Monday, July 22, 2013


I'm pretty sure the fates were listening the other night, when I got on Facebook and started semi-bragging about how my deer fence was working and my green beans were gorgeous. You have to be careful, when you're farming or gardening or homesteading, to not slip from satisfaction into smugness.

Saturday we went to Grassroots for the day. It's a big four-day music festival near Ithaca; camping there for all four days and muddy night used to be religion for Patrick and I. So there I was, meeting a friend of a friend, talking gardens and chickens and predation. And there it was: "We've got our chicken coop built into our garage," I said, "so there's an extra layer of protection." Satisfaction slipped to smugness, right there too.

We were gone all day, and most of the night. We got home at 3 am, and Genevieve and Patsy were nowhere to be found.

I am absolutely heartsick for them both. Yes, they're chickens, but it's incredible how caring for them and talking to them over the course of a year can make you love them. We shared so much of our story with them-- especially Genevieve, who I was so sure would outlive them all. Genevieve, who could fly even with her wings clipped, and was, I'm pretty sure, part Racing Chicken. And Patsy, the sweetest, most docile girl. 

Sigh. Losing chickens is such a conflicting experience. On one hand, it's a fairly regular occurrence. Chickens are tasty; lots of critters like to eat them. In one year we've lost four: one to the road, one to a dog running loose, and now these two. They're chickens, they're prey, they're uncomplicated animals that are easy to raise and have the emotional depth of a head of cabbage. So I try to accept it: we're going to be here a long time. Chickens are going to come and go, many many chickens, and there will be loss and we will live through it.

And on the other hand, trivializing the experience like that just feels so wrong. The guilt comes seeping in. The guilt and responsibility: we could've gotten home earlier, we could've asked a neighbor to close them up for us, but we didn't. That is even harder than the heartsickness. 

In the end, I have to tell myself that any life lived on this place, no matter how short or how badly ended, is worth living. It's that way for me, and for Patrick, and I know for our cats and our dog. I can only assume our chickens-- deep in their cabbage-brains-- felt the same way. 

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Katie Otto said...

Awwwww, hugs to you in this time of sorrow!

Becky said...

So sorry for your sadness.

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