Paynesville Press - June 5, 2002

Community Perspective

Finding pleasure in simple things

By Rheanne Zimmerman

It is human nature, especially today's media to want and crave new things, even if they aren't really needed. The person who wants a sport utility vehicle or a lake cabin might discover there are just too many work and money complications to make it worthwhile.

So it is with my life, but as a 12-year-old, it is not cars or homes I desire, but animals.

I have four showy roosters and 14 laying hens of various breeds including bantee, baird rocks, turks, poles, and Rhode Island red. I have an 11-pound adventure poodle who can run 23 miles per hour and whose best dog friend is my family's 80-pound Bernese. I have an anole I brought home in my hand from Mrs. Voss's class two years ago, one squirrel tree frog who jumps amazingly far, and one firebelly toad who lounges in a waterdish.

All of these animals I love and enjoy. How could anyone want more? But still, human nature craves new things, and that's exactly what I did.

I wanted goats and sheep. Two of each. I thought of how enjoyable it would be to run down to the silhouetted barn in the morning and pet my goats and groom the sheep. How exciting it would be to bring the animals to the fair with my 4-H friends Jessie and Ellen.

I really hadn't thought about the time, work, and money that would go into them. Although I have a chicken barn, I have no shelter suitable for goats and sheep. A barn would have to be built.

Also, I would have to get up a good deal earlier than my regular 5:45 a.m. to take care of the animals. Goats and sheep have many veterinary and food expenses to be paid.

All this would have to be taken care of.

Not that my parents weren't willing to help. They offered that if I showed interest for a year and came up with a plan they would somehow make it work out. Still, the complications would be there.

As I thought about the goats and the sheep, I started to think about my own animals and the joys I get from them. Everyday, the animals brighten my life. If I'm feeling down, my animals cheer me up. Bosco's gentle lick on my hand, a chicken's curious cluck, or a game of hide-and-go-seek with the frogs are all day brighteners.

I am constantly amazed by my animals' cleverness. Two hens always hide their eggs in the corners of their nesting boxes when I come to collect eggs. They put them back under themselves as soon as I finish!

Also, the chickens have figured out to rush to the outside pen whenever they hear the door opening to excitedly peck at all the delicious vegetable scraps, melon rinds, and grass clippings they know are there.

My poodle, Bosco, also is a joy in my life. I love to see him play tag with my family's dog, Heidi, and pose like a grand, proud, giant, and triumphant hunting dog. One time I was in the tree fort with my friends when Bosco climbed all the way up the five-foot ladder just to sit in my lap!

All these things with my animals are very special to me.

With all these wonderful thoughts, I wasn't sure I wanted goats and sheep anymore. After all, chickens can go to the fair, and Bosco can do many fun things, like coming in the house, sleeping in the bedroom, and going to visit the nursing home, things that are impossible for goats and sheep.

I finally decided that, for now, I am perfectly happy just the way I am, I learned I don't need goats and sheep just yet. I am already in the process of learning many valuable lessons. Even though something by itself is worthwhile, other aspects of life must be considered. People must enjoy and take pride in what they have. After all, there can be a lot of pleasures out of a simple thing!

Rheanne Zimmerman, 12, has decided not to expand her animal collection just yet.

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