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Farm Lessons

In my lifetime I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some pretty amazing people. Whether older or younger than me, they’ve been examples of looking at life in ways I might never have done without their presence and example. I’ve also learned some life lessons from animals, first from our dogs and now from the animals on our farm. What’s so special about animals is that their teaching is unintentional. They’re just living their lives, being who they are. 

Our donkeys are the original livestock guardians at Purdon Groves. One of the things I love about them is that they intuitively stand their ground when faced with a threat. They don’t run away from danger. I HATE conflict and will almost avoid it at all costs. Not so with donkeys. I also admire how jennies (female donkeys) bond with each other. To me it highlights the importance of having strong relationships with other women in my life - something I’ve not always been good at.

The Kunekune pigs that call our farm home are sweet, docile swine. They contentedly spend their days grazing, but are always up for a belly rub. How often am I content and, better yet, how frequently do I go with the flow? My default is to pursue busyness, when, if I behaved more like the Kunekunes I might get to experience some of the sweetest things in life - proverbial green pastures and quiet time with those I love. 

Our two geese have been an example of taking care of the ones I love, specifically Houston. While feeding the animals one day we noticed that the female had been attacked. It was difficult to treat her injury because she didn’t want anyone near her, except her partner, the gander. She trusted him, and he stayed by her, even when she was limping and looked like she might not make it. Today I think about those geese when I consider all the times over the past 38 years that Houston and I have supported one another physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. We are stronger together.

Our crested duck, King Charles, was the odd man out when we bought him along with several Rouen ducks. The others didn’t want anything to do with him. But he just kept being his confident self, eventually winning them over. Now they all follow him. He’s a great example of just being yourself and not giving up - putting yourself out there. He didn’t let his difference stop him from making friends, and eventually became their leader. 

As difficult as it is to learn hard lessons, and as frustrated as I get that I’m still clueless about some things, learning from these animals is a real treat. Even if they’re concepts I’m already familiar with, being reminded by cute animals is a much less intimidating way of learning how to live life better.

This piece first appeared in Sherry’s column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, in the February 17, 2024 edition of the Corsicana Daily Sun.

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