Red put on a show for our friends from the Mansion Assisted Care Facility today, he went and got the sheep and put them in a corner and held them there. Then, he did his therapy thing by going outside and greeting them one by one. It was hard for some of the visitors to get to the back fence (this is where we do demos at the Open Houses) but it turned out to be a perfect theater for today. I love showing Red off to people, he is a spectacular dog.
Peggy was a live wire, an animal lover, she charged out into the pasture to touch the donkeys and the pony and hand out some apples, she had a wonderfully rich and expressive face, a face that knows a lot and sees a lot. She had fun, she was laughing and telling stories, reminding us every minute or so that she loved animals very much, and she was telling the truth. She and Red hung out together.
I was touched by the gentle beauty of Elise, who came with the other visitors from the Mansion House, she had to use a walker to get from her seat to the pasture gate, but she was determined to do it, she came and held out her hand gently to Chloe, our pony, and the two of them made a connection.
One by one, the residents of the Mansion came up to the animals, to look at them, give them slices of their apples, talk to them and ask questions about them. It was gratifying for us to see this, we know the healing and uplifting power of these animals.
Martha came with the Mansion Assisted Care Facility group today, she has a permanent twinkle in her eye, and when she saw out headless statue on the lawn, she could not resist posting as the missing head. She is a natural performer, said the Mansion caretakers, and she didn't hesitate to ham it up. It is especially touching to see the spark of life that lives in so many of the people in the Mansion, the gleam in the eye, the wisecrack or perceptive observation, the willingness to laugh.
The body may grow old but the soul seems to stay young and vibrant. Martha has the spark of life very much in her smile, I loved taking this portrait.
Three vans pulled into the farm a little before 1 p.m., about 12 residents of the Mansion Assisted Care Facility, where Red and I do some therapy work, came by to see the farm, see the dogs work, meet the donkeys, feed some carrots to the pony, and join us for lunch out by the pasture.
It was a beautiful day, and our guests had a lot of questions for Maria and I. Some of the visitors couldn't walk comfortably to the pasture gate, most came up to the fence with bits of apples, a few came into the pasture to see Chloe and touch the donkeys.
They talked about their past lives, on farms, in homes, about their families, their dogs, their cats and cows. They opened their box lunches and had wraps and potato chips. We all had lunch together. They spent a couple of hours here, and I took some portraits I'll share later today.
We were happy to have them here, we love living in a place people want to come and see. Many of them talked about how soothing the farm was, how skilled Red is a herding dog. Some had a wicked sense of humor, others were quiet, reflective. Everyone I asked wanted to have their photo taken, and I think I like some of the portraits. Their faces would make a wonderful show at the Round House.
Afterwards, we went down to Stannard's vegetable stand and bought 20 pumpkins for them to take back to the Mansion and decorate. I was touched by the energy and affection of the staff, who knew their charges well, watched over them and made sure everybody got to do what they wanted to do.
I watched these people, some were frail, a few confused, others sharp and keenly aware. It was so important for them to come here, to see the animals, to sit in the sun and look out at the pastures down the road, and see the animals come up to the fence. To see them reconnected with life.
Fate was mostly good, she did try and jump on one or two people, my shaking of the choke chain settled her down. We hope they come often and stay late, we had a lot of fun getting to know them. Red and I will see them in a few days, we do therapy work at the Mansion.