Monday, October 15, 2012

Life on the farm: Animal House

The one thing that has made the leaving of friends, the new school, the foreign country and settling into a new home really worth all the effort for my children has been the opportunity to be surrounded by animals. Not only the animals on the farm and others at friends' houses, but especially the ones we have in our own home.

It's hard to believe now that Ginger was ever a city dog that got a trip to the dog run in the mornings and a chance to run on the beach at the weekends. She pretty much spent the majority of her life sitting in a chair in our living room. She barely ever comes in the house now. She goes with me in the car to take the kids to school (seeing her human siblings off to school and then return again has always been the highlight of her day), and she doesn't come back inside until dinner time. She watches Christopher do his farm chores, barks at delivery men, and follows me wherever I go on a horse. The other day while out for a ride, she ran in the woods and began to bark and bark and bark until I felt I better jump down off my horse and find out what she was so worked up about. She had found a baby deer, and they were chasing each other, jumping over obstacles and dancing around. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. A year ago, she spotted a deer in our yard, immediately lost control of her bowels and ran into the house crying like a baby. Now she ignored me completely and lost herself in the excitement of a new friend.

In addition to the pigs Coco was given for her 10th birthday last summer, we added a dozen hens and a rooster to our yard in early September. Then Zach received a kitten for his birthday a few weeks later. Coco has had snakes, hamsters and horses, but Zach had never really had a pet of his own (besides a fish) so it was time. Coco lucked out in that one too, as I couldn't bare the thought of the new kitten's brother being left behind, so I went back the next day to bring him home for her.

And finally, after spending the summer searching for a horse of my own (Coco finally got fed up with me always borrowing hers) I found a lovely roan mare named Shalom that arrived at the farm last week. She is steady and calm and we are enjoying getting to know each other.

I think that's about all we can manage for now. Having all these animals has taught me that the responsibility of caring for them, while intimidating at first, is tiny compared to the joy of having them in our lives.

Quick story: Two days after arriving in England we took Ginger to a local amateur dog show. I left the kids alone with her to go get some tea with Christopher, and when we came back she had won "Best Rescue Dog." We thought maybe it was won on the merit of her beauty alone, but when Zach admitted he'd told the judge her adoption story we knew they couldn't have resisted her. Here it is: Ginger was picked up by the police in South Carolina because people had been calling in for 4 days telling them that there was a dog standing next to a dead dog on the side of the highway. When they finally went to see what was up, the police discovered Ginger (just a three month old puppy at the time) had been standing there all that time next to her twin sister who was nearly dead from dehydration and starvation but still alive. The dogs were eventually rescued by LCARF in Southampton, and her sister (who had fully recovered) was adopted just the day before we met Ginger. We hope to reunite them one day!

A young boy parades his best sheep in front of the judges at the Moreton-in-Marsh Agricultural Show.

Our young cockerel Kaiser. (Yes, the cock jokes have been endless).

We keep the chickens in the kids' old playhouse. The love to roost on the balcony. 

Clementine (left) and Ketchup. He's a bully and a food thief, so she gets very anxious to be fed first.

Daddy's girl, getting lifted over a barbed wire-lined field fence.

A mommy pig with her babies at the Moreton show. My vegetarian daughter Coco was very offended that they were selling pork sandwiches at the same stand. That's country life for you. 

One of my favorite things to do in the morning is let the chickens out of their house. I open the top half of the door first and watch them hop up, one or two at a time, and fly off into the day.

Eartha Kitten, our first kitty.

I promise you Ginger has never covered her face like this before, until - that is - the kitten came into the house. Hard as she tries, she just can't make eye contact with it. I don't know if she is scared, offended or jealous. The matter certainly didn't improve when the second one arrived!

Zach's special talent.
Murphy, our handsome old cob. We call him "the nanny" because he babysits the racehorses.

Tess is my mother-in-law's dog, and she is the most resilient dog ever. We tucked her into bed like this and she stayed there all night.

Porky and Bacon. Don't you love Porky's smile?

Eartha and Dizzy (as in Gillespie). 

Tessie dog, lounging in style.

I can't believe we almost separated these two. 

Inspector Clouseau and Jack Bauer. For real.

The babies sunning themselves in my office.

My new girl. Her name is Shalom. I already love her.


  1. Lovely pictures! I miss England.

  2. Thank you for sharing - such beautiful images. They make me smile. I look forward to your blog. Even if it's the only one I have to get around to, I feel it inspires me and lifts me up.

  3. Of course I know no one's life is perfect, but yours seems so close to my idea of that with the beautiful photos and stories of farm and family life. Congrats to Ginger for her pretty ribbon, well deserved!

  4. This is just the sweetest post. Love hearing about your menagerie and Ginger sounds and looks like such a lively creature. Hope you have a great week!

  5. omg love love love

  6. Hello,

    I just marvelled over the entire back-catalogue of your blog. Enjoyed every moment! I am from New Zealand, but my father is from England so I spend time there whenever I can fit it in around studies. I was glad to have my love of England reinstated just in time for my return for the next few months. Northamptonshire will be my base, and it has a similar feel to your English home.

    Thank you, Rose.

  7. i cant believe you have so many animals. that crazy. but thats also the beauty of living in the country. what a dream.

  8. love your style, family and animals!

  9. We picked up two kittens that had been left canyon, at four weeks, now they are spoilt, part of the family and twice the fun.

  10. ok. i have to say, you seem happy and your life seems grand. i grew up in the country and spent every day trying to get out. just after high school graduation, i left and never looked back. been trying to get to nyc ever since (many moons ago). married, got happily "stuck" and hope to retire in nyc. well, until now. so happy for you. best,

  11. You have SO many animals! How do you keep track of all of them, remember to feed them, etc?
    And the picture with Ginger covering her eyes is adorable.

  12. I am in love with all the animals, especially Ginger. The shot of her hiding her face is priceless

  13. You pick the best names for your animals! Love this post.

  14. Favorite post so far...lovely!

  15. I read several blogs - mainly fashion and design blogs - but yours is by far the most uplifting, joyful, stylish and (for lack of better words) naturally cool.

  16. This is so lovely. I have three dogs,once four(lost my dog Alice in March). What a dream to have such an idyllic space to have such a menagerie. Good for you and good for them. Cheers!

  17. Wow, these are beautiful photos; I love the country - grew up on a farm!

  18. I love your animals! Ginger's adoption story had me in tears. I hope that reunion happens.

  19. I love your blog and find we share a lot of similar interests. Thanks for the daily inspiration.