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11 January 2015

Red Meeting Donkeys

Red Meeting Donkeys

Red Meeting Donkeys

At Ken Norman's Thornwood Farm in Vermont yesterday, Maria and I took Red out into the pony pasture, where our former donkeys Jesus and Jeanette live. They and the horses all came out to check Red out, they sniffed him carefully. As usual, Red was stoic, he stayed stock still while examined. When the bigger horses trotted over, he decided he had enough and move about 20 feet away.


Posted in General
9 January 2015

The Two Faces Of Red

The Two Faces Of Red

We stopped by Cardiac Rehab today, I wanted to say hello to the people there but also felt drawn to the place today, I decided to work out on the equipment I used when I got out of the hospital. I feel oddly safe and comfortable there, a place I did not want to to go and did not want to leave. How curious is the human mind.

Everyone was ecstatic to see Red, much more than me I think and he was lovingly and warmly greeted, petted, cuddled, talk to. Several people told me Red was the gentlest dog that they have ever seen, and that is a lovely compliment. They might not sat that if they saw him out with the sheep, his focus and intensity and strength are breathtaking. It is unusual to see two such different sides in a dog, Red's breeding is fascinating and surprising.

In the animal world, there is much squawking about breeders being greedy and cold, but good breeders preserve some of the very best traits in dogs – I think of Lenore and Red in particular. In his work, Red brings intelligence, strength and focus, I am always amazed at how little attention he pays to weather, he never takes his eyes off of his work.

Posted in General
6 January 2015

Poem: Do Not Waste A Day, Whispered Simon

Do Angels Cry For Simon?

Do Angels Cry For Simon?

When Simon had his stroke,

and toppled over to the ground,

and lay dying.

Lulu came over to him, and kicked him on one side of the head,

and then, soon after, Fanny kicked him in the other,

then they went off to look for grass, and barely looked back.

Animals know how to deal with life and death,

they are close to it all of the time,

they do not want dying animals anywhere near them,

scary things come running.


Death is like that, in our very real world.

I want to tell you, dear friends,

that I am not heartbroken over Simon's death,

my heart does not ache over him,

there is no weeping today

at Bedlam Farm, I shed my tears Saturday morning.

I am not a tough guy, anything but,

I am a life guy. Life and love goes on,

he was my donkey, and was dear to me,

we swim along behind life's stream,

finding connection,

telling stories,

taking photos,

making love,

finding friends,

meeting donkeys and dogs,

sharing their stories,

drinking from the cup.

There are so many tragedies in the world,

they rain over and on us some days,

the death of a donkey, no matter how sweet,

is not one of them.

I am responsible for grief in so many ways,

I wrote the stories about him, I told his story,

so I have to be honest, I am honor bound to try

and be authentic, to find perspective, to share mine,

No one need listen.

I do not ever tell other people how

to grieve, or how long to cry,

or judge how broken their own hearts ought to be,

grief is a personal thing, we all do it our own way,

only God can say.

But grieving for Simon is not for me, not my path.

Simon was a joy,

from the moment I saw him,

to the morning he decided to leave,

and move on to another life.

His life is not a sadness for me,

not a cause for sorrow and lament,

or regret, I will not suffer over him,

my heart is full of joy and promise,

heartache is not what he was about for me.

Simon talked to me all the time,

and I to him.

At his last, he whispered to me of gratitude

and affection, he did not have one bad day

in his life with us, every day was filled with fresh hay and water,

carrots and apples, hugs and kisses, help and comfort,

brushing and rubs,

Lulu and Fanny,

visitors with good wishes, smelling of love.

What more could a donkey want,

what more could human beings do?

Do not mourn for me, he said, shaking his head,

there is nothing to be sad about,

move on, he said so softly, move on,

and then he was gone.

And how wise he was,

and how good,

and I thanked him,

this is me,

this is who I am,

I am grateful for your time here,

I told him, as his spirit rose,

death does not grieve.

Frieda is fading, Lenore

is growing older, sick sheep suddenly die,

barn cats disappear, my knees hurt in the morning,

death lives in our lives,

on my farm, in my pasture, I will be on good terms with it,

or it will find my heart and drive a stake right through it.

This is my life, so I will not waste one day of it,

I will get on with it,

make a joyful noise to the world,

sing my praise to the angels,

they will not weep for me,

Simon said,

there is too much death in the world,

neither should you. The angels will

sound their trumpets for me, he said,

and the glorious and

bountiful days of your life begin right now,

the second I am gone.

And they did.

Posted in General
31 December 2014

Red And Tyler Meeting On The Road

Red And Tyler

Red And Tyler

I called Tyler to figure out how to get him his Christmas gift – a headset for his new XBox – and he came motoring along Macmillan Road, where we walk. It was a bitterly cold morning and Tyler, as usual, had no gloves, had or jacket. Red spotted him before I did and the two had a happy reunion. Tyler gave us a birdhouse that attaches to a window. You can see the birds but they can't see you. Being a parent and an old fart in training, I wanted to ask him where his gloves were. I didn't.

Posted in General
30 December 2014

Red At Sunrise: A Call To Life, An Ancient Bond

Red At Work: Sunrise

Red At Work: Sunrise

Every morning, as the sun rises, Red and I enter the pasture, and I sent Red out to circle the sheep and, if necessary, move them to maintain order. His work is a daily call to life for me, just as Simon's bray is. It challenges me to prepare for work, to be inspired, to know what it is I do and what it is I want to do.

Red and I share this commitment to purpose, to a meaningful life. Work is important to both of us, in very different ways. His is instinctive, the product of breeding and training and instinct, mine is different, a conscientious and conscious choice, a way of looking at the world.

When I see Red out in the pasture and take a photo of him working, then our two worlds seem fused, are the same thing, are connected in a powerful and timeless way. This is the ancient bond of the working animal and the working human being.

Posted in General