Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Year of Blessings in Disguise

You know those people who automatically - effortlessly, it seems - can find the good in almost every rotten situation? I am not one of those people. But I really want to be! I often struggle to find the good in the bad. This year has been one lesson after another in recognizing the blessings in times of Trouble. And, I'm (slowly) learning.

The series of unfortunate events started with the spring flooding that destroyed what was left of the garden perennials still in the ground, as well as a number of trees. However, it also brought in some wonderful wildlife that we have never seen so close before. A family of geese must have floated over the fence and then became stuck here when the waters subsided. At first, I thought they couldn't figure a way back out, but then after a couple weeks, they left at night and returned in the mornings. They roamed the driveway and hung out with the chickens. The goslings pecked adorably at seeded dandelion heads all day long while the ever-vigilant parents stood guard. It's no wonder there are so many geese around - from what I observed, they are excellent parents. What a joy it was to have them here. They've long since migrated on, and I miss them! My neighbor mentioned that geese return each year to the same nesting spot, so I really hope we see them again. How wonderful that would be.

The flooding also brought in many birds of prey using our land of flushed out rodent holes as a hunting ground. There was a family of owls that visited for a couple nights just before dusk. One perched right outside the bedroom window! That same night on my walk to lock in the goats, I spotted five (the same family, I think, as three of them appeared to be juveniles) perched together along the old wooden fence posts at the far western end of our property. So majestic!

We lost more animals this year than any other. The increased predator load from deforestation and housing development encroaching on all sides of us brought the coyotes ever closer, taking the lives of many livestock. All our efforts to keep them safe seemed to no avail, and it was heartbreaking. I had finally purchased a beautiful Nubian - we named her Cassiopeia - and only milked her for this one season before she was taken. A sacrifice to the wolves, as it were. But all that gave us a front row seat to Nature. Literally right outside our window. The agility of the coyotes, the majestic vultures...the reminder that just being able to have a small bit of land to raise animals and food is marvelous and still worth the struggle. It is a humbling that comes in so many forms.

We also laid to rest our beloved Aki dog, the freeing of a spirit...which also brought a profound realization of our purpose in stewarding these animals who are with us for whatever time we are gifted. We found an inner strength we didn't know existed as we stayed always with him, until the last breath. We miss him.

The final undercurrent throughout all this has been a tightening of our purse strings, of which is the one challenge I didn't instinctively begrudge! I know firsthand there are people in this world in deep, deep poverty. I know how very fortunate we are. I've sold off my "valuables" - well, I suppose the things considered valuable in our society - and it further deepened my resolve about what's truly important in life - health, family - and that things really are just things.

So perhaps this has just been the Year of Growing Up. Or the Year of Wisdom. Whichever - I'm as grateful for it as I am for the time to move on.

Wishing you the happiest of New Years, friends.

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