Tribute to a Friend

Last night we lost a dear, dear friend. Echo managed to escape from the house without being immediately noticed, and was hit by a car on the road. When I saw her laying there on the shoulder, she was still warm and soft. It was evident that she was killed instantly, and I am grateful that she didn’t suffer.

Echo was the sweetest little dog imaginable. As Oddler aged, my children became fearful that he would die (he’s still with us), and we decided to get a pup for the kids to grow up with. Not a working dog, not a dog for Mama – just a friend for the kids to love. After reading through several different sites listing the top “family dogs”, we decided to get a beagle. Oddler is a coonhound, and we wanted one that looked like him. We visited the Humane Society first, then looked at several different litters. I gave my input, but wanted to let the kids make the choice as much as possible. In the end, they chose Echo.

Echo was so tiny when we brought her home at 10wks. Even full grown, Echo was 15lbs, about the height & length of Juno at 8wks. Echo’s only job on this farm was to be a friend, and she filled that role with gusto. She loved my children well. She snuggled with them, played with them, put up with their games and enjoyed their walks. She was dumb as a bag of bricks and never learned more than a simple “sit”, even after obedience classes and lengthy efforts at training. She never even came to recognise her own name, or respond when being called. It didn’t matter, though – Echo didn’t need to be smart. She just needed to let the kids love her, and they did.

Echo could be frustrating for me to deal with sometimes, but she was very special to all of us. We assumed she would be at the kids’ sides as they grew, a friend for all stages of childhood and adolescence, someone to snuggle with when feeling sad and to confide in. Someone to share secrets with and a cute face to brighten dark days. You know, all the things a child’s dog is good for. My children are heartbroken over Echo’s death.


The older two children helped their daddy lay Echo in a box for this morning’s funeral, and placed her little dress-up outfit inside with her. Two-yr-old Robin didn’t understand. He looked into the box at his little friend, and suddenly he knew. “Mama,” he said, “Echo broken. Not come back anymore.” We all started crying again.

This morning, a hole was dug in the gardens and Echo was laid to rest. The children helped to dig the hole, placed the box inside, and covered it over. We placed field stones around the perimeter of the little grave and will be making a special headstone to mark the place where Echo sleeps.

She was only with us for one year, but she was loved well and we gave her the best we could. I hope she is alright, wherever she is now.

Spring on the Farm

The weather has been incredible around here for the last several weeks and life is springing forth on the farm.

ImageThe chickens have been going crazy with the laying and we have more eggs than we know what to do with. Pickled eggs, scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, eggs over easy, omelets, casseroles, fritatas, eggs florentine, eggs for baking with… after eating eggs every day, there are still six dozen in the fridge!

 

ImageJeremy and Platypus are pretty thrilled with the sunshine and warm weather, and have been happily quacking about. Platypus has generously donated a few dozen duck eggs for our breakfasts over the last several weeks.

 

ImageDay Lily and Sunflower are pretty darned shaggy. Next month I will try my hand at shearing them (aside from my one attempt at shearing with fabric scissors, I am totally inexperienced in this department). Perhaps soon I will get to washing, carding and spinning the several bags of fleece that are hiding out in my mudroom. I need to find a good project for Sunflower’s lovely fleece.

 

ImageDaisy and Dinosaur are becoming quite large in the middle. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their kids, and the return of goat’s milk! (Since several of you have asked, Daisy – on the left – is an Alpine doe. Dinosaur – on the right – is a Toggenburg/Saanen cross.)

 

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Oddler is growing whiter with age, losing his hearing, and developing cataracts, but he is still filled with youthful energy and can outrun our sprightly Beagle puppy, Echo. Last week, Oddler taught Echo how to tree a raccoon and chased a coyote out of the yard in the dark of the night. Not bad for an old boy!

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Lynden has caught all manner of small creatures: frogs, toads, snakes. Last Spring and Summer, we had a hard time with Lynden wanting to keep all the creatures he had captured. He just didn’t understand that we have to leave Mother Nature’s children in peace where they belong. Now, he’s come a long way – he keeps each captured creature for one night only, and the next morning releases them where he found them. Progress!

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There’s been lots and lots of bike riding around here lately. Our very long driveway is perfect for this beloved activity, and the kids have been out there every chance they get.

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ImageGaia is wonderful and beautiful, and charming us all. Her older siblings grow deeper in love with her with every passing day. I am amazed by her – so calm, so peaceful, so content. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard her cry since her birth. Gaia is the brightest blessing and I am filled with gratitude at being her mother. How did I get so lucky FOUR TIMES!?

Yessir, Spring has definitely arrived. It’s my favourite time of year, when everything is bursting with the freshness and newness of life, renewed.

Spring Has Sprung

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny, warm and bright March day – a perfect day for Spring Equinox, and a perfect day for being outside.

The goats and sheep have REALLY been enjoying the fresh, young grass that is coming up all over the yard. They’ve spent the past few days grazing in front of the house, while Oddler seems to have made it his personal duty to keep an eye on them as he lazes in the sun.

Aren’t they so delightfully shaggy with their winter coats on? These ladies will soon be first-time mamas. I wonder who will give birth first, me or them?

We took advantage of the beautiful weather and spent the day together as a family at our local conservation area. The place was humming and buzzing with life! It was a noisy symphony of croaks and birdsong, chattering squirrels, honking geese, insects and more. What a glorious treat for the ears!

We were able to get very close to a pair of swans, who looked at us calmly and went about feeding on the bottom of the creek. The kids watched the swans for some time, then realised that there were bullfrogs croaking very loudly right behind them!

Lynden spotted dozens of very large – HUGE! – frogs sunbathing along the water’s edge. We photographed at least 14 of them within the span of a few feet. For a boy who loves amphibians almost as much as he loves dinosaurs, this was extremely exciting.

This is Echo’s first Spring, and her first time really experiencing the wonders of the wild world. She was as excited about the frogs as Lynden was, and tried repeatedly to catch one. Of course, before she got anywhere near close enough to grab a frog, every last one had jumped far out of reach into the water (which only served to make Echo even more excited!).

Frogs were not the only exciting creatures to be found. Lynden discovered many snakes along the way, some at the water’s edge who were obviously after the frogs, and some in sunny spots along the edge of the trail. Imagine his delight when he quietly approached a sun-bathing garter snake and got close enough to stroke his fingers down its back before it slid away!

We came across a tree growing some lovely fungi on its trunk, and the children decided that this must be a gnome’s ladder – perfect for a wee person to climb.

Indeed, it was a perfect day, a perfect Spring Equinox. We all felt so free, being outside without coats, without leggings, without hats & gloves. My heart soared as I watched my children run amongst the trees, laughing and discovering, slowing down to marvel over little miracles of Nature.

Somehow I didn’t end up with any photos of Robin, who is old enough this year to run and discover with the bigger kids, and to whom everything is so very fresh and new, never before experienced. He was totally amazed by everything he came across, and marched along with such purpose and pride. It was a joy to watch him, blossoming into a big kid.

Happy Spring to you, my dear readers. I hope you are enjoying your days as thoroughly as we are, for life is so very beautiful.