This week’s post has taken a cruel turn. I’d intended to write about the extreme heat and the struggles of farming during a heat wave. To share how I try to take care of my mental and physical well-being while steadily tending to the harvest, thirsty animals, and relentless weeds.
But the grimness of the weather hit home this morning when I discovered 22 dead chickens in their coop, suffocated from the heat.
What takes me to my knees is knowing I’m responsible for the decision that killed the birds. It’s a tale wrapped in irony and frustration and too many contributing factors ~ an electric fence that wouldn’t anchor and hold a charge in the hard-pan ground, a cell phone battery that died and an alarm that didn’t ring at 6 a.m., the fact that I never close up the chickens in summer except it appeared a predator ate a bird the night before.
There’s little consolation in any of those factors. Piling up 22 lifeless animals that hours before were healthy and vibrant is sickening.
But I want to be clear as to not over-dramatize the emotions I feel for the dead chickens. These are not my pets. They don’t have names. When a chicken is done with her laying years she then serves as a stew chicken. To me, and many who farm, this is not uncaring or bestial. It is the pragmatism that farming demands ~ everything on the farm has a job.
My job is to take care of everything on the farm. And I blew it.