Posted on Jun 14, 2017
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
More than anything, I want to take excellent care of our animals and give them the best life possible. So, I’m always thinking about how I can serve them better. Over the years, I have come up with ideas that I thought were brilliant, but the animals were not amused.
Our piggies sleep on straw. It keeps them warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and is soft and comfortable, except… the tiny pieces get in their hair, ears and eyes, and I am always preening them and picking it out. One day I get a brilliant idea - let’s take out the straw and replace their houses with fluffy soft carpet and lots of clean, soft blankets. They will stay clean and comfortable. We found a carpet company who donated all the shag carpet we needed and we went to second-hand stores and got lots of blankets and sleeping bags to fill their houses with. I was so excited about this idea that I was giddy! I was going to give our pigs the most comfortable, decadent bed ever! Once the project was complete I showed our pigs their upgrade and instead of gratitude and joy, they went on strike immediately and would not go into their houses. I thought maybe they would get used to their new digs eventually, but they held out for three months! Finally, I had to remove the blankets and the carpet and fill their houses back with straw. Once their houses were reverted back to the way they were, the pigs immediately returned to their houses, and I swear they glared at me as they went inside.
Our turkey, Sir Fancy Pants, loves to show off and hear from our guests that he is gorgeous. One day I wondered if maybe he would want to see how gorgeous he truly was. I pictured him prancing in front of the mirror all day admiring himself. So, we got a full-length mirror and installed it in the barnyard. Instead of admiring his glory or feeling fulfilled in any way, Fancy turned bright red and attacked the mirror. He got so worked up and agitated that an hour hadn’t even passed and we had to remove the mirror so he would calm down. I guess Fancy is adamant about being the only handsome one in the barnyard, even if the other turkey is him!
Our pigs love their pool and in warm months spend a good portion of the day lounging in it. They also go to the bathroom in the pool and the water gets gross pretty quickly. One day I had the amazing idea of concreting the bottom of the pool and putting in a drain so we could drain the water regularly, clean the pool, and refill it. The water would always be clean for my babies. I was thrilled. We raised the funds to get a company to do the project, and when they were done it looked amazing! I was so excited to see the pigs splashing in their crystal clean pool. The pigs would not go in, even though it was really hot that day. They didn’t go in the next day either. I kept thinking that the pigs didn’t like the new smell, or the new look, and that if given time they would go in. Much to my dismay, the pigs would not go into to bath for an entire month. I had to hire the company to come back out and jackhammer and remove all the concrete and take the drain out. Once it was mud again the pigs went straight in splashing with glee.
It’s a thankless job being a mom sometimes. My animals roll their eyes at me just like my teenagers. But they have all been through hell and back before we saved them, and each day they are with us is my chance to make up for it all, and to love them as much as I can for as long as I can. I come up with ideas to make their lives better and their days more enjoyable. I know that they don’t always like my ideas, but I hope that at the end of the day they see the love and commitment I have for them, and they know that I would do anything for them, even if it is a bad idea.