Category Archives: Reflection

Funny Farm

One of my best friends from high school came to visit. They made the long road trip down from Alberta to visit family and friends for two weeks. We were sitting on the back patio enjoying a glass of red wine talking about the farm.

She said her husband would love to live on a hobby farm, but it wasn’t her idea of fun. Too much work and time. Too much trouble. I tried to explain the labour of love that goes into making a hobby farm a hobby home. Since Jenn and I have over two decades of friendship I knew she wasn’t putting down the choice of having a farm. I knew she had an interest in how the whole thing works and why I love it so much.

Mostly…. it makes me laugh or generally brightens up my soul.

In a nutshell: I think the farm is funny.

Watching Mr & Mrs Smith dive through the water is amazing. Trying to stop Willow from head-butting children is frustrating, but she dances and thinks it’s a great game, so how can I not laugh?

Taz and Gizmo playing big bear on the bed makes me laugh out loud. They snarl and giggle and Taz log rolls and trying to trip Gizmo with her body. Playing a good game of fetch with Poco is delightful.

The pigs: it’s their noises that make me laugh. Snorts and squeals as they happily smash into things.

As the sunsets and the dusk to dawn light comes on the bunnies burst to life hopping and playing on the front lawn. Often they are a fast moving shadow or a silhouette against the fading light. Mystical creatures dance across the driveway invading the cars, tractor and pump house. If you only had the company of rabbits to watch it would be more than enough entertainment.

Watching Athos, our feral ragdoll cat, stock around the barn trying to shrink his bulk and become invisible makes me grateful knowing I’ve made his life better.

Seeing a chicken and a cat curl up in the nesting box during a cold winter night or watching Willow’s head roll around on Charlotte’s back as they nap, curled together, in the afternoon sunshine.

Sitting in my living room with the Simpson’s playing on the ancient projection TV while a gentle breeze floats in from the window, surrounded by puppies who are snoring gently after a busy day at the beach and I can feel my muscles relax.

The sun softly sets over the barn and I reminisce about the chinese dinner I just shared with my dad who was talking about all the changes and all the work we’d done to the barn. Pride, but only a little.

It feels like the whole world breathed a deep sigh.

So, it’s worth cleaning up all kinds of poop, re-siding outbuildings, putting a steel roof on the barn, the cuts and bruises, getting up early to feed and staying up all night with a sick animal.

Nutshell: I love living on the funny farm.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Like most people the hours of my employment, my paying job, often dictate how I spend my time. I try to look at it like this: I don’t have trouble making appointments because I don’t work Monday-Friday, I can make a pitcher of margaritas in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon, I can justifiably spend an entire day in bed surrounded by puppies, and one of my favorites… it’s okay to drink a glass of wine at six in the morning after a night shift. 

I give myself such liberties. I offer such rewards for all the holidays I miss, the weekend BBQs, the Sundays that don’t really mean anything and the Friday nights lost to get up early for work on Saturday. I accept these trade-offs with good humor, unless you ask me when I’m on overtime on Christmas with a late call, and then I’ll tell you I hate it.

I love my ride in on Sunday at five in the morning where the only summer company on the road is men towing small fishing boats. They are lumbering along in absolutely no hurry, stopping for coffee and breakfast before dropping a line in the still water and pretending to fish.

I imagine on these damp vegetation scented mornings that the fire ball beckons the dawn on the Serengeti and I’m cruising along like Laura Croft on my motorcycle. I love seeing the sunrise in what I affectionately call the African sky.  I feel so alive cocooned in my solitude as the rose coloured day breaks and the mist settles into the fields, the deep orange ball rising to glow from behind ethereal wisps of clouds that I arrive at work with a silly smile and cushion of serenity.

I have not always been this eternal optimist. I’ve had to work at it. I’ve had to stop and remind myself that the important thing is to live life and the hardest thing to do in this world is live in it. It’s a mixed blessing, much like shift work.

I’m at the end of my four night shifts and I’m tired. Irritable tired. When I say irritable I mean everything. My belly, my mind, my raw emotions and my body is irritable. I find it hard to cling to irritable as I feed my farm animals and give gentle strokes to Mrs Smith. I feel my irritation ebb away as I lay in my air conditioned bed surrounded by three angelic puppies.

I’ve heard it said that it doesn’t matter where you are because you carry happiness on the inside. I believe that all well and good, but your surroundings have the potential to be a gentle balm to your soul when you are subjected to those moments of harshness.

It’s hard to be irritable when I recognize the happiness that bubbles up when I watch the bunnies come running for their breakfast. Cup half full… I guess.

I have not had a charmed life. I wasn’t offered up heaping tablespoons of sanity, but I’ve managed to work through some big demons and achieve some big goals. I am proud to announce that I have found my happiness before I’m forty and I’m going to hold on, work to keep it and be open enough to enjoy it for the rest of my life.

It’s good to have goals, it’s even better to recognize when it’s time to change those goals as we hunt for the joy of living. It’s not failure, it’s re-direction. Often we must take great leaps of faith and put ourselves in a perception of peril in order to find that deep down contentment and achieve our labour of love.

I have a few ideas for the future. I’ve changed my goals and moved in a new directions. The best part? I’m really excited to see what happens next.

Where Joy Hides

I can’t wait to look back. What I mean to say is that I can’t wait to look back and read my blog in twenty years. I can hope my love for my soon to be husband will be as strong, my memories of all my beautiful animals as sweet and my experiences still rich and rewarding.

It will be a sweet joy to look back and determine that my life was interesting, or at least I found it interesting.

My today struggles will not be tomorrows and next years challenges still await. I strive to live each day and enjoy the moments that randomly fall in your lap. I try not to get caught up in what hasn’t gotten done and promise to enjoy the visitors and the residence of the farm.

Even while writing this I pause to cuddle a super Taz who was lazing on the arm of the couch. I held her curled up body in my arms and admired her light brown nose, her partial closed carmel eyes and mostly the complete level of trust and relaxation as her body goes limp in my arms. I can feel her heartbeat against my heart and cannot fathom how this gentle puppy could ever be harmed. How can she not be cherished and cuddled and loved?

I don’t understand cruelty to animals. I don’t understand why or how people can be mean to the creatures that only want to please. It makes me angry and sad to think of the millions of dogs and cats that are abused, beaten, neglected and eventually killed at human’s hands.

I look deeply into the soul of my eight pound pup and I see happiness, joy and love. I wonder what these people see right before they destroy a soul?

I’ve been told to stop looking at the websites and pages and pages and pages of unwanted animals, but ignorance does not build knowledge. I don’t want to be sheltered. I want to know. I want to help. I want to be the hero.

I haven’t saved nearly as many animals as I can and this is a life long mission, adventure and dream. I’ll continue to battle against animal cruelty and save the world one dog at a time.

To the world often a dogs life means nothing, but to the dog it means the world. Spay. Neuter. Save a life. The soul your helping will be your own.

This entry started about enjoying life and lead to one of my greatest joys… it went in an entirely different directions than I started, but this is the joy of the blog. Now, go give your pet a hug.

Seven Off

Every month I get seven days off in a row. This month we decided we’d stay in our trailer that we’d set up at the beach the previous week. We had power and water. We had a TV, DVD player, a queen size bed a fridge and good size living space. Our travel trailer is thirty-two feet long with two side-outs. It’s comfortable. You can tell by the lack of writing that we don’t have internet at the trailer and even if we did I’d be too busy sitting on the beach holding my best friend’s hand to type.

We spent our lazy mornings drinking coffee and going up to the main house to steal breakfast. We’d then talk about working on Brent’s barn, but usually ended up on the beach enjoying the sunshine. We managed to cut some wood for the wedding picnic tables and put in one door and one window before we succumbed to the allure of the beach and wine. Our good friends Jill and Chuck came by and helped us cut lumber for an hour before convincing us that the beach was a much better idea. It’s so hard to motivate yourself to work when you live in summer paradise.

We had dinner plans every night, but Tuesday when we met old friends at the drive-in. We packed an oversized couch-chair into the bed of the pick-up truck and made our way to Thorold. Just before the drive-in we took a motorcycle ride to Port Colborne to order our wedding bands. Woohoo! It’s becoming so real.

Getting back some of the wedding invitations and ordering the bands makes us realize how much we still have left to do, but we focused on not panicking by enjoying another day in the surf at the beach.  I’m finally relaxing and enjoying the biking, kayaking and simply walking in the sand.

Wednesday in the rain drives us to the farm to check on the animals, pool and pond. The dogs are delighted to be back home with a fenced yard and the freedom to daytime nap in their own beds. Taz was quickly back to work on Bunny Patrol, but Gizmo was ecstatic to be reunited with his crock pot.

Wednesday night we had dinner at the beach with my dad, Brent’s parents and friends visiting from Wiscosin. I’m so proud to sent an invitation to Packer-Land. Jerry and Ute are wonderful people from the Green Bay area and are avid Green Bay Packer Fans. I love them. They were kind enough to bring me a Packers ball cap just because I wrote “Go Packers” on their invite. I love surprises.

I’m looking forward to the comfort of my king bed tonight. Once you put the big man and three puppies in a queen there really isn’t much room left for the girl. We’re still trying to figure out if we can fit a king in the trailer.

It’s been a relaxing week, but it’s time to get some things done!

Senses

The windows are wide open as I walked from the kitchen to the bathroom and I heard the katydids and bull frogs singing.

I remember sitting on the porch with my mother listening to the sounds of the night as she told me about the katydids and their songs. Katydids are insects of the grasshopper variety, native to eastern states, that only sing at night. Their song is one of courtship with the males using their wings to sing to the females and the ladies chirp in response. I remember the smell of damp vegetation and the nearly overwellming hum of all the creatures lurking in the grass and trees surrounding the farm.

Rural sounds are different than their urban or city counterparts, but no less loud. The incessant buzzing of the katydids, bullfrogs, crickets, shieldbacks, coneheads, trigs, and angle-wings can fill your head and be louder than a thousand running engines. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Watching lightening bugs dance across the backyard I breathe deep and draw in the scents that can only be created on the farm during a hot spell in the height of summer. I hate how the dog days of summer seem to go by so quickly and I try to draw these evenings out longer and longer. I stay up later than I should, but it’s worth it.

We’ve added falling water to the sounds of the night with our waterfall in the pond and it’s soothing. The insects don’t mind the competition and I can get behind this kind of noise pollution.

I suppose you have to love the country to appreciate the bugs and smell of swamp, but I’ll take these stimulants over those of the city any day. I find the noise of people far more offending with the vehicles, music, TVs and the buzz of voices.

Some people love it and I can see the excitement of being surrounded by activity. The city has so many things to offer: food choices, drinks, bars, living music, dancing, friends and the extensive opportunity for chance encounters. I lived there once and quickly learned I’m truly a country girl at heart.

An ideal night for me is missing evening TV any warm night to sit outside with a glass of wine and my best friend to hear the katydids sing.