Life on a farm, no matter the size of the farm, has got to be one of the clearest ways to view life and witness how quickly it begins and how tragically rapid it can fade from existence.
Last week for instance, all was well in the morning when we opened the doors and allowed the animals to vacate their cozy little safe harbors and rush forth into the nasty, cruel world. By days end all returned to their safe haven but one. Emily, one of our first and favorite Indian Runner ducks didn’t come in that night. We called and searched into the night, the darkness, hiding any sign of where she might be. The next day, we went searching again and to our dismay, found a feather trail from the bank area of the Pupskill Pond, into the swampy area off to the one side. She had been grabbed and we didn’t see the feather trail in the darkness. Obviously she vanished with nary a trace....except that Vick’s parents saw the ducks and chickens running to hide that afternoon, as they sipped coffee on the rear deck. Vick’s Dad walked out a little ways, only to see the critters then return to a semi-normal state and he thought they had seen three crows flying overhead at that time and became spooked.
Then Friday afternoon, Vicki noticed all the ducks and chickens running and flying toward the big barn and summoned me to grab my gun and go outside; that something was happening and scaring all the birds. I went out with my shotgun, and saw nothing happening, but the wild geese were surely at full alert and all looking toward the old chicken and duck house area. I hobbled as quickly as I could to that area and found another feather trail...leading into the woods. I followed and from the edge of the yard, some twenty yards or so into the woods, I saw a chicken flopping. She was trying in earnest to get back to the yard, but was near death...and before I could reach her she succumbed to her injuries. A Fox...Killing our chickens...again.
Now I must watch for it and become the killer. An unpleasant necessity of being a farmer...One I do not relish, but can perform without reserve, because I view it as being my animals keeper...doing the best I can to protect them from harm.
Life is a series of confrontations almost on a daily basis...Confrontations that requires one to give up and another to excel. It may entail a fight, an argument, a sporting event, or a simple conversation where two reach a peaceful agreement.
But, one thing is for sure...every confrontation is capable of ending a life.
This morning, I went to the brooding house and took seven new lives from the incubator and placed them before their first water and food and coaxed them into taking their first nourishment. There are at least three more hatching right now. How quickly a life will start and end here.
Look at the pictures I have added.... snapping them this morning, on my way to the brooding house to take a picture of the chicks. Almost all are mute reminders of the coming seasons. Fall is the prelude to the long dark, cold winter we endure, but fall is also a time to be enjoyed, so Vicki and I relish it as much as we can.
We love the brisk chill that snaps you to attention in the mornings, when you leave the house...causing us to reach up and pull our collar up around your neck. The smells of autumn are unmistakable and always cause a person to hold a warm spot within for pumpkins, apples, cinnamon and dead cornstalks. These are all true signs that we have entered the fall of the year. I always get a warm, contented feeling inside when I walk into the warmth and coziness of our house, after being out in the fall chill...seeing the pellet stove aglow...as the dogs greet us.
Vick and I will make sure we get to the Altamont Apple Festival, The Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival and other such Oktoberfest style festivals throughout our area, northern upstate New York, Vermont and as far as New Hampshire.
Hey? Why not enjoy all that is available? Take advantage of this time of year and enjoy it anytime you can, so you don’t feel as if you’ve missed any of the celebrations of harvest time before winter grips the countryside?
Not as beautiful as before, Huh?
Last, but certainly not least.... Here is one of Vick's latest watercolors. This will be given to our friend and neighbor, Charlie. I think he'll like it.....it's his dog Maggie.