the Flip Side

Death on the Homestead

New life is so much more fun to post about, but in reality all things aren’t just joy. There has to be sorrow, and we’ve experienced an eye-opening amount of that as well since we’ve been on this homestead.

In the last week we lost this brand new duckling the night it hatched, along with the clutch of eggs that went with it. Is it a tragedy? Feels like it. Feels like the day before mother’s day is just NOT the time to lose a baby. This little guy was not our first loss. Last year we lost 95% of a chick shipment the day it arrived–talk about panicked! We’ve lost several hives for no explicable reason (probably neoconitoids–beware), a goat, turkeys to a less than brilliant giant puppy dog. And ducks and guineas go missing with nothing left but a pile of feathers at least monthly. This week, almost nightly. Something is on the prowl.

So, while we do what we can to scare away predators and hope our dog will someday be effective at guarding more than just the goats, which he almost play with to death from time to time, we are in fear. And sometimes we lose sleep over coyotes yipping in the distance, and because of squabbles on an otherwise still night. We run outside armed and ready to take down what scares us and what threatens those in our protection but really we are only capable of trying. We are only doing our best.

I’ve heard many amazing testimonials about the healing people have been able to find through natural medicine and the essential oils over the last year. But, people still die. Healing and protection and life are all not really in our control and all we can do is our best. Perhaps this ray of darkness is what makes the light more tender, more warm. It’s hard to measure something without a counterbalance and so as useless and hurtful and pointless as these regular tragedies seem to be, they seem to be what makes life precious.

Perhaps in modern day we shelter ourselves too much from this torment. We guard our children from experiencing these difficulties & we fear death so much that protect our children from overexposure. In the end we are pretty damn resilient. In the end we’re better off for having these moments of the worse.

It was just a duckling. But to Jackie O. who sat on that nest and nurtured those eggs–those promises of life–it was everything. And to watch her sulk and limp and aimlessly shuffle around our homestead was the pain that balances out the joy of the bouncing baby goats, and nursing piglets…to celebrate mother’s day last week in the midst of such contradiction…well, I still mourn her loss. And my kids, though challenged by this disappointment, know that life is a gift. 

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