because all of her siblings are real oompa loompas and she is the teeeniest little girl ever! (Laura and Paul’s cat Peaches is her brother.)

Cat, manx, calico, tortoiseshell, cooks country connectionShe plays chess….

Cat, manx, cook's country connection, calico, tortoiseshell
Rascal drinking

She only drinks out of her paw….

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Harley and Rascal

And she likes to tell people to be quiet too….”Hush Harley.”

We often get  asked if Rascal or Peaches had an accident, because they don’t have tails. Nope! They are half Manx!

Also, there has been some debate as to whether her coloring is  calico or tortoiseshell.  What’s your opinion?