In these strange times of COVID-19 where everything is uncharted territory I wish to add my sincere hope and wishes that you, your family and friends all are doing well. And if you are one of the many who are not, I’m adding my prayers to those of many for a speedy recovery.
As always, I find inspiration of how to deal with all the situations that life brings from my little farm. I took this picture the other day, feeling like Dorothy on her Yellow Brick Road- my path to my happy place!!
It wasn’t that long ago since I mentioned that it wasn’t a matter of “if” but rather “when” I would lose a chicken to one of the many predators that love a chicken dinner. I lost Lacey, the Silver Laced Wyandotte the very next day, and just a few days ago I lost Peckers which for some reason was a lot harder. I still don’t really know why it was so much harder to lose Peckers- although she was a pretty bird- she was a Barred Rock- she was not nearly as stunning as Lacey. They were both friendly and they both laid big brown eggs. Losing Peckers made me cry. After some reflection I wonder if it might be that although I don’t think I’m very affected by the virus and all the changes it brings, maybe it all affects me more than I thought?
Scott, who like many others these days, is now working from home, saw the fox running by just outside the glass doors to his office, chasing our white Tweety who was running for her life just steps ahead of him. I heard the commotion from upstairs and we both ran out. There was no sight of the fox anymore, and we anxiously rounded up 5 of our 7 girls. After walking around the house we found Tweety who miraculously had escaped the jaws of the fox without a scratch. Peckers were nowhere to be found and I instantly knew the fox had claimed another victim. (Scott did find many of her feathers as proof the next day)
Later that day when feeding the sheep tears were dripping. I was sad and upset, feeling like I just couldn’t do anything right. As I was cleaning up, I cried even more since after another two days of rain I was sick of the wet muddy areas, of wet straw and wet everything. Why was I thinking I could farm? Care for animals? I had failed my chickens. I was raging against the fox, that cold blooded killer. I was questioning my whole philosophy about farming along side nature when nature was so cruel. Why did God create so much beauty and then so much blood-thirst right smack in the middle of things? I became aware of how the wild birds were singing and chirping all around me as if they had not a care in then world. They sounded beautiful, and it upset me even more since I didn’t want beautiful when I felt so awful.
The next day I studied my birds to see if they were still traumatized by the previous days events… and noticed Tweety happily pecking away in the very spot she was chased to within inches of her life the day before. No trauma. No lingering fear. No signs of being upset or even missing their sisters. They were all as sweet as ever- not even the slightest of lingering resentment against me for not keeping them safe enough- only happy sounds as they were begging for extra treats.
How wonderful to be able to let go of the bad stuff just like that! They don’t live in fear of what might happen, they embrace each moment as it presents itself. No grudges, no bad feelings. They don’t dwell on what I could have done better- they just accept what is and show appreciation for the treats they do get! They enjoy the sunshine when it’s sunny and seek shelter when it rains. They run when chased and are at peace when they are not. I compared them to myself…How much time do I waste on feeling afraid? Inadequate? Wondering over words both said and unsaid? Do I have someone I should forgive? Feelings that make me feel unhappy that I should let go of? I think I should be more like my chickens. I need to let go of worries and bad feelings. Change what I can, do the things I am able to do and have faith that all the rest will sort itself out.
Thinking about it, I realize that my chicken are in fact never safe at any time when outside.The fox is now out all times of the day hunting since babies are either here or coming. (My heart softened a milli-degree realizing a mom would have to do what she needed to do to feed her young, even if it was with my hens.) I thought back on how thrilled I was last spring, being able to watch the fox-kits play like puppies, being able to watch them sitting on my deck. And I had to take a hard look at myself since I also realized that tt wasn’t the fox that had changed- it was me. I now had chickens. For a hungry fox I had simply presented a smorgasbord of opportunity. So what should I do? Set a trap for the fox? Not hunting season. Close my chickens in the coop and never let them out? That went against letting them free range. Every time I let them out they RUN out. They absolutely LOVE being outside. Never letting them out would be like sentencing them to jail. I looked into chicken runs- it would provide an outside area where they would be safe. Still confinement, and never big enough.
My solution? The girls are getting an outside run for when we are not home during the day so they can go in and out at will. When we are home they will free range as usual. Every night they will be locked inside their coop- same as they are now. We are fencing in the whole yard- some with regular fencing, and big parts with electric netting. I realize I will continue to loose chickens, but hopefully at a MUCH slower rate. Nature is after all nature. Maybe it is so to remind us that everything can change in a blink. The world is changing and so must we. The good thing is that we can chose how to respond to changes, to blessings as well as to misfortune. But there is both peace and joy to be found, so we need to do what we can and have faith that the rest will somehow be ok. We are loved. There is purpose. And in spite of heart break we don’t have to be or feel defeated (at least not for long!).
It’s spring, so I am getting more chicks.. I am not going to let the heart break of losing someone prevent me from all the joy I feel having them around me. As a matter of fact, the first batch are chirping happily in their brooder right now, blissfully unaware of the dangers in the world! It makes me happy to see and hear them, they remind me that in the midst of uncertainty, life does go on.