Today, I can turn in every direction – past, present, and future – and see something unseen before. Partly because savage summer now submits to humane autumn. Particularly because infernal rain invites eternal sunshine. Pleasantly because transitory impasse submits slowly to incremental improvement. The reasons? Out there, as ever. As before, I stop, take notice. Never before, did I think of companions and rain, freedom and weeds, as ends in themselves, let alone beginnings. Happiness awaits. She does not pursue you. Nor you her. She waits for you to be…
Biting is good. Eating poop is good. Jumping on a sleeping dog is good. It’s all good if you are a two-month-old Akbash puppy relocating from Whirlaway Farms in Caldwell, Texas to Sawmyl Synders Farm in Magnolia, Texas. Who could be happier? Definitely Syndee, an eighteen-month-old Anatolian Shepherd livestock guardian dog. She lost her charge when the May floods carried her boar goat buddies away on fast moving muddy water. She wandered the abandoned Capra confines and broken fence line of former goat pasture. She slept long and sullen afternoons until, suddenly Sydnee, the Akbash pup arrived bright eyed and – you know. At first the towering, older Syndee growled. She foamed. Only later did we discover she had been stung or stuck. Something swelled, a salivary gland, soaking everything, a viscous slobber spill. Now canine Mutt & Jeff explore the wondrous goat shelter, fascinate the fence line, and snore long satisfying siestas (a trait Syndee picked up this summer). The new pup purchase quickened the old resident guardian, she learns new tricks from the frisky female partner. At first, the more mature Syndee, must have thought, “I’d rather be gored by a Boer, literally. I’d prefer the wrath of a rooster, occasionally. I’d accept the company of my master, reluctantly. Anything but this pest.” Now she’s feeling it. “Now we be sisters. Now we couldn’t ask for more. Now we’re 100 times happier!”
May 26th, 2016 brought a good day to a bad end for Sawmyl Synders Farm. In two hours of early evening, a freak storm raised the slumbering creek twenty feet and gathered human hopes into it’s new reach. The little house on the pasture never saw it coming. The smaller goat shelter surrendered its loved ones to the cruel invasion. Seventy hens and roosters climbed and crowded up the seven foot roosts in their appointed coops where only twenty could be accommodated. All of this rolled off the backs of the ducks and geese… They were 100 times happier! From muddy duck muck to rushing water – Splash Town! Tide and torrent beating bills and quills – fowl heaven. To bring a duck delight, spray it. To give a goose glee, flood it. The farmer in his pickup at the end of the driveway, looked in the rear view mirror, watching the tragedy in reverse. The dog in the seat along side, watched her master. Outside, scattered light caught the current, barely communicating that the brown flow overtook the peak of the duck house. The waterfowl wondered what great deed they had done to deserve this gift from heaven. One man’s misery is a fowl’s fortune, or so say the ducks and geese. Their duck yard mates – The turkeys – did not squabble. While Sawmyl Synders Farm rues that day, for the water birds, that day rules. Remembered with fowl bliss. Happier. Much.
Chickens don’t know much but they know what they like. They don’t like being cooped up. They don’t like a diet of dry pellets and wet piss-like water. They don’t like that anytime bids bed time and everyday echoes the same. But after the flood the surviving soaked hens forced some adjustments. First, because of the flood waters, the captives still in the coops couldn’t leave. The outcasts outside the coops couldn’t enter. The guardian dog – gone. The protective farmer – here – but only from crowing sun up to sinister sun down. Predators – all present and preying at sundown. Two-thirds of the birds were lost to the flood waters. Next, the predators took advantage of coops damaged and blocked up by tree trunks to decimate the dwindled flock. Depressed, lethargic and alone, the lone farmer sweated several days, chaining trees and removing debris, and securing sad coops. Death suffocated continually the already stifling air. More than a month moaned by before the farm fences stood relatively restored and the growling guardian dog reinstated. The chickens remained restrained, restricted to their caged in run. The grounds outside, soon overgrown, a future green feast for these prisoners of water. The bountiful bugs, the multiplying maggots, the gutted garden created a cornucopia for these birds on the run and their wanton appetites. Released into this mini-jungle, my hens foraged, 100 times happier. What else could they want? A rooster. So they clucked incomplete…until two months later the yellow young devil moved in – Pac-Man. A gift from a family that keeps chickens as pets. Pets with names. Pac-Man. This Buff Orpington orphan found a home at Sawmyl Synders when it was discovered at a home in a restricted city sub-division. He won twenty hens hearts – only after pinning the first three macho hens to the ground who challenged. A foxy male in the hen house. Now the girls cackle exponentially happier.
Life makes happiness. The living make it continue. A pile of poop, a fast flood, or the slow caress of a fawning beak – each with possibility. Getting another guardian dog for a farm that had nothing left to guard? Could it make ME happier? What other wonder hath God wrought? The muddy duck yard grew verdant, with rich sediment infusing the fowl residence; a thick salad for summer’s feasting. So where have the piles and deposits left me. With apprehension abated. With disaster at ease. With calm on the creek. I added forty fluffy pullet chicks to my rinsed off brooders. Happiness has its moments and its seasons and its sorrows. Moments have their lightening and their breadth. Seasons infinitely cycle and influence our happiness quotient but they should never take complete control, no matter their power. These animals ask for little but return great things. The openness to being content, satisfied, and happy serves as the greatest gift. Last May, a flood loomed not possible. That flood created an opportunity in its pool. Now, there lives more potential than before…to be happy.