Monday, April 26, 2010

Mid-Hill Farm

I live near a farm. It used to be a dairy and crop farm, but times are a-changing. The owners have sold most of their land. Part of it has been turned into a driving range. The fields where they used to do corn field mazes every October has been sold to the county to be converted into a park. The family lives at the top of a small hill in a sprawling ranch-style home which I would love to live in. It is beautiful. The family is amazingly friendly and welcomes visitors.

A few years ago we were at an event that our community holds every year called the Fall Festival. They used to hold this at the farm. At this event I met the man in charge of taking care of the machinery. His name is Marvin and he is a cross between Santa and Merle Olsen. This gentle giant told me that the dog that normally ran loose in and around the property was harmless and so it would be perfectly safe for me to bring Joy to see the animals. The dog’s name was To-Be because he “just wants TO-BE loved.” And loved him Joy did.

And so, for the past 3 years, we have visited the mid-hill farm to see the animals. There are donkeys, alpacas, watusi, deer, ducks, and geese. We take apples and carrots and bread and cereal and peanuts to feed the animals, probably every two or three weeks. Joy especially loves the donkeys. They are loud and bold and their teeth make her laugh. She gets a little skittish at the very last second that they are taking food from her hand and she usually drops it on the ground. They don’t mind in the least.

The alpacas are very curious, but very shy and easily scared. Marlo likes them the best because they are quiet and gentle and calm. They never eat any of the food we try to feed them—at least not while we’re there—but it doesn’t stop Marlo from trying. If I forget to give her some “pet food” to give to them, she doesn’t mind. She shares from her personal stash of gold fish or graham crackers. The kid’s got quite an arm.

The ducks are very animated and the geese are mostly just mean. It is fun to see them fly away, honking…and we always know when they return from their trips. The deer named Spike is easy to feed because he is missing teeth and he can’t bite. That’s always a plus.

We always come home, reluctantly, from our visit to the country in the middle of our city with wind in our hair, fresh air in our lungs, and sunshine in our hearts. What an amazing gift to give the girls—an up close and personal look at these animals. And what an amazing family, these former farmers, who own this land. They welcome visitors onto their property to enjoy their animals. They invite the community to church and community sponsored events that they hold in their “yard”. In this day and age, they certainly don’t make neighbors like that anymore

And To-Be? Marvin told us that To-Be kept running out into the street and was finally picked up by animal control, never To-Be seen again. Joy remembers him every time we go to the farm or pass it on our way to some other destination. Both girls wave at their “friends” and Joy says, “Mom, remember To-Be?” I’m dreading the day that the girls might say, “Mom, remember the animals that used to live here?”

There just isn’t enough stuff like this anymore, at least not where I live: generous neighbors, green fields, farm animals at our fingertips, and friends that just want to be loved. I know the day will come that the farm house will disappear and the animals along with it. I’m hoping it won’t be for a long, long, long time. When that day arrives I will have to just recall the words of J. M. Barrie…”God gave us memory that we might have roses in December.”

Posted by The Editor for Busy Body.

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