ANZ's Farms

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pets and Farm Animals

Meet Duke, my 17 year old little buddy. He is my faithful companion, following me everywhere I go -- except the goat yard. He had a bad experience with the electric fence. He is a pet, being allowed in the house and on the couch. His blanket is a handmade afghan, a gift from my mother. (Mom still doesn't comprehend how letting Duke have it is the highest compliment I could pay her.) He gets table scraps and belly rubs on a regular basis.

Being a city girl, pets is all I have known. Spoiling and doting on my animals is what I do. I have many years experience and I am good at it. I have only been an urban homesteader a year now so I am inexperienced and ignorant about having farm animals. It has been natural to treat my farm animals like pets. But now that the goat quiver is full, so the speak, I have had the wake-up call of reality and practicality.

Necessity dictates the transition from "city girl keeping farm animals" to "farm girl". My husband has encouraged the transition for some time now, drawing on age-old wisdom learned from dairy farmers in his home town. I feel the change taking place and know it is right, but I resist none-the-less. The elements I battle -- perfectionism, fear, controlling nature, guilt -- can be summed up in one nagging question: What if something goes wrong and I'm not there to help?!

It is hard to put the change into words. The best way to describe the transition might be to say that it is an acceptance of the natural order of things. Letting nature take its course. I have never been one for wild animal shows on TV because I can't stand to see weak members of the herd abandoned, pack animals killing and eating another animal, that sort of thing. I think my husband might describe the transition as indulgent love giving way to prudent love. Indulgent love brings a baby animal inside on a cold winter's night; prudent love provides adequate housing so that the animal adapts to the prevailing weather conditions. A farm girl asks God to keep the little ones from inadvertently wandering out of the shed into the cold night rather than wearing herself out going out to the shed every two hours during the night to check on them. Indulgent love tries to prevent any discomfort or distress to an animal; prudent love allows discomfort and distress to teach and bring alignment to the natural order of things. A farm girl does what is hard in the short term in order to do what is best for her animals in the long run.

This is all new to me. More revelation will come. Better words will follow. For now, I'm just doing the best I can.

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