Infinity Farm has always boasted an extended family of many species, so the nickname was obvious- The Peaceable Kingdom. I love that painting by Edward Hicks. He was a Quaker minister who painted his spiritual truth in a simple way that resonates with me profoundly.
This week the Colorado prairie experienced the coldest weather in 14 years. Wind chills in the -20 to -30 degree range are dangerous. Animals need extra help. My eyeballs froze, my fingernails ached- chores had to be done in short sprints. It was enough to wither bravado in even the toughest, most carhart-layered caregivers.
The boarded horses were tucked in the barn. My personal animals live in a interlocking group of pens, they are a family of many species, ages, and personalities. I knew this storm would be rough and I tried something new. I huddled all of them in one small pen and shelter.
The thing that has surprised me the most over the years is how much various species want to get along. Us humans could take a lesson. They eat together and play together. Everyone shares the love of a good dirt bath and a nap in the sun.
It doesn’t mean that donkeys don’t think chasing goats is fun, or that llamas wont push their way in front of the hose when a horse is getting a shower. The dogs take themselves way too seriously. One goat insists he is a llama (born in the wrong body.) The cats are proud mass-murderers of rodents. Llamas have an extremely poor sense of personal space. Every family has a bit of dysfunction…
But under a full moon, in the wee hours, Clara was born. Everyone was wide awake and straining to see her first steps. When Clementine lost her fight for life, there was a respectful circle sharing the time- as we waited together for the vet to come release her.
This week we survived a frigid storm with a bone-chilling, wild wind. It was a war with nature, but everyone shared their hay and did their best. At night they all stood belly-touching-belly, with the old ones in the middle. Now the worst is over; 20 degrees and a 24 mph wind feel mild and spring-like. I have stripped down to 3 layers.
There are much worse challenges than ours, we are the lucky ones. It’s been a rough week around the planet- many have lost family and homes. My heart goes out to the humans and animals still fighting a storm.
Since Noah’s Ark, our destiny has been intertwined with animals. Our survival depends on each other, in this war-and-peace circle of life.
(Photos: The Peaceable Kingdom, or “Why can’t we all just get along?”)