Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Cold World

It's the cold, hard truth about life on a farm. Things die.

Plants die before you can harvest their fruit. Trees die before they grow tall enough to cast shade on a hot day. Ponds dry up and fields flood and the animals that depended on them die.

Last weekend I accidentally locked a hen out of the barn for a few hours. Since I didn't know she was out there, I didn't restrict Ulani's access to the yard. Next thing I knew I had to bury that hen. Ulani's prey drive overwhelms her -- she simply cannot resist an animal that runs or flies.

Then last night the beautiful black hen that had become eggbound died. She was sick for a few weeks. I did not know that limping could be a sign of egg-binding. I figured she'd twisted her leg jumping down, so I isolated her. Nothing was wrong with her appetite. With the exception of limping, she seemed fine. Then about a week ago, as she began to go downhill, I picked her up and realized my mistake. By that point not much could be done other than to keep her comfortable. If I were a real farmer I probably would have snapped her neck. I am not. I suffered with her, and this morning I felt relief that she was out of her misery.

On a snowy, gray December morning I carried her lifeless body far out into a field and layed her down for the last time, offering her back to nature. It's a cold world.

2 comments:

Melissa H. said...

I'm so sorry, Jo. You're right, it is a cold world sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, maybe I'm not ready for chickens. That's just awful (and I have two bird dogs, gulp!).
Sandra in MD