Thursday, January 20, 2011

It's Not Always Easy

I sometimes wonder why the way my family lives is often called "the simple life". There is really very little simple about it.

It would be much simpler to turn a blind eye and buy meat from the store and not think about what might be in it that I really don't want to put in my body. It would be much simpler to send my kids to the local school and pretend I don't know their minds are being challenged.

Most of all, it would be much simpler to never have to wonder why a favorite animal had to die. If I didn't connect with the animals on the farm, it would be so simple to not feel anything for the food on my table.

After a week of nurturing and treating our big old rooster who was suffering from frostbite, he died. He was doing great, crowing like crazy and finally eating and drinking well. We thought all was going to be fine with him. Then within just a couple hours of returning to the coop, Rob found him dead on the floor. There was no sign of additional trauma, so we aren't sure why he suddenly died like that. Our best guess was that after being in the house for almost a week, returning to the cold coop was too much of a shock to his system and that he wasn't quite as ready as we though.

We are a small homestead. We raise most of our animals to provide for our family. This rooster was old and really beyond being fertile enough to give us a good hatch rate on our eggs this spring. At the same time, he was gentle with the hens and docile with us. He also was getting along well with the couple of young roosters we still had hanging around. He helped the mother hens protect their chicks. He was a gem among roosters. For that reason we tried so hard to save him. Any other rooster in as bad a shape as he was would most likely have been put down at the start.

To some that seems harsh I'm sure. This is where it isn't easy living this life. This is when we have to remember why we are raising these animals in the first place. Sometimes I think the kids understand better than me that it doesn't make good sense to keep unproductive animals.

All I can hope for now is that one of the young roosters takes after his father and becomes the calm gentle fellow we need.

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