Monday, January 1, 2007

Holiday meals and living with nature

I need to get back into the habit of posting regularly. So much has been happening here lately. Today, we had roast pheasant for our New Year Day dinner. It was, of course, homegrown. Sadly, it's the last of the pheasant. I really enjoyed the meat, but raising the birds is difficult as they fight too much.

Speaking of fighting ... once again, I am reminded of the laws of nature. This past summer, a mama hen hatched a clutch of eggs, and these two roosters appeared to be best friends. You never saw one without the other. I've written before about the importance of not having too many roosters. We learned the hard way that if there are too many roosters, they'll fight to the death, so we always butcher the roosters to keep the number down. These two boys seemed different though. Just the other day, I said, "We can't butcher one of them. The other one would miss him too much." We'd see them out in the east pasture every morning, and we'd see them following each other everywhere on the farm. Then yesterday afternoon, I saw them fighting. I knew from experience that it does no good to break it up. They'll just start fighting again the minute I'm gone. I shook my head and hoped they'd work it out as I walked away from the window. This morning, I looked out to the east pasture and saw only one rooster. Later, I looked out the dining room window and saw the same lone rooster. Last night, my younger daughter said that one of the roosters had a pretty bloody head. I sent my eldest daughter to the chicken house to see if she could find him. A few minutes later, she was headed back to the house carrying what looked like a dead rooster. He wasn't dead, but he was close. He couldn't even hold up his head. I told my husband he needed to put him out of his misery. I guess there is no such thing as friendship for roosters.

On December 27, Lizzie gave birth to twin doelings. They are beautiful and sweet. They'll come up to you and sniff you, and they love to be held. They'll curl up on your lap and fall asleep.

The next day, Venus gave birth to triplets, but they all died. She was a first-time mom, and she didn't clean the babies off. They either suffocated in the amniotic sac or froze to death from being wet too long. Only a couple days earlier, someone asked me why we have to be there for the births. I said we really don't have to do much other than dry off the babies. That doesn't sound like it's very important, but it is. We've almost lost babies to hypothermia before, but luckily, we always found them while they were still alive. We were able to get them warmed up, but we weren't so lucky this time. I was really depressed for two days. I felt so guilty. We normally have a baby monitor in the barn, so we'll know if someone is giving birth. But we haven't been able to find the monitor. I thought about buying another one, but then I figured I'd find the old one as soon as I bought the new one. I felt dreadful when we found the dead babies. They were perfect. I have no doubt they'd all be alive today if only we had that baby monitor. We have two more goats due on January 7. If we don't find the baby monitor in the next couple days, we'll definitely be buying a new one.

When this kind of thing happens, people always ask what animals in the wild do. If you've been reading my blog for long, you might remember what I said about the mama turkeys ... they only have to raise one to adulthood to replace themselves. Nature is inherently wasteful but wise. In the wild, if Venus never learned to clean off her babies when they're born, none of her babies would survive, and her lack of mothering instincts would not be passed on to another generation.

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