I didn’t expect the news to hit me as hard as it did this morning. Then again, I haven’t quite figured out how to avoid a tear-stained cheek when I see one of theirs.
Stewart came in looking very sober and quietly let me know that half of the newly purchased chicks were gone. Just as he told me, five-year-old Annie was heading out to feed this, her first flock. When we found one severely injured, the news got worse.
Her Daddy held her at the breakfast table as she cried out the tears of her first real homestead loss. I watched these two across a jar of fresh blue bonnets and tried not to cry too. It isn’t our first loss on the homestead, and certainly not the first time we’ve had to learn from a loss, but seeing Annie did me in.
The remaining chicks were fed and watered and new housing contemplated. Her tears were gone not long after she finished her sourdough pancakes but the rest of the morning felt somber and heavy. Somehow going to check on things in the garden seemed appropriate, between hanging up laundry and sweeping floors.
I half wondered if we wouldn’t incur some loss there as well. We have often had these losses come in bunches; a swath of fruit trees and the garden taken out by cows; chicks lost to snakes one night and a rat pilfering the tomatillos the following morning. I’ve also been a bit like a Mama of a newborn in recent weeks, checking these little seedlings daily as they go from seed to seedling to a plant sturdy enough to withstand the reality of weather and bugs and everything in between.
So out we went, to check on these baby vegetables that we’d taken photos of the night before. With Ruthie in her rain boots and Joshie on my hip we went to touch the dirt and pull some weeds.
And there they were, the green beans and tomatillo (just one) that survived the unexpected frost. There were the squash hills and melon plot and cucumbers with their dewy wet leaves. The peas still held their delicate flowers; the newer potato planting is still barely coming up. The lettuce is still growing and the garlic has me wondering just what is under all of that green top.
It was almost odd how green and dewy the garden was with the death of those chicks in the back of my mind.
I think what homesteading does is to prevent us from being sheltered from some of these realities of the world we live in. With life and then death it can all feel so fragile at times… which has lead me to the conclusion that we’re just kidding ourselves when we think it’s not.
Part of the education we’re receiving out here is through the death and the life and the infinite mercies in all of it that we so often don’t see. We give thanks for the loss and ask the Lord to teach us whatever we are supposed to learn – both physically and spiritually. There can only be more death in our future, of that I am certain. It’s a good reminder of the sobering reality of husbandry and stewardship.