The animal sanctuary and I need a new home. The place where we’ve been living has just been sold and we need to move by the end of July. My sanctuary has a nonprofit sponsor and I am a writer of body-mind-spirit books, so you will be supporting two good causes when you help us find a new home! We would like to stay in western Sonoma-Marin counties if possible but are open to all locations. Our ideal is a small farm/ranch, no less than 10 acres, a standalone rural property with dwelling for me, and a barn/shelter and fenced acreage for 3 donkeys, a miniature horse, and 5 sheep (all rescues). Considering all creative solutions: rent, caretake, rent to own, buy. Please spread the word. Thank you so much for helping us arrive at our new home.
See my website for info about the sanctuary and me. All the best, Stephanie
Rumi says, “Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah.”
The Fool card in Tarot signifies having no fear.
The Holy Fool is the one who is “foolishly” fearless.
Angeles Arrien talks of how calling someone foolish is really criticism of risk-taking behavior.
One definition of courage is going forward even in the face of fear.
Friends once gave me a paperweight inscribed with the question: what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?
Think about all of this when next you tell yourself you are crazy for trying to live out a large vision. I do!
Book reading and signing tomorrow! I’ll be talking about the Animal Messenger Sanctuary and reading from my latest book, What the Animals Taught Me: Stories of Love and Healing on a Farm Animal Sanctuary.
Saturday, August 25 at 3 pm
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925
Book Passage is a wonderful independent bookstore that has been hosting fabulous author events for decades. Thank you, Book Passage!
Being a mystic living in a cave seeking God must have its challenges, but is any of it as challenging as trying to stay centered, with an open heart, calmly accepting what is and what will be, while sitting at the car mechanic’s waiting to hear how much it will cost to turn off the Check Engine light that suddenly lit up on the dashboard of an eight-year-old vehicle? Trying not to project into dire bottom lines. Trying not to think about debt vs income ratio. It would be so easy if there was plenty of money sitting in a bank account to pay for whatever is needed. Yes, I’m sitting at the mechanic’s and no, the bank account will not cover it.
But I’m thinking next of all the people in the world who are hungry right now. The people in the US who are hungry right now. Even the mystic in the cave must think sometimes about the Indian sadhu with the begging bowl.
We choose our lives. This mechanic mourning is the price I pay for driving a car. I long for the cave…
I looked out the living room window this morning to see the flock of California quail that live here. I was delighted to see 11 young ones, grown big enough that it is likely they will survive. In previous years, at other places, I’ve watched a flock dwindle from 13 babies down to 3. I credit the high survival rate here to the dense blackberry brambles that provide a protected home. They can run easily beneath the brambles, but no predators can follow them. Wildlife organizations ask that people leave brambles on their property to provide refuge for birds and other wildlife. So don’t clear every bit of brush from your property. Permission to be wild…
This reminds me of what I learned when I was writing an article on how to keep creeks healthy for the fish that spawn in them. It’s important not to clear away all the trees that fall across the creek or brush on the banks. The fish need shaded pools and the brush prevents erosion. More permission…
The animals are starting the apple ritual early this year. They coax me to the various trees around the property to get me to shake the tree and bring down some apples for them. The apples aren’t ready, but the animals can see the tempting orbs hanging there, out of their reach. The donkeys, Pegasus, and Chloe all know from previous years that I am available to perform this service for them. Beau and Fleur-de-Lys weren’t here last apple season, so they didn’t know what this early morning walk was all about the first time everyone headed out, following me to a tree. Chloe was the first to give the ritual call this season, standing outside my door and baaing. I knew what she wanted and we headed for the nearest tree.
Beau and Fleur watched the apples fall, but I don’t think they had ever had an apple before. They didn’t run forward like the others to root in the grass for the fruit. I brought an apple to each of them, bit into it so they could break it apart more easily, and presented it to them. Beau sampled it immediately, while Fleur puzzled over this strange food item. The twins are too young for the juggling it takes to bite off chunks of the rolling fruit, so they just watched and snuffled near their mother’s nose lowered to the ground. Fleur soon got how delicious even mostly green apples are. Now she and Beau run to me for the ritual too.
Chloe calls to me most mornings to come around the house to the Rome tree—this year’s best apples. A few days ago, she and Beau were waiting by the front steps. Seeing them from the living room window, I went out to take them on a walkabout. I called to them to follow as I headed for a different tree down the hill. Chloe understood what we were doing and set off after me immediately. Beau didn’t know, but followed anyway. At the tree, I shook down the sweet little yellow apples (closer to ripe) and watched them excitedly eat this manna fallen from heaven. I thought of all the gifts showered on all of us all the time. Like Beau and Fleur, we sometimes have to learn to recognize the gift. Let us be as fast as they were.
Just as I wrote this, Chloe called from the Rome tree for her morning apples. Excuse me while I go pick some—be right back…
Chloe had her flock with her. Beau came up the stairs to the deck to gain better access to the apple tree. He discovered he could go up on his back legs and reach some of the apples himself, plus delicious green leaves.
Little Snowflake gazed into my eyes when I held a bite of apple out to her, more interested in looking into my soul than what I held in my hand. She is so very present in her eyes, not having had to leave her body since she was born into the peace and joy of the sanctuary. She gazes at me intently, looking as though she is getting to know me. Our eyes meet and we know each other.
Everyone on the sanctuary is healthy right now—knock on wood. I’m hesitant to call attention to that, out of superstition that it will pull in some calamity. But I’m risking the fates because I want to send out a big thank you to the universe.
Walking in gratitude today for the presence of the animals, for their continued health, for the sight and sound of birds, for the golden grasses of California, for the gloriousness of life, and for the countless precious gifts we receive from nature every day.
What a joy it is to feed dinner to the group in the warm late afternoon of summer. These days, now that the grass on the land is dried golden,
the animals are usually waiting near the barn at 4 pm for hay and other treats.
Here, Raphael and I enjoy a moment of communion while Sylphide goes for the bowl and the sheep gather at the feeder. It looks like Beau has decided that the teff hay (the hay supplier was out of the low-carb orchard grass I usually buy) is not worthy.
One of the joys of having animals roam free is getting to watch their explorations of the wide world. Here is Snowflake at 18 days old discovering the birdbath and figuring out what to do with it, while her sister, Aurora, looks on.
Not long before this, Aurora jumped up on her mother’s back (Fleur-de-Lys was grazing at the time) and wavered there, trying to keep her balance as her mother walked through the grass. I’ve never seen anything like it. My Columbian lamb Wonder didn’t climb the way these two Icelandic ones do—sometimes they seem more goat than sheep. I found Aurora on top of a stack of two bales of hay—no small height for a two-week-old lamb to scale.
At different times during the day, the animals come to the shade of the oak tree arching over the birdbath and the water bucket for a drink from either or both.
Witches have familiars, those cats and owls and ravens and other supernatural beings who help with the magic. Here is one of my familiars at work. She is the daughter of a tabby cat who I’m sure descended from a long line of witches’ familiars.