We’ve lived on this acreage for six years now, and worked on it for seven. The memory of measuring off the site for the house and staking in the corners is still a vivid one for me. It was a cool, wet, spring morning, and I was wearing something very like what I wore this morning as I went out to do chores. (Think baggy pants and a thermal flannel shirt, hair unbrushed. :)) I can see the land as it was then, a sloping piece of grassland, set off from the surrounding fields by tree-rows. It was so beautiful just that way, we almost hated to touch it. But there was so much possibility. We had so many ideas. One of them was an animal sanctuary.
I knew my limits as an animal lover, though. I knew I was not the kind of animal lover who becomes a vet or who works in any close capacity with animals. I have always had trouble keeping myself separate from animals that come into my path. And because I am instantly and deeply emotionally involved, I am a poor caregiver. So I thought if we ever had a sanctuary, we would have to find someone to be the actual hands-one caregiver for the animals. For that reason, I thought a sanctuary was years down the road, when theoretically, we would have found funds to employ another person. (pause to snort into your coffee or matcha or latte)
Well, here I am, seven years later, the on-site caregiver (aka MOM) to fifteen animals and one little human. I’m not going to say it’s comfortable. It’s not. I am deeply uncomfortable with it, almost all the time! I know my capabilities in a crisis, and they are less than impressive. All my family can attest to this.
But I guess what got us here, to a place where we are an unofficial, and still relatively small, animal sanctuary (though it certainly never feels small to me), was that inadequate as I am as a caregiver, I recognized that we were these animals’ best chance at a good life. No one else was stepping forward to take them in, to do their best to give them a safe, comfortable home. And probably no one would love them better. I am fairly certain of that.
All this to say that sometimes you end up in exactly the place you always thought you shouldn’t. And the way I cope with that is to make art, whenever I can. When I’m making, all that nervous energy gets channeled. And my mind can rest. I give our animals outfits like the heroines of my favorite books. I give them stories. It’s fantasy and escapism mixed with a reality that is sometimes difficult for me to handle.
Today I’m offering some art up for sale, most of it inspired by our newest family member, Tru the mini donkey. She has been with us for just over two weeks. Last week we were able to get her to a farrier who managed to get her hooves back into shape after years without trimming. She is settling in here and growing more affectionate, and we are so fond of her.
Please know that anything I make from the sale of my art, is considered our animal fund. Of course they will be cared for by us whether or not I make a dime from my art, but I like to feel there is a little fund there for unexpected medical needs or improving their shelters, heated water buckets, etc.