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  • Writer's pictureReyna Bradford

An Introduction to Reyna

When I was fifteen months old, I had a brain tumor. Its insidious growth stretched the optic nerve, and although the surgery to remove it was successful, the damage had already been done. I was blind by the age of eighteen months.

I was left with what is termed "light perception," meaning that I can see light and dark, and some vague contrasts and shadows. No colors, no sunsets, no faces. I can't read a screen, match an outfit, or drive a car.

Of course, growing up that way, I didn't know any different. I ran in the yard, swam at the beach, climbed trees, and rode my bike and my pony into the ground. I devoured books—some on recorded audio devices, some read to me by my mom and dad. I moved to new houses, new schools, and new states, and I learned the layout of each. I made friends—some human, mostly animal.

From before I can remember, I have loved animals. All kinds, but especially dogs. As time went on and as I grew up and moved out on my own, and then began to work at building up my own hobby farm, dogs accompanied me at every step. And as I learned more about how they themselves learn, and about all the help they could give me besides just simple friendship, their role gradually shifted. Today, they don't merely provide me with steadfast companionship. Now my dogs are also my working partners—herding, guarding and retrieving for me—as well as being my teammates in the competition arena.

I currently live with ten of them. There are quite a few different breeds and quite a few different ages. Many of them are active in American Kennel Club canine sports, with my first love being competitive obedience. We live on a working dairy farm where I raise registered Nubian goats on the eastern fringe of the Kansas Flint Hills. But life would be boring with only dogs and goats to entertain. Okay, not boring exactly, but empty and incomplete. And so, a fluffy handful of Angora rabbits and an entire clouder of cats also make the place their home.

All told, I have six acres of timber and prairie to call my own, to guard, to prosper, and to love. It and everything that comes with it is my joy and my responsibility in all weather of the year, in all seasons of life.

It's not exactly an orthodox path for a single blind woman. But it's interesting! And so, I'm writing this blog to share it with you. If my stories inspire you, if my adventures make you laugh, and if my challenges occasionally even make you cry, then I have done my work well. After all, each season on a farm comes with plenty of stories, adventures, and challenges.

In the following posts, my plan is to share them all with you. We'll talk about the newest baby goats and how they're growing, and about how the milkers are progressing for the year. We'll have brag sessions and hair-pulling sessions, talking about the latest dog show, about what the youngest dogs are learning and what the oldest dogs are facing. We'll step back and slow down and remember hope and perseverance and satisfaction from a job well done. In a world that seems so torn apart by madness and negativity and uncertainty, I invite you to come down to the farm and remember some of what life is really all about. A lot of sunshine, and a little "Reyna."

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