Green Chimney’s is a place for learning & healing for kids and animals. That’s why I’m here. Because I need the healing too – my inner kid and my inner wounded animal.
It’s raining again this week. I clean the pens, taking wheelbarrows full of goat poo and wet straw to the dumpster. Returning with fresh sawdust for clean bedding. The physical labor is very cathartic, very zen.
At noon everyone heads for the dining hall and the barn is quiet. No one here but us chickens.
The baby goats come nibble my fingers. It tickles in a really pleasant way, they have no upper teeth (reminding me of an old boyfriend or two, back in the days when teeth, or lack thereof, was not a deal breaker for me).
I sit quietly on a milk crate in the center of the sheep pen and think at the sheeps. I think about Brian, who died this week, and Lyle, who died six years ago. With my heart instead of my head, I think how nice the quiet is, how good everything smells in the rain. I soak in the smell of the earth, the sweetgrass, hay and the smell of the sheeps around me.
Brooke, the lamb, nuzzles my arm and I bury my fingertips in her cotton-soft wool. The Jacobs sheep (still looking very much like a goat to me) limps over. I don’t know much about sheeps, really. About where they’re supposed to bend, what a healthy hoof looks like, none of the particulars I know about dogs and cats. I’m here to learn. But I know a limp is not a good thing & I try to bring a little relief with some Ttouchs on him. When I stop, he nudges me with his head & waits. I start again & he stays, his head resting in my hand. In silence, we understand the language of the heart.
Another Jacobs sheep is limping too, a senior named Hazel. I take this old lady by her beautiful curved black horns while Maureen soaks, cleans, trims, medicates and wraps her hoof. Hazel lays her head on my knees and lets Maureen work. It takes about ten minutes and I realize half way through that I’m doing the Asian squat, a position I really can’t manage anymore – I was so wrapped up in helping Hazel, I forgot what I couldn’t do and just did it.
Tommy, another senior with milky cataract eyes is almost completely blind, . He wanders over to us, to Maureen, Hazel and I. He pushes the interns out of the way and wedges his head under my arm until his big blind sheep head is just below my chin. He is wedged in tightly between me and Hazel. He stops pushing the minute he gets his head in there. I rest my chin on his old head. He doesn’t smell sweet like the baby goats. He smells like an old goat, or more accurately, old sheep.
Maureen finishes up. Hazel’s hoof has been treated and wrapped. I let go of her horns. The sheeps don’t move.
I throw my hands up in the air, “Run free little sheeps. Go frolic. Go.” Hazel & Tommy do not move, they remain standing with their heads resting on my lap. Maureen says she’s never seen any of them do anything like that. I cannot imagine how I could be any happier than I am at that very moment with a lap full of old sheeps. My heart is wide open. I’m here, in my skin.
For most people I don’t think that’s a very big deal, being awake, present, in your own body. For me, this is huge.
That’s how Green Chimney’s works. It’s about helping each other heal. It’s the language of the heart.