Monday, February 7, 2011
Back on track
I wasn't always here, nor was I always happy, though I did have a joyous childhood. They say that if you really want to thrive, you should remember what made you joyful when you were eight and then do that thing again. In my case, that was the year when I got my own pony.
I know what I do best—love animals, and write. When I was small, writing was my area of academic excellence, and it got me through my education with flying colors. I'm good at other things, too—I've tutored successfully and turned my hand at retail sales. I'm versatile, though mathematics are my weak area. (A-, advanced calculus, 2003—and I don't say that gloatingly, but with pride and relief. I worked my butt off for that A minus.) I need work on mechanical and manual skills, too . . . while I can muck out a barn like nobody's business, I'd be hard pressed to build one. For that, I have my husband. (This month, he's going to teach me how to reframe a window opening!)
People say I have a lot of pets. Two each of the dogs, bunnies, and cats; a mule; three goats; a flock of chickens. That's not so many! It's nearly a personal low.
When I was 14, I lived in the guest house on my family property in Clinton, Washington. With me—in and immediately adjacent the guest house—were my two dogs, three guinea pigs, sixteen mice, a cat, a mini-horse, two ducks, and a one-legged Rhode Island red. In the barn, I had two horses and a pony of my own. As a family, we had seven additional horses, two additional dogs, three or four additional cats, and thirty-odd chickens. This was before the potbellied pig and pygmy hedgehog, but after the cockatiels, rabbits, lovebirds, and parakeets. I guess you might say it's a family trait, and in that sense you might even say I'm moderating the effects of my genetics and upbringing. With just 10 non-human mammals in my family, I'm living a downright ordinary life.
There was a time when I thought I would like to be a lawyer. I wanted to fight for animal welfare in the pit, using the law as my weapon. I'm not sure, though, that I would have liked that work. I might not have been able to work with an Aussie on my feet, a chihuahua on my lap, a bunny on my desk, and a mule out my window, and perhaps I might never have become the farmwife of Bent Barrow Farm. I think it took accidentally missing law school (via an unplanned pregnancy, if you'll recall) to remind me that this is where I want to fight for animal welfare*—at home, on the web, with a dog on my feet.
*and yes, I use the term "fight" loosely. In 2010, the fight equated to a bunch of letters written, a couple of news briefs shared, and a donation of 10% of my freelance proceeds to reputable animal rights organizations. It may not be much, but it feels like a start. It turns out that I am neither a sidewalk-stomping PETA protester nor a courtroom-gripping legal eagle, but I feel that my voice is heard.