There is something about farming, about raising animals that brings joy to my heart. I can't explain it. I feel at peace when I sit in the pasture, surrounded by my sheep. I love watching the mothers interact with their young, calling to them with a voice only the babies recognize as mom. I smile each time I hear a rooster crow or watch him strut through the barn yard, eyeing anything that might be a threat to his beloved hens. Or how about the cackle that comes from the hen, annoucing with such pride that she just layed an egg? And is there anything as cute as watching kittens pounce on a leaf stirring in the breeze or lambs jumping and playing in the evening sun? I am in awe of God's infinite wisdom in each one of his creations.
This time of year is most exciting. I wake up each morning anticipating the birth of a new lamb and hurry to the barn to check on the expecting mothers. This morning however, as I approached the barn I noticed a pile of feathers right outside the chicken coop door and my heart sank, I knew immediately that something had happened and I also knew that it wasn't good.
Its been 2year since we last had a problem. We were on our way home from a ballgame and it was nearing dusk. As we drove past the house, I noticed that there was a flock of chickens up by the garage, which I thought was very strange. One of the kids commented from the back seat, "look, there is a deer in our yard". As I looked towards the chicken coop it only took me a moment to realize, "uh, that's not a deer!" It was a coyote. She ran off through the corn field as we pulled up but evidence proved she had already got several chickens and was only returning for more. The next night we were waiting for the coyote when she returned and that was the last time she messed with my flock. After that our dog was old enough to have the run of the farm and we haven't had any problems with predators since then.
But, ever since we lost our dog I have worried, feared and fretted about not having a guardian to protect our farm. I have thought about it almost every night. I even pray for protection for my animals. ( does that make me weird?) I am quite convinced that if you live on a farm, have animals you need a guardian for your flock.
This morning, is one of the days, as a farmer you know you are going to have to face. But knowing that doesn't make it any easier when you lose an animal. I can't be sure what it was that got my birds. I have one duck missing and found two hens by the edges of the fence that had become "somethings" dinner last night. I am thankful that they didn't get my new lambs but also concerned because whatever it was will no doubt be back tonight.
I plan to be ready for them!