I was about 11 or so when a relative of mine (I wish I could just say my aunt or my cousin, but I don’t know how we’re related, just that we are. anyway…) lived out in the country and when we went to visit there were chickens and a coop, and she had boots I could borrow! I got to go out and collect eggs and it was the best thing of my life. The smell of the coop, of the chickens, it was my favorite.
Until a couple of years later when I went to a friend’s house to go ride horses. Then horses became my favorite smell.
I think I was 12 or 13, and for some reason this girl invited me over. At 12/13 I did not have many friends. So for her to invite me over, well, this was a big deal. I was elated. And then to get to ride horses? Over. The. Moon.
We spent the day outside on her horses. She led me around the pasture for a bit, then I went into a trot, and then after that the horse started moving faster. And faster. There were jumps set up, low ones, but jumps nonetheless, and I remember the fear and anticipation as the horse went over the first one. I’m getting goosebumps remembering.
I’d never felt more free.
It seems silly. How or why would a 12 year old need to feel that freedom? Life was hard then. It was good to not feel the weight of life while on that horse. I didn’t ever want to get out of that saddle. I wanted to ride forever.
That was the first and last time I went to her house. But it was enough to put a desire for big animals in my veins. In my heart.
However it would be more than 20 years before farm animals would come into my life again.
At 19 and 21, Josh and I bought our first home. A two bedroom, one bath, three level home on an acre of property. There was orange carpet, seafoam green walls (well, those not covered in paneling) and red linoleum as countertop in the kitchen, with poorly homemade cabinetry. To many in our families, this place was a nightmare. But it was ours and with a lot of blood, sweat, tears, trial and error, we have made this place our dream home.
We talked often about getting animals. I really wanted chickens. But the way I roll is that I want all the things to be pretty. I wanted the perfect coop, the perfect everything before I brought home anything.
Oh, 19 year old Sarah. If only 35 year old me could tell you then what you know now. Nothing will ever be perfect. There will never be a perfect time for anything. You grow, you adapt, as you need to.
It was shortly before my 34th birthday when we decided, on a whim, to get some chickens. We didn’t really have a place for them. Except in our house. So that’s where they started.
I was now the proud owner of eight chicks and two ducklings. And they lived in a cooler in my living room for weeks. Til they were big enough to be outside.
It was fabulous. My dream of a farm was starting.
And somehow a few days later I bought more. Oops.
Then a few weeks later all but two were eaten by the neighbor’s dog and I vowed to never own anymore animals. I was done. My heart was shattered.
And now if 35 year old Sarah could tell 33 year old Sarah that animals and shattered hearts go hand in hand, but the hole they fill will be worth every heartache.
Lessons along the way, that is for sure.
I now have even more chickens, and I have two ducks again, my heart was full and happy. And then I get a text one Sunday afternoon asking if I want a week old Jersey calf.
About an hour later that bad boy was in the back of my van, on his way to my house with no place to put him other than my backyard.
Harrison (Harry) has my heart. We are in love. He lived in my backyard for a couple of months until we had the fence done in our pasture. Now he lives out there, happy as can be to have more room to run. And I find it a bit nicer to not have cow piles on my porch anymore.
So, while I’m beyond thrilled with my 23 chickens, two ducks, and one steer (and the two rescue dogs, one rescue cat, and a guinea pig), my heart longs for more.
We have goats on the way.
And a kitten.
But lately I’ve been looking into another animal. I’d like to say it’s my oldest daughter’s dream, but if I’m being honest, this animal is my dream.
I want a horse.
Unfortunately our one acre of property doesn’t really allow the desires of my heart for these animals. However, next door, in our driveway, is a house on its way into foreclosure. This home has three acres. It has lots of bedrooms and lots of bathrooms. Lots of places for all (two) of the kids and all the animals and all my dreams.
Writing this out is scary. It’s scary to dream big. Because why me? Why would I be allowed to have such a big dream fulfilled? I don’t know that I will. It hurts my heart to think I won’t.
I mean, I love my house, and I love our property. But our long term goals, and this home we’re in now, they don’t go together well. Maybe God will say yes to this dream. This prayer.
In reality, I’m steeling my heart to believe it won’t. That it won’t happen. Best to not set myself up for heartache. But oh! what if!
There’s nothing I can do but wait, which, if you know me, is not my strong suit. (I’m even worse at waiting than I am at making friends.) But maybe that’s what I need. Time to wait. To learn and grow.
And to enjoy what I do have now.