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I live in a place that most people aspire to retreat to. I’m blessed and I know it.

I’m surrounded by things I love, scents that soothe and sights that dazzle. Me at least. I love agriculture. If something’s farm-themed I’m intrigued. I have little interest in city life unless it’s a short visit including great coffee and a fine meal. Seattle is great for that.

I enjoy a town without traffic jams, in fact if traffic is slowed down it’s likely due to a tractor on the road or else a semi-truck full of apple bins rounding a corner and taking up two lanes.

My neighbors all live like I do, our lives revolve around animals. Horse trainers, farriers, hay farmers and breeders of cattle. We live according to seasons and the lives and well being of animals or fruit trees. The orchard owners all have dogs so I have to include them. Who lives rurally without at least one dog? Nobody that’s who.

There’s not much to unsettle me here outside of managing family relationships of course. Families always bring out the best and the worst in us. (I’d like an amen for that one.)

I love to watch people, but not so much interact with them. I’d rather read or write about them. The trouble with that is you need community for so many reasons, including emotional health. People like me, who enjoy quiet and solitude though only get refreshed when they are alone. So living in the country suits me and others like me. For some reason this energy-sucking doesn’t include animals. I feel peaceful with the sheep especially. They don’t seem to be an emotional or mental drain. A physical one for sure though. Taking care of room and board, health and welfare for critters is demanding. But I remind myself it also keeps me fit.

My little oasis here is remarkable. Bu there are always things I wish I could include like gorgeous flower gardens, impressive vegetable plots, but you know that just really isn’t my gifting, so I stick with the goats, sheep, horses and poultry. I like ornamental things so my animals usually have lots of bling like spots and splashes, speckles and dots. A colorful rooster strutting around with his flock of various colored hens is a pleasure to my eye.

There are of course dogs and barn cats and what farm or ranch would be worth it’s salt without those? And because we homeschool and there are always children under our feet, we have the obligatory fish, hamsters, and even a tortoise and a pair of Sugar Gliders.

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This ranch is the perfect place for rest and healing. It’s offered new starts to a few young people, and it’s offered a vacation-like feel to others. But for those of us who live here, it’s quite a bit of work. Not that work is bad, it isn’t. But living here is definitely a trade-off for other things. Like yes, it’s feels like a vacation spot in the warmer months, but you can’t actually go on vacation. I’m tied down to the daily responsibilities of milking the dairy herds. When there are lambs and goat kids I’m busy with herd management like no other time of year. I don’t even know anyone else who could take over for me if I needed that. So, the payoff is that I get to do what I love, I just have to do it.

There are also plenty of peaceful spots to rest and read, do schoolwork or even write. I pray one day my children see the richness of getting to grow up here and not focus on the limitations. Gratitude is a great thing to cultivate.

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