The farmer came at 10:30 and backed his trailer up to the barn. Red and I got the sheep into the barn, then he wormed all the sheep – this is an awful summer for parasites. He is returning this afternoon to get the rest of the old sheep. Maria's wool sheep – there are five right now – will remain on the farm and move to the New Bedlam Farm.
Animals mirror our lives, reflect our humanity and our lack of it. There are all kinds of ways, some healthy, some not, to love animals. If we are angry, we will use our love of them and their need of us to attack and harm people. If we are needy, we will transform them into the most pitiful of things and fill our emptiness. If we are broken, we will use them to heal us, to soften our edges, ease our impatience, show us how to love. Most of us who love animals use them in one way or another. And then there are the ways in which they have always been used to sustain us – food, fur, fiber, fat, bones.
I suspect none of these loves are truly selfless. Mine is not. My love of animals has helped my life in so many ways – books, photos, Maria. Animals have led me out of danger, into adventure, opened me up, shown me how to love and live. I have learned to never use my love of animals in anger, or to judge or hurt people. To never turn them into objects of abuse and pity. To not put my words and feelings into their heads. To respect their animal natures. Animals seem to me to instinctively sense that there is no such thing as a no-kill world for them, not in reality. In our culture, it is deemed humane to keep animals alive at all costs and by any means. It is also deemed merciful to treat the aged in that way, and we tell ourselves that these ideas are humane and loving.
No one who exploits animals to attack people truly loves them, hatred is not a part of the animal consciousness, it is the antithesis of being an animal.
People with farms, people who live with animals every day almost always have a different view. We see humanity – the idea of being humane – differently. The cycles of life are powerful, relentless. It is so important to me to accept them. Death is not a shock or betrayal to me. It is the flip side of life. I thank the old sheep for reminding me of that, of how close we all are to that, of how important it is to live our lives with respect and dignity and compassion for people, even if they anger and disappoint us. Something every animal knows without being told.