BY ROSANNA BAUMAN
In the days of the Great Depression hobos often left a sign at the gatepost of friendly homes that had given them food or a job. This was a signal to other hobos passing by that friendly folks were in the house beyond. Apparently, stray and neglected animals also have a similar system, because our farm seems to get a steady supply of needy animals.
The first week we moved to Cedar Valley Farms, a stray dog showed up. We fed him and tried to tame the half wild coyote dog but he was a travelin’ man and wasn’t detained for long. All of the horses that have called Cedar Valley Farms home have come from homes unwanted or abused. We have nurtured back to health many calves and lambs in our back porch Although we proclaim to only like “cute” animals (turkens at our farm? No way!) we do have a soft spot for the injured and abused. CAPTION: Writer, Rosanna Bauman, left and almost 13-year-old Joanna provides the “eyes” for a blind horse named Honey.
Most recently we have received three orphaned lambs that Joanna is faithfully bottle-feeding every two to four hours. We gladly accepted these lambs because we still all have a soft spot for those fuzzy little lambs, plus we have a lot of cow’s milk right now that we could feed them instead of milk replacer. Joanna, who rarely hears the alarm clock, will zip out of bed at 4 a.m. to give the babies their bottle. She is a very dedicated nurse. When the electric went out in the recent snowstorm at 1 a.m., Joanna immediately thought of the lamb in the stable who was now without heat. She ran out in the cold and wind to bring the lambs into the back porch.
Bottle time is a small circus, with three hungry lambs and a couple of pups all clambering around. Missy, our little rat terrier, likes to lick the milk dribbles from the lambs’ chins. She also has started to sleep with the lambs. We think it is because the lambs are closer to her size than the other three large Pyrnees/Labs we have. However, we’ve noticed that Missy tends to hog the heat lamp when sleeping with the lambs, so she may prefer their company simply because they keep her warm. I got a good chuckle the other day when I glanced out the window to see Joanna walking across the lawn with a lamb following close on her heels and, Wolf, the crippled pup, close behind. Joanna has many devoted followers on the farm. The other day she excitedly shared with me what she wanted to be when she grew up. Typically, seventh graders have high hopes and impractical ideas about their future. I was surprised at her very practical and heart-warming plans.
“I want to farm, and be a wildlife rehabilitator!” I was impressed that she didn’t have any expensive further education plans and touched that, as a (nearly) 13-year-old, she considered farming an honorable pursuit. But she has grown up on this farm and seen how heartwarming it is to provide care for those animals that need it most.
The fascinating thing about farms is that they have this comforting effect on humans as well. A good friend of ours noted that hurting people just had a way of ending up at our farm for encouragement and inspiration. It is the power of the farm. Why are farms such positive places and so magnetic for people? Nearly everyone has fond memories or thoughts of a farm. On our diversified little farm, regardless of your current state of mind, you can always find an animal that you can sympathize with or that will sympathize with you. You can always find some animal that will make you laugh or a landscape that exudes peace. And you can always find some beneficial work to do that will take your mind off of your problem and give you a sense of accomplishment and worth. Farms area miniature of the world at large and can portray the whole of humanity in a couple of acres.
We heartily acknowledge the magnetism a small farm has on people. This is particularly useful when extending invites. Our invites include a clause no one else can compete with “If you come to our place you can see the baby ________” (Fill in blank with the most recent species to have given birth). Friends or family passing through the area make sure that a visit to our farm is included. Why? A visit is never dull when there are animals around, and you can resist babies?
I think that may be part of the reason little chicks, lambs, and rabbits are portrayed so often in connection with Easter. Easter is all about the New Birth and the new life. What better thing to exemplify this hope than a fuzzy farm animal that immediately conjures up thoughts of life? The Bauman family wishes you a blessed Easter!