Heartbreak brings new beginnings


The view from my desk this morning reminds me that there are seasons in every life. Someone’s heartbreak often brings a new beginning for someone else. It is good, on this dark morning, to be reminded of this as I look out my upstairs window.

There is a lovely flock of sheep, new to our farm, gathered in a serene group, munching on the still-lush green grass in our western pasture. My hubby had responded to a Farm and Dairy classified ad, speaking with a young woman who found herself in tragic, suddenly changed circumstances.


Her husband had died unexpectedly, and she needed to find a home for the sheep he had lovingly tended. Doug talked at length with her, long enough for her to realize he was a good man. He let her know he wanted to talk with a close friend of our daughter about perhaps taking this flock, and he could mentor her along the way.

A few days later, Doug received a call from the seller, in hopes he would at least come see them. She didn’t want these sheep to go directly to an auction barn, but to be part of someone’s farm.

Yesterday, our livestock trailer was hitched and ready to go very early. Lindsey, who is like a daughter to us, accompanied him, because if the deal was made, she would be our partner on this flock.

While this was being figured out, I had spent those two weeks trying to get answers for my ailing Westie.


As Doug and Lindsey left for their long trip, I was eager to head to the vet hospital to bring my dog home. I had been told he was doing better after several days on IV treatment for an as-yet unknown ailment that left him weak and limping, unwilling to eat and with all four paws inflamed and unbearably painful. I quickly realized bringing him home was a cruel mistake.

He couldn’t stand up, he trembled and cried, struggling to breathe. This sweet, spunky, still young Westie male was rare and wonderful and pure joy to me. Over nearly 30 years of raising West Highland White Terriers, he was the only pup we’d ever seen that was black and white. He stood out among his white littermates, and captivated everyone who met him.

He looked like a Holstein dog to me, an appaloosa to my hubby. He was absolutely beautiful, with one black ear, one white ear, a mask around his lovely eyes. I named him O’Reo Bandito, and we called him Reo. He was six years old.


The close of one season, and buckets of tears, came for the very young widow at the same moment as it did for me, for vastly different reasons. She thanked my hubby and Lindsey, saying she had hoped for people just like them to take over her husband’s pet project.

“He had his sheep, I had my horses,” she said, and she wanted those sheep to go on, to be appreciated.

As the sheep arrived on our farm, they stepped off the trailer after vaccinations into a welcoming, peaceful paradise in our nicest pasture. Reo is now laid to rest at that same fence line, where lawn meets pasture. This was a spot he often sought out, barking at the sheep as they blissfully ignored him.

In happier days, my lovely little dog found great joy in ducking under a loose opening there to run free.

Looking out my window this morning, watching this lovely flock head for shelter as the rain begins at sunrise, their presence brings a peaceful feeling that even though we have no idea the “why” of any of it, all is as it should be.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.



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