Therapy Animals and Photography

As you can read on the About Me page, I am a person who has suffered through a great deal in my life to date. I’m okay with everything that has happened, the medical diagnosis that turned my life upside down and even the tragedies that have occurred. I am not saying that it’s easy or that I am 100% dealing with the issues but I am saying that I have learned to cope.

In 2008, when I had two years of massive depression and then the diagnosis of Multiple sclerosis, a counselor decided it was time for me to access what meant the most to me in my life. Her suggestion was that I pick up a camera and start photographing everything that “spoke” to me. I started taking photos of nature and wildlife, animals and farms. My health care provider suggested that I start eating more raw foods, home-grown items so that I knew what went into the production of food goods and to find time to release stress.

All of this started a major transition in my life. I discovered my love of cattle. I discovered what I felt about the land, my natural environment and more of who I was on the inside. Working with the cattle is my true therapy. I learned that when I am around them, I breathe slower and I am more relaxed. I am not like Tigger on drugs, which is me at any other point during the day. I learned that calves never fail to bring a smile to my face. I learned the sense of accomplishment like I never have before after saving a calf from near death and then watching them give birth to their first calf.

I have learned that I can capture this passion through the lens of a camera too, not only for cattle but for tractors and diesel trucks, flowers and nature, wildlife and water. I’ve learned that I love the little things in life and have come to appreciate them that much more. It just seems that no matter how difficult my life is, there is always something so small that thrives through wind, rain and snow. If a tiny plant with the smallest of flowers can come back year after year during the harshest of elements that nature provides, then I guess I don’t have an excuse anymore to feel sorry for myself. Mother Nature has taught me that we all have our own storms to weather but, as long as our roots are strong, we can always regrow. During our regrowth, we may become something slightly different from what we were before but usually we are stronger on the other side.

I have lots that I could share about these feelings and emotions but I won’t bore you with the details. I will just remind you that no matter what, each trial we go through brings us closer to who we really are on the inside. I am a survivor, plain and simple.

So for now, I will keep working with my therapy cattle and grooming them to be friendly animals for others to use and learn from. I will continue to learn about what’s best for me and my environment. And, of course, I will continue to photograph everything along the way.

If you live in the area and just need some space…I will be more than happy to let you come laugh with me over calf-antics, share a spot on the banks of the pond at sunset, or allow you to stroll through the pastures capturing your own photos. My work here is meant to be shared.

Calf-Antics

Calf-Antics

Being Me

Part of what makes being me is my individuality when it comes to cattle. I love cows. It doesn’t matter what breed…although I do prefer those brown-eyed Bambi cows called Jerseys! I have a special connection with cattle. I can almost feel their pain when they are sick or injured. I just connect on a different level. Maybe it’s because I love them, like others love their dog. They are my passion.

As the saying goes on good old Lady Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” I will give them care, food and pastures to graze. Uh, isn’t that kind of funny…a New Yorker referring to Lady Liberty and comparing it to cattle. Only in New York 🙂

I think I crazily just picked a farm name for when I get started on my own. Crazy isn’t it? The odd things that come to us sometimes….

Cattle have actually been my saving grace, not the other way around. They have pulled me up from the depths of depression and overwhelming sadness that I was struggling with when I got my first little bull calf. He forced me to get out of bed every morning to care for him. He needed food and water. He got lots of attention and was a spoiled snot.

My first steer

I call him my segway animal. He is the one that got me started into this passion for cattle. Then along came Belle, aka Ma, as a rescue cow. I remember crying with her in the pasture as I watched her protecting her calf in the grass. Maybe it was the maternal instinct in both of us that caused such an intense connection. I’m honestly not sure but I know I made a promise to her to love her and care for her the way she cared for her own child.

A peaceful bliss on her face. The look of an angel in contentment.

A peaceful bliss on her face. The look of an angel in contentment.

I watched her develop her motherly instincts and become the graceful “lady” I knew in my heart she was all along. She made me see exactly what I should do in life. Cattle in need are my real passion. Working with animals with a loving nature and attitude is the most rewarding job I have ever held. Belle is the perfect demonstration of that love and compassion.

Belle, the mother to many and the real reason she is nicknamed “Ma”

The passions have grown, the research into better methods have continued and I am a forever changed person because of the cattle. It is amazing to see the progress that has been made and how special my relationship is with the animals. I absolutely adore them all. They have shown me…well, ME. Through patience, tenderness and love for cattle, I have seen a side of myself that I never thought possible. A calm, dedicated individual who would bend over backwards to provide the same quality of life for my cattle as I would my family and devoted friends. A few have called me crazy and I admit I am but there is nothing in the world like having cattle trust you so much they enjoy your company…maybe even share a “kiss” or two.

Calf kisses just happen to be the best!

Calf kisses just happen to be the best!

Pasture Time

Part of my passion in life involves cattle. There is just something about them that speaks to the very essence of what makes me who I am.

Many people look at cows and just see another animal, one that is going to used for milk or meat. To me, I see a living breathing animal with a sacred purpose. That purpose is to provide us with food. I also have a purpose when it comes to cattle, especially those I work with. My purpose is to give them the greatest of care and the best of my heart. I am a firm believer in providing cattle with the best. The best food, shelter and care, along with the best attention.

I treat cattle like this for a variety of reasons. I will talk to you a little bit about “the herd” I currently work with.

Belle came to my care nearly four years ago. I will never forget the day the truck brought her to me. She was extremely thin. She had two calves nursing on her too. I remember sitting down in the pasture with her the first hour or so with tears streaming from my eyes as I watched her lovingly care for the two calves. I could almost see the look in her eyes as she tried to determine if the whole new area was real and not a dream. I fell in love with her…hard! Right there sitting in the pasture, I knew exactly what I was meant to do.

This is what Belle looked liked when she was unloaded from the cattle hauler

This is what Belle looked liked when she was unloaded from the cattle hauler

This is Belle after three years in my care.

This is Belle after three years in my care.

My passion with cattle is to care. I love the hands on process of what I do with cattle. I have recently been told that I am much like a cattle nurse, aka the Clara Barton of cattle. I have treated animals for hypothermia, going without sleep to change out heat blankets every half hour. I have gone without sleep to care for animals with bloat, pneumonia, dehydration, scours and much more. I have taken in sick animals and rehabilitated a high percentage of them.

I have lost a couple over the years, it’s part of life unfortunately. But I put my heart into every step of trying to save them. I have taken in animals from the auction barn that couldn’t stand or even walk. I have cared for them and am now watching them grow into healthy animals.

The cattle have helped me too. After dealing with a loss in my life that I didn’t think I would really ever be able to overcome, the cattle have given me a sense of fulfillment. The make my life tolerable. They are my “therapy”. I’ve had many people tell me that I am a completely different person when I get around cattle. My normal hyperactivity pacing stops, my heart rate slows and all my stresses seem to fall off my shoulders. They keep me going.

Pasture time is therapy. The cattle have brought a smile to my face, made me laugh with their “antics” and just make my world a much better place. Cattle are magic for me. They are everything that my life represents. Abused or sick, they trust others to care for them when they are in need. When they feel good, they have no problems kicking up their hooves and racing around the paddocks. They don’t care where they sleep, so long as it’s dry, warm and comfortable.

When I get down, upset or over emotional, I go outside to the pastures. I did just that on Saturday. Here are just a few images captured.

Sir (the black one in front) snoring soundly and drooling all over himself.

Sir (the black one in front) snoring soundly and drooling all over himself.

My youngest heifer and shy girl Charity

My youngest heifer and shy girl Charity

This tiny little guy was a HUGE hit with the curious cattle

This tiny little guy was a HUGE hit with the curious cattle

A New Day

Sometimes things change. Sometimes you change. As with everything in life, experiences have the effect of change on how we act, interact, and they alter our goals for what we want in the future.

Well, my goals have changed. DRASTICALLY AND DRAMATICALLY!

To those of you that don’t know, for the past 8-9 years I have been working over at Barrows Farm. I am currently working on transitioning out of the farm and into the future. Do I know what the future will hold………NOPE. I don’t.

Here is what I do know:

I am a passionate and avid caregiver to cattle. I have a tender heart and a kind touch to those that need a little extra loving care. Think of me as a cattle nurse.

I am a passionate photographer about all things nature, cattle and ALL THINGS THAT RUN ON DIESEL.

I am highly artistic and love to see the simple beauty of the world that shines through within a few strokes of a pencil.

I am a writer who expresses my passion of what I see through words.

I am a country girl. I like to fish, hunt, shoot guns and sling mud. I drive trucks, four wheelers and tractors.

I love to cook with all things farm fresh.

Did I mention I love cattle?

 

These decisions to move away from what you know are difficult. It’s hard to walk away from something that you had big visions for. In the end, sometimes you just need to do what you feel you must do. When you are involved in a relationship with a spouse, business partner, friends, whatever and you aren’t headed along the same paths you need to assess the situation and determine what is the best course of action.

I know I will be okay, no matter where the road may lead me. After all, I am a survivor.

I have survived:

Sexual Abuse

Physical Abuse

Emotional and Mental Abuse

A Car Accident that almost killed me

and I daily survive and struggle through my own personal battle with Multiple Sclerosis.

I am stronger and more determined now than ever to make some of my dreams come true. I have always lived my life doing for others instead of myself. NOW is the time for me to stop letting others hold me back from achieving those dreams.

I will be spending an entire season doing something that I never thought I would have the opportunity to do. I will be travelling around the country photography tractor pulls and truck pulls. To me, it’s the epitome of all things important to me. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for a person who is 100% self-taught. I never thought I would get the chance to be associated with these circuits. To me, there is nothing better than diesel smoke and the rev of the engines. It sends goosebumps down my spine and when the tractors come roaring down the track it’s an adrenaline rush I can’t even begin to describe.

I have been offered a job as a “Special Needs Manager” on a large dairy too. To be honest, I didn’t even know there was such a position. The farm that offered expressed that my passion and dedication to sick, injured and unhealthy animals sets me apart from most. Who would have thought that farms needed specialized people for animals who have medical needs? Not me…so as I said above, I think of myself as a cattle nurse when it comes to this type of thing. Kind of cool, huh?

Do I know what tomorrow holds for me? No, I don’t. In the meantime, I am going to live a dream. I’ll be clicking photos at a track, farm or outdoors somewhere.

I’ll be posting blog posts to share my adventures, struggles and trials as time goes on. I have made a lot of friends over the years and I am thankful to have each and everyone of them as inspiration and support.. Without y’all I wouldn’t have the courage to make this huge transition forward.

If anyone wants to share stories about big transitions they have made in life, please do!