When the Farm Gets Unwanted Gifts

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Photo by Carol Ann Sayle


If any of you live in the country, you know the agony resulting when a suddenly homeless dog or cat shows up at your farm--thrown out on the road out front, in the hope that you possess NO pets and are urgently desirous of one or many. Ah, the dilemma. What do you do? Adopt one, every few months? Or, try to run them off to a life of doom, or, terminate their pitiful lives. How could this be your responsibility?

Larry, my farmer-husband, who operates our rural farm in Milam County, about 80 miles northeast of Austin, has encountered this situation many times. As a result, he has about six cats. But few rats. So something good came about as a result of his ongoing pity. His favorite cat is L.J., short for Larry Junior. Our greenhouse specialist, Pamela, named him thus, citing his appetite.

Customers came by, oohed and ahhed, and some actually did adopt them! It seemed a miracle.

A while back, several black puppies ("cur" dogs) romped up the grassy driveway from the county road, preciously. Once more, what to do? He needed no dogs, as his home is actually here in Austin. The Milam County farm is where he goes twice a week to work. But, hey, we have an active farm stand here in Austin, and perhaps someone would want to adopt them.

So home the pups came. Larry circled some hay bales double-depth and inserted the puppies inside. Customers came by, oohed and ahhed, and some actually did adopt them! It seemed a miracle.

Later it was reported to us that two of the three had died (possibly heart worms). The survivor endeared herself to a couple, who named her Lucy. Each week we inquired of Lucy's health and progress towards becoming a city dog. Vet visits were required. Oh, we felt guilty. Then dog training ensued as Lucy seemed a bit aggressive. Her owner, our long-time customer and friend, showed us her scratched arms. Fresh scratches each week. Oh, again we felt guilty. Then the owner reported that Lucy had completed her dog obedience class but she received a "D." Oh, guilty as charged (as if her DNA came from us!), but at least the scratches had healed and no new ones appeared.

After a year or so of this, Lucy has calmed down and loves her folks and they her. Or at least we hope so! And no more dogs, or cats, have shown up at the Milam County farm. A trend we hope continues....

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Carol Ann Sayle is co-founder and co-owner of Boggy Creek Farm, a five-acre urban, organic farm in Austin, Texas.

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