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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Life is Beautiful

My husband woke me up early Saturday morning with a "psst". I just wasn't in the mood to get up. I listened to the storms fight it out, off and all all night and into the morning. My husband psst, at me again. "your mom called about the auction."

I jumped up out of bed, the auction! I was going to be late for the farm auction that my mother and I decided to go to. "She said she didn't want to stand in the rain anyway." My husband chuckled after me.

"You could have told me that a moment ago." I yawned and grabbed his cup of coffee. I took a sip and looked out of the kitchen window. "Why is there a dog in the goat pen?" my mind was still a little slow from caffeine neglect. "Link is in the goat pen!" I exclaimed. Exclaimed seems like only a word used in pre-teen lit, but it is apt for my reaction. Our dog Link, a yellow mutt was standing just inside of the goat pen. After the punishment he received for the last time he was in there, well. . . he never goes into the goat pen, even when we are with him.

My husband hurried out the door, and I followed, calling Link out. He immediately came up to us, and Buckets, our bull Mastiff came out from under our back porch. My husband, who was a few steps ahead of me, began cussing. I looked over the gate, and one of the piglets we bought on Tuesday was laying in the mud, the back of his neck missing. A few feet away was Smokey, one of the three goats I bought my husband for his birthday several years ago. Then Delilah, the pregnant Angora laid dead. "My calf!" I screamed.

"She's fine." My husband told me as he walked back up from the field. "Where are the dogs?" He was talking about Buttercup, our pitbull/husky mix and Ya-ya our English staffy. I started calling for them. No answer. They didn't come running when my husband started the car, as they usually did. Sadly I walked back into the house and phoned my mother.

"About the auction, mom. um, I can't go. All my animals are dead." Then I had to explain, "not all. The cows are ok. And Donkey the sheep and Dora the Angora are fine. But all three pigs, Smoky, Trina, Arrow, and Delilah are all dead. So is my laying goose. Donkey and Dora only survived because of our neglect to shear them yet. They are hurt, but not deathly." My mom was upset. The pregnant angora was her's. She offered to come help, and I accepted, my husband needed to get to work and I wasn't able to do all of this alone.

I came back outside where my husband was putting up a part of the old swing set. He informed me that the pigs were a fresh kill, we need to process them. Visions of road kill eaters flashed through my head, but I knew that this was something we had to do. It wasn't the first time we had processed a fresh dog kill, I have done it with chickens. But it is enough to make your stomach roll.

We hung the three piggies by there back feet, and that is when the neighbor across the way arrived. Such relief! This man has processed pigs before, he will know how. I won't go into details about what happened here, for now.

My oldest son came outside, the dogs our on the front porch. My husband called and the didn't come, he had to walk up there and flush them out. They had been hiding up there all this time that we had been searching for them. Then my mother arrives with my uncle. With the dogs secured in the house, my mother and I start dragging goats. Smokey, my poor wonderful Smokey who thought he was a dog, and would beg, and jump on you. Pregnant Delilah, who we were just starting to see a once abused personality emerge, and we were happily awaited the birth of her babies. Tina, Smokey's mother was found next to one of the cars in the field. She loved those cars, jumping on the roofs, bleating out at the world. My goose was next to the fence, no sign of her gander. Arrow, timid Arrow was in the cow side of the barn, along with the only two living fiber animals I have left. And my sweet sweet gander, waiting for his mate to come back. It was heavy, both physically and emotionally to move all the dead. But with the deed done, we had to go back to the pigs.

My husband stoked the fire for the water to boil. My mother decided that since my husband wasn't going to work, then she wasn't needed, and went on her way.

The two dogs responsible for all this carnage are gone. Ya-ya was my husband's princess.

I moved gander into the pen with the chickens, all of whom survived this. He seemed better once in there, but the calls to his mate go unanswered.

This morning I am tired, bruised, sore and feeling weepy. I have cried several times over these few hours. No one understand or can tell me why our dogs that grew up with these animals, snapped. I think it had something to do with the pigs. I have, on the bright side, things to say. But now, reliving yesterday once again, those bright sides aren't there. Maybe the will be tonight.

10 of my animals are dead. And I hurt.

41 comments:

Robbyn said...

{{{{{{{{{ sending hugs }}}}}} words are inadequate...I'm so sorry, Phelan!

Amanda Roby said...

I haven't had a chance to post before now, but I've been reading your blog for quite awhile. I admire what you do.

As Robbyn says, there are no words that are adequate for what you must be feeling. I'm sure all of your readers are feeling your pain, as I am this morning. I'm so sorry.

Amanda

Phelan said...

Thank you Robbyn.

Amanda, thank you.

Laney said...

I'm so sorry. A close friend lost most of her herd animals to a pack of neighbors' dogs last spring, and it was horrible for her. I'm sure that losing your to your own dogs could only be worse. But she has started over, has enjoyed getting to know the new guys, and has come to love them, too. Please don't let this terrible time stop you from this wonderful part of homesteading.

Monica said...

Phelan,
I'm terribly sorry.
Monica

Hidden Flames said...

I'm so, so sorry...

abbagirl74 said...

(((Phelan))) I am so very sorry. Hug the boys for me too.

Country Girl said...

I am so sorry that this happened to you and your animals.
My thoughts are with you, Kim

Meg said...

Oh, shit Phelan. I am so sorry to hear this.

Green Plan(t) said...

I can't imagine how wrecking this is but I can guess. I offer my condolences to you and your family. <3

Kathie said...

Oh my goodness, sending loving thoughts your way...

Gina said...

more hugs.

I am so sorry. I can empathize. For me, it feels so sorrowful, a mix of defeat and betrayal and just plain sadness at losing the livestock, especially to my own dogs.

You made the right choice regarding the dogs (I know this doesn't make it easier having just done the same a few weeks ago).

I have no idea why they snap.

Wendy said...

OH, I am so sorry! I just found your blog through a friend, so I this is only the second entry of yours I've read. I wish I had the words to give you comfort and solace, I wish I knew what to say. I am so sorry. I am glad you guys had the strength to do what you had to do and salvage what you could in the midst of such grief and confusion, and were able to draw upon the help of others, and I am sorry that you lost so many beloved animals and in such a terribly shocking way. I am so sorry.

Matriarchy said...

I'm so sorry. I live far away, or I would come give you a hug. Our thoughts and tears are with you, for the dogs as well as the other animals.

Vicki said...

Im so sorry to hear of your loss. I too have been in the same position. Its a sad decision to make. There are no words to comfort only time. Take care.

KF-in-Georgia said...

Phelan, I'm so sorry to read about this. I can't imagine how hard this has been for all of you.

{{{{hugs}}}}

Kathy

Kelly or Alex said...

I grew up on a farm and our dogs, which were mutts and not aggressive at all, attacked our foal while we were out. Dogs are pack animals and when something will run there is an instinct that makes them chase and attack. Even dogs that have been raised with the animals. 1 dog may not kill but 2-3 will devastate small livestock. Im so very sorry for you and your animals. It is painful and frequently happens. Take a deep breath and try to let it go. My prayers are with you.
Kelly

The Thinker said...

pffft. How horribly, emotionally exhausting this must be for you. :(

I know you don't know me. But we have exchanged emails a few times. You are always so kind to answer my questions. I read your blog regularly. And as I read, it is almost like a story. It is easy to forget that it is real life and real disasters happen.

I always root for you. As I make my own way towards being more self sufficient, you inspire me so much. The very first time I read your blog--probably almost two years ago--I had googled for a way to preserve green beans and read your funny post about how not to boiling water bath them. That was an important lesson for me.

And last Friday I got my first pressure canner (inspired by you!) and I had just come back here tonight to find your recipe for alfredo sauce. And I read this sad news. I can't tell you how genuinely sorry I am. If I had goats or pigs, I would send you some! But all I have is my lonely old chickens (so far.) I know how the mind torments us over things like this. I hope you are at peace about it soon.

Let me give you an easy recipe. My friend calls it Mother-in-law Tonic because it is mind-numbing bliss. Put 1/4 cup of heavy cream in a coffee mug. Heat it half a minute in the microwave so you can dissolve a packet of hot cocoa powder in it. Top off the mug with hot coffee. Add more sugar to taste if you like. It's also good with marshmallows.

Sending hugs and peaceful thoughts.

Cassandra

Em said...

I'm not sure if I have ever commented here before or not, but I have been reading your blog for a while and feel like I know you and your little family of animals despite being half a world away. I dont really know what to say except I am so sorry to hear what has happened. You are in my thoughts...

Em

gintoino said...

What a terrible thing, I'm so, so sorry!

Alice said...

I just found your blog in an attempt to connect with other homesteaders and I just couldn't read another word until I offered you my condolences. I'm sorry to hear that along with having to clean up the 10 lovely sounding animals you had to lose 2 dogs as well. I hope that we can learn a lesson from your tragedy, maybe it's best to keep our dog packs very small? I'm not sure since I don't have much experience with dogs and livestock. Anyway, I'm sorry to hear about this, and I'm eager to see how you'll bounce back. Good luck.

~Alice

amanda said...

wow...so sorry to hear all this.

Howling Hill said...

Losing two of my four chickens to a fox was difficult for me. I can only imagine how you must feel.

I am so, so sorry Phelan.

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

don't know what to say after 23 others have already said it. been there, done that. Keep your chin up and email me if you need anything.

Anonymous said...

"and this too shall pass" Hang in there sister...its all you can do anyway... we'll all be thinking of you

Cheap Like Me said...

I just got here, and I'm so, so sorry. I shed a few tears for you and yours, too. :(

MeadowLark said...

Adding my woefully inadequate words to those before me. I'm sending peace and comfort your way.

Woolysheep said...

I just found your blog a week or so ago. I am so sorry to hear about your misfortune.

Phelan said...

I thank all of you! It means, and helps a lot.

Tammi said...

I'm incredibly sorry.

Jami said...

I have been away, and just now saw this. ((((HUGS)))) to you and I wish that were enough. You are such a strong woman, Phelan, but sometimes it sure seems sucky to have to be.
I'm thinking of you and wish I could help.
Jami

Donna said...

Those breeds of dog have the tendency to "snap". My grandson had a pit bull I absolutely loved, but when he came to live with us for a few months I told him the dog couldn't come because I didn't want to be responsible for what it might do.

I'm very sorry for your loss. This isa traumatic experience. Take care of yourself.

Shari Thomas said...

What a heartbreaking loss...

Everyday I thank my Maker that our dogs are "useless" and therefore penned or in the house at all times.

I hurt for you, knowing that any time I too, could walk out to our sheep pen and find carnage from any number of neighbor dogs or coyotes.

Thanks for sharing your story. I'll say an extra little prayer for you.

Lori said...

I am sooooo sorry that happen to you and your family. I can not even imagine the pain your family is going through. You will be in my prayers in hopes that your heart will mend. My heart broke reading this, God bless you and in time I know you will heal.
Lori

Carla said...

I am so sorry to hear about your animals. That must have been heart wrenching. Hugs.

Rachel said...

Oh Phelan, I am SO sorry.

I've been reading your blog for a while, and enjoy it.

I just couldn't read and not post. I can't imagine how hard this must be.

Wendy said...

Oh, my .... I am so sorry! That would be such a horrible thing to have to deal with, and I know it doesn't help, but you seem to have handled it with much dignity and grace ... at least if your words here convey your feelings and actions. I so admire your strength, especially in very trying circumstance.

lisa said...

We had some neighbor dogs run together and kill our rabbits when I was a kid, I can imagine how much worse it feels when it's YOUR dogs. I'm late in commenting, but I wanted to say I'm so sorry to hear this, and I hope things get only better from here!

FancyHorse said...

I just read this entry, and I'm so sorry, Phelan. Such a devastating loss! (((hugs)))

annulla said...

Phelan, I just read this post and your pain comes through every word. I'm so sorry for your terrible loss. It must be awful. I just want to let you know that you and your household are in my thoughts.


Blather From Brooklyn

P~ said...

I'm so sorry for you guys Phelan. And I'm doubly sorry that it's taken me so long to come here and leave my regards, but I know you are familiar with my situation. I wish you and your husband the strength to keep on keeping on. I have no doubt you two will push on through it.
All my best.
P~

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