Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Not Kidding Around About This Birthday Wish

As published in The Citizen-Record newspaper on Wednesday, June 3, 2013, by Sara Jewell.

Best part of the zoo? Hanging out with the petting goats.

A friend on the South Shore has a small dairy goat farm and when I attended one of her cheese-making classes a year ago, she introduced her Swiss Toggenburgs to me by saying, “They are just like dogs.”
That did it. Ever since, I’ve wanted a goat.
She also keeps a small herd of Alpines for weed and brush control and one of this spring’s kids developed septicemia and is now blind. My friend says it would make a good pet.
That did it. Ever since, I’ve wanted that kid.
When I tell my friend Jane, who grew up with goats, that I want a couple as pets, she shakes her head and says, “You have no idea.”
No, I don’t have any idea. And yes, I do have an idea.
I have the idea that I would like to have farm animals around me, to be responsible for feeding them and cleaning them and for learning about the world through their eyes.
On the other hand, I have no idea how to take care of farm animals but that problem was solved by falling in love with a Nova Scotia country boy. This was the man to make my dreams come true.
It didn’t hurt that he lived on 72 acres. So many! Imagine the possibilities. I figured the most immediate possibility would be the fulfillment of my lifelong dream of having a pet pig.
Shortly after I moved here from Ontario eight years ago, however, I read a book about a family who made a pet out of a runt his original owner simply couldn’t bear to put down and discovered the truth about pigs: if not butchered at six months, they grow to be 350 pounds. That was too big a responsibility for this city girl.
Fortunately, my husband was not to blame for the squelching of that dream. Instead, he made another one come true. By our first anniversary, there was a chicken coop filled with hens and a rooster in the backyard and we’ve been going strong – maritally and poultry – ever since.
Unfortunately for my husband, that didn’t squelch my hankering for animals; chickens are lovely but they are small and feathery and require little care. You watch a chicken more than you interact with it.
Even our few rabbits, more wild than tame, weren’t cute and cuddly enough to make me put aside my idea of farm animals so when I started making noises about getting goats and a donkey, maybe llamas or perhaps sheep to keep the lawn mowed, my husband finally sat me down and said, “When you make more money, you can have more animals.”
A reasonable negotiation on his part and perhaps he knows me too well. Because of who I am (a slow worker) and what I do (a freelance writer), I’m no closer to having a variety of four-footed farm animals roaming these 72 acres than I was eight years ago.
I’m sure he was counting on that.
But I just celebrated my 45th birthday and that’s when a woman begins to take stock of what she has in her life. Life insurance is fine, RRSPs are great but what about kids?
There is one on the South Shore who needs a home and would make a great pet. Perhaps a darling doeling is just what this (ahem) middle-aged woman needs.
Did you know a baby llama is called a “cria”? I’m craving a cria.
My poor husband. Every time this hankering for farm animals comes on, I suspect he goes down on his knees in the garage and says a little prayer to whoever is in charge of his world: Dear Keeper of My Sanity, thank you for not blessing us with a barn.

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