Today's lesson

 Is... Country living is not for the faint of heart.

It's been an exhausting day. It started off with me starting the diesel mule to warm up while I did other things and having to stop and wonder what that strange pinging noise was coming from the machine. Kevin and I spent about 15 minutes looking at it and it seemed like an engine problem or the torque converter. Just what we need... The pinging was only there when the machine was idling, as soon as you stepped even a teeny bit on the gas, it went away. I was able to drive it long enough to carry my loads of hay to everyone and then we shut it down.

Jackson was pretty excited when I finally showed up, he was more than ready for his morning goodies.

In the barn there was a bit of chaos because I was delayed in my arrival because of the mule troubles. Bulrush or Buckwheat - I'm not sure who, decided to smash their gate into a million pieces... OK so that's an exaggeration, only a few. They didn't do this because of my being late, but because they decided they hate each other and no longer want to be friends. This happens from time to time, old friends become sudden enemies and hormones are not usually a factor - heaven knows what causes it, maybe one of them makes a snide remark or something. It's hard to say with goats.

Fortune, our oldest rabbit, and the first one who ever came to the farm, is passing away. She's just been declining with age, slowing down, and I've been having to hand water and feed her now. She's very comfortable and not in any pain which is a great comfort to me, and I know this is the best way to go, naturally, peacefully. It's still hard though, to see her off.

Then the real drama started. We discovered that the coyotes killed a fawn last night. I found it, and my heart just about broke in half. I was sure it was Buttons the orphan. Kevin came over and he was sure it was too. It was horrible, to put it lightly.

I've learned a lot of tough lessons farming - raising animals is not an easy task. It's costly, painful, sometimes physical and mostly emotional, it's trying, and it's exhausting. Of course, it's also very rewarding, but it's not all rainbows all the time... The same goes with living in nature and in the bush - nature is not a soft place, it's violent, and it's kill or be killed. People who used to tell me that, I thought they were jerks, until I experienced it for myself and learned the lessons.

However, neither of us are the kind of people who just don't care and are so hardened our hearts don't weep when we see something like this - especially that little baby I've been trying so hard to keep alive this winter. Over the years I've learned to be a little stronger and I thought I was doing pretty well, but after today I'm not sure I've grown quite as strong as I think I have.

After chores I helped Kevin bring in a load of wood he split and we stacked it at the house. We both headed to the garage area we park the tractor and mule at and on the way, I almost fainted.

You see, I saw a ghost looking at me.

Buttons was standing there by the deck, starring at me.

I thought for sure I'd finally cracked and just lost it. This was it - they were going to take me away and lock me up for sure. My emotions were just beyond controlling now.

When I got to the deck (we park the machines underneath it) he was still there, starring at me, not even 10 feet away. I looked towards Kevin with my mouth open and he was just starring in complete disbelief as well.

It was Buttons, no question about it. He was coming up to the porch wondering why I was getting all emotional about it.

We went back out into the bush, even though we were pretty  much fozen by this point in the day and it was almost dark outside... we had to look at the fawn who was killed, we were really confused at this point. The only other fawn that hangs around here, that we know of, is a doe fawn with a big round face and she's bigger than Buttons. 

We looked at the baby, trying to hold it together. It was a buck fawn, little spikes sticking out of his head and his face was very close to Buttons but he was redder and also did not have Buttons chin strap. 

We've never seen him before. We guess the coyotes must have ran him in here - who knows where they ran him from, it could have been close by or far away. Of course we do find deer kills in the bush during logging time and on hikes, and it's part of nature. But it's difficult to take when it's so close to home and a fawn, especially when you think it's the fawn you've become emotionally attached to - even though you tell yourself not to do that.

It was dark when I went up to the barn (and I was nearly completely frozen by now) to try and screw the goat gate back together in the near dark. The barn has lights but the very last goat pen is across from the hay storage and there is no lights there - so there is some light from the front of the barn but not a lot. I was fighting with the gate, trying to hold it in place and screw it together at the same time, meanwhile everyone is outside the door absolutely screaming because it's getting dark and they want inside. 

maa, or moo. I mean hysterical screaming. I should record it.

I have never in my life seen such spoiled brats and the cow - she takes the cake. She is getting a little too diva-esk for my taste. Soon she's going to want me to break up her hay into little pieces for her and rub her hooves at the end of the day.

I fixed the gate the best I could before putting everyone to bed and coming home. The little dogs do not pee far away from the house this time of year but I'm really afraid now with these coyotes coming in like this - I know how smart they are and that they watch closely routines and what goes on around here. If you leave the goats out 20 minutes later than usual, they are here in a second. I'm right with the little dogs but I'll be on high alert now, they won't be able to leave the side of the porch.

I made fresh tortillas for enchiladas for dinner and now I'm going to sit down because I don't have energy for much else. Thankfully Kevin did some research and thinks he's figured out what's wrong with the mule, however it will cost us, but it's not as bad as we thought, and not the engine. The second thing about living on a farm or in the bush is - trying to save money is nearly impossible because just when you think you are ahead, something else will break! That's a rule.

But we live to fight another day. Not all days are like this one of course, but it's been a long one, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

The challenge always is taking these things and to learn from them, and using them as a chance to  grow in your understanding of life, the balance, nature, and how you handle difficult situations. 

I guess the real lesson should be, to be more like Roman. He couldn't care less about anything that happened to me today, or how I handle any of it, all he cares about is that he gets his bedtime treats, his blankets are clean, and that the fire is roaring so he can lie on his back with his belly in the air and sleep the deep sleep of a Prairie dog who doesn't have to live in a burrow for the winter and avoid such things as ferrets and coyotes.... and who has free access to sweet potatoes and bananas.


Anne Kimball said…
SO glad Buttons is OK!
jaz@octoberfarm said…
so glad it wasn't buttons! i love your blog! i am adding you to my sidebar!
I agree, when things are going good on the property....something breaks.

Those critters are spoiled!

Glad buttons is okay.
Oh boy, can I relate to this post! I had a similar day about a week goat Astrid was ailing going downhill fast, I separated her from our other goat for an hour to see if she would eat alone (she wouldn't eat from either of us). And she ended up impaling her chicken friend (we have 2 chickens that have lived with the goats for months now). It was awful. I am so glad that buttons is OK. I know, we always try to be rational about things, but some days, it takes its toll, and for me it is impossible not to become attached. Some days on a farm are really hard. I am glad most of them are much much better! :) HUGS.
Dollwood Farms said…
SO glad Buttons is ok. I am sorry about the little fawn though. I don't know how I could handle something like that. I am sorry about the bunny too. I just went through that with my kitty, as you know, and it is always so hard, but it is the circle of life. I will say a little prayer for her to ease through painlessly. And one for you too. :}
So happy to hear about Buttons, and I'm so happy to read about your insight about "hardening your heart" and raising animals. Its one of my biggest fears as we take on more and more critters! It's good to know I'm not alone in cringing when I think about any of them dying, even when I know that it's their purpose at the end.
I can relate so much to this post. And I think after 3 weeks of real winter weather, things seem to hit home harder. I know coyotes are part of nature and need to eat, but they do keep me awake at night when I can hear them and know that they are near. Glad it wasn't Buttons.
Wilma said…
Oh wow, that is a rough day! Hope I can help make it better by letting you know I left an award for you on my blog today!

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