Life with a two year old is nothing short of amazing. They develop so quickly that you blink your eyes and there is a brand new person standing in front of you. One minute our daughter was a lump I could leave in one spot, to a toddler that is running around talking up a storm. Now imagine feeding time mixed with a tiny human, it makes for an interesting and sometimes frustrating daily occurrence. For some A.M. feedings I can sneak outside without my daughter waking up. These mornings are glorious in the summer time, with the sun starting to rise, a cool breeze blowing and oh yes the best part of all -
FREEDOM! On the days she does wake up, she is at least sleepy enough that she’s happy with me packing her around in the carrier on my back. So all in all, my biggest concern in the mornings is thirty pounds of dead weight on my back, but evening feedings are another story!
First we get everyone’s food prepared and every time I have to remind her that I’m in charge of measuring. If she had it her way we’d have some very chubby pigs and goats. Now keeping a toddler focused on the task at hand is like herding a cat. Like this evening for example, she pointed out several piles of poop, on our way down to the animals, and each one required my confirmation that it was just chicken poop before we could move on. Another entertaining feature of a 2 year old is that they are like little parrots so everything I say and do is mimicked. If someone is misbehaving, as I’m going into their pen to feed them, and it’s met with me saying “Hey, that’s enough” this quickly results in a sassy two year old shaking her finger and saying “No piggy no”. It has also made me realize that there are certain words that I say A LOT care of my tiny repeater.
One factor that I am fairly militant about is that she understands to respect the animals space and that she can’t kiss, hug and pet all of them including wildlife. A few weeks ago she proceeded to chase a deer across our front yard and when I yelled at her to stop, she turned around with a toothy grin to say “I pet it mommy, I pet it”. One learning experience for me, as to why you never turn your back on a toddler, is that they can get into trouble in no time. Like the occasion I took my eyes off of her for two seconds to turn around and find her kissing Eugene on his snout as he pushed his nose through the fence…….this was both terrifying and adorable at the same time. Eugene was quite the gentleman about it but ever since that day I do not let her out of my sight which sometimes makes me feel like I have the attention span of a gnat.
Now for her favorite animal at the sanctuary - that would be Henry, our cornish cross chicken. She’s constantly trying to convince me, that Henry should come to daycare with her and that the centre console in my husbands jeep is for him to sit on to go for car rides. Even though I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve told her “No, that’s not happening”, she still asks at every opportunity. Henry is also quite famously known at daycare as “Poop Poop” and in all fairness he does do a lot of that.
Although it can be exhausting raising a toddler on a sanctuary it is also very rewarding. I am thankful to raise her in an environment surrounded by animals but I am SO looking forward to the day where I don’t have to watch her like a hawk!
On August 7 2017 I lost my father to a heart attack at just 62 years of age and my world was changed forever. He was found by his customer he was installing a septic for but there was nothing that could be done as he had long since passed. The coroner said he died as the result of an enlarged heart and arteries that were greater than 75% occluded. On this fateful day, I was taking my then 14 month old daughter out for a walk when I received the most devastating news of my life. Fortunately I hadn’t gone too far and was still in front of my neighbors house. Once I was in their driveway I just collapsed and completely broke down - I couldn’t believe what I had just been told and my world literally came crashing down. I was a self proclaimed daddy’s girl and this was the worst day of my life. My father was healthy, as strong as an ox and indestructible in my eyes. Losing that one person you have looked up to your whole life and who you go to for all life’s hard decisions is incredibly difficult to process. I don’t remember much of the rest of August other then the overwhelming love and support we received from friends, family and the community of Gabriola Island.
When this occurred I had been volunteering at the R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary since June but I had to go on hiatus for the month of August due to the recent tragedy in my personal life. In September, I started to pick up the fractured pieces of my new world and returned to volunteering at R.A.S.T.A. Lucie, the founder of R.A.S.T.A., had recently been contacted by an individual who was hoping to find a forever home for their 8 year old retired sow. Lucie knew that I had recently adopted three pot belly pigs so while we were out picking strawberries she asked if I would be willing to take this pig in because she was at capacity. I had to contain my outburst of laughter because taking in a large pig was totally insane to me at the time. Trying not to be rude I told her I would think about it but I was already dead set that this was an absolute NO. The largest pigs I had ever been around were Prince and Pirate at R.A.S.T.A and they weren’t even full grown yet! And these two guys were fixed, had been raised in an amazing environment, were used to frequent human interaction and I only had 3 months of pig experience under my belt! That night I couldn’t get this pig out of my mind but I was convinced I couldn’t take her because I was honestly scared of what taking in a nearly thousand pound pig would entail. How would I care for her? What would happen when she went into heat? Would she attack me? What would I do if she got sick? I also had one family member that was convinced she would eat me if given the opportunity, though she did try to breed with me once when she was in heat but that’s another story. After the passing of my father I had taken a serious look at my personal life. I wanted to take part in something that would make a positive impact in our community and do something that would make my daughter proud of her mother. My father always believed in me and consistently gave me his unconditional love and support - I knew that he would be proud of me taking on this challenge and at this point I was determined to do it even though I thought the idea was ludicrous only a few hours earlier. After I was no longer on the fence and had firmly planted my foot on the other side, I made arrangements to go and meet this thousand pound pig. Her name was Debbie and she led me on the path of opening A Home for Hooves Farm Sanctuary!