Sunday, February 22, 2015


We raise sheep. We never intended on raising sheep, but, a friend of ours was gathering a herd and put them on his farm out in the country near us. He did not live on that farm, but rented the house to a gentleman. Well, of course at the coldest time of the season, several years ago, lambs starting being born one right after the other and as long as the mama was cleaning up the newly born lamb, feeding it and keeping it warm, all was well. But there were some young moms in the group and/or ones that didn't know what to do with this bleating little thing, and so a few of them were not going to make it. So, this gentleman just happened to be talking to my husband about a construction job and mentioned the lambs. We were in the car with towels and on our way to this farm. The lambs were in various conditions, there were three of them. They were lying alone, with their eyes closed and as cold as popsicles. I didn't really even know if they were alive. I gathered them up and put them under my coat and jumped into the truck and turned the heat up as high as possible. We drove to our local farm store and bought lamb replacer, bottles and nipples. I bought bottled water and made up the bottles right there in the truck. I kept rubbing them and talking to them and finally I'd feel a little movement. After about 1/2 hr. of rubbing, warming and encouraging, all three had their eyes open and were trying to stand. We got them home and put them in my bathroom which was warm,with the door closed. I dripped lamb replacer in their mouths and they began to move the warm liquid around in their mouths and making quiet noises. Eventually those quiet noises became full fledged bleating. They were bumping me with their noses and wanted to eat. This is how they stimulate milk flow in the nipples of their mama. After raising the three of them in the house, we began to venture outside. They would just hang around my legs and not move more than a few inches away from me. Eventually we built a small pen for them in the barn and they began their lives as outdoor farm animals instead of loud, hungry attack monkeys that that taken over my bathroom. They were the start of our herd. We then purchased a few Shetland Sheep and we now have 12 sheep. Our first baby this month was born during the night and her mama is wonderful. She cleaned her (little Liza)fed and kept her warm. We found little Liza the next morning on top of a pile of snow with her face to the sun, warming herself. Her mama, Princess Tula Chee Chee was right there. We knew that we probably had other pregnant moms and checked several times a day. Three nights ago, in the middle of the night a set of twins were born to one of our sheep. We discovered them in the morning. Sadly one of the lambs did not make it. The other one was found some distance from the sheep barn. This little one was born during a very cold night and somehow was able to walk through the barn and settle in the hay of our miniature donkeys. When an employee of ours was in the barn early the next morning, he heard and saw something moving in the still dark barn. Upon closer inspection he saw a little lamb, eyes closed, cold as a popsicle and barely hanging on after spending the whole night alone in this big, cold, dark barn. He picked the lamb up out of the hay and put it inside of his jacket and headed for the house. A heating pad was plugged in and wrapped around the new little lamb. We were expecting lambs so we were prepared with lamb replacer and bottles. We heated up some replacer and began dripping warm nourishment into this sweet little lamb. Eventually one eye opened and he began to suck slightly. We kept rubbing and warming and talking to this little guy. They take awhile to come around, but when they do, they stand up and begin walking and talking loudly. I decided that since he was going to be in the house, I would give him a warm bath. Not sure if that was the right thing to do, but he relaxed and loved the warm water and being rubbed with shampoo. Wrapped up in a few warm towels he fell asleep on my chest. Then before I put him to bed in my bathroom (again) he took 1/2 a bottle of warm replacer. He is such a joy and now walks around the house with our three dogs. But, he's always looking for his 'mama' and for a nipple. I'm sure that this red rubber nipple doesn't feel really all that natural, but it works and he is alive and well. Tomorrow he is going to go to a wonderful place where older folks reside and will warm all of their hearts with memories of when they had baby animals on their farms and would have to bottle feed. I'm going to be sure and take a warm bottle of replacer and give anyone who wants to a chance to hold him and feed him. JJ made it through his first night against so many odds. I'm sure that he is destined to become a joy for all of us.....and some lucky ewe someday...until them, I just want to snuggle with him and be his 'mama'.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


No matter what time I wake up in the morning, I take a moment to be grateful. Grateful for all family, friends and the new day. A day filled with possibilities. I have learned as I have gotten older that those few moments upon arising can make all of the difference in your day. I crack the window near my bed and listen for sounds, the winds blowing, the birds beginning their morning songs, the sounds of a new day. I pull on some clothes and walk outside. I take a deep breath, fresh air, cool, warm, doesn't matter. I walk through my gardens each morning so that I don't miss the appearance of a new blossom. The Morning Glories are the first to greet me, they are waking as I stand there watching the wonder of nature. The breeze moves through the grasses waking them up also. The haze over the pond begins to fall back into the water as the sun warms it. As I walk out onto the pier I can see the Swallows diving and catching their early morning breakfast of bugs. The fish are at the top of the pond waiting for their breakfast to fly or float by. Mom and Dad Canada Geese are going for their morning swim with their babies. There's dew on all of the leaves cooling them and getting them ready for a long day of warm sun. The roosters are announcing the morning to all. The chickens are having their morning conversations and waiting by the coop door so that they too can come outside and start their day. The sheep and llamas all have sleepy eyes and wait patiently by their feeding area for me to bring in scoops of corn, feed and oats. When they see me they start to announce my arrival to those that may have spent the night outside in the field under the light of last nights full moon. I stay and watch them begin their day, mommies licking their babies and encouraging them to get up and eat some hay or nibble on some oats. Some of the animals wait for the rush to be over and just stay still in their warm spot from their nights rest. I tell all to have a good day, close the gates and begin my walk back to the house. I pick a flower to put in a vase so that I can enjoy it's beauty and fragrance inside as well. It's a new day, new things to be grateful for.....start your day softly.

Monday, February 16, 2015


I enjoy trees in all of their glory in spring, summer and fall. But, I enjoy them the most in the winter when they are without their colors, blossoms and fruit. I love that they are quiet and resting, just watching the world. I examine their lines and their armor. Their wounded exterior tells a story, and being a writer, I make up a story about their life and the events that have occurred in and/or around them. One of the trees on our farm is so twisted and contorted that it appears to be bent at the knees. When it was a young tree with high hopes of becoming tall and beautiful, the winds began, and never stopped. Winds coming from every direction forced the young tree to turn as quickly as possible to try and protect it's self. The years created it's permanent shape as it grew older and thicker. The winds could no longer shape this tree, this bent over posture became the destiny that life had dealt it. I watch from the window as squirrels jump onto this tree and rest in various places. Birds land on it and crack open sunflower seeds that they snatched from the seed basket. It has become a familiar tree to so many visitors. A tried and true friend and favorite stopping place for migrating birds. Another tree that I love to look at has so many knots and interesting hiding places. I am sure that during driving rains and cold winter snows many a bird has tucked itself into one of the holes to wait out the storm. In the summer months, I envision that a member of the faerie realm takes over the protected space and conduct their overseeing of garden activities from there. Their sweet voices and conversations become part of this tree. Familiar voices and songs that only the tree knows and recognizes. I've tried to restrain myself but, on several occasions, I've stuck my finger in a few of the openings and have found feathers, sunflower seed shells and dust from the breakdown of the wood. I always want to find a lost miniature shoe or a forgotten tiny wand. I love that trees serve as protection for wildlife and meeting places for the faerie realm. When I am near the trees, I try to look away, whistle and sing quietly so that I don't scare anyone that might be there hiding. I like to think that they are there, feeling safe and enjoying or giggling at my songs. I am a believer, and that belief makes my love of trees and their lives all that more special. They've heard so many stories and have been a part of so many lives, they are the keepers of secrets. Secrets that will be within them forever.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


Everyone loves puppies. They are so cute with their fat little bellies and their puppy breath. They play so hard and then fall fast asleep. They grow so quickly and get into everything. Then they seem to finally reach a stage where you seem to really start connecting. They know what you're saying and they actually respond to some of the things you say, much to your pleasure and amazement. They really become your pal. They watch for you each day when they know it's about time for you to come home. They wiggle their butts off, when you walk through the door. They'll go anywhere with you, they just want to be with you. You teach them tricks and in return they teach you love, patience, devotion and loyalty. They don't ask for much but give you so much more in return. They sense when you need them near and also when they should give you some space. One day you notice that they are aging, happens all too soon. Then that one day comes when you sense that something is're hoping it's something minor and will be better tomorrow. But when it isn't you make an appointment to see your Vet and again hope that it's really nothing. But when it is, you have to make decisions that you never feel ready to make. It seems easy enough to say that you want what is best for your pal, that you don't want them to suffer, out loud, but inside you feel sick and weep saying No, please don't let this be so. I just want to go on like we always have, I don't want to be without you. You go home and know that you have the options to think about. You don't want to decide, you don't want to think about it. You just want your Pal to walk with you, put his or her face in your lap and please tell you what to do. But, they can't. You took them into your life and knew that you would have to make decisions about their life. But you only wanted it to be about what color collar to buy, if you should buy them a sweater for the winter, not a decision about when they should no longer live. You just want to hold them forever and make everything alright. You don't want them to suffer, but as long as they are with you, you don't feel like the absolute worst has happened yet. Mickie arrived at our house one day in a basket. She had the longest ears and the longest nose. She was one of the 13 puppies of my daughter's dog. I told my daughter to pick one out for us and have her brother, my son, drop it off. So he arrived with our Mickie. I did not instantly think she was the cutest dog that I had ever seen. I usually like fuzzy pups, she was short haired, she was white and liver colored, had long skinny legs and a long tail. But, anyway, we welcomed her into our menagerie. She immediately began to show us more personality that all of our other dogs put together. She was smart, never chewed anything she wasn't suppose to and just seemed so content and happy. She became the delight of my life. She loved to play catch outside for hours but she would quit when you told her to. She always seemed to be cold so we snuggled a lot under blankets and the covers of our bed. I somehow thought that we would have her for a long time. She was so healthy and active. One day she was dragging one paw, I turned her paw over and picked around to see if she had a thorn or something but she didn't. After a few days her paw hung further and further onto the ground. I thought maybe her shoulder was injured so I took her to the Vet. She had cancer and would have to have her front left leg amputated. The Vet said that they would have to do further tests to determine if it was just in her shoulder or throughout her whole body, he gave her months to a year and I took it. After her surgery, she ran down the hall to me and I wept at the sight, but she was alive and coming home and so I smiled through my tears. She had a good year with us, but eventually her other three limbs swelled up while the rest of her body became skeletal. But she would lift her head each morning and wag her tail and would want her food and water. I'd carry her outside and she would go to the bathroom standing in one place. I knew that she couldn't go on like this forever, but I just wanted her to tell me what to do, I was lost in my pain and sorrow with the thought of our Mickie not being with us anymore. I picked her up one morning to take her out and she couldn't stand and I could hear cracking sounds in her limbs. We had her on pain medications because I didn't want her to be in any pain, but I just knew that today was the day. I called the Vet and couldn't even speak, my husband had to take the phone. We carried her to the car and drove to the Vet. The staff and everyone was so kind and cried with us. They asked if we wanted to stay. I thought that I could, but I couldn't. I wanted to run away with my Mickie, I couldn't stand it. I hugged her and told her how much I loved her and how I hoped that she would forgive me. I felt so guilty...for everything...I looked back at the moment that she was looking around the Vet Assistant, directly at me. I don't know if she was telling me it was okay or to please not leave her. We left and I just wanted to go back, I didn't want them to follow through...but I knew they already had. We had her cremated and collected our Mickie a week later. She is sitting on my desk next to my computer at this moment. It's been a year, I still get a catch in my throat and cry many tears every time I hear her name, see her picture of think of her.....I miss you Mickie, please have fun running around on all four of your legs, please don't forget me....I'll never forget you.

Monday, February 9, 2015


Every morning, for years, I would drive past this abandoned farm. I could have gone straight out to the highway and had a shorter drive to work, but I preferred to go the scenic route through a state park that abuts our farm. When I would come upon this farm, I'd often pull over and imagine the good times and the bad times that this farm had probably seen over the years. From the broken sections of wire fences you could picture where the animals were kept, where the garden was planted that provided vegetables for the family and where the once pruned apple trees produced fresh apples for summer eating and canned apples for the long winter. I'm sure there were many happy times at this family farm. Celebrations when there was a good corn and bean crop. Close times when there was the birth of a healthy child. Everyone running outside and throwing hands to the sky when a much needed rain shower would finally arrive during a dry season. Fun times picking apples, pie making and putting up the sweet fruit for the long winter months. Probably, but hopefully not, an equal amount of hard times and sad times were had there also. Extreme weather conditions that were so stressful both physically and mentally, fires in the home and in the barns where hay can smolder and destroy buildings and trap animals, illnesses. Such isolation due to hard conditions and really no time to be anywhere else, deaths of young and old and crop destruction because of bugs, birds and deer. I could see the animal tracks in the snow in the colder seasons and also the worn dirt trails through the grasses in the warmer seasons. The wild life would usually follow the same paths through the open fields and then disappear into the woods. The deer would forage and walk the corn fields during the night finding any kernels of corn or beans left from the last crops and then find a safe, cool place to sleep in the summer and a heavy pine bough to lie beneath to sleep protected from the cold and snow in the winter. Since no one had lived on or operated this farm in years, the deer have found this to be a quiet, safe place to give birth and raise their young. There is a small stream near one of the many sheds which made this a perfect spot for a family and now also for wild life. The house is located on the highest part of the property which saved the home from flooding when there were driving winds and rains and the water levels rose in nearby rivers and lakes. This farm house felt every drop of rain, every strike of lightening and thunder clap and received a ruthless beating from hail storms. It is still standing strong having survived years of winds that ranged from warm summer breezes to strong relentless blasts of tornado strength winds. Farm life is not easy today and it certainly was not easy when this farm was in operation. Never a day off, always watching the weather, always hoping and praying for more rain or less rain, always worried about food and family. And yet, small farms like this still survive and generation after generation continue to live and love the farm life. I noticed in December that there was a wreath affixed in the upper arch of the barn face. I wonder whether someone like me that looks at this farm each day just put it up because they just felt it needed something happy or if someone has actually either purchased or someone in the family has decided to bring it back to it's former glory. I will be anxious to see....I'm just glad either way that it received some attention...a lot of years have passed without the sounds of a family or farm animals, the sounds this farm knows deep within it's soul.