Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Dark Side of Farming

I don't know of too many other occupations that rely on nature and the weather as much as farming.  Those of us who work the land know how it is to be close to it, and how nature can be giving and make things beautiful, but that she is also very fickle and will take what she wants when she wants it.  Though we can grow luscious and wonderful things from her soil, the forest and grasses are always trying to conquer our gardens.  Though we can raise and nurture animals, she can send one of her wild creatures to kill and destroy.

Last night, they came for our ducks.

This morning, none the wiser, I went out as usual for feeding time.  It was quiet in the waterfowl yard, which is odd.  I didn't really notice too much, until I saw a large bit of dirt was pushed aside in front of the ducks' house, and the crack of the door was wider.  When I opened the door, the smell of duck dung and blood hit me.  It was a massacre.  Two were dead, one was missing, and four were badly wounded. 

My guess is that it was a weasel or a mink.  I could be wrong.  Whatever it was, it took the smallest of the new Khaki Campbells away completely.  It bit the heads of Lizzie, the other Khaki, and killed her, and Suzie, who is badly wounded but still alive.  It did horrible things to poor Phoebe, whose body parts were not left where they should have been.  It tore part of Jane's bill off, and went after Ophelia's bill and her left leg.   Fawn was so badly damaged, I couldn't see where the damage was. 

Fawn, Ophelia, Jane and Suzie were still alive.  I called my dad (thank goodness for nearby parents!) and asked if he could come lend me a hand with the kids.  I didn't want them to see what I was seeing.  I told them what had happened, and of course, they were very upset.  My dad arrived to take them out to get donuts, and I was left to treat the wounded and bury the dead. 

My first ministrations were quick--I had kids to get to school, and an appointment I had to attend.  Once those were done, I went and took another look.  Jane may make it.  Suzie and Ophelia might make it.  There was no way I could help Fawn.  As I racked my brain thinking of the most humane way to put her down (I have no gun, and that was the only suggestion I kept getting from people), she let me off the hook.  Thankfully, she went by herself.

So this is the ugly, dark side of farming.  I've seen it before, but this was my first big glimpse of it.  It was vicious and cold, and showed me exactly how harsh nature can be.  It was an education.  We have to start over again, which is disappointing, but I understand and accept how and that it happened.  We go on from here.  Once again, Chicken Scratch will hear the melodies of little ducklings.  I hope this time I can protect them better.
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  1. So sorry to hear of your misfortune. You have a good attitude to get you through it! And there's always the hope of a better future!

  2. Oh I am so so sorry to hear this! How awful for you and your kids. Such a scary experience and one that we fear and pray never happens. Our little guys are still locked up safe and sound in the big barn but I know they eventually have to move out to their own duck house. I am terrified of not making it predator proof enough. Hugs to you and your family.


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