Tragedy

This morning I rose early to get out in the garden before the heat was unbearable and my day really started (ie–husband and daughter awake).  I found some wonderful treasures–summer squashes, the first cucumbers, spring onions, and a few cherry tomatoes.  During my inspection of the cucumbers, I found a pink nose and tiny pink feet poking up out of the ground.  At first glance, I thought it was a baby mole.  As I uncovered, I realized it was a baby rabbit.  Below him, 2 others.  All dead.  They had not been wounded.  I knew instantly that they had drowned.  2 days ago we had the most intense storm I have ever experienced.  Along with strobe-like lightning flashes and hail, we received more than 3 inches of rain in a matter of hours.  Those poor rabbits, eyes still closed, didn’t have a chance.  The nose and feet sticking up out of the ground a sure sign that the little guy on top tried to find a way out.   Without thinking about it, I took a moment of silence for these little lives that had been taken away so soon.  One more reminder that life is fragile and miraculous at the same time.  For those moments, their passing was recognized by me and became part of my knowledge of this place and the story of this farm.  We all recognize how events affect us and perhaps others, but usually not how they affect the rest of the inhabitants of this planet.  Certainly many more lives were taken as fields and yards all around here flooded. 

Now, what to do with these little bodies?  I did not want them decomposing in my garden.  The logical thing to do was to toss them out of the garden into an area where the dog’s had access to them.  There was no reason not to let these rabbits complete the cycle of life into death into life once again.  And so, I did. 

Yesterday, Paco came to tell me that our outdoor kitten, Luciano, had caught himself a baby bird.  This chick was naked and his beak still ridiculously oversized for his little body.  He was very likely a victim of the storm as well and crash landed into the path of this 3 month old kitten.  The minute he left that nest, his demise was inevitable.  As we all well know, a cat, especially a kitten, will play with his supper.  And so, that is the scene we came upon.  The poor chick squawking pitifully as a very excited kitten batted him around.  It was gruesome to watch and I wanted to end the poor chick’s life swiftly instead of knowing he was tortured.  We talked about it–daughter, husband, and I, and decided the best course of action was to let nature take its course.  So, we went in the house, and let Luciano savor his prize.  His mother has been teaching him to hunt and I am sure he took pride in his first kill.

Surely, these tragedies are small.  Upsetting, yes.  But, in a bigger sense, I find them humbling and also reassuring.  Humbling in that they take me out of my own head and remind me that rain falls in every life–literally and figuratively.  Life itself is not an easy thing.  We struggle, we learn, and sometimes we lose  for no reason at all–and we keep on going.  I am reassured because I get to witness everyday that all the deaths and all the lives are connected and the cycle goes on and on.  I know this to be true:  all the answers to the big questions are in the very small details.  If you don’t pay attention to the tiny lives and deaths around you, no peace can be found.

Other tragedies are huge.  Gigantic.  Overwhelming.  Criminal.  The Gulf oil leak is emotionally overwhelming to me.  I do not understand why our species has evolved into beings with enough grey matter to poison the entire planet, but not enough spiritual and emotional intelligence to know better.  Money and control are always the reasons.   Money and control are mercurial and false goals.  If we raised our children to be in harmony in the world and not to “make a good living,” we would not be where are now.  I believe that so many people are out of touch with the real workings of the world and of themselves, they are lost–lost in a sea of TV,  fast food, and shopping where they feel no real connection to anything and are simply looking for their next fix.  People who have a connection to the land and what it gives and takes, could never make the decisions that have brought us here.

 I don’t know that I can feel hopeful at this point.  I am unsure if money and politics can be overcome in the final hours and we can save our planet and ourselves.   What I do know is that I can honor all the small wonders that I encounter and raise a daughter who can understand what really matters and what does not.  I can feel hopeful about here and now.  With some luck, I will be around to witness the cycle of life and death on this farm for a long time.

Not for the faint hearted….

Charlie

Well, I had reported that we had nipped a potentially catastrophic goat problem in the bud, or so it seemed.   Charlie perked up and then went downhill. He seems to be slowly getting worse.  He has been increasingly lethargic, eating sparingly, and by Saturday had a fever.  Goats temps should run between 102-103.  Once his temp went to 104.5, we started penicillin immediately. Just like us, not eating or drinking normally will cause dehydration–making the situation worse.  By Friday afternoon, it was clear we were losing ground. We brought Charlie into the barn for a little specialized care.  I also called the vet, only to find out she was gone until sometime on Sunday.  On Saturday, we started penicillin and that brought the fever down quickly.  It did not seem to improve his overall health.  We also started electrolytes to attempt to rebuild him.  By Monday, I was talking to the vet and she came on Tuesday, scooped him up, and took him back to her place.  She was as stumped as we were. 

She called the very next morning to report he had passed away.  It’s comforting to have a vet who is obviously broken up by the news.  She said tests showed him as severely anemic.  We have no idea why.  We fed the right things, dewormed, etc.  She and I agreed that sending the body to the Purdue Lab was the best thing.  After the loss of 2 goats last fall and Charlie this fall, we need to find out what is going on. 

It is easy to have livestock when you get to feed them, scratch under their chins, and watch them play, but it is quite another when you have to nurse them, watch them suffer, and even have to put them down.  Having livestock is no game and they are not pets.  Most people remove themselves from the equation of animals living and suffering and often dying to insulate themselves from the realities of our food system.  I know Charlie was not a food animal, but he could have been.  It is hard to go out to the barn 3-4 times a day to give shots, force electrolytes, and watch suffering.  The bad comes with the good and both have their lessons to teach. 

We miss you Charlie. You were our favorite–the one that always ran up to us, loved to be scratched and cuddled, and was carefree.  We want to know what happened and why. We never thought coming to be part of this farm would cost you your life.