Wednesday, September 09, 2015

the vulnerable

Heads up -- this is a tough post to write and probably more than one of you will find it ridiculously over-emotional, but Ocean is Ocean, Ed is Ed, I am who I am. In other words, hang in there, this too shall pass!

Let me not dance around the drama: last night, Ed went to close up the coop and as he put the two big girls inside, he checked to make sure the little ones were safe in there.

Both were dead, brutally attacked by a predator.

We spent the night hours burying them and alternately crying (well, that would be me) and telling each other that this is it: we have no stomach for nature's tough rules. We wont get new hens.

The two Brahmas -- they weren't here long, but they sure had an impact on us. Their little chirpy noises -- so sweet and gentle -- possibly gave them away that night. They never tired of talking to each other. Easy to find, easy to attack.

You'll say -- they're just chickens! Indeed. You would be right.  After all, we eat their eggs and have chicken meat not infrequently for supper. Too, we follow the news of the world. We're heartbroken over the hardships endured by so many!

And still, the little hens were part of our small slice of calm here, at the farmette. They came with chirps and trust and each morning they were the first to greet me and to follow me as I cleared a spot for them to munch on handfuls from the $4 (not the $3.50!) bag of scratch. We loved them for their sweet souls and their quiet mark on the landscape around us.

It was a very hard night for the both of us.

This morning, Scotch and Butter seem glad to leave the coop area. Well no wonder -- even though they themselves were outside the coop, they surely saw and heard last night's raid. The fact is, they may themselves be in danger. The predator has not gone away (we know that from nocturnal diggings). We will be locking them up on the early side and Ed will make sure all the coop latches are in good working condition. After that, we can hope that whatever instinct kept Scotch and Butter safe all these years will help them along now as well. (And no, we wont get a dog to guard the hens. Not even a rooster. It isn't clear one would have helped and most free range hens manage to get by on their own.)

Breakfast on the porch.

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The two older hens hover near the farmhouse.

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I work on laying down wood chips.

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And then I have a day with the girl who is herself so young and so vulnerable. It's easy to slip in caring for the young. I tend to be one of those over protective types and so she is not likely to fall down stairs or go crashing into hard furniture. As I watch her, what stands out is how much trust a child has in the world of adults and how nonetheless imperfect we are in living up to that total confidence the little ones have in us.

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(crawling over to grandma)

We play, talk, sing, eat -- the usual set of beautiful tasks and routines. I smile when she smiles and believe me, that's a lot of smiling in the course of the day!

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She does a sweet imitation of a kissing sound, not yet understanding how potent that little gesture is -- how warmly reassuring.

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(And of course, she does a lot of chewing!)

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(... and crawling!)

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(can I catch up to the cats?)

 And we go for a walk around the little lake on this bright, cloudless day. Yes we do! The weather is nearly perfect.

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And the day goes by so quickly! Snowdrop makes sure of that.

In the evening, Ed rides his bike, I do some more wood chip work around the yard. All is quiet. All is calm. I hope it stays this way for a long, long time.