Be Mine

Love is definitely in the air at the farm, especially between Gus (guardian dog) and my darling Clementine (cow) who have decided they are smitten with each other.  Clem perks up anytime Gus strolls into her pasture and then she proceeds to lick him all over as a small, canine grin spreads across his face.  It’s impossible to peg which animals will fall for each other, and I’ve been surprised many times.  Boss (buck) and Rodeo Queen (cow) are definitely going steady.  Simon (cat) can often be found curled in the middle of a group of snoozing hens.  And Winnie (cow) and Hugo (micro-dog) are drawn mysteriously to each other, although their friendship has never gone beyond just long and awkward stares.

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In the vein of love, there is some news to share that I’ve debated sharing because it is a sad story.  Are you sick of the sad stories?  Because I am.  But the purpose of this little blog since the beginning, aside from helping us bookmark important events during our ridiculous farming adventure, was to tell the whole truth about the lifestyle.  The whole truth is that life with animals – life with other life – means living with the reality of death.  The more creatures we invite in, the more we are exposed to loss.  That is the math of love.

There is no other way to work the equation.

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So here it is:  Daisy, Bruce and Betty’s puppy that we decided to keep, died last night.  In fact, she was the last of a litter that apparently was born with congenital issues, something we could not have foreseen, nor did we ever (EVER) expect since both parents have been incredibly healthy for the two years we’ve had them.  I never set out to breed dogs.  In fact I am fundamentally, vehemently opposed to dog breeding because of the enormous over-population of dogs (and cats).  Our difficulty locating Great Pyrenees to protect the goats, and subsequent success with Bruce and Betty, convinced us to try one litter for sale to other farmers.  It ended up this way.  We will never do this again.


I’m sharing this here, not to ruin your Valentine’s Day (promise), but because it is part of the honest story.  And, honestly, it’s really rooted in the spirit of the day, strange as that connection may seem.  When we first moved here, and I began collecting animals, I felt extremely possessive: “my goats, my cows, MY CHICKENS!”  Over time, and through lessons like yesterday’s, I have learned to loosen the tight-fisted grasp I tried to maintain around the multitude of little souls scampering, fluttering, trotting, galloping across the property.  They are not mine.  I am just a lucky steward for as long as time, health, and circumstance allows.  I do my best, but sometimes fate wins.  Last year, after experiencing a particularly difficult loss, my longtime mentor, Kimberly from Star Creek Country, told me to hug the animals and then find my favorite spot on the property.  And cry.  Just get it out, then open your eyes and look around at the view, at the place where you’re curled up crying, at the creatures still blinking up at you through the pasture fence.  Straighten yourself out, get back to work.

This recent string of death comes just before our most tenuous season, the chance of loss is more likely now then ever.  I’m shaky.  The best advice I can give (and I’m talking to myself now, too) is to be brave.  Hold close what you can understanding that – in time – you must prepare to let go.

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  • Caitlin | The Siren’s Tale

    March 4, 201410:06 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. This post was so beautiful and filled with honesty. The one part of farming and homesteading I know I’m not emotionally prepared for is the death of animals.

    I was laughing when I read about you getting possessive of the animals at first… I can so relate to this. But looking at this animal interaction as a steward seems so beautiful and uplifting. It takes away the idea that humans are solely responsible for nurturing, protecting, and keeping the animals alive… as you said, sometimes fate wins.

    Thanks for such honest words!

    • jennakl

      March 21, 20142:11 pm

      Thank you so much for this note – I so appreciate it, Caitlin!

  • Kim

    February 16, 20146:48 pm

    GREAT BIG HUGS!!! I am SO sorry to hear this. Thank you for sharing.

    • jennakl

      February 16, 201410:06 pm

      Thank you Kim!

  • Joan @ The Chicken Mama

    February 14, 20145:54 pm

    Oh, my heart goes out to you. My best to you and yours. And yes, be brave.

    • jennakl

      February 15, 20149:38 am

      Thank you so much Joan!

  • Cara

    February 14, 20145:01 pm

    Oh Jenna, I am so sorry for your loss. Sending love! Xo

    • jennakl

      February 15, 20149:38 am

      Aww – thank you Cara :)

  • Kerry

    February 14, 20144:22 pm

    This is the first time I’ve seen your blog, and I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve been there too many times and know the feelings of grief and frustration that accompany the loss of any animal. When I was in high school, coyotes attacked and killed a baby goat that I especially loved. I found it one morning before leaving for school, and in my first-hour biology class, my teacher noticed I was on the verge of tears. He asked why, and I told him. His response: “Well, it was just a GOAT!” At the time, I was hurt by his reaction, but looking back, I pity his ignorance of just how wonderful these animals can be. Our stewardship of them may end in tears, but along the way there is so much joy and laughter and so many happy memories to be made! In the end, it’s a more-than-fair trade, isn’t it?

    • jennakl

      February 15, 20149:39 am

      Oh man this story got me. “Our stewardship of them may end in tears, but along the way there is so much joy and laughter and so many happy memories to be made! In the end, it’s a more-than-fair trade, isn’t it?” Amen, sister, amen. I agree with this X 100! Thanks so much for the note.

  • Devin Rose

    February 14, 20141:42 pm

    Jenna, were the dogs registered Great Pyrenees? Not sure if that even exists just wondering whether they were known pure-breds or not.

    • jennakl

      February 14, 20142:33 pm


  • Erin @ Blue Yurt Farms

    February 14, 20141:07 pm

    Wow. I’m SO sorry you’re having to go through this again…but you’re right. Every moment that we get with these animals is precious and can’t be controlled or protected beyond that. Nature is cruel, and life goes on…but we’ll always have our memories of those really special souls.

    Big hugs, and good luck. I hope this string ends now, and you have a very successful and healthy spring season!!!

    • jennakl

      February 14, 20143:03 pm

      THANK YOU!! Amen to all of that, sister. I’ll take the hugs and the support – and right back atcha :)

  • Ashley

    February 14, 201412:31 pm

    oh I feel ya Jenna. So sorry. But I can empathize with all these emotions.

    • jennakl

      February 14, 201412:33 pm

      Oh boy, I know you can Ashley! It helps so much to be surrounded by so many like-minded folks. Thanks for note :)