Death is an inevitable fact of any life. Nothing lives forever, and we know this. But dealing with any death is still difficult for most of us. The homestead has been unfortunately filled with loss this week. Monday it was a missing chicken. Our egg layers have names, so when Meeka didn’t come home for the night, there is a moment of pause and wondering as to what her fate was. Hubby looked for signs of a fox, we wondered if a hungry hawk simply ended it quickly for her, possibly a stray cat wandered in to an easy feast. No matter what, the fact is still that she is gone, and the loss of a daily egg and a fluffy yellow squawker stings for a few minutes. Yesterday was a dead broiler chicken. While out for the evening feeding, we discovered the frozen body in the pen. Perhaps she had a heart attack, perhaps she was just weak. That loss wasn’t so much sad for her life, but sad for the loss of investment. Our family would have eaten from that life, and now three months of time and care were lost unexpectedly.
We are preparing physically and mentally for the planned deaths of the remainder of our broiler chickens and two of our pigs. It will be hard, but ends the cycle we have planned for. Becoming aware of the origins of our food and being an active participant in our food cycle requires us to also be a part of not only the life, but the death of our animals. We plan to have the kids present and active, so that they can learn too. It will be hard, but necessary. Our animals have lived with respect and humanity, they have been given the best possible food and a lifestyle that is acceptable for who they are. We have known all along their purpose, but that knowledge still weighs heavy on me.
Today we also lost our beloved Romeo. A 5lb chihuahua, rescued 8 years ago, he was hardly a farm dog, heck, he was hardly a dog at all. But he was quirky and snuggly, ever begging for a chunk of meat, and always greeting us when we got home. He was my office dog, he would come to work and greet my clients, he made everyone smile with his crooked ears and gimpy little gait. But age finally got the best of him. His legs couldn’t carry him any more, and his big brown eyes just stared at me wondering why he couldn’t move. So I had to make another decision, one out of pity and respect for him. No matter what the rationale is though, the pain of this loss stings hard. He has been my faithful companion through so many stages of life. It’s been a somber week, but we must keep moving. We should have piglets and baby goats on the way, which will breath new life in the spring. A new round of chicks will bring everyone’s spirit up. We’re focusing on training Jerome on how to be a real farm dog. Where we’ve lost, we will eventually gain. The homestead is a living breathing cycle of life.