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Life Lessons on the Farm

Since the first donkeys stepped onto our property nearly four years ago, I’ve come to love and appreciate these fascinating creatures. Whether they’re rolling in the dirt, taking a dust bath, or quietly approaching a guest’s picnic table, looking for a tasty bite, they’re some of my favorite farm animals.

I believe we can learn so much from animals. Earlier this week I learned a lesson from the donkeys. It was around nine o’clock in the morning and I was walking around the property. It was shaping up to be a gorgeous day - the sun’s warmth had already driven the temps up to near 50 degrees. I noticed the donkeys out of the corner of my eye, standing like statues and soaking up the sun’s rays. They do that when it rains too, preferring to stand perfectly still under a cluster of trees until the weather clears. 

Seeing them led me to consider how seldom I am truly still. And before you ask, I’m not talking about sitting or lying down, with my focus on my tablet or phone, writing, checking our social media accounts or watching a cheesy movie. The donkeys, unlike me, were fully present enjoying the warmth of the sun.

Our donkeys aren’t the only animal teachers on the farm. Our dog Samson, a Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dog (LGD), is also a great instructor. Like all dogs, Samson knows when and how to play. He also knows to stretch his body when he gets up from a nap after a full night of work. And speaking of work, Sam instinctively knows what his role is on our farm. He barks to alert us that someone has arrived on the property. Then he goes over to meet them and make sure they’re not a threat. After that, he’s their friend and will protect them while they’re at the farm, often choosing to stay on their deck at night while they sleep. If multiple tents are booked, Samson will sometimes go off and position himself in a place where he’s able to keep an eye on everyone. This he does while keeping an ear out for coyotes and other predators. When the coyotes begin to sing, his bark warns them away from our farm. 

This week our donkeys reminded me of the importance of being still and present. It’s a great lesson anytime, but especially during the weeks leading up to Christmas. And Samson, sweet Samson, is a constant reminder that I was created for a purpose. I know and have connected with many roles in my life that bring fulfillment. There are other facets that I’m still figuring out. And that’s okay. 

This piece first appeared in Sherry’s column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, in the December 9, 2023 edition of the Corsicana Daily Sun.

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