I try to portray the more beautiful aspects of life in the country. Because really, it’s mostly beautiful. But occasionally, it’s just plain ugly.
Like all the dog poop that just got uncovered since the snow is melting.
And the weeds that will grow out on the backside of the barn.
And the wind that howls and blows so hard the windows rattle.
And how we run out of water when the power goes out because our water holding tank is small.
There was an ugly moment this weekend. I walked into my chicken coop 6 am on Saturday morning to find chickens hiding, feathers everywhere and our little Barred Rock hen Blackie dead and in a very gruesome state. After doing a quick check of all the other chickens and shakily calling Andy to bring a flashlight and some other supplies down from the house, I began to panic slightly.
Not because of a dead chicken. Those happen. I was panicking because the coop is their safe place. The place where they are supposed to sleep tight and feel protected. And something got in and their coop had become a dungeon of horrors. It really shocked me, actually. I always expect to have an accident happen when my chickens are free-ranging, the risks there are inherent. But in the coop? I though I had taken every precaution. I have been proud of the fact that it’s even difficult for mice to get in there.
But the snow is deep, and it has been for months. Hunting has been scarce for the wildlife that live around us. We forgot to leave cat food out the previous morning. And then forgot again the previous night. And the feral cat, Shere-Kahn, was hungry and apparently desperate. He habitually hides out on the woodshed roof. He can jump from a standstill to the rafters in the coop. He hangs out down there often, even getting a drink from the chickens water. And when I say he is feral, I mean it. He is as wild as a coyote. When Andy tried to catch him while he was snitching our cat food one day, he went into attack mode. That cat will stand up to my dogs and can kill sage grouse solo. Up until now, he has always left the chickens alone.
But it has been a long, snowy, and cold winter. And we didn’t leave the cat food out. My best guess is he scaled the coop door and came in through the small vents at the top. Needless to say, they are now secured and the coop is, once again, a safe place. I’m not the type to be overly-mushy about my animals. But I am their steward and it’s my responsibility to keep them safe and healthy. Regardless of whether something was preventable or not, I take full responsibility. And sometimes, more than others, that’s a heavy burden to bear.
But one of my favorite things about country life is, even when it’s ugly, there is always beauty waiting right around the corner. That morning, it was that the air was finally clear enough to see the sunrise.