There are times when the farm is hard work, not just physical body shaping work, but inside my heart. We've had animals die this year, one after another. It started with "Little Boy" barn kitty this spring. He was best buds with the visiting possum last winter as the two shared bites of cat kibbles on top of the kitty condo. Little Boy and Mr. Possum were two peas in a pod in a most unusual friendship. I found my favorite barn feline under our bushes out front next to the road. It looked as though he had been struck by a passing car and tried to crawl home to be near his family before he passed. It was a sad day for me. Chad and I buried him next to the duck pen where he would sit watching the quackers splash in their green turtle sand box with feathers flying for him to chase. We marked his grave with a deteriorating cement turtle.
Next came a couple of chickens and our quakers (ducks!). One hen drowned in the llama water bin and the other became dinner to a wild animal. All we found of her were mixed color feathers scattered around our backyard. That's when we decided to lock them up at night, which makes them very unhappy. Then two of the ducks passed away. The first quacker became sick and he laid inside the little nest I made for them as the other two stood near. They wouldn't leave their sick friend until he passed. Three weeks later, another duck went to join his buddy in the crystal clear lake up in the heavens as he and our young puppy Biscuit got too close.
Without a doubt, the greatest loss was my beloved and constant companion puppy dog, Tribble Addie, who was taken by a speeding driver who didn't bother to stop. I held my precious dog for hours afterwards crying into his soft, warm body. I never knew a heart could shatter into so many tearful fragments. I couldn't be there when Chad laid him to rest next to the west viewing porch as my sobbing wouldn't let me. I watched from my upstairs bedroom and clutched a plush dog that looked like my Tribble close to my broken heart. Chad placed a concrete angel laying in a woven basket on his grave. It rests next to the covered porch where we watch golden sunsets dance across the darkening skies every evening. It's almost like Tribble is with me. Sometimes, I close my eyes, believing that he is curled on my lap.
Two short months later, our 17-year-old retriever Cody passed. He was incredibly faithful and simply an amazing dog through the years for our family. His failing body gave out, he needed to feel young again. He went to join Tribble and the boy barn kitty to play, chase unlimited bunnies and to be free without pain!
Recently, our mini horse, Sparky, joined God's awesome army of white horses getting ready for the upcoming battle! She laid down in the barn and simply stayed down and trotted into heaven with her white mane flowing behind. Her best friend, Laci the tank, laid next to her body as donkey Dunkay stood guard over them both. Both animals whinnied and paced as we took Sparky's body away on an open trailer. They followed us out the gate and stood next to her lying on the cold metal, their noses pressed against her stiff body until we shooed them away so we could leave to take her to a final resting place.
My heart broke many times this summer. Not only did I lose my beloved animals, including 'my baby' Tribble, but I lost my big brother, the guy I loved and shared a house with when I left home for the first time at 19 years old. We moved to the Sunshine State of Florida to start a new life while looking forward to the winter months so we could call home and brag about the unbearable heat of 85 degrees!
Tommy was my provider, protector, mentor and, as I called him, my Boom Boom. Tommy was the funny man who made everyone laugh whether they wanted to or not! I held my dying brother with my mother and sister as we cried out our goodbyes in tears one final time before the doctors turned off the beeping machines that kept his failing body alive. So much death among all the life that still thrives within Addie Acres and our family.
I will sit on my rope swing that hangs from the large half brown and half green fir tree in our backyard that seems to mirror the life and death struggles of the past few months. The fir tree faces the tall cornstalks ready for harvest as they seemingly wave farewell in the persistent gentle breeze that blows across the field.
Next to the fields of plenty are my llamas and other goof balls grazing in the pasture. As I sway in the wind, I will take the time to thank my Lord for all I have left, for each and every one of my crazy animals, both present and departed. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to love, laugh at, cuddle with and be loved back from fur and feather. I enjoy my animals, I am thankful for the time I've had with this blessing of family, home and farm. I've shed enough tears this summer and fall to fill a bucket, yet, I wouldn't change a thing.
My heart is softer as I see things in a new, different way. I find myself able to love more deeply. I'm tender where I use to be hard. So, I say goodbye to the ones I love. At the same time, I say hello to the blessings they brought into my life along with the hard lessons I didn't want to learn, but now know were necessary.