One thing we learn on a farm, even a small pretend one like ours, is that life can be cruel; and, in the last 17 months, we have definitely had our share of cruelty. Loss occurs without narrative or explanation; it occurs via storms, tumors, and predators; it occurs with little emotion from nature itself.
Although at times I have perceived nuanced sadness from the farm lot and the in-house domestics, mourning is an individually human adventure and mourning we have done. Hey, you wanna mourn some, too? It’s fun; you get to eat all the Ben and Jerry’s you like straight out of the pint carton and people say nice things to you and make you feel all warm and loved inside. Spoons at the ready? Let’s catch up.
Some of you might recall the Great Chicken Massacre of Summer 2006. Coyotes had discovered the Rancho Laurena Chicken Shack in our backyard and couldn’t get enough of that free range poultry goodness. This led to the purchase of Spartacus, our most excellent guard llama, and essentially took care of The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Chickens. Well, guess what Nancy Drew? Bobcats ain’t afraid of no llama. And they’re sneaky. And husbands think they’re mountain lions. So the chickens started disappearing, first, the bolder ones who eschewed the comforts of their home for the wilderness of the trees and then the elderly and ailing. We began receiving telephone calls from our area’s mandatory nosey/crotchety neighbor. Poor bitch, she actually had to bend over and pick up a few chicken feathers. Then she had to start hanging feathers with notes attached on our back fence as if we were in danger of impending tribal warfare.
To give her credit, she was the one who fingered bobcat as the perp though David saw the attack cat early one morning and said it was at least 50 pounds where bobcats who don’t eat fried food top out at 35 so it must be a mountain lion, right? Right? After a particularly bad loss in which all the roosters but one died in defense of their harem, many of which we lost as well, the boys four spent a day in the farmyard battening and boarding and we have lost no chickens since (though we have received a couple more notes from Injun Ginny).
Poor Robert was on a school break and had the misfortune to be saddled with the post-storm farm chores. A scant two minutes after he went out into the farmyard he returned to share this particular non bon mot, “I’m sorry Mom but all the ducks are dead.” Yeeeaaaahhhh, metal poles were maybe not the best materials to use in the construction of the duck pen. With the exception of one horror flick worthy inside out bird, the rest of the birds were without injury and, if not for the fact that they were ducks and could not hold a glass or wear Nikes, one might have thought they committed group hari kari to get on that space ship orbiting for losers. Lightning, shockingly effective killing method.
Yes, things are no longer ducky here at Rancho Laurena
In case you have forgotten/never knew, we adopted Molly from a woman at Camp Pendleton whose husband was injured in Iraq and whose new handicapped housing would not allow pets. Unknown to us, Molly arrived in heat and we awoke the following morning to the raucous sounds of bloodhound sex in our backyard (they howl, you know). Next came puppies and bottlefeeding and wildfires and evacuations, all enough to drive a sane dog a little crazy and this adopted one certifiably batshit.
Molly was, above all, David’s dog. That dog loved him more than all of Troy loved Helen. Even when old, obese, and very infirm, Molly followed David’s every move, slept beside him, worshipped at his feet. Though perhaps not quite as obsessive, David returned Molly’s feelings and it was a far right nightmare scenario made in heaven (yes, the approval of gay marriage will lead to legal man-dog love).
In one month’s time, what had been a small fatty tumor on Molly’s torso grew to the size of a large bisected soccer ball which bounced sickeningly at her side. The vet said nothing could be done, that a real danger of bleeding out existed, and that Molly’s rainbow bridge time had come. Sadly, we said au Revoir to our crazy old bloodhound and buried her in that Stephen King novel in our backyard.
We’re still a little sad but, on the bright side, our food bills are lower.
So there you have it. I may have missed a few things but I tend to suffer from a combined case of post traumatic farm death disorder and can’t remember shit. Tomorrow, I shall talk about things less rigor mortissy. Until then...