Right now, we have fuzzy babies on the farm. Not only is there Bitsy, the surprise that hatched in the hen coop a couple of weeks ago, but we also have 49 Cornish-x chicks and 10 turkey poults. They are currently spending the cool nights in our garage. My first task every morning is to feed and water the little ones. It is a very gratifying job, because they are always completely thrilled to eat. I can almost read see the gratitude in their fluffy little faces.
This morning, I had the unfortunate task of disposing of a little one that died through the night. Isaac noticed that it was puny the night before last, and we tried to nurse it back to health yesterday to no avail. In the two weeks since the babies were delivered, this is the first one we’ve lost. That’s a pretty good record so far; we hope it lasts.
After the garage babies are taken care of, I head to the barn to let Roscoe and the hens out for the day. Bitsy now scratches out and about the pasture with her momma and two or three “aunties” that help keep her out of mischief. (We hope it’s a her, but we don’t really know.) This is also a good job for me, because these birds are always eager to get out and look for their breakfast. We currently have a hen setting on a clutch of eggs, so this is a convenient time for me to check on her as well. Chicken eggs take 21 days to hatch, and I think we’re a third of the way through that cycle.
While at the barn, I check any traps that we’ve set. Currently, this consists of a mouse trap that is catching something every time I set it. This makes me happy. With nearby pastures, fields and woods full of rodent food, I have a really hard time sharing the grain I’ve bought with mice. One momma mouse can give birth to 40 pups a year. Since I am not interested in determining the gender of my trap’s victims, I count every catch as being worth 20 points. This week, I’ve scored 80 points. And it’s only Wednesday!
We’ve not had trouble with predators in the barn so far this summer, so we haven’t had the live trap baited for a couple of months. However, in the semi-darkness of the dawn, I saw something scurry under the barn on my way out this morning. It was bigger than a mouse, so methinks the trap must be set tonight. This is one of my least favorite responsibilities. I don’t mind the setting of or even the catching of, but the dealing with whatever we catch is blechyness times a million for me. Fortunately, my son is getting pretty good with his .22 rifle. I think he’s ready to take over this less-than-desirable farm chore. He shot and killed a raccoon that our dogs treed last month. I really appreciate his willingness to pitch in and help in this area.
There is always life and death to deal with on our little farm. Not all of what we do is pleasant, but it all has its place and its purpose in our days. Even the death of the little chick can serve as a reminder to be grateful for the 49 chicks which we hope to grow into food for ourselves and for others. I cannot say that I rejoice in the death of the chick (although I do kinda rejoice in the deaths of the mice), but I am thankful for the lessons I can learn in its passing.
With trapping of the mice, I am reminded that vigilance is necessary. If we are careless with what we’ve been given, those resources may be taken from us. The gifts with which we have been blessed today are not guaranteed to bless us tomorrow. We must do our part to be wise and worthy stewards of God’s provisions–even when what needs to be done is far from pleasant.