Friday, 11 November 2011

Responsibilities

The field..a place of a dozen care plans
  This morning I took all four dogs into the field to "potter" whilst I filled water butts and fed the pigs.The weather has closed in somewhat, and as the cold wind whipped against the little "Ukrainian Village" of animal houses with some violence , I paused for a moment watching  some of the moulting hens braving the elements as they do every day of the year.
.....and......I was suddenly overtaken with an overwhelming sense of responsibility for them all...
It was a strange feeling.
Beatrice, the hen still recovering from a stroke in her own pen, Phyllis the bullied bantam, now splendid in her new white plumage ,Boris, now blind in one eye, searching around for grain with a little difficulty and Mabel nervously watching the needy runner ducks, splashing hysterically in the pond....what would happen to them all if I was incapacitated in some way?
Who would ensure that the score of individualised care plans were carried out properly?
Who would care?

I suspect  , all I am  feeling is a part of that slightly fearful anxiety  parents have to experience when they look at their children albeit in a much diluted form.....that strange and powerful sense of responsibility for another life.....(or in my case, 80 little lives, who all look to me to be fed , watered, housed and protected)

I am not complaining, I never would, but sometimes........when you look at a gander with a sore foot and a moulting hen in need of a tonic, you realise that there are always  80 pairs of eyes watching you, and 80 little "people" just waiting for you to sort things out for them....


41 comments:

  1. not 80....79 because one of Boris's isnt operational....have you ever seen "goodnight Mister Tom"?

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  2. is that that swful john thaw thing?

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  3. It's a big responsiblity and I admire your commitment to them. A lot of animals are not so lucky, I'm sure.

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  4. yes......he takes in a child and lets him experience a life so much better than the one they left behind....seems pretty comparable to the animals who come to live on your land....

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  5. I fully understand how you feel John.
    I am always praying that one of us at least can live long enough to see all of the cats out. I would hate to think of them going to homes that didn't care for them as much as we do.
    Briony
    x

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  6. Know how you feel, John. I look after a young lad with severe disabilities who thinks I can sort out everything - despite the times when I let him down - my only entitlement to such adulation being that I've known him for longer than anyone else in the home where he lives.

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  7. I remember standing outside of the nursery hours after my first daughter was born just looking at her lying there and feeling the enormity you have just so perfectly described. Years later when she was at University in Pittsburg and we were living in Thailand, I remember waking up in the middle of the night in a blind panic because she was so far away from my lovingly-watchful care.
    We parents, (and that IS your role for these creatures) have to let this feeling come and go...or it would be our complete undoing.

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  8. In the book 'A Cretan Runner' by Patrick Leigh Fermor, he visits an old resistance fighter who keeps chickens. As the bloke enters the wire compound where the birds are kept, he just says the word, "Auschwitz."

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  9. couldn't quite understand your point tom

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  10. The joys of parenthood (for that is what you describe) - "uneasy is the head that wears the crown". Still worth every minute though.

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  11. I had a cat for 15 years, which was pretty much most of my life at the time she died.

    I cried so much and felt so horrible over that cat, that I could never have another animal, even though I love them.

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  12. I have 2 kids, 2 cats and a dog. They all look to me to fix everything. I have my hands full!

    I can't imagine what it must be like to have 80 dependents all expecting you to have everything in order.

    Sure they are just animals and not actual people but it still must be a lot of work.

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  13. We are at the stage in our lives where we won't take on any more pets because it wouldn't be fair to them. We might live to be 100 or just another day...I wouldn't feel right leaving an animal homeless. (Maybe if I lived next door to you. lol)
    John please post a photo of Phyllis now that she is beautiful again. I'd love to see her looking magnificent.

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  14. I've thought about that as I want a pup in the worst way. I tease the hubby that I'm getting the doc to write a script for a 'therapy dog' and then he can't do anything about it when I bring one home. And then I think about the ramifications . . .Probably not.
    You're right though - you have a dozen care plans in place. Who knew being a nurse would come into play for so many. You're a good man John Gray

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  15. Funny how this feeling grabs you out of the blue. My son was about five months old when one day I got the overwhelming realisation that if I died it might screw him up more than anything I could do alive.

    That day I made my husband promise that if I did die, my son was NOT to be brought up Catholic.

    Sorry, but Goodnight Mister Tom is lovely.

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  16. John, your heart is kind and these animals are so very fortunate to have found you.

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  17. I think I'll die alone and be eaten by the dog...and what worries me is what will happen to the dog. I hope still to have friends who will take him.

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  18. A responsibility yes, but also a great joy and satisfaction.

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  19. Was it that complicated???

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  20. It is a big responsibility. I have had that feeling about many things.
    You are blessed though, John. *hugs*

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  21. You are a natural parent John.

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  22. ....and in their own way I bet they appreciate it...

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  23. Caring for living beings is a responsibility...when I cared for Don I knew what would have happened if I deceased before him...his kids would have carted him off to a nursing home and he wouldn't have lasted long. What will happen to my K9 Baron...I try to live in the moment but the odds are that he will outlive me...where will he go who will love him...oh my did you open a can of worms in my mind. Like the time Don and I were moving and gave our home hatched geese and our turkeys to friends...later on we went to visit the friends...saw no geese and no turkeys...we asked about them...they'd eaten them...we were in shock the rest of the visit! The future will take care of itself John!

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  24. Living the kind of life where we care for other people ... or animals ... is what it's all about, isn't it? What you're feeling is ... paternal feelings. Admit it. You're an ol' softie.

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  25. it passed me by tom..what was the message?

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  26. I've been in your shoes, John, except that I actually did come close to dying. Luckily I had my son to take care of all the animals until I was better. The first thing I did was build pens that were substantial and easy to maintain, so anyone could feed and water if they needed to. I was also very careful not to take on more than my facilities would handle. I raised very few chicks for 3 years. I really hate the feeling of having the responsibility of more little lives than I can handle well. You just have to learn to say "no" sometimes and do the best you can for the ones you have. It's a matter of balancing the guilt you feel when you say "no" with the guilt you'll feel when you have too many to care for adequately. If I lived in your village, I'd be collecting funds to build you a really good poultry barn.

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  27. Sort of going through that right now. When I'm at the desk, I can see the hens in the garden. Their housing is pretty secure, but you still worry.

    If a fox or a delinquent cat (Dash & Violet, you know who I mean) were to have a go, I'd think sod my recovery and keeping the cast intact and get out there.

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  28. Oh, I think that there would be folks both in the village and your nearby blog followers that would step up. Don't worry too much, you're still a lad yet!

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  29. "The purity of a person's heart can be quickly measured by how they regard animals."

    Anonymous

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  30. You are just one great big softie John (thank goodness.)

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  31. I do understand, all those lives are a huge responsibility. Are those care plans in your head, or do they exist in written form? Maybe you should write them down. Have a folder somewhere ... just in case! A tad obsessive or retentive maybe, but if it gives peace of mind, so what.

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  32. It's lovely to have a view of your field. I don't have stone walls or the animals but what you have set up is so familiar, like the way my parents ran this place when I was a child. You are right about our landscapes being similar.
    What an aching awareness you describe. But like Calling Ravens says, there would be people who would step in just as you do for others in need. I worry a lot about my girls being left orphans at this stage of their lives, but I do know that regardless of how I arrange matters, they are cherished by enough people to carry them on. This post is also a good review of all your animals - sorry to hear that Boris did lose his sight in that eye.

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  33. It's good to question one's mortality!

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  34. As a parent you just accept that your children will survive... But perhaps I was just a bad parent.

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  35. Occasionally that feeling of responsibility is so strong. Oddly, I feel it more for my animals than I ever did for my children.

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  36. Your blog regularly mentions your wonderful friends and fellow villagers, I should think that at the first inkling they would all be rushing to help. You're a lucky man John and so are your animal family all 80 of them X

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  37. Some of the members of the huge flock of Wild Turkeys roaming my preserve have now developed avian pox. They develop gigantic wart-like growths on their heads that gradually turn black. In a few, the warts have grown over an eye, partially blinding them (a la Boris). It's a highly contagious virus and there's nothing I can do for them, but I still feel so worried. (By the way, it's not fatal unless the growths close up their esophagus, and the disease sometimes spontaneously disappears.)

    And Briony, I completely concur with you. My wife and I are "planning" pets so that they are all gone before we reach our own expected lifespans. No parrots with 75-year lifespans!

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  38. You will be there for them John as long as you are able. Then it will become someone else's responsibility. I can see that it would freak you out on occasion though.

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  39. Awww, it's so true! Deep thoughts there, buddy! They need you. they love you, my friend. Now I need to go check on my sick chicken...

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  40. I remember after our son was born, his father and I would no longer go for rides on the motorcycle together because we couldn't afford an accident where both of us might die. I also vividly remember what a relief it was when my youngest child reached adulthood and started living on her own because then it felt, for the first time in 21 years, like they would both be safe if anything happened to me.
    And now a friend and I have an arrangement that if worst ever came to worst, we'd take care of each other's dogs. It does feel like such an overwhelming responsibility sometimes--this caring so much about other fragile, vulnerable lives. And yet who would trade it away?

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