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Life and death on the farm

Owning a farm has allowed me an up close view of new life. The flip side is that I’ve also witnessed my share of death. It’s a given when you live and work every day with livestock and the land, but since my husband and I have never farmed, it’s something that’s new to me.

I’ve had the opportunity to plant seeds, watch them sprout, and harvest mature produce. And I’ve experienced the joy of welcoming new animals on our farm. I’ve also had an entire pepper crop die because of a glitch with the electricity supply to the hydroponic towers. Still, that’s nothing compared to the death of an animal, which happened in December when one of our guard donkeys passed away.

As difficult as it was to lose Ruth, a farm animal that we and our guests had come to love, the death of a longtime family pet has proven even more brutal. Earlier this week we had to put Stella, our almost 12 year old Boxer, to sleep. Although we had watched her decline for a few weeks, it was still gut wrenching to say goodbye.

Stella’s death has left a monumental void in my life. Since joining our family, she has been my ever vigilant bodyguard. At the same time, she was the epitome of joy and a great model of living life fully. Some of my happiest memories are from our frequent trips to dog parks, especially My Best Friend’s Park at Klyde Warren. She and her older sister Zoe (who passed in May, 2020) loved to run and play in the park’s fountains in the predawn light. While Zoe cautiously sipped from the fountains, Stella attacked each spray with abandon - in her mouth and with her entire body.

When we bought our farm five years ago, she and Zoe had a blast running and exploring. We would drive on the gravel road leading to the farm, with the girls’ heads hanging outside the open car windows, anticipating the day’s adventure. Stella sought out animal droppings and immediately rolled in them, covering her neck and shoulders in the alluring scent. It’s only fitting that her last days were spent on our property.

On Monday, our sweet girl went to sleep with our hugs and kisses and words of love - and with my gratitude for taking such good care of me. When I least expect it, memories are triggered and my eyes fill with tears. I’m allowing myself to mourn, knowing that in the midst of the grieving, there are times I have to soldier on. There are no days off from caring for the animals and crops on our farm. When Houston and I returned home from our vet’s office, we had chores to do and other animals to take care of. The four youngest piglets had escaped from their pen and had to be rounded up. Drinking water had to be changed. Tents had to be cleaned.

I’m learning that stewarding our farm - through the highs and lows, the good and the bad and life and death - is just one more opportunity for me to grow and develop as an individual.

This piece first appeared in Sherry’s column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, in the July 23, 2022 edition of the Corsicana Daily Sun.

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