This week’s post is a departure from the norm for me. I am a knitter and love the fiber arts and NEVER don’t have something I’m working on, whether one knitting project or five, but I also have another love.
I am a budding homesteader. I am pretty much a rank beginner. I have loads of books on a variety of homesteading topics. I am a member of a couple of discussion boards where I can read, learn, and ask questions in my journey to become more and more self-reliant. I will relentlessly pick the brains of anyone I know who can teach me how to do something. Slowly, oh so slowly, I’ve been working on building a small homestead on my just under 2 acres of land. If you can picture a doctor operating over a patient while someone holds a book for him to follow the directions you have a fairly good image of me and my homesteading.
So far, I have two herb gardens with plans for expansion. I would include photos, but at this time of year, there is nothing to show. I have managed to successfully grow some vegetables and I’m planning a larger garden this year. I hope someday to add a couple of hives of bees. I have no limit to my ideas, just a limit to time, energy, and money.
In one of my earliest posts Just Start I talked about raising my chickens. In April 2017 I purchased 9 chicks from a local farm store, my first ever little flock. I was definitely a mama hen with these little ladies as I worked to provide them with good conditions and nutrition. Before we were able to build a permanent structure that allowed them inside and outside access through a small door, I would carry each one of them from the inside coop to a small outdoor yard every morning and back inside every evening.
These ladies are my therapy animals. In spite of the fact that I am decidedly NOT a morning person and sometimes have to drag myself out in the morning for morning chores, the moment I step inside, I start talking to them.
Good morning! How are you all? Any eggs yet? When it stops raining I’ll let you out in the yard. I brought some extra veggies this morning. See you this evening!
That can move me from sluggish (NOT a morning person) to ready to get on with things in a moment’s time. I’m not sure why they affect me that way, don’t really care why, but I know it does me good.
So you will understand my sorrow when I tell you about the tragic events of this past Saturday. A friend of ours had voluntarily entered a program to help with some personal issues and to gain a better handle on her life and help her move forward in important ways. For a short period of time, she needed someone to watch her dog (you can see where this is going) until someone could take her permanently.
Saturday morning I attached the dog to a very secure outside tether since she had been in the kennel all night and I had some work I needed to get done for which I needed her to be out of the way. I made sure it wasn’t too cold, shelter, food, water, all the comforts. Periodically I checked to see how she was doing. When I looked out the window to check again I discovered to my surprise that she was off the tether (still no idea how, it looked completely undamaged) and thought, “what is that white thing she has?…..OH MY GOSH, IT’S A CHICKEN!!!!!” I ran outside and, in spite of her efforts to evade me, I managed to grab her collar and get her back in her kennel.
I called my husband at work, who was on break, and the poor man got to hear me freak out in real time as I walked into the coop to see the carnage. I make no apologies for my love for my ladies and this was very hard to take.
The final casualty count was 3 chickens dead, 1 wounded, and 3 escaped. My son went out in the cold rain searching for the missing chickens. My husband came home immediately and together we repaired the damage, salvaged the meat from the killed chickens and returned the dog to her owner who is making other arrangements. She was, of course, appalled that this had happened as well and understood that we were concerned for our surviving birds (and our cat).
One silver lining here was the touching way in which my husband and son instantly dropped everything to help and support me. I am so very grateful for their love.
Although to the rest of the world this would be a very small a type of apocalypse, for me, it was much, much bigger.
Any farmer or homesteader who has lived this life even for a short period of time could tell me that this is not an unusual event. I was not ignorant of it myself, but this was the first time I had to come face to face with it so personally.
But those same farmers and homesteaders and even the beginner that I am, can also tell you, that to do these things and live this life requires resilience. So I will mourn my lovely ladies that were lost. I will nurse the wounded one who is doing much better than I had expected. We’ve recovered the 3 that were missing, so I currently have a smaller flock of 5. In a couple of months, I will go back to the farm store and there will be some new baby chicks for me to hover over and in time, add to the established flock.
In hope and resilience,