What does it feel like to not follow a work schedule and instead fill your day with things, people, and animals you want to be around—even those animals that might charge at you if you use a flash? It’s been a very long time since I took a two week vacation, let alone one that will be close to a month, an unheard amount of time for someone who loves to work—and who hasn’t had an animal in her home for over twenty years. Note: Writing this post for my blog really doesn’t count as work since I enjoy writing and sharing my personal experiences in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The first two weeks of my vacation in Sonora has been a busy, fun, and challenging one. I’ve been to a Farm Bureau Bar-B-Q and Auction, and attended the Fourth Annual Farms of Tuolumne County Farm & Ranch Tour which included Indigeny Reserve (‘from land to glass’—an organic apple ranch, ciderworks, and distillery) and Diestel Family Turkey Ranch in business since 1949. I took a day off from even thinking about working to be a leader (and working on my vacation home) to go to a San Francisco Giants game (see previous post). Tomorrow I will take a long drive east through the mountains to Sonora Pass then return through Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park.
Time for animals
A lot of my time each day, however, is taken by feeding my niece’s cat, dog, and horse; watering a couple of acres trees, bushes, vegetables, and animals; and sitting on the front porch contemplating the peacefulness of the area. Looking out over the topography of the land and the lack of buildings or homes, relaxes me so that I feel a world away from New York City.
Well, the truth is I also spend a lot of time being present for the animals. For the first few days after my niece Tomi Sue left for South Africa, the animals were aloof and angry. After awhile, they gave up on waiting for Tomi Sue and began to cozy up to me. When the cat comes up and jumps on my lap, the dog nuzzles her nose under the arm of my chair and looks up at me with her beautiful eyes, and the horse sees me coming her way and walks to the gate and pushes her head forward for a pat, I know that I have been accepted and I am doing something right with their care.
Don’t use a flash in front of a bull
As I’ve mentioned before, there are two bulls that graze in the pasture on the hill about 20-30 yards above the den in my niece’s home. They usually arrive around 4:00 p.m. and stay for a couple of hours trying to get all the food they can out of two big buckets. I’ve taken a few pictures of them, once even with a flash. The flash caused the larger bull to look up and give me a stare as if he was ready to charge. Oops! No more flash option when taking a picture of a bull!
The dog—and horse—are alert to any other four or two legged animals that come onto their land. One late night, the dog barked without a break for over an hour—and the horse rattled her fence to let me know something was upsetting her. Both of them were aware of a critter that I couldn’t see out the windows. The dog could have seen one of the bulls that didn’t go up the hill that evening. Or the critter could have been a rabbit, deer, gopher, anything that runs wild in the area. The barking in the early morning hours of the day continued for a couple of more nights; I’ve accepted that since she is, like other dogs in the area, protecting the area from intruders.
Special time of day
Early morning is my special time of day. That is when I take the dog for almost a mile walk along the road at the foot of a long driveway. I keep the dog on a leash so that she won’t run away to follow a scent or try to catch the deer she sees standing in the state’s pasture land. Dogs are at every home we pass; but only a few actually come out to bark at us.
As we walk, cars pass us by. Often, someone will wave at me from their car, recognizing the dog first and then realizing I’m a friend or relative of Tomi Sue. It’s a nice feeling walking along and waving my hand to strangers, reinforcing to me how friendly the people are in this area.
When the dog and I return up the driveway, it’s time to turn off most of the hoses I’ve used for watering, except for one I leave on in order to fill the horse’s trough. I pet then feed the horse her morning allotment of alfalfa cubes then give the dog some treats (her main meal is at dinner). When I go in the house, the cat is meowing at me. I give her fresh water then add a little kitty food into her dish so that she feels I’ve not ignored her.
I’m enjoying my vacation because it is providing me with interesting experiences, opportunities, and relaxing times I can spend with wonderful animals.