Monday, July 21, 2008
In the midst of death -- life
I hadn't realized how little I'd smiled lately until yesterday when I saw a turkey hen walking across the grass with eight newly hatched poults. I screeched and squealed and must have been incomprehensible in my excitement, because Katherine came running outside with wet hair and a towel wrapped around herself. She thought there had been another coyote attack. "No!" I squealed. "Babies! Look! The turkey hen has eight babies!" My daughters looked at me as if they were thinking, "Okay, Mom's losing it. They're just turkey poults." Then in my best Shakespearean actress voice, I raised my arm and proclaimed, "In the midst of all this death, there is life!"
But Katherine's comments did bring me back to the reality of life on the farm. Margaret, Mike, and I went to get one of the portable chicken pens for her and her babies. They would be able to live on fresh grass and get plenty of air and sunshine, but the coyotes would not be able to get them. At first we tried to encourage the mama turkey into the pen, but she wanted nothing to do with it. Then we decided to catch the babies, hoping she would go inside if she saw her babies in there. It worked. I had to grab the camera to get a picture of her. Sorry, you can't see the babies yet. She refused to stand up while I was there. She was being very protective.
That black spot at the end of her tail is a chick. He was hatched by a duck several days ago. The lovely duck is sitting on a nest filled with nothing but chicken eggs. We were worried that she'd lead this little chicken into the pond, and he'd drown, but she is smart enough to know that he is not speaking her language. She completely ignored him, continuing to sit on the seven other eggs. We decided to put him in the pen with the turkey to see if she'd accept him. She did. Hopefully he'll bond with his adoptive siblings and won't have much of an inferiority complex when all of them get to be much bigger.
I didn't realize how much I was smiling until my cheeks started hurting. It was the happiest work I'd done in at least a week.
The four llamas were delivered yesterday. They are lovely, and as far as we can tell, everyone survived last night. I am looking forward to getting back to the business of routine care for the animals and the garden. In one week, we lost two sheep, three ducks, and three chickens. We would have lost a turkey hen if Porter hadn't alerted us to the attack. I was starting to get into my melancholy Thoreau mood ... well, you wanted to suck all the marrow out of life, even if it was ugly. One thing is certain -- when I get to the end of my life, I won't be lamenting that I had never lived.