Friday, April 30, 2010

Farm Report + Cogitation and General Philosophizing

Jonah had a couple of hard animal-life lessons today.

While we were planting onions, he found a tiny baby bird on the ground. There aren't any trees very close by, so I don't know where it came from. It was not in any kind of a ground-nest, either-- it was just laying there on the hard, bare dirt. It was very newly hatched and didn't even have any feathers. There was no mother-bird around. I would guess it was one of the Grackles that are nesting under the eves of our house. Of course, Jonah thought it would be okay, but I had to explain to him that it needed it's mother in order to survive. He suggested that we take it in the house and take care of it, and I'm so glad it wasn't a little older or I would have been tempted. We talked about how it says in the Bible that the Heavenly Father doesn't let even a tiny sparrow fall to the ground without His knowing and ordaining it. Creation is broken by sin and things have to die.

This afternoon, we found a Mama duck bringing out a new passel of ducklings. We went back and checked the nest and found a number of unhatched eggs, as well as one that was in the process of hatching. Those Muscovy ducks tend to leave the nest with their babies in a big hurry (can you blame them? I probably would, too, if I had been sitting there for almost 6 weeks). We checked on the hatching one quite a few times, but it made no progress. Jonah kept suggesting that we help it, but I told him it would do the duckling no favors. If they can't hatch themselves, they won't be able to survive. I had to tell him that the strong ones hatch and the weak ones... don't.

Here's the mama duck, proudly posing with her first-ever brood of eight (okay, maybe she wasn't really posing. She just thought that maybe I'd be feeding her). This poor thing tried a couple of times to hatch nests last year, but had no success.

Watching that duckling struggle made me think about how impossible it looks. Birth. It just seems like it can't happen. Whether it's a baby bird breaking out of a hard shell or a baby animal being pushed out of it's mother, or the hard work ahead of me in a little over a couple months of birthing my own baby-- it seems impossible. How does such a weak little thing make it to the outside and then transition to life in the harsh world? If I hadn't experienced it so many times, I don't think I would believe it.

I'm glad I can know that God made it to work that way, and it does.

We have another new addition to our little Funny Farm. Strawberry is a 2 year old LaMancha/Nubian cross. She actually gives some of the sweetest and creamiest milk I've ever tasted.

Yes, she is "earless" (or nearly). That's the La Mancha in her. I've never much cared for that look, but I guess she's pretty cute.

And look-- Just look how happy she is!

(Aside: Can't decide whether that picture is hilarious or just plain creepy. I promise I didn't add that smile in Photoshop.)

Actually... I think she's faking. "We're fine! We're all fine, here... how are you?" (name that movie)


She's actually been yelling pretty much nonstop. She's also a talented escape artist. She finds a way out, one way or another, and after finishing off whatever is left of my raspberry plants (Arg! I was SO hoping to pick some this year), she hikes herself to the kitchen porch to look in and find me.

I'm sure she'll settle in-- it just takes time. But it doesn't help that Opal is so mean to her. After Cappuccino died, Opal became herd-queen by default. But instead of being a kind and benevolent ruler like Capp was, Opal is a bullying despot. She pushes all the other goats away from the hay and eats her own grain as fast as she can so that she can steal theirs. She tries to hog all my attention when I'm out there. She shows her headship, over and over, by knocking a good one to any other critter who walks too close, tries to eat, lays in her spot, or generally displeases her in any way.

I've been jumping through all sorts of hoops just to make sure that Strawberry gets something to eat and drink. I still don't think she's getting enough (while Opal is looking mighty fat and sassy), and she's not learning to stand up for herself very well so far. Tomorrow, Annabelle and her kids are heading to the livestock auction, and I think that may help give Strawberry and Opal a chance to work things out.

My animals have been making me a little crazy lately. Between Opal's dictatorship, and all the birds' annoying habits, my barn is just nuts these days. The chickens fight and squabble when I feed them and then they go and steal the cat's food. The ducks follow me around, plucking at my jeans and "talking" to me, demanding their own special food in their own special place (they consider themselves "above" these other pitiful poultry plebes). The cats look with long and hungry expressions into the hutch where the baby chicks live with their mother. I can no longer send Jonah out with a compost bucket to empty because the rooster asults him endlessly. The chickens wreak havoc on my garden or anything that I plant around the house, always looking for every opportunity to find a yummy grub or worm.

I feed them and feed them and feed them-- never do I fail to feed them. And yet, they always act so hungry.

I can't blame them, of course. They're animals. They're ruled by their instincts-- find food, eat food, always more food. Survive. Reproduce. Eat.

But it annoys me. Who would want to be on a level with that? Why willingly say that we came from animals? That our basic instincts are as greedy as theirs. In fact, it is true that we are that greedy and more. Our sinful nature makes us worse than these unreasoning and thoughtless animals. But we, gifted with reason-- do we want to stay there? Yes, I suppose we can't even truly want to rise above that selfish nature.

I'm not sure if I'm expressing myself very clearly here. I guess my little funny farm is just making me think a lot today. I'm thankful to know that I was created different from the animals. And I'm thankful to know that through my Salvation, I am able to have true GOOD, since without it, even what we may think of as Good is still... Bad.


  1. (Name that movie)- Star Wars: A New Hope

    You should take all your farm drama and turn them into stories - kind of like what E. B. White did. He had a thing for geese and writing about them, and you can do it with goats.

  2. Love that cheesy grin that she has! Hilarious..

  3. Nice post!

    The baby bird may have been stolen from the nest by something like a blue jay.

  4. Yeah, I didn't think of that. We have a number of resident blue jays, so that's probably what happened.

  5. I was thinking the same...about the blue jay.

    I think it's funny that your cross bred goat has the la mancha ears. You know, what with the nubian goats having serious ears!

    I like what you had to say about birth and being different from the animals. When I watch my chickens I often think "am I like them? Going back to the same thing over and over, just because it's habit? Or do I have purpose? The ability to choose the right thing over the easy thing?" etc. I think it is such a gift to be able to raise our own food, knead our bread, care for this earth. It is in this care taking that we learn so much of our God.