I can't imagine life without animals.
In my earliest childhood memories, I'm carrying Tigger, a tolerant male cat, dressing him in scraps of material, whispering secrets in his furry ears.
At age six, a teary-eyed me is looking at a dead chick as my parents explain that sometimes animals die and there is nothing we can do about it.
My first pony, Rocky, carried an eight-year-old me through woods and creeks and fields. Atop a pony, I was tall and fast and, sometimes, in control.
Hours of childhood were spent observing animals, how a hen laid an egg, how the horses interacted, what a chicken leg felt like. Those animals -- the horses, the dog, the chickens and the cats, especially the cats -- listened as I told them my frustrations and dreams and secrets.
My body wears the scars from animals: the cat scratch to the lip, the gashed eyebrow from the horse, the shiny skin from the horse bite, the two-inch scar incision from a repaired broken finger.
But those were a small price to pay for the rewards animals brought me -- the friends I met through horses and dogs, the confidence I gained as I learned to train, to communicate, and to tend to animals, the discoveries I've made, and the comfort I've found being among them.
I wish that everyone could watch a hen scratch and peck, a lamb leap and twist, a cat pounce a Border collie; I wish they could feel horse breath on their cheeks and the warmth of a just-laid egg; and I wish they could step outside and hear rooster crows and horse whinnies.
With my new blog, Cheeps and Bleats, I hope to capture the magic of animals. This blog focuses on animal tales, as told from the point of view of the animals. I'll still blog at Ewe Chicks and a Llama, but Ewe Chicks will focus more on life on a Midwestern farm.