The project created more work for us. Everything it contained had to find a new place to be stored, the ground was completely torn up, the coops and equipment had to be moved, grading and seeding had to be done, and it took all summer. We also had grown quite a bit in our animals. We had over 50 chickens, plus geese, turkeys, peacocks, 14 goats, 4 dogs and 5 cats. The work load was overwhelming. We had to cut back. It was consuming us. So we made our first difficult decision to re-home our Great Pyrenees, Reina. She needed more space to roam and we just couldn't give it to her. She was in our front pasture with the boy goats, which faces the road, so every person, car, dog, squirrel or leaf that passed by made her crazy. She would bark through her bark collar, getting shocked in the process in order to do her job as protector. We felt terrible that she had to wear a bark collar and that she couldn't do her job as she needed to. I was very picky about who could adopt her. It had to be the right fit. The woman who fell in love with her had a much larger area for her to work alongside goats and some horses. She said that Reina had wonderful house manners and she was scared of the horses at first but adjusted very quickly. It was the right decision. With that weight lifted, the stress level in the house dropped by about 50 percent. Next, I decided to sell the geese. I loved my Sebastopols, they were so pretty and fun to watch. But they are extremely messy. We allowed ours to free-range the yard and they loved to come onto the porches every day to pick at the flowers in the window boxes, rip them apart leaving soil all over the floor, poke at the shoes laying out, and poop on everything and anything! Our entire driveway was always covered in goose poop. You couldn't walk one foot without stepping in it. Seven geese can make quite a mess, not to mention how loud they can be. So, as much as I adored them and admired their beauty, it was time to part with them. I was the only one who loved them in our family. The kids hated them because the male was so aggressive while protecting his flock. I of course, thought it was romantic. He was mostly all talk, he wouldn't actually attack. Two of them went to one home and the rest went together to a fellow poultry lady friends home. I was sad to see them go, but after they left, the stress level was reduced by another 15 percent. However, my kids would say it was more like 50 percent. Now we had a clean driveway, poop-free shoes and it was quiet. Really quiet. Wonderfully quiet. I had also sold quite a few chickens and some had just been killed off by predators, bringing the poultry number from 50 to about 15.
My next move in the quest for zen was to sell some of the goats. I posted them for sale and ended up selling 5. We lost one doe to illness in August. Now we were actually down to a manageable number of 5 does, 2 bucks and one wether. Stress level-down another 25 percent. We are currently at a 90 percent reduction! Aside from the occasional fox getting in and massacring 9 birds in one night, or something getting ill or dying a mysterious death, we are in a good place. Our 3 dogs our seniors, ages 10, 11 and 11. They are still in good health but will not be around for forever. They are easy, aside from the frequent counter-surfing by Bella, our large Goldendoodle, who can eat an entire loaf of bread in under a minute, or your entire breakfast if you turn your back for one distracted second. But they are family to us. We love them unconditionally. Our kids have grown up with them and they love them just as much as we do.
We are now in a more manageable place. There are still projects. Old farms with old buildings will always have projects. Things need to be repaired, secured, repainted, rebuilt. There is always something to do, to fix or to improve. The animals will always throw me a challenge or complete heartbreak. The stress of an injury that I can't fix, or an illness that I can't cure, that the vet can't cure, it is painful to the point of crushing anger and burning frustration. The sadness, the guilt, and sense of loss is numbing. I am fearful that I am becoming hardened to it. Sometimes there aren't even tears. Just numbness, void of emotion. Almost an inability to feel. The pain too familiar, too unwelcome. I don't want to feel it anymore. I block it out. I am just blank. There are many times where I just want to quit. It is a feeling of utter defeat.
But something always makes me get back up and continue. All I have to do is walk into the pasture, kneel down and wait. These gentle, magical creatures come to me as if they know that I need their sweetness, to feel their breath on my face, their soft noses against my cold cheek. I need to talk to them and let them know that they are a part of me, that we are connected. Me, them, the earth I am kneeling on, we are deeply connected. We are one. There on the soft grass, the sun sinking behind the red and golden trees, I can see our breath in the air, and in that peaceful moment I silently make them a promise. I cannot quit. I will not quit.