"A Reflection" by our Summer (2020) Intern

Autumn Bowling

H.O.P.E.-Full Pastures Therapeutic Farm

 

           Growing up, I knew my life had to have a purpose. I had lived in five homes in the first four years of my life. I had gone through things that no child should ever go through. I saw things and was punished for it, although I wasn't the one at fault. However, God had a plan for me. I was given an emergency placement, at the age of five, to a family that would become my forever home.

            At the age of seven, I became adopted. I was no longer shackled to the betrayal, pain, and hatred I felt as a little kid. I had a family that wanted me and wanted to love me for me. My sister and I became their daughters and their sisters. The first adopted set of siblings was a success, so my mother and father knew that they had what it would take to make this placement a success as well. When a couple becomes foster and adopted certified, they are told something that makes fighting for these kids a reality. They are told that there is a huge chance, that these kids won’t become theirs, due to the biological parents stepping into parenthood the right way, or something happens to where they are unable to provide the best support for the child, or the court takes the child away and places them in a different family or back with the bio-parent(s).

            This was not the case for my parents, but it has been the case for the Carrero family. They have had over 25 foster children placed in their home, and 25 more foster children in their home for respite, (foster care babysitting), in which they gave them love, and they gave them an inseparable bond. One thing that each member of this family gave to every child in their home was their heart. They gave them everything that they had, but they were never given the one thing they wanted. The child.

            Mrs. Carrero grew up on a farm and was raised with "southern-like" hospitality. She is the woman you can imagine in movies, where the mother gives everything for the people she loves and whom she may not even know. The mother in the movie gave life the best thing she could offer because that is her heart. Mrs. Carrero serves God with everything that is within her. She shares that love and commitment to her children and she shares it with friends and family members. Mrs. Carrero's family has been on both sides of the coin. Their oldest daughter was adopted from Guatemala. Although she is the oldest daughter, not by blood, she is their daughter no matter what, because of the love and commitment shared between each member of the family.

            Having the experience with adopting and fostering, being raised on the farm, dealing with the system for many years, the decision to make their farm a therapeutic pasture for children in the system to come find healing, order, peace, and encouragement, is what made this experience worth it for me. I was able to grow in so many ways. I was able to become more than just an intern, I was able to become a part of their family.

            We did so many different things that gave us opportunities to grow as an individual. We were able to learn from the mistakes we made, forgive the person who hurt us, and to love the person, not dwell on the mistake. We did hard work, and we had rough moments, but when everything was all said and done, the end goal was worth all of the dirtiness and all of the sweat we got.

            To list the things we did, would make this reflective essay much longer than what is deemed necessary. However, sharing the minimum will give readers an opportunity to gain a better understanding of what life was like interning at this farm. I would wake up at 6 am the mornings I worked. I woke up that early, so I would be awake by the time I got there at seven. When I would arrive at seven, we all were given different chores to do. Those chores would take no longer than an hour and a half if it was completed correctly the first time. I will list what we did for each animal below.

            The first task that would start the morning barn activities is to get the three horses out; Bongo, Starr, and Toffee. We then mucked out the stall, got water for the horses, and gave the stall fresh bedding. We also made sure that Bongo was given hay that was watered down a bit because the dust and natural particles gave him heaves.

 

            The next task was to get the goat feed ready and the alpaca feed. We worked with five goats. Quincy, Stormy, Clara, Double Walnut, and Prince Scotty. Scotty is the billy-goat, but he is also still a baby, being only six months old. For the alpacas, we have Zachariah and Dustin, aka Zack and Dusty. Once the feed is ready for the goats, we allow the goats to be let out. Scotty goes up onto a stand where he is fed separately than the rest. The alpacas are then led out to where they eat their feed and are then led to the pasture. Once the stalls are all mucked out, the goats are able to go back into their pen.

 

            While all of this is happening, the chickens and ducks are given freshwater in a children's pool that was given a new purpose of providing a small pond for the ducks to swim in. They are given food and freshwater, and the eggs are also collected. The turkeys are let out of their coop. They are given feed and most of the time when the goats are led back into their pen after eating, the miniature donkey Chloe, and the goats like to steal their food and eat it themselves.

            Once this is all completed, the time is approximately 8:15 am. We then go get cleaned up, and we go down to the multi-purpose room in the studio and we get our morning devotion and exercise in. Around 8:45, we go up and eat breakfast. At this point, we read the Bible, reflect upon what we read and how we can apply it to our lives. We then are able to discuss what the rest of the morning will look like. Now, this has looked differently as each week passed. In the first few weeks of my internship, we were able to sweep off each cobwebbed support beam in the entire vicinity of the lower barn and muck out the stalls that hadn't been properly mucked out for several months. I, also, learned about animal health and proper care, which included grooming and groundwork.  Within the next few weeks, we were able to clear out the upper barn. This task was a well-earned accomplishment and was completed over the entire month of July not just done within a few weeks. However difficult the task may have been for us, we were able to get the upper barn in order and find new things about what had been stored up there. Some of those things were new for me, but they were not new and definitely not forgotten by Mrs. Carrero.

            Over the span of this internship, we all faced difficult situations. Mrs. Carrero's hip and some other health issues had risen to the surface and had given her some frustrating troubles during the month of July. Two of the daughters were going through some health issues and those issues were needing to be resolved. They had gone to several doctor's appointments to get answers. During those doctor visits, the other daughters and I were able to work as a team to get the barn chores done.

            Not only had there been health issues going on, but we had also faced the experience of loss. They had lost a dear family friend, a mentor, and not only was she these things, but she was also more than all of that because she was the reason Mrs. Carrero went to Guatemala in the first place. Mrs. Linda Kimble had been diagnosed with aplastic anemia at the young age of 24, where she had also been given a number of years she was projected to live. Although this diagnosis was given to her based upon the average number of years other people lived with the same diagnosis, Mrs. Kimble surpassed this year's limit on her life by 35 years since being diagnosed. They had also lost their dear abuelo a month before I began my internship, which is translated into English as grandfather. I had lost my rabbit during these 10 weeks of internship. I had him since he was a month old, and the average lifespan of his particular breed is six to eight years. On August 21st, he would have turned 6 years old. His name was Shaddoe, which is pronounced the same as shadow. Another experience of loss happened the week of my bunny's passing. One of the daughters found a baby chick. Most baby chicks end up being female, but you can't be 100% sure until the chick is several weeks to at least a month or two old. We had agreed on naming the chick Firework July. Not just because we found her in the month of July, but also because July was a month of great success and sadness for us as well, which reminds me of the reasoning behind choosing the name firework. Fireworks can give great excitement and awe, however, if you are not expecting it, the boom of the firework can scare and terrify you, which might make you tear up a bit. The sudden changes in the weather were unpredictable. It had grown cold one night, and the weather was not checked to see just how far cold the temperature would go. The next morning, the baby chick was not the correct body temperature and like most baby chicks, they have to be a specific body temperature since they cannot produce the heat themselves. Although we provided it with heat, by using a heat lamp, the baby chick ended up not making it within the span of several hours.

 

            I am able to use everything I have written here in this essay, in all different areas of my life. From my personal life to my academic life, to my work life. Working with others and giving each person the respect they deserve is rewarding in itself. I am not sure how long this door will be available but I am going to keep using this opportunity as long as I can. I am hoping to be able to stay on with this internship, so I can be there for this family. I have grown in ways I needed to grow in, and I have gained a whole new perspective on my life. Working hard at something doesn't mean to give up when things get too easy or too challenging, it means to stay at it and see it through to the finish line. I can use that in my life, no matter what doors open up and no matter the stage I find myself at.

           

            Life doesn't always go the way we want it to and it most definitely does not give us a choice in what happens in our life. This internship provided me with an amazing opportunity to grow and to learn more about myself. I was growing in ways that I was unable to at home. Although they were able to provide so much for me, I was able to return the favor to them as well. We were able to bond with one another and we were able to grow in our faith, together. We experienced the meaning behind true friendship. Forgiveness, love, and support got us through the difficult times. When we were upset or angry with one another, communication gave us opportunities to see how Jesus wants us to live and how we are supposed to treat one another. There is this one quote that I always say, “You never know how much you have and how much life is worth, until you don't have it anymore.” This family gave life a different meaning. This family takes what they have and they give it back to the community. They share the love and the faith they have with others. They opened their home to children who are hurting, abandoned, confused, neglected, abused, mistreated, and unwanted. Most of all, they care for people in all different types of situations and they give them the most valuable thing in this world, their heart.