Bereft and Angry

Lupine had a tiny little buckling on Saturday night. I held off naming him.  He had spindly legs, weighed 4 pounds.  By the finish of the first 12-hours of his life, he’d figured out how to stand on those spindly legs and she’d figured out how to stand and let him nurse.  Before that, I was up every two hours to facilitate a feeding by wrestling her into a chair hold and helping him to latch on.

Earlier Saturday afternoon, I’d been devastated. I’d had an incredibly full morning, so much that I’d never gotten out of my pajamas, just had thrown overalls on over them, and never had a cup of coffee.  I was ready for a break and was still troubling about how I might manage the concert I’d had tickets for that evening.  The little 8-day old buckling, Trevor, still needed me to help him latch on to his mom every 2 hours because she won’t stand for a feeding from him.  The buckets of rain had soaked all of the woolen goods that were out on the tables near my little shop where folks had been looking through them earlier, I had to sort through and try to get them dried without them being damaged.  I don’t even remember the other things I was doing and it occurred to me suddenly that I needed to go to the barn again.  In passing I realized the lights were off on the brooder for the turkeys.  I turned and cried  – all 40 2-day old turkey poults were strewn about in the base of the brooder, drowned.

The lights must’ve shorted when the rain poured off the eaves of the roof to where the brooder sits, semi-protected.  The water funneled into the brood box and the tiny turkeys just couldn’t stand up to the wet.  And they were flat.  And soaked.  I hurriedly picked them all up and placed them, individually into cardboard boxes with paper toweling. I put the boxes into the oven and turned it on to 200 degrees with the door open.


Unbelievably, in a few moments, stifled high pitched murmurs and gentle, gentle stirrings came from the boxes.

Three hours later, I had resuscitated 30 out of 40 turkey poults. I hauled their brooder box to the barn and dried it down, wiping everywhere to try to eliminate excess moisture and fixed it with new lamps.   Transferring them to their new home, I closed every window and door to keep draft down.  By then it was 4 p.m. and I was stepping into the stall to help little Trevor get his next meal from his mom.  And then, Lupine was in labor.

Now, one and a half days later, the turkeys are thriving, but Lupine’s tiny buckling has died.

Last night he cried and cried and cried at around 10 p.m..  I had been out there for Trevor’s feeding and saw that Lupine was seeing to him.  He would shake a bit sometimes before he passed meconium, and she would groom him and nurture him to nurse, and I felt like he might’ve been struggling from the effort.  But I also feared something else might be happening.  And I had been through this trial with another kid, Lark, 2 years ago, whom I held for four days before he passed in my arms.

Today, if you watch the kidcam, the camera that is in our barn stall so that I can view the Angora goats, or Muppets as we lovingly refer to them, you will see and hear Lupine crying very hard, all day.  She’s not ready for me to remove her still baby yet.  I tried, but she was too stressed, sad and confused.  So I will leave him until she is ready.

I don’t have time to be eloquent about life and death right now.  I had a cup of coffee and regrouped so that I can get all of the work of the day done and be ready for the next thing that happens.  There is no controlling life.  There is managing your moments and getting as much into them as you can or want or need to.

I can’t look at social media or the news today because of the hurt and anger and grief for all of the crimes of hate.  When I read this beautiful article this morning about the Superb Fairy Wren’s vocal embryonic learning study done in Australia between Flinders University and Cornell University, I was encouraged by how much we can learn from studying life.  Also, how dear and important the role of mothering and nurturing plays in giving life.

Mourning is sad business.  There is a lot of life on our farm, with life comes death.  There is never any less sad when I lose an animal I have loved for 2 days or for 15 years.  So living with dying is part of farming.

There is always something you could be angry about.  I try to focus, instead, on the tasks of the day, of the week, of the month, so as to not lose time to such a negative energy.  I will always be that way, it is inherent.  I think of my mom & dad, of the Superb Fairy Wren singing to her unborn kin, that sweet, soft and persevering Trevor who trollops about the barn aisle while I muck stalls.

I hope you can find something to be positive about in this day.  I will be cleaning the paddock and then bringing the sheep in later to FAMACHA check them and send them on to pasture number 2.  I will hope that little Trevor’s mom will let him nurse unaided by me.  I will overdye some pretty cochineal and logwood skeins to create new colors.  I’ll try to get a leg-up on some pie-making.  I’ll make sure to pick some flowers and light a candle at the end of the day.

Lupine & her tiny buckling

Lupine & her tiny buckling