The Weekly Bleat: Lesson of a Sunflower

“Live on

The Good Side,

The Bright Side,

The True Side Of


~Christian D. Larson

This sunflower is a volunteer in our garden.  It sprang up right under the bird feeder which is filled with sunflower seeds. I’ve actually tried numerous times to grow sunflowers in my garden to no avail, but there was no stopping this little upstart. Over the last couple of months, it has grown into a beautiful sunflower–following the sun from east to west every day.  And, when you think about it, keeping your face to the sun and turning toward the bright side really is a shining example worth following.

Sometimes it’s difficult to live on the bright side of things.  Especially, when you feel that you’re in the midst of upsetting circumstances and chaos.  This has been a trying week as Maud, our beloved 10-year-old bluetick hound, became seriously ill last Saturday.  She was fine one minute and bleeding from her mouth and passing blood in her stool the next.  After rushing her to the emergency vet Saturday evening, plus two trips to the vet on Monday due to worsening symptoms, and another vet visit on Wednesday—we’ve finally narrowed down her problem to a possible autoimmune disorder that destroys her platelets and red blood cells.  Maud is very fragile and at a critical point.  Her bone marrow is not producing new red blood cells yet, and every time she moves, new bleeding can start.  She is receiving drugs to suppress her immune system so that it will stop attacking her platelets and red blood cells. But right now, it’s just a waiting game to keep her stable in order to avoid a blood transfusion. Our vet decided that it was prudent to hospitalize Maud to monitor her and keep her still.  Let me just say…it’s very difficult to leave a pet that you love so much when they’re sick and feeling totally miserable.  So, with heavy hearts and after giving her lots of gentle hugs and kisses, we left Maud at the clinic yesterday.

This morning I arose eager to hear how Maud progressed overnight and to learn if her red blood cell count had increased.  The clinic wasn’t open, yet.  So, farm chores would happen first.  Honey, a disabled, older hen, is another well-loved critter on Green Hill Farm.  This morning, upon taking her out of the coop (she can’t get out on her own), we realized that she had fly strike.  This is something that can happen to farm animals in the heat of the summer and results in flies laying eggs that turn into fly larvae or maggots.  Yes, it’s quite disgusting and definitely not a welcome sight anytime, but especially not this morning.  Anyway, we cleaned Honey with warm water and removed as many of the intruders as possible.  We also dusted her with something to kill the remaining larvae.  After all of this intervention, Honey was not looking very good.  She looked a bit anemic and maybe as though she’d gone into shock.  I ran to get a towel and wrapped her up, holding her against me and petting her little head.  In a while, I dipped her beak in the waterer to get a drink; she drank some water and seemed to be feeling better.  Farmguy made a “bed” for Honey in the coop, and we placed her under a heat lamp with some food and scratch.  She appeared to be doing okay as she was eating and drinking the last time I checked on her.  I hope we caught it in time.

As I said earlier, this week has been challenging.  There were moments, however, that comforted me and cheered my heart:  Yesterday, as I stood in the exam room at the vet clinic, half in shock and heartbroken about Maud’s diagnosis, our vet walked over and said, “I’m going to give you a hug.”  I was touched by his empathetic and caring manner, especially in light of this being a very busy clinic where other patients were waiting.  And, then, as I was leaving the clinic…just when I needed it most, I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in years.  Kate, a gal I knew from our old neighborhood, gave me the warmest hug and a kiss on the cheek, while assuring me with her sweet demeanor that everything would be okay.  I take our pets, including the chickens, to this clinic all of the time, and I NEVER see anyone I know.  But, today—I did.  It wasn’t just anyone, either. It was someone with a loving and friendly personality–one that readily reaches out to lift up and comfort others.  And, I felt grateful.

The other silver-lining moment happened this morning, after the larvae removal and hen-saving measures were completed. Farmguy was checking food and water levels in the other coop, when he found an egg–a tiny, speckled, brown egg.  It’s the FIRST egg we’ve had since we got chicks this spring, and after a fox killed our flock of hens last fall.  It really was a lovely surprise that lifted my spirits following the day’s stressful beginning.

I finally spoke to someone at the vet clinic, and Maud was stable overnight and this morning.  She ate a little breakfast of baby food and wagged her tail.  It wasn’t perfect news, but I’ll take it.

Here’s the thing:  A situation may look dark; however, if we stay on the bright side–keeping our faces to the sun, then we’re much better able to see and appreciate those little moments that warm and gladden our hearts.


  1. Bless your heart. Seeing our pets in pain is one of the most helpless feelings…the pics of Maud above are terrific. I especially love the one where she’s at the fence, head thrown back, looking like she’s howling for all she’s worth. I hope she feels better soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind words, Laura. They’re very much appreciated. That picture of Maud at the fence is her in a nutshell. She’s such a character! She comes across as loud and boisterous, but she’s so loving and tender-hearted, too. 🙂


  2. I’m glad to hear Maud is hanging in there. Sending her and Honey well wishes! Life is definitely full of ups and downs, and you’re absolutely right … we’d all do better to keep looking on the bright side of things. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. When it rains it pours and your storm is not even staying outside, but hitting you right in your innermost soul! I’m so sorry, but I’m also so glad….glad you were given these animals to care for, glad you got them the help they need when they needed it, and glad because I know that no matter what happens, you’re strong enough to realize that though you can’t control every event, you can make it through anything because you are that Fourth-Generation Farmgirl! Sending good wishes for all of you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tonya,
    I’m so sorry to hear you’ve had a hard week. I hope Maud is well and back home with you soon. if more people cared about each other (and animals) the way you do the world would be a better place. Also your post about the sunflower was beautiful and it reminded me of an old song…
    Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side
    Keep on the sunny side of life
    It will help us every day it will brighten all our way
    If we keep on the sunny side of life.

    I’m sending prayers your way.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That was such a moving post. I’m so glad Maud is feeling better, and you were able to comfort the hen. Gosh, what a rough time. You’re right, there’s wisdom in that sunflower 🙂 What a blessing to read how you survive the trials and lessons of love and compassion on your farm. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I hope that Maud continues to make good progress and that Honey is ok too, what a dreadful week for you Tonya. Your sunflower is beautiful and it must cheer you up looking at it smiling at the sun. Sending you and Scott hugs, and all my best wishes to Honey and Maud xx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A situation may look dark; however, if we stay on the bright side–keeping our faces to the sun, then we’re much better able to see and appreciate those little moments that warm and gladden our hearts.

    Very true, as a human being we immediately lose hope and it worsen the situation, isn’t it, good post and enjoyable experience to read it……………..

    Liked by 1 person

  8. we humans tend to ignore the little things in life that can put a smile on our faces and make our day bright. imagine! if we start appreciating these small wonders every day, how beautiful and positive our life will become. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Tonya, what a warm, inspiring post you have written. I have often said that my first measure of a person is in how they treat animals. Having followed your blog for some time now I have no doubt as to the high level of your character and warmth. I wish you comfort during a difficult time, and I am determined to toward my face toward the sun as well. Best, Karen

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am late in replying but was moved by your still passing on a positive message under sad and stressful circumstances, Tonya. Having a loving husband can help immensely and such nice people who are the vet and an old, dear friend running into at the clinic. Always looking and sharing your silver linings is a mission you carry out well here, dear. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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