Michael and I love animals almost as much as we love kids. That love has been a powerful source of energy that has transformed animals and children into confidant, intelligent beings with strong, unique personalities. We believe that kids need to relate to animals to grow up into well balance, caring adults who can relate and feel connected to the natural world not just technological society. Watching our children’s delight as they gently held day-old chicks sitting cross- legged and giggling under the warming lamps, confirmed how important animals were to their development and sense of well-being.
Just try to come in the front door without tripping over our huge, guard dog. Shadow is a humongous, drooling black lab mix, with overgrown feet and a clumsy personality. He was part of my children’s lives for 13 years. This dog was the most quirky and annoying pet we have ever owned. He was also messy, bossy and slightly dense. His utterly hilarious behaviour would take an entire chapter in a book to really describe. After any visitor climbs over Shadow, he cannot sit for five minutes without Rebecca’s cat jumping on his lap. He will certainly be distracted by Daniel’s Guinea pig squeaking for veggies every time the fridge door opens and he might become dizzy watching Iggy, Mary’s rabbit chase the dog around in circles.
Even farm animals respond to love. Everyone seems to like pigs a little bit more these days, especially tea-cup pigs but our family loves real farm pigs. For twenty years we have raised meat birds, laying hens, four pigs a year, a calf and had an old horse and a beautiful warm-blooded horse. There are many hilariously episodes to tell of our adventures with animals but some of the most amusing and heart warming have to do with pigs.
When our little piglets are delivered they literally leap and twist in utter bliss as they emerge from the truck because they have never breathed fresh air, seen the sun or touched the dirt or vegetation. They dive into the tall weeds, making pathways and flatten little areas so they can sunbathe, rest under a tree, make their way to the food, their mud bath and the low wooden shed with straw bedding. Pigs are very clean and they love to be sprayed with water from a hose; it helps sunburns as does a good thick coating of mud. I don’t know who has more fun-the kids holding the hose or the pigs.
Well-loved farm animals want to part of the family, too. They they keep us entertained with their antics even more than our more traditional pets. Take Daisy . This socialized goat had a charming personality. If she hadn’t seen anyone in a long time, she’d bleat until one of the children at least poked their head out of the door and talked to her. She would have made more friends if she had quit eating my flowers or stealing little people’s’ hats and pulling on their scarves. Consequently, most of the time we tied Daisy to a post so she could see family life but not cause any problems. However, a couple of times a week we let Daisy follow us around in the garden. As long as she mainly ate the weeds.
Moonlight, our ancient but still regal Arabian stallion, also wanted company.One afternoon, this stallion was plaintively looking through the window. He looked so forlorn that all the kids begged to let him step in for a cuddle. I finally relented, inviting the huge animal to step into the kitchen to eat a carrot and soak in a bit of love for a while. Moonlight then passively followed us out afterwards.
No wonder we cherish these creatures; not only do we love animals, they love us in return, nourishing and enriching all our lives with their antics. Most importantly they reconnect us with the natural world. They bring us back to our more primitive roots.