Once a farmer, always a farmer

By Michael Boriero - Local ­Journalism Initiative Reporter

Harry Morrill spent most of his life tending to beef cattle on his farm, now he’s using his expertise to take care of the animals at the Wales Home in Cleveland, Quebec.
The assisted living and long-term care facility added a petting farm to the property five years ago. Naturally, the home’s administration turned to Morrill for help because of his extensive experience with farming cattle.
“I was asked to volunteer, it’s all voluntary,” he said.
According to Morrill, he hasn’t missed a single day with the animals. He heads down to the pen twice a day to feed and hydrate the cattle and several goats. Morrill has an aura about him. He’s calm, humble and soft-spoken; and the animals pick up on that, too.
Last Friday, despite the unbearable heat, the 82-year-old trudged up the slight incline towards the small enclosure. The animals, seeking shelter from the hot sun, instinctively perked up to greet the man who takes care of them.
His face lit up when one of the goats jumped onto the fence to say hello. He has a strong bond with the animals, which helps create a safe and fun activity for all of the residents at the home. The petting farm is also open to family and friends coming to visit their loved ones.
“They can just come and pat them, but some people bring carrots or something to feed them,” Morrill said.
But that hasn’t been allowed for quite some time. The COVID-19 pandemic put the Wales Home in a lockdown since early March. They only got the animals back in June, when Quebec decided it was time to reopen the province.
According to Carol Ann McElrea, the home’s activity coordinator, Morrill wears a lot of hats. Not only does he maintain the health of the animals, he also delivers mail and newspapers to several units throughout the facility; although, that all changed after the novel coronavirus.
“He’s pretty much the epitome of somebody who I feel is getting a certain quality of life in spite of living in an assisted living facility,” she said.
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