THE OFFICIAL BLOG
Stay At Home Orders
I know that this COVID-19 disaster has caused major upheaval and, yes, tragedy in so many lives. I acknowledge the gravity of it. Which is also why I write this post in a spirit of gratitude. I am grateful that our daily lives have not been impacted much at all so far.
The first change for us was not going out for weekly archery lessons. We all miss our coach and the rest of the archery team. And I may even miss the pleasant drive all the way to Coweta (though I do not miss the drive back. I'm sure you understand how that could be so.). But not having to leave the house on Mondays has meant a less hectic start to the school week and a pretty sharp reduction in the amount of gas I need to purchase in a month.
And of course, I mentioned school. I can only imagine how disruptive it would be to have to bring your children home from school in the middle of a semester. I can only imagine because we homeschool. Our daily school routine has continued as it has for years. There is only minor inconvenience when ordered books required for online courses take a couple of extra weeks to get here because of COVID-related shipping delays. It doesn't matter much... we aren't on a schedule so classes start when the books get here... whenever that is.
My husband is the one who has had to adapt to the biggest changes once he was asked to work from home starting over a month ago. Mind you, it wasn't an unwelcome suggestion. We are both happy that he has been able to remain employed through all of this... and we, frankly, love having him here working from home. It happens to be something we always wished he would be able to do (and we will all be sad when things return to 'normal' and he has to commute in to the office once again). It just so happens that we have a comfortable office space down in the barn where he can work in private and is only occasionally interrupted by hens screaming their egg song of victory or a bleating goat.
The hardest change is not having access to Mass. Online streaming is nice for a sense of community and all, but as Catholics not having access to the sacraments (which are a visible sign of a grace received... emphasis on visible.. tangible.. in person) is tough-going. Our daily prayers continue unabated and we look forward to the restoration of public Mass in the future. God willing.
As a small farm, these times have been interesting. In the beginning of the crisis we were swamped with requests for chicks, hens, roosters, eggs, geese, goats milk, meat rabbits... Anything and everything that people felt they would need to make their family more self-sufficient in the event of a long-term disaster.
The demand has died down now. And, unfortunately, I don't think that it is because everyone is ready to take care of themselves. I am pretty sure that a bit of complacency has already settled in again. Maybe even on our part as we are no where near as self-sufficient as we had planned to be following the first large-scale disaster we survived.
Mostly I am talking about food. We have chickens and eggs. We even have enough eggs to have been able to start offering some for sale to the local community during a time in which it has apparently been harder to find them in stores. But surviving on chickens and eggs alone is for only the harshest of times. And this is not yet the harshest of times. I am disappointed that we still have to go to the grocery store for staples and wish I had already set up a network with friends and neighbors who own cows for our butter and milk. I wish we had a chest freezer full of beef and pork -- and a friend to buy more from. I wish my vegetable garden did not crash totally and completely with late freezes and too much rain. I wish squash bugs did not exist.
The lesson learned here when this is over... Please - if this is ever over... Is to make those connections in earnest so that we are not at all dependent on a long food supply chain.
In the meantime, we have enough of what we need and are fortunate to be able to somewhat enjoy this slow and quiet time all together at home. We are praying for everyone out there as they navigate all of the uncertainty and fear. And if there is anything we can help you with - please let us know. A grace shared is a grace multiplied.
A brief update
Last month I had written about the predator attack on a temporary pen where we were housing goslings overnight in much grim detail. I am relieved to report that we have had no predator losses since and have started sleeping a little easier at night again.
There was one gosling who had survived that terrible night while sustaining some gruesome injuries. In my emotional state at the time, I could not bring myself to put him down despite the fact that I was sure he could not make it.
I was apparently wrong all around.
The kids affectionately dubbed the little thing Nick Fury - for reasons which should be obvious to Marvel fans.
It turns out that Nick Fury is actually a girl goose, but we are keeping the name anyway. Yes, I have considered fabricating a goose-sized eye patch for the sake of dramatic effect.
All of her other injuries have completely healed and she gets around fine although she has to rely on her hearing when her little flock is off to her right. As for the flock, they have never so much as looked at her funny this whole time. She's the same gosling they have known since hatch day.
So.. it looks like someday we will be saying: And that's how we came to have a one-eyed goose. Here's hoping to happy adventures for Miss Nick Fury.
Posted by Anita
Needs goose eye-patch ideas.
Fear of the Dark
It does not matter how long we have been doing this, or how many times things go horribly wrong and we get through it. When we lose any animals, the heartbreak is the same. It means we are human, I tell the kids, We know by the pain we feel that we have lost none of our humanity along the way. And none of that reassurance in our humanity dulls the ache -- or quells the fear.
When I tell people that we inevitably lose some poultry each year to predators, I do not often see any surprise register on their faces. Honestly, I think I might be able to hear them thinking: "Sure. That's what happens when you insist on free-ranging your animals, you ding-bat." Sometimes my confession is followed up by their testimony (which confirms that my mind-reading skills are on target), "We will be keeping ours in a safe coop and run. So, no worries."
No worries. If only.
While it is true that we have a chicken missing periodically - the likely victim of a hungry hawk or a late morning fox on the prowl for a snack - most of our losses have not actually had anything to do with free-ranging. Nothing compares to the losses we have sustained inside safe enclosures. And I mean nothing compares - by any measure and not just quantity. The chicken who comes up missing at the mid-morning roll call does not compare to the discovery of an entire grow-out flock helplessly torn to bits. Waking up the morning after your safe enclosure was no longer safe is a punch in the gut.
On August 29, 2005, we changed. A similar observation has often been made by those who have experienced some singularly dramatic event. For instance, they may write: "On May 1, 2014, our lives changed forever." Though I can sympathize with such an observation, I have a slightly different experience. We changed in a fundamental way on that fateful day, but it took quite some time and a lot of concerted effort for our circumstances -- our lives -- to change.
On August 28th, you would have found us to be a pretty normal suburban family -- discounting the ritual of weekend preparation during hurricane season on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. My husband went to work in town every morning. I kept the lawn mowed in our postage-stamp sized yard. Our school-aged children attended the local private school. I handled the grocery shopping. We took our dogs to the groomer. We attended church on Sundays and helped out with local fundraisers and events. We drove children to soccer practice and music lessons. We ate a lot of junk food. We were entertained by the television. We managed to pay the bills and keep the house in good repair, but nothing more.