By Sigrid Settle
You would think by now I would have experienced empty-nest syndrome, after all my children have moved away to Chicago and Tulsa, I see my grandchildren once or twice a year; but empty-nest syndrome doesn’t have a chance as long as I have animal companions.
My horse Banner and donkey Binky stand outside my backdoor each morning waiting for me to come out with carrot in hand, hearing the tell-tale snap as I break it in half, sliding each piece in their mouth to celebrate the beginning of the day. I can hear munching sounds behind me as I go to get the corn preparing for their morning feed. Yesterday morning I was surprised to find Banner and Binky nowhere to be seen. I called and called but the only animal to come was Bonnie, sheepishly rounding the east corner of the house with no other animals in sight. I finally found Banner and Binky on the west side of the house, together but not moving. When they saw me they came running up ready for that tell-tale snap of the carrot. I wondered why they had decided to stay so far away, but the question was laid aside as I continued with my morning.
Night-time feeding differs a little except for the fact that Banner and Binky are once again waiting by the back door for their carrot; last night was no different than any other night save one thing; after they had gotten their carrot and were waiting for their bucket of pellets Binky suddenly snuck up behind Bonnie and struck her lightly with his hooves twice with Bonnie running off as soon as she realized she was under attack. At first I couldn’t figure out what had happened, Binky is usually a pacifist walking away from a confrontational situation, not creating one; but then I remembered Bonnie’s Achilles heel, she dislikes Binky and Banner standing by the back door. It appears she had finally found a way to convince the two of them to move away from the back door; but Binky also found a way to let her know her behavior wasn’t going to be tolerated.
I smiled as I walked to the corral to feed, thinking of my children and the bickering that would happen between them from time to time. Yes, they were gone but I had my animal companions to remind me there are times when someone might step into that personal space we will fight to maintain. Life changes, but somehow remains the same.
And so it goes at the Ranch…
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