Sunday, July 12, 2009

Animal Wisdom

Ever notice how time just seems to be getting faster and faster? We started this blog to keep up with news on the farm, yet we often spend our days just keeping up with the farm itself. Managing the care of the 250-300 animals on the farm, plus the 30 member staff who care for them and run our programs, can be an incredible endeavor. The challenges we all face in our daily lives also affect the farm and all her inhabitants. This is a time of great growth and change for the planet as a whole, and certainly the farm reflects that as a microcosm of the larger whole. As with all change, it has its moments of wonder, its triumphs and joy, as well as its challenges and sometimes hardships.

Currently, we have the challenge of orphan kitten season in full swing. Adoptions are down and the need of so many helpless animals is increasing. All of us here feel the strain, not just of the 50 orphaned kittens we currently care for, but also for the ones we cannot help. Our phone rings off the hook continuously with people asking us to take in their animals that they no longer can keep, or about the stray they just found on the side of the road, or in their garages and gardens. We have to say no to most of them, and try to offer what we can to help. Each year we look for that ray of hope that lets us know that maybe, just maybe, our spay/neuter program is working. We look for that sign that shows us that humans are starting to take more responsibility for their actions and for the welfare of the animals in their care. We look for any sign of hope that we can. There are signs out there, but some days they are very hard to find.

As I was closing down the barn last night, making sure that all the horses, sheep, goats, ducks and chickens were settled in and safe for the night, I was consumed by my own thoughts of calling in the angels to help find wonderful homes for these kittens, and some other things on my wish list for the farm. My routine is to stop at each animal and just be with them for a short check in for the day. They all felt my weariness and as they are wont to do, they began feeding my heart and soul with their love and wisdom. One of the horses said to me, “Look around you in this barn and see what hope has given us. Your belief that it could be better created all of this, and in turn gave each of us a place to rest and be alive and safe. If you hadn’t believed, then we wouldn’t be here. We’d all be dead.”

Each horse came to their stall door as I approached, as if to underscore what the first one had said. Then, each one, shared with me something personal of what they experienced with me and the farm as a whole. It occurred to me that they often take time out of their day and out of their lives to thank us for what we have given them. They have thanked me for what we share together and for communicating this with others. And I began to notice how often I come into their space, their home, their sanctuary, with my own thoughts of doubts and misgivings, without stopping to thank them for all they have given to me. So, last night, as I went around to each one of them, I paused just for a moment and felt my love for each one as I stood with them. I thanked them for what they brought to the farm, what they brought to the many visitors who come to see them, and for what they continuously give to me. Life hasn’t been easy for them. Their path here, for many, was troubled and difficult and painful. I have watched them unravel layers of pain received at the hands of humans who were supposed to look out for them, and I have witnessed their journeys of healing. And I learned from them as I saw each of them unplug from a life of tragedy, to sign on to teach about a life of hope. If you knew their stories like I do, you’d be amazed that some of them could find a life of hope. Yet, each of them has. From each of them, I daily can feel their gratitude, appreciation, and love for what they now have and for where they now are, and I realized that if all of us did the same thing, no one would ever give up on hope. We’d all realize that hope is all around us all of the time. And no one would ever treat an animal the way that so many of these animals have been treated. How ironic from the human perspective. The “victims” are the deliverers of the healing. They stand here and show us daily a better way to live and a more sacred way to be.

As I left the barn, I stopped at the gate and said “I’ll see you all tomorrow.” And Amber Donkey gave me one last look and said, “Yep, we’ll see you tomorrow, just like we saw you today. The question is, will you see yourself tomorrow? We’ll see.”