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Learning from Nature

I write to share. I'm not a professional on trauma but an individual who has experienced trauma. I offer a voice of trauma, and a voice with confidence that trauma can be overcome. Hope and joy can be found.

And it can be found in the most remarkable places.

Dusty Dog Farm, where I reside and teach many lessons, is currently home to 34 horses, a sheep, a goat, a miniature horse, a cat, many dogs and people ... and until recently about 45 doves and pigeons. These beautiful and varied feathered friends moved onto the farm during the summer of 2022. Over the years, we have had a few doves and/or pigeons rest at the farm for a season or two. But the flocks always disappeared as days shortened.

This flock, however, had found a home. They roosted during summer months on the eaves of barns and in trees along the pasture lines. As the days shortened, my new friends made themselves welcome in our indoor arena.

a flock of gray and white pigeons stand on a gray rooftop against a blue sky
Birds gather on a rooftop.

Now, our indoor riding space is not large, nor was it originally built for riding. It is supported by uprights and an elaborate array of wooden structures. I am sure the birds were delighted with plentiful roosting space and protection from the wind and weather. The indoor arena is a busy space on our farm. Many train and ride there and it is home to a great deal of fun. The laughter that often erupts from the space is notable. That laughter increased as the flock moved in.

The birds do not only grace us with lovely examples of flight patterns. They also serenade us as we work around the farm with gentle cooing and clucking. Occasional low-flying birds leave folks swearing they feel the wind from their wings.

Granted, there are those who wanted the birds gone ASAP, and those (myself included) who enjoyed the added spirit the birds brought. Even the severe divide on the subject would generate laughter among us.

We learned where NOT to stand in the indoor riding space. It only took a couple of times feeling a wet drop sliding down a body part before we learned to look up before settling in to watch or teach.

I had no idea that birds ate birds until we began to see evidence that the flock was somehow dwindling. Most notably, one morning there was a large pile of white feathers right outside the indoor arena door. Then while teaching an afternoon lesson recently, a huge hawk flew into the arena.

a brown and white Cooper's hawk stands on a weathered wooden two by four
A Cooper's hawk stands on a weathered wooden fence.

ALL of the roosting birds exploded out of the space.

They spent hours circling around the farm, high above their normal flight pattern. I noted as I left the barn well after dark that not one had returned "home." I was saddened by the incident but understood that the cycle of life was illustrated clearly.

I kept an eye out. Slowly the diminished flock reappeared. The cooing and clucking can be heard again. I find hope and joy in watching their rhythmic daily patterns.

With half of the farm humans rooting for the hawk and half for the doves and pigeons, I am sure laughter will continue to echo around the farm.

May we all overcome trauma with the grace of nature.

Bring on the longer days!

All my best,

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