I have moments where farming is just too hard. Saying goodbye to our little lambs when it is time to eat them, spending entire weekends processing chickens, having skunks eat our young chicks, and all sorts of things.
We've said good goodbyes (Ditka is an example) and we've said bad goodbyes (Ethel, Carol and Pretty Princess Penelope), and we have pre-destined goodbyes (turkeys, chickens and lambs).
This goodbye is sort of hard, because we really don't know if it's goodbye, but we suspect it is.
Miss Natasha, one of our barn cats, hasn't been seen in over a week. There has been a very destructive skunk on the prowl, as well as our family of coyotes that live near by, as well as foxes that have been seen in the area. The kitties usually get locked in the barn at night, but when they started eating all the baby chicks, we let them sleep where they wanted - under the shed, under bushes - wherever. Natasha has even been known to spend a cold night on the roof of the barn - not by my choice!! We've gone several days without seeing her, only for her to pop back up on the front porch in the morning. But now, not only have we not seen her to over a week - but her sister Marie started acting very lonely. She would dance in circles around Hobbes looking for a playmate, or talk to Larry and I hoping for some cuddles and attention. She has even spent time in the house with us.
Now we haven't seen her since Sunday - but I hope she will be back. Regardless, we will be making a trip to the humane society to see what types of barn cats they have available. If Marie comes back, that's great - but she'll need a companion in the winter to help keep her warm in the barn. If she doesn't, we still desperately need mousers in the barn and around the house.
I keep telling Marie (when I see her) and the dogs to tell Natasha to come home. Since we haven't found her, dead or alive, I still hope she just wandered off. Even though she was the shy one, she's never been gone this long. And if the skunk got her and left her under the shed, or by some bushes, the dogs would have certainly found her body by now. So she's clearly not here. But I don't know where she is. We had both of them for about a year, and we figured if they were going to actually run away, they would have done it by now. I love them very much and hope they come back. But the reality is that there are wild animals around here - and they are hungry too. If they don't come back - it's easy to replace a cat. There are always hundreds of them in shelters looking for homes, we'll get more and hopefully do a better job of keeping them safe. It's not to say that Natasha and Marie are replaceable - every animal has a special place in my heart - but there can always be more cats to bring home.
Sleep tight Natasha and Marie. We hope you both come home. If you don't - I hope you can rest peacefully wherever you are and know that you are loved.