Living on a farm has opened my eyes to a whole lot of things. Some of those things are beautiful- some, not so much. Each animal has it’s own unique personality. Each species has it’s own way of dealing with life and the challenges it can present. One thing is for sure though… there are many lessons to be learned from these creatures, if you’re paying attention.
Luckily, I HAVE been paying attention, so here are some Life Lessons my funny little farm animals have illustrated to me during our time together.
*Names of animals have been changed to protect their privacy.
From Stormy, the Angora Bunny:
If you live up off the ground, most of the poo falls right through the cage.
We often get caught up in the most trivial of matters. If you’re anything like me, you begin each day with a solemn vow to not let the “little things” get the better of you. You vow to not freak out because the house is a mess. You vow to parent your rowdy children with patience, positive thoughts, and gentleness. You vow not to procrastinate, or get distracted. You vow to accomplish all those things on your To Do List.
But then, (if you’re anything like me) by time lunch rolls around, you’re pulling your hair out, trying to fish Buzz Lightyear out of the toilet, while threatening two of your kids to finish their journal assignments- or else! You’re desperately trying to conjure up a way to contain your two-year-old so that you can get outside and milk your cow before her udder bursts. All the while, you’re praying that some magic genie will appear to wash the dishes and, hopefully make that mysterious, yet pungent, odor go away. You’re also HOPING that odor is, in fact, just the dishes being long overdue for washing and not your toddler having decided to poo on the floor and then finger paint his room with it. Yes- that has happened to me…multiple times. My children are so disgusting.
What Stormy teaches us is that, when life gets crazy, you have to rise above it. Practice meditation, take a 2 minute Mommy Time-Out, put on some calming, or happy music, count to 10- whatever works for you. When you take a step up (above the mess and stress) and you draw in a deep cleansing breath, you can find another perspective. From up there (that would be the High Ground) the whole view changes. Life becomes manageable. You can more easily and calmly deal with all the little bothers that come your way. So, go ahead, lift your life up.
Human Translation: If you live your life from a higher consciousness/with greater perspective, most of Life’s little stresses will pass right under your radar. And wouldn’t that be so much nicer?
From Buddy, the goat:
The grass may look tastier on the other side of the fence, but it usually turns out to be spiky weeds- and the fence is almost always barbed wire and easy to get tangled up in.
How many hours out of each day do many people spend wishing that their life was in some way different, or “better”? If I had to take a guess, I would say- too many hours. I guess it is just human nature to constantly want more, or seek out “better”.
The downside to all of this constant striving for something better is that, once you attain “better”, you still need “more”. That “better” thing eventually becomes commonplace or boring, or it isn’t at all the way we imagined it (just like Buddy finding only spiky weeds) and then we’re off again, searching for more.
And sometimes, the search itself is the danger. Sometimes, like Buddy has learned, the search (the barbed wire) can get us pretty tangled up. We neglect or ignore all of the truly valuable and worthwhile things (and people!), in our life, in pursuit of that which can never satisfy us.
Human Translation: Appreciate the life you have. Do what you can to improve it, but don’t waste your life, getting tangled up in things that, once attained, won’t make you any happier than you are capable of choosing to be right now!
From Rusty, the bull:
If you don’t like where the water basin is (or how the hay is rolled too tightly, or how the fence post is planted too straight), then use your head (or horns) and move it.
This is an easy one. Look, life is full of obstacles. Its full of situations and circumstances that are not to our liking. What we sometimes forget is, that if we just put our mind to it, we can remove those obstacles or change those circumstances to better suit our taste. We have the power to take any situation Life throws at us, and mold it into a positive experience. All we need to do is use our heads- and be creative!
You don’t have to go through your days feeling like a helpless victim of fate. You do have a choice in the matter of Life. You can always, at the very least, turn an undesirable situation into a lesson, or an opportunity to grow. You can use rejection, loss, frustration, etc., to show you how not to go about things. Or if you want, ponder the problem for a while, and then find a way to change it for the better! You can do it. You’re a smart cookie.
Rusty show us this lesson in the literal sense. He uses his head (or horns) to move things about, or change things he doesn’t like.
Human Translation: With a little creativity and thought, you can change almost any negative in your life into a positive opportunity for change, learning and growth.
Beauty, the cow:
A mother’s love can only provide so much protection. Eventually, you’ve got to let that feisty little calf touch the electric fence so she can learn to respect Life’s boundaries.
This is a pretty profound lesson to learn from a cow, yet here you have it. Being a mother myself, I know how crazy I can get over trying to protect my children. I have countless mini-heart attacks every day when my toddler disappears in the span of the 30 seconds it takes me to run to the bathroom for a speed pee. Seriously, that’s a thing. At least, for me it is.
My house is backed up against a river. It is the most beautiful, peaceful, little piece of Earth to me. I wake up every morning disbelieving that I actually get to live here! There are so many sights to see, treasures to find, adventures to have. There are also a thousand different dangers. The fast flowing river itself, the steep wooden steps leading to the river bank, the lush fauna surrounding our home- filled with snakes and alligators and bobcats and coyotes and panthers. Then there’s the previously mentioned electric fence, the knee-high fire ant mounds, the sharp, sometimes rusted farm equipment. I could go on and on…but I won’t. You get the point.
I do my best to protect my kids from danger, but I have learned that I can’t ALWAYS be watching EVERYWHERE. And I certainly can’t deny them a childhood full of exploring, discovery and adventure, just because I am scared to death for them. There needs to be a balance. So, I make sure that the kids are educated on the dangers around them. I teach them how to ascertain whether a place or activity is safe or likely to get them seriously injured. I urge them to err on the side of caution, when they aren’t sure of a thing. When we are all together, I am conscious of setting a good example. I demonstrate at every opportunity how I go about assessing the safety of something. I am respectful of my physical limits. I try to show my children that there is nothing wrong with admitting that a specific challenge is beyond their physical limitations- but that they can always work at improving those limitations, in safety.
Beauty the cow tried very hard to keep her calf away from that electric fence. But, after a couple days of tirelessly throwing herself between the fence and the lunatic calf careening towards it, she decided that a little “hands-on” lesson would better illustrate the danger of the fence. And so, the next time the calf went a-wandering too close to the fence, she did not intervene and the calf quickly learned to respect the boundaries.
Human Translation: All the care and worry in the world won’t protect our precious babies from, sometimes, getting hurt. It is our responsibility to do our best to guide, educate, and show a good example, but ultimately, we have to learn to not intervene in every situation our children encounter. They are going to get scratches and bruises- some kids may even break a bone- but by letting them figure out some of these lesser dangers for themselves, we teach them to respect their boundaries and the world around them. And, in the long run, they will be able to do a good job of keeping themselves safe- which is what every mother wants.
From Mr. & Mrs. Mallard, the ducks:
Always take some time to splash in the water and wiggle your tail feathers.
So simple, this life lesson needs very little explanation. Life is short, folks. We all know that. We all know that we need to slow down and enjoy it, before its gone. Unfortunately, we also happen to need constant reminding of this simple, yet vital, fact of life. So take a lesson from Mr. & Mrs. Mallard, and put aside some time each day to shake those tail feathers.
Human Translation: Play! Have fun. Sing and dance and go explore. No one lies on their deathbed wishing they had LESS fun in life.
Sometimes I wonder how it is that animals are considered the “lesser” species on this planet. From where I’m standing, it seems that they have life all figured out. They don’t stress about how clean their pens are. They don’t worry about the way their fur looks or what kind of water bucket they drink out of. They don’t even care if the other animals like them or not. They just live life and enjoy the process. That is a lesson that we more “highly evolved” creatures could really benefit from taking to heart.
Until Next Time-
-The Narcissist’s Wife