I was finally, technically, able to refer to having ‘kids’ the evening that my goat had twin boys, even though I’d been calling each of my animals baby for years. 

They were still damp from their welcome into the world when I scooped both of them into my arms and breathed in their warmth. Their long, white ears, their velvet noses, the perfect swirl of their fur—I had fallen madly, deeply in love with my role as ‘farm mom’ all over again.

When it came time to sell one of them, I wept. I regretted every step I’d taken in weaning him from his mother and leaving him, cheerfully bouncing along with new friends because selfishly, I wouldn’t believe that someone could care for him the way I would. I imagined it similar to those mothers who’ve said their goodbyes to their freshman college goers—my baby.

I feel this way with all animals. After all, my caring for them is the least I can do for all they do for me. At the end of a long, hot, August day, they make me dig for more. We leash up and head to the river. When the wind howls in the hollow of winter, I bundle up and scan the pasture for their faces. When I’m out in the mountains with the wildflowers fading into a blur below as my mare and I gallop by, I am glowing.

The sweet spot of my character—the persistence, compassion, tenderness, acceptance, and grace—began budding the day I dragged a faux dog down the road at my childhood home in an attempt to ‘walk’ my make-believe pet. The builder, who was nearing completion of our home remodel, advised my parents that they ought to get me a real dog when he saw the ground-swept toy at the end of my plastic leash. Frankie, a miniature dachshund puppy, arrived shortly after that conversation.

There is a certain brand of peace that being on the farm gives to me. It wouldn’t be a farm at all without the awkward, always-hilarious hustle of a chicken making way for the coop, or the heel-kicking of horses tearing through the grass, or my miniature pinscher, Piper, terrorizing the cat, the labradors, and anything that moves a muscle for that matter. They are the hardest, most rewarding work I’ve ever known, and I wouldn’t, couldn’t, live this life any other way.