Joe's Farm - or - Count the Animals.

I'm so glad I got to see my former voice teacher, Joe, while in Fort Wayne last week. Joe is one of the most interesting people I know.

("Welcome Friends!! Everyone else stay the hell away.")

I'm not sure where to begin in explaining what he's like, but the photo above may say it for me.

Wesley, the peacock.

I was assigned to Joe as a student when I started taking voice lessons in 9th grade. Back then he lived in one of the worst neighborhoods in Fort Wayne. I think my mom was afraid for me to go over there at night to my lessons.

Since then Joe has moved out to an old house in Amish country, IN, just outside Fort Wayne. And since moving, he's collected quite a group of animals.

Princess Piggy Poo, the terrier that follows him around on the farm.

I should also mention that it's not as if Joe was without animals in his ghetto house. He breeds dogs and canaries, and there were always plenty of them around. He's downsized the dogs over the years, apparently to allow for so many other species (not shown: chickens).

I asked him what this cat's name, since it was also glued to him as we walked around. He sighed and said, "Ugh, his name is...'I-want-to-go-home-with-you.'" The current studio rule is, if you leave the door and a cat gets out, and then it gets knocked up,* you have to take home all the kittens.

Yes, these are miniature horses.

It's important for him to have some rules, since I think he may have close to 100 students. If you ask him how many total students he has, he can't really tell you. I think a few years ago he had 45 sophomores. The numbers fluctuate a lot year to year.

Part of the official reason for our visit was to get some goat's milk so that I could make cheese. He has two goats. The brown one's name is Cinnamon, and he is in love with Joe.

Above is Polly, the pregnant donkey. She's nearly to term. When John asked what would happen when it was "time," Joe patiently explained to us how he would do it himself.

We also took a tour of the barn, where Joe keeps his horse carts. John asked what he did with the miniature horses so Joe showed us the carts that he hooks them up to. John asked where they would drive around, and Joe just said, "You know, around." He also uses the carts to show the horses.

It was pretty clear from John's questions about goat birthing and my irrational fear of feeding the donkey that neither of us has life experience with farms of any kind.

Joe let us feed grass to these horses.

Then one of them went for a roll in the mud.

I'll end here with a word about Joe's low-tech approach to teaching.

This cup, which I assume was a gift, replaced an old "101 Dalmatians" coffee mug as the place where students deposit their weekly payment for lessons.

*His words.

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