Kaz the Great Dane and Molly the Terrier are watching me intently, knowing when I head for the door they get to go and look for an unwitting possum or raccoon trying to get an early morning free breakfast before the farm awakens. As they follow me out the door, I look down and see Val, our new Great Pyrenees pup, curled up with Kahuna, the eighteen year old patriarch of the barn cats, keeping him warm.
Looking over toward the bird cages, Luther and Casey, our two South American parrots are already in full form. Luther is doing some kind of dance step out of Soul Train and Casey is chanting like a priest (his previous owner was a minister). Behind them, Reginald and Horatio, our two roosters, are trying to decide who has the best cock-a-doodle-doo as they perform in the "Barnyard Idol".
Walking in the garage, barn cats descend from all directions and I fill their food bowls quickly. Finding a dead mouse or mole almost every day near the house, I know they are working hard for their "vittles". And Jerry, our rather aloof Maine Coon Cat who lives out in the swamp thickets, makes his customary visit for some social time and some eats.
As I head toward the barn to prepare the feed for the horses, I look at the paddock below the house and there stand Angus, our Shetland pony, and his new sidekick, Sammy the nine month old billy goat. They are beginning to bond although Angus on occasion raises the "dickens" and chases poor Sammy trying to bite. But Sammy is more agile and can cut corners fast, always ducking into the pony cart storage shed and behind the cart, a place where Angus can't fit. A few minutes later they are standing side by side at the fence whinnying and bleating for something to eat.
The horses are quiet but ready and lined up by the fence for feed, always falling in behind the Alpha mare, Hailey. They are creatures of habit and they line up at the fence when they know it is time to eat. Behind them farther out in the meadow are beautiful deer, a doe and her fawns, munching in a seemingly relaxed manner but always ready to scamper. They know that even with the sun coming up occasionally there is a coyote still on the prowl for breakfast before returning to his den for the morning. And even farther out in the pasture, a large flock of young turkeys, watched by three attentive hens, scratch and peck at the ground surface while a large tom is barely visible in the shadows.
As I get back to my chores under the warming sun as it rises and the deep blue cloudless sky above, I think to myself how could I find a more perfect place to spend the retirement phase of my life. Oh, the animals can be messy and noisy at times, but they do give unconditional love for our care and they clearly show me how magnificent our Father must be to have created such a world with such beauty, so much energy and complexity mixed with simplicity. And I know that the need to have faith in Him in Three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is absolute. Only a loving and merciful God could have given us so much to be thankful for.
So I will finish up my chores, get ready for church, and enjoy the fellowship, the hymn singing, the Scripture and the sermon, knowing that it will help me to make my faith stronger and help me to deal with whatever trials and tribulations I might face in the future. I truly hope that each of you will come to a similar conclusion in your lives as well.
Have a wonderful Sunday, God bless you and God bless America.
If you like this brief look at a typical morning at the Ark, you'll certainly like my book, Honey, We Shoulda' Bought the Ark, which is a compilation of many true stories about our animals, including horses, dogs, cats, birds and a few wild creatures as well. There is humor as well as sadness, but always presented truthfully and tastefully. You can find out more at www.outskirtspress.com/honeyweshouldaboughttheark with links to Amazon.com and B&N.com. Also on Kindle and Nook. Animals: A Wonderful Gift from God.