I’m going to apologize upfront for spelling or grammatical errors. As I type this tears are streaming down my face and I can’t see the screen so well. Writing helps my soul so I write this now as apart of the grieving process. We have experienced our first death on the homestead and my heart aches with sadness.
We have two wonderful little barn cats and to us they are apart of our family. Although many of my farmer friends disagreed with this, we feed the cats each night. From a practical standpoint it makes it much easier to get them in the barn for the night if they know they are being fed at the same time each evening. While some folks say if you feed a barn cat they will get lazy and won’t be good mousers, this was never our experience as the girls caught things all the time. Plus hunting is hard work and you need energy to do it!
Last night one of our sweet girls, Luna, didn’t come back to the house for food. Between the time change (fall back and all) and the fact that she had a very good hunting day (a chickadee and a vole) we weren’t too surprised. Full bellies are hard to motivate, especially when it means being locked in a barn all night long. But as it got later we began to worry that we wouldn’t see her again. We went outside every half hour or so and called for her but she didn’t come back.
I woke up early enough to watch the sun rise. As I looked out the window I silently begged her to come home, but my heart was heavy. I knew something was wrong.
This morning as my husband was leaving for work he found her. She was on the side of the road across the street from our house. It’s hard to know exactly what happened to her but we think she either fell from a tree or got hit by a car. Either way our dear Luna no longer walked this Earth.
I have to hand it to my husband. He is made a far tougher stuff than I am and knows that my heart can’t handle certain things. Like dealing with the mice in the traps or using a shovel to pick up my precious cats’ body. Tears in our eyes we put her in a bag… a temporary resting spot until he came home from work so we could have a proper burial as a family.
I know death is apart of life; it’s the inevitable end we must all meet. I knew going into homesteading that we would experience death like this, but reading about it doesn’t prepare you for the pain. Or the guilt of feeling like maybe, just maybe, there was something we could have done to prevent this. This is the part of our lifestyle I was not ready for and I had hoped it wouldn’t come to us so soon. But alas, life rarely goes the way you expect it to or beg it to now does it?
So as I dug a hole for my cat, my arm stung in pain; a reminder of another difficult event in our homesteading careers that took place not three days prior.
I have been feeling guilty about the lack of free run time the chickens have been having lately. They did a wonderful job in the vegetable garden over the last few weeks, turning the soil and fertilizing everywhere they went. But once the garlic was in the beds I didn’t want them in there anymore (for good reason). And while we have a spacious run for them, I know they get antsy and long for a bit more space.
So feeling generous I opened the gate to let them have the run of the backyard. That’s when Chocolate Thunder, our rooster, turned on me and attacked. Sure, sure have a good laugh, but until you’ve been confronted with an aggressive fully matured rooster you have no idea what you’re talking about. Chickens are, after-all, descendants of dinosaurs, and when Thunder screeched with a ferocity I’ve never seen and came at me, talons first, I was terrified. His moves, sounds and actions reminded me of the velociraptors from Jurassic Park!
When he first came at me I darted out of the way hoping that would be enough to deter him. Unfortunately it did not have that effect and instead he came after me again and again and again. Each lunge increasingly more aggressive. I kicked him away over and over with no avail. I was wearing a skirt and he managed to get right on top of it, causing me to fall back hard onto the ground (turns out I sprained my elbow and injured my shoulder which still hurts like a son of a gun by the way). I gave him a swift kick to the face and went for the nearest and largest object I could find which happened to be a wooden bat. I dared that rooster to come at me again; raised my voice, wielding my bat and puffed out my chest. In hindsight I realize that could have gone very badly but thankfully he backed right down. I had won the battle.
Thunder seemed to come out of it uninjured but I can’t say the same for myself. Once the adrenaline wore off I could feel the stabbing pain in my elbow and shoulder and the sting on my legs from bloody cuts and scratches. Jerk tore a hole in my skirt too.
My instinct had been to run and I am glad that I didn’t have the chance to do that. I know now that asserting my dominance over him was something that needed to happen or else he would always have the upper hand. Now each time I walk by him he backs up just slightly and watches me the entire time. I truly hope that is the last time I need to kick my rooster.
So last night, as I sat on my back steps watching the sky, I thought of Luna and the new journey that she is on. And for a brief moment my heart felt full as I looked at the moon and smiled knowing that in that moment, the moon was meant just for her.
Until next time,
P.S. In case anyone is interested in an update Unfortunately we did have to re-home (and no not to the freezer) Chocolate Thunder. He attempted to attack me twice more and then went after Monkey Man. That was the final straw and soon after our aggressive rooster went to a new home thanks to a friend of ours.