ANN BAILEY: Good reasons to brave subzero tempsWhen my dad died in 1996 many people assumed that my mom, then 72, would move into town. Leaving the farm, though, was not in my mom’s plans. Not only did she live on the farm and tend to her own needs, she also was caretaker of her dog, two cats and flock of chickens.
When my dad died in 1996 many people assumed that my mom, then 72, would move into town. Leaving the farm, though, was not in my mom’s plans. Not only did she live on the farm and tend to her own needs, she also was caretaker of her dog, two cats and flock of chickens.
People often asked her why she wanted to have chickens and my mom’s answer was that if she didn’t she wouldn’t have any reason to go outside when it was 30 below zero. Though the answer always made me smile as I thought to myself, “It would be OK if, at your age, you didn’t go outside when it was 30 below,” I knew what my mom meant.
For her, the chickens were a reason to get up in the morning and get some exercise. The same was true for her dog and cats. Having creatures that depended on her made my mom feel needed and kept her going. They helped my mom stay healthy and live on the farm for 13 more years after my dad died.
She didn’t move into town until November 2009, shortly before her 85th birthday and even then her plan was to return to the farm the next summer.
Taking after Mom
I was thinking about how I hope I can be like my mom the other day when I was out in the barn bedding down the horses on a cold winter’s day. I had just filled Zammie’s and Isabelle’s water tank and given them some extra hay to help fuel them against the cold when I started thinking about how much I love living on a farm.
Though there are days when I feel overwhelmed by the amount of time and work it takes to care for horses, dogs, cats and chickens, I can’t imagine life without them. The creatures we care for give me not only companionship, but for me, like for my mom, they are a reason to get up in the morning and to go outside when I would rather bury my head under the pillow and snuggle down deeper under the covers.
When there are dogs to let outside at 5 a.m., staying in bed is not an option, so no matter the weather, either my husband, Brian, or I get up to let them out. Once we’re out of bed, we feed the three cats that are meowing and waiting by their respective feed dishes. After the cats are fed, we let the dogs out. As soon as we step outside with the dogs, the horses start whinnying, so they get fed next.
When the animals are fed, that leaves only the chickens to take care of, and Brian and I take turns driving to the farm where my mom lived and doing those chores.
Taking care of the animals contributes to my mental and physical well-being.
Handling hay and straw bales gives me great exercise and an excellent t stress reliever. Being in the quiet of the barn with only the horses is peaceful. The dogs and cats are good companions and the chickens are cheerful and singing whether it’s 30 below zero or 90 above. Caring for them and seeing that their needs are met gives me a good feeling.
I hope that I am blessed with good health like my mom, so I can stay on the farm another 30 years, too.
Reach Bailey at firstname.lastname@example.org or (218) 779-8093.