Tag Archives: therapy

Chatting with a Cow Named Gail

I volunteer at a local farm animal rescue called, Maple Farm.  It’s about an hour away from our place and is located in Mendon, Massachusetts.  When I tell people what I do, half think I’m nuts and half are in awe.

Animals are the most compassionate, forgiving, non-judgmental and loving beings alive.  Yes, they definitely have their good days and bad days but after a week of sitting in an office, nothing makes me happier than hanging out with a bunch of goats, pigs, feathered friends, sheep, cows and llamas.  It’s therapy.

My homies are happy to see me and search me out for pats and snuggles.  We chat about how their week went and what they did while I was away.  A big topic is always the weather, especially now that we’re heading into the cooler temps – those with fur coats are no doubt greatly relieved.  And I’m constantly having to tell them, “No, I don’t have any snacks for you….”  Although they can still clearly smell the apples, berries and melons on my hands I just cut up in the prep room.

A Saturday routine consists of a variety of activities:

  • Cutting up fruits & veggies for 11 goat trays & 2 pig buckets
  • Sweeping out the main barn before the tour begins
  • Giving out pats and snuggles
  • Refreshing water buckets
  • Cleaning out Boo-Boo, the young cow’s stall
  • Rotating the veggie & fruit boxes in the walk in fridge
  • Taking selfies with the goats
  • Composting
  • Breaking down boxes
  • A few more selfies and time out for pats and scratches behind the ears
  • Scooping up the llama poop out in the field
  • Talking with Gwen the turkey, who supervises the water bucket refills
  • Cleaning out Pom-Pom, the duck’s area if there’s time
  • More sweeping before the tour…don’t you guys know I just did this?
  • Cleaning out the duck pools
  • More snuggles and pats

Over time, simply from going to the farm, bonds develop with the animals and no matter how busy the day becomes, there is always time to take a break and sit with your extra special friends.  On my very first day of volunteering (photo above) I met Gail, an elderly cow, who is kept in a barn down the way with her friend Emily… a goat.

I always make sure to stop in and check on my little buddies.  (Little being a relative term, as Gail probably weighs in close to 1,000 pounds.) I check their water.  Fluff their hay.  Take out any “piles” that may need to be removed.  It’s the least I can do for my  friends.  I want to make sure they know, while they aren’t in the main barn, they’re not forgotten.  Every time I go, I spend time talking with each of them.

Emily, the goat, is very shy.  However , on my last two visits she’s come up to sniff my hand all over.  Today was no exception.  Sniff.  Sniff.  Sniff.  Sniff.  We’re definitely making progress. She is so curious.  I just know she wants to be pat, she just doesn’t know how.  We’ll get there.  It may take us a year.  Someday, we shall pat.

Today, Gail was laying down and chewing her cud.  I sat down next to her, with my legs crossed.  (Yes, I sat right down in the hay. Some people would be horrified at this – seriously.  It’s not like I was sitting in a pile of poop, people. )  While I sat next to Gail we chatted about her week and how she had been since I saw her last.  She had a little respiratory infection previously.  All the while I was stroking her neck and cheek.  Without warning, she turned her head and leaned her head right into my chest and put her head on my lap.  Her big brown left eye looking up at me.

WHOA!

I just did 27 summersaults in my heart!

And that quick she picked her head up again.

I think I just got a cow hug!

I commented as calmly as possible to my better half Eric, who was on the other side of the barn door, “GAIL JUST PUT HER HEAD IN MY LAP!”

My chat continued with Gail and we talked about the weather and how it was cooling off and going to be a nice week ahead for her.  Much better than the previous few weeks and  I thought she would find fall a lot nicer.  With that, she again leaned over and put her head back into my lap.

Holy guacamole!  I just got another cow snuggle from Gail!

There are just some things in life that will send you over the moon.  For some, it might be riding in an exotic sports car, or having a fancy piece of jewelry or big house.  Maybe it’s finally owning a particular piece of artwork or learning to play the piano or getting reservations for a highly rated restaurant.  Who knows, it could be wearing a pair of designer shoes, going to a concert or solving a challenging scientific equation.

For me….it was sharing a moment with a 1,000 pound sentient being and having her trust me enough to put her head in my lap.  Not once, but twice.

 

SHUT IT! This Is A Gym!

OMG – the gym has become my personal hell. If it wasn’t for the effort of lifting the weights, I don’t know how my mind could keep from going off the cliff of screaming lunacy.

First off, I manage to get to the treadmills and there’s nobody there – awesome! Which one do I want today? I select my machine and off I go. Fifteen minutes later two girls come in. Out of all the machines, they end up one treadmill down from me. Really? Come on. There’s a plethora available and you want to be here. UGH. I hate that. Move down!!

They’re obviously workout partners – each motivating the other to do their best – keep it up – you can do it – cheerleading all the way. How can I tell? One is overweight and the other isn’t. Neither one has put their treadmill beyond a 3.0 speed. And suddenly I see why….

It’s a therapy session.

The skinnier one starts talking, loudly to her friend. She must think she’s on her cell phone. What? I have my headphones on and I can STILL hear you. What? You want me to get the gym’s loudspeaker mic for you so we can all hear?

SHUT UP!

You’ll be interested to know that skinnier girl didn’t know who her father was until she was 22 years old. In fact, her mother showed her a photo, which she had seen growing up and always wondered who this man was. She thought it was the ice cream guy but …. How alarming to not know until then, I mean really, the stress and how it fracture her life, it makes her want to only eat junk food and maybe try to get on Oprah before she closes the season. Don’t you think she has a chance at being on Oprah? Really, Oprah just discovered she had another half sister, why can there be a show about me and the mystery of the photo.

SHUT IT!

OMG….she went on and on and on….
Her poor friend just nodded her head and uttered one syllable replies, cause that’s all she could get into the conversation.

Fast forward about 45 minutes later.

I go into the locker room. SHE IS STILL TALKING! Did she even take a breath? Maybe I should get the oxygen tank from the front desk. She is starting to turn a little purple around the gills.

Now she has her supposed workout partner cornered on the bench. Maybe she needs the oxygen tank…actually more like an alcohol tank. Give me a shot and keep ’em comin’.

This conversation is about how her son, Charles, was doing sixth grade math in third grade and he came out of the womb speaking five languages and could contemplate the power of ten…and knew the answers to the greatest mysteries in life and was born to be a leader….She’s certain in a former life he was a King…and so on and so forth….and the school principal has been fired, which is good cause her son deserves better and what was she supposed to do? The tragedy if they didn’t discover his greatness.

I look at her friend, cornered and exhausted. She’s slumped against the lockers, barely nodding her head in agreement. My god, this woman hasn’t shut up in nearly an hour. Every time her friend has even a slight involuntary muscle twitch, the skinnier girl launches into a new speech on some unjust done to her.

I’m exhausted just listening. Could someone please provide a couch in the snack bar area? Maybe with a cardboard cut out of Dr. Phil. Then gym members could lay down and “get it out of their system” for an extra monthly fee – rather than sharing their problems with the rest of us. Some of us use the gym to work out our bodies, some go to be heard and then others are unfortunately trapped like a fly on fly tape.