Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I am looking forward to spring

I know, my friends are probably confused by that. Fall is my favorite season, and anyone who has been to a Halloween party at my house knows it. I love the colors, I love College Football, I love pumpkins and cool air, and Halloween costumes.

But there is something that doesn't happen around the fall or winter around here - and that's babies. No more baby chicks, no baby lambs. If we get our ram in October, Laverne and the girls (the ones who are old enough) will be having lambs in March, maybe April. That's around the same time that we'll be bringing in baby chicks.

It isn't really about babies for me right now - it's about life and growth. Farming is hard, we see a lot more death than most folks. Back when I was a happy Suburbanite - how often did I face death? And my contemporaries who are still happy Suburbanites? Yes, you face it. We all lose loved ones and pets. We lose parents and grandparents, we lose people we care about to illness, longevity, accidents... But you don't face it monthly. Heck, we'd all break down a little if we had to attend a funeral every month. Death is hard.

On the farm, we see a lot of it. I'm getting accustomed to saying goodbye to chickens. We just did that a month ago - 50 in one weekend. That's a lot of death. But that's pre-destined. Those are animals that live a good happy life, and go on to become food. I can handle that. It's not my favorite way to spend a weekend, but I'm OK with it. We also lose chickens and turkeys to other things - injury, heart attacks, disease. Those upset me more. Those animals may have been hurting, and with their death there is no gain. They don't nourish anyone else. They just go away, and I don't like it. I also lost my precious Ditka this year. I still would have faced that in my happy Suburban life, too. It made it easier knowing he had lived a full life and that he was surrounded by loved ones until his very last breath. But it was more death. And we have 5 more dogs at home that we will say goodbye to.

We also lost 2 sheep this year. One was to an accident with a dog. It happened. I'm sad for Ethel. I can't take it back. I still have guilt for not doing more to protect her. And I broke my promise to her. But we know how it happened, we know how to avoid it. We also lost another sheep this past weekend. There is no reason that we know of. Was Carol sick, Larry thought he had heard her coughing. But Gertrude coughs too, and she's still with us. Did she have some other illness? Did something happen to her? We'll never know. This could happen any time, any where. It happened to our neighbor with their 4H sheep. She just died. It made me realize that I don't get to see life again until spring. And winters are hard. We lose animals in the bitter cold. We do what we can to provide them shelter, but I can almost bet we'll lose some chickens in the cold.

I look forward to spring - when the farm is about NEW life. When the barn and the field are full of new babies. For the fall - I hope we don't lose anymore than we plan to lose (our last batches of chickens and turkeys for thanksgiving, yum!) I hope there are no more surprises. I miss Ditka. I miss Ethel and Carol. But I am looking forward to spring - when I get to pick out silly names for all the baby lambs. I look forward to the farm being full of babies and being able to focus on LIFE again.